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Learn How To Grow Autoflowers: Week-By-Week Guide

Autoflowering strains provide fantastic results in little time, often surging from seed to harvest in as little as 8 weeks. Both beginner and advanced growers will have a fun and easy time raising these varieties.

Learn to grow autoflowering cannabis.

  • 1. How long do autoflowers take from seed to harvest?
  • 2. Light schedule for autoflowering strains
  • 3. A note on pH
  • 4. Autoflowering grow guide: How to grow autoflowers week by week
  • 5. Which autoflower to choose?
  • 1. How long do autoflowers take from seed to harvest?
  • 2. Light schedule for autoflowering strains
  • 3. A note on pH
  • 4. Autoflowering grow guide: How to grow autoflowers week by week
  • 5. Which autoflower to choose?

Autoflowering cannabis plants are hardy, fast, and easy to cultivate in confined spaces. What’s not to love? Learn how to grow them week by week below.

HOW LONG DO AUTOFLOWERS TAKE FROM SEED TO HARVEST?

Autoflowering strains typically move from seed to harvest in 8–10 weeks. However, some varieties can take up to 12 weeks to fully mature. Strains such as Bubble Kush Automatic and Quick One fall towards the faster end of the spectrum, whereas varieties like Royal Creamatic and Royal Haze Automatic take a few more weeks to ready their buds for harvest.

Many growers elect to cultivate autoflowers because of their speedy growing rate. Their hardy genetics and forgiving nature also make them easier to grow and therefore more beginner-friendly.

Their impressive resistance to pathogens and pests allows them to withstand the challenges of outdoor growing.

However, their yields aren’t as spectacular as those obtained from photoperiod giants, but, the trade-off for brevity makes the decision worthwhile for most growers.

LIGHT SCHEDULE FOR AUTOFLOWERING STRAINS

As the name suggests, autoflowering strains don’t require a change in the light cycle to enter the flowering stage. Many growers choose to keep their autoflowers on a light schedule of 18 hours on and 6 hours off during the entire growing cycle. Other cultivators choose to keep their lights on around the clock in hopes of maximising photosynthesis and growth rate, however, this can get quite expensive.

Because of this unique trait, outdoor growers can achieve multiple harvests during a single growing season. By germinating seeds week after week in early spring, you can theoretically rake in your first harvest after

8 weeks, with subsequent weekly harvests when growing fast strains.

A NOTE ON PH

The pH value of your soil will determine how well your plants can access the nutrients within. If the pH becomes too high (alkaline) or too low (acidic), nutrient lockout will occur and deficiencies will set in. Cannabis plants thrive in a soil pH of between 6.0 and 6.5. Use a pH tester to track pH throughout your grow.

AUTOFLOWERING GROW GUIDE: HOW TO GROW AUTOFLOWERS WEEK BY WEEK

Follow the fail-safe week-by-week grow guide below for a quick and easy route to harvest time. We cover all of the parameters and variables you need to consider—at the correct times—to ensure your plants remain healthy, vigorous, and productive.

(Week 1) (Week 2) (Week 3) (Week 4) (Week 5)
(Week 6) (Week 7) (Week 8) (Week 9) (Week 10)

WEEK 1: GERMINATION AND EARLY SEEDLING STAGE

Germination usually takes 1–3 days. During this time, your seeds will activate and send a root down into the soil and a shoot above the surface. To begin the germination process, you’ll need to prepare a suitable soil mix. Autoflowers don’t need as much nutrients as photoperiod varieties and prefer light and airy soil.

You can make your own potting mix using the following formula:

  • 3 parts peat moss
  • 3 parts compost
  • 2 parts perlite, moistened
  • 1 part vermiculture, moistened

After you’ve prepared the mix, add some Easy Boost Organic Nutrition to the blend. These pellets will slowly release adequate levels of nutrition into the soil, providing foundational elements and minerals for the entire growing cycle. Add some mycorrhiza to the soil to help your plants flourish later down the line. These symbiotic fungi will bind to the root system and help your plants uptake nutrients more effectively.

Next, poke a 10–15mm hole into a pot with your soil mix. Sow your seed directly into its final pot to avoid the stress of repotting later down the line. Transplanting causes plants to go into shock, and autoflowers grow so fast that they’ll struggle to recover. Place a seed in the hole and cover lightly with soil. You’ll see your seedling emerge in the next few days.

Environmental factors play a key role in optimal germination. Aim for the following to boost your success rate:

  • 70–90% relative humidity (RH)
  • 22–25°C air temperature

Autoflowering cannabis strains grow fast, remain compact, and offer great results. Use this guide to learn how to cultivate them week by week!

The Lifecycle of the Autoflowering Cannabis Plant

Growing cannabis is an art that requires patience. Only growers that understand the science and lifecycle of the plant will succeed. The rest either fail miserably or simply give up. It’s not uncommon for beginners to fail. And since practice makes man perfect, keep at it until you finally harvest a big bunch of nugs that remind you of all the hard work.

I promise that it’s all worth it at the end. But first, you must understand how the plant grows. Not only will this help you save time, but you’ll also be able to bounce back even if you face setbacks. So, let’s take a look at the lifecycle of the autoflowering cannabis plant to make it a little easier for you.

Germination

The first step of the plant’s cycle starts with germination. Now that you’ve grabbed your favorite seeds, it’s time to plant them. People use different ways to germinate the seeds, but it’s important to stick to a method that works for you.

Ideally, the seeds should be soaked in a glass of water for at least 24 hours. Some growers use a nail file to scratch the seeds gently before soaking them. This ensures that the seeds soak in more water, but you shouldn’t attempt this if you’re a beginner.

The seeds can then be transferred to a wet paper towel and stored in a zip-lock plastic bag. Within 1-2 days, the tap root emerges and the seeds are ready to be planted. Note that many growers simply stick their seeds in the soil, and you can follow the same route if you prefer.

Seedling Stage

The seeds can be transferred to the soil at this point. It may take another day or two for the seeds to emerge from the soil and break their hull. Be patient and stop messing with the plants. You might be tempted to assist the seedling since it looks so fragile, but it will do fine without you. Also, remember to regulate the pH as it’s very important.

The seedling stage is the most important stage. The plant will take a long time to recover if there’s a mishap at this stage, so be very careful. If growing indoors, hang the lights at least 17-20 inches above the seedling. Reduce the distance as the plant grows bigger. CFLs, LEDs, MH and HIDs will do as long as the seedlings are comfortable.

Week 1 to Week 3

The seedlings begin with only two true leaves. After a couple of days, a third leaf will appear. The plants don’t need any nutrients on the very first week if you’re growing in soil. For those growing in hydroponic setups, reduce the strength of the nutrients by half to allow the seedlings to adjust to them.

You can kill the plants faster by overwatering them. Not a myth; it’s a fact. So, go easy on watering. And, make sure that you supply enough water to keep the soil moist. Moist, not dripping wet or dry. As the process of photosynthesis goes on, new sets of leaves will appear.

The seedlings become a little stronger during week 2. You can now introduce nutrients unless you’re using premade organic potting soil. Again, the nutes should be mild as the plants are still fragile. The distance between the lights and the seedlings should be reduced if the seedlings grow lanky.

By week 3, the seedlings show more leaves popping up. Most autoflowers display their sex at this stage, but if you’ve planted only feminized seeds, you don’t need to worry at all. If using regular seeds, however, it’s important to distinguish between male and female plants.

While female plants show their pistils, the males will produce little balls of pollen. It’s a good idea to remove the males since sensimilla buds are preferred. Nutrients can be used at regular strength now, but be cautious to check the plants for any nutrient burn. The seedlings will suffer a bit with low doses of fertilizer or nutrients, but they don’t recover quickly from an overdose or nutrient burn.

Week 4 to Week 6

This is the pHase that determines how big the plants grow. You can use several training techniques including LST, Topping and FIMing to increase yields. Many growers make the mistake of introducing bloom nutrients as soon as the plant produces a few pistils, but that’s not how you do it. Just because the plant displays the sex doesn’t mean that the flowering period has started.

Note that the plant is still in the vegetative stage and nutrients must be provided at full strength. Also, this depends on the type of fertilizer you’re using. For instance, if you’re growing organically, use organic nutrients according to the manufacturer’s instructions, but make sure that it contains more nitrogen.

If you’re using a brand that has two parts of Growth and Bloom fertilizers, use only the “Grow” part during week 4. Most brands of fertilizers provide the numbering of N-P-K to make it easy for you. For example, if you’re using Floraseries from General Hydroponics, only FloraGro and FloraMicro (micronutrients) should be used during this stage.

Here’s a quick video to understand the lifecycle of autoflowering cannabis plants:

Remember to regulate the pH constantly when using nutrients, but if you’re using something like the pH Perfect from Advanced nutrients, for instance, pH can take a back seat.

Week 5 begins with the plants producing lush leaves with a few buds appearing slowly. Continue with the “Grow” nutrients even at this stage lest you want the plants to stop growing vertically. This is the stage where an explosion of growth occurs and you need to support it with nitrogen. Using more phosphorous or potassium at this point will force the plant to focus more on the buds rather than growing.

Many growers use bloom nutrients as soon as they enter the 5th week because they are satisfied with the growth of the plants. Some plants like Green Crack and Gorilla Glue have the tendency to grow very large, so you might be tempted to use flowering or bloom nutes. However, the yields can reduce significantly if the plant isn’t allowed to grow to its full potential.

As you enter week 6, the appearance of buds is even more apparent. A little defoliation doesn’t hurt now. Defoliation is the process of removing extra leaves to provide more light to the lower parts of the plant. Don’t overdo it, though, because the plant relies on the leaves to receive nutrients. Continue with nutrients meant for the vegetative stage as the plant will shoot up vertically.

Week 7 to Week 9

The plant is all geared up for its flowering stage and bloom nutrients can be used at full strength. The buds will begin to swell and the unmistakable aroma of sweet cannabis will fill up your tent. The pistils will slowly change colors from white to a light brown or red, depending on the strain.

It’s also a good idea to use nutrients to boost buds to improve the quality. Organic soil growers can use dried and powdered banana peels to introduce more potassium to the soil. The vertical growth stops sometime during week 7 but the plant does everything in its power to increase the size of the buds.

As you enter week 8, the leaves start yellowing a bit, but there’s nothing to be alarmed. This is just a natural way of the plant indicating that it’s nearing the end of its cycle. Continue to use flowering nutrients even as you step into week 9. Don’t forget micronutrients that are added right from week 2. Defoliate the plants again if the bottom parts of the plants display small buds.

Week 10 to Week 11

The plant is almost at the end of its lifecycle. Stop using nutrients and use plain water to remove any chemical buildup. This practice is known as flushing, and it’s very important if inorganic nutrients are used. Flushing also ensures that your buds don’t taste or smell like chemicals and improves the quality of smoke dramatically.

By week 11, all the leaves start turning yellow. Most of the pistils turn amber, indicating that it’s almost time to harvest. Admittedly, many seed companies including Fastbuds tell you that the plant will finish its cycle in 8-9 weeks. And yes, they do finish in 9 weeks if you use bloom nutrients right from week 4.

The plants head into the flowering stage pretty quickly and the result is a faster harvest. However, if you want your plants to grow a little bigger, start using bloom nutes only from week 6 and you’ll see the difference in yields.

Growing cannabis is an art that requires patience. Only growers that understand the science and lifecycle of the plant will succeed. The rest either fail misera