How to grow autoflowers?
Beginners, but also advanced growers and a huge group of commercial growers, have a preference for autoflowers which isn’t surprising at all as an autoflower grow features great advantages. You can harvest quickly, the growing process is very easy and you don’t need much to let the plant grow. A successful cultivation is therefore almost always guaranteed.
Wondering how to grow autoflowering seeds? Use our autoflower grow guide below!
The advantages of an autoflower grow
Many growers who never grew an autoflower before wonder if autoflowers are worth growing. We therefore listed the advantages below so you can decide yourself!
- Fast harvesting
- Simple growing process
- High cultivation yield
- Little space needed
- Suitable for indoors and outdoors
The fact that autoflowers are popular among growers proves the above advantages. Moreover, you can choose from many different types of top quality autoflowers, which have greatly improved in quality in recent years. New generations of autoflowers produce more weed in less time (usually harvest within 12 weeks) and are also of better quality. In short: enough reason to try it yourself.
Indoor or outdoor growing?
Basically there is no such thing as the best way to grow autoflower strains. Just like any other type of marijuana seeds, an autoflower plant can be grown indoors as well as outdoors.
In this article we explain step-by-step how to grow autoflowers indoors and outdoors, what you need, which varieties are available for beginners and how long they should be grown. Depending on your situation and preferences, you decide whether you want to grow the autoflower indoors or outdoors.
Growing autoflowers indoors in soil
Many growers choose to grow their autoflower indoors which is not strange when you look at the advantages.
Advantages of growing autoflowers inside
Autoflowers are ideal to grow indoors because of their many advantages. We list them for you.
- Little space needed: Autoflowers are relatively small plants and therefore very suitable for growing in a small space.
- No complicated light regime: You grow them without having to adhere to a light schedule. Give them light 12, 16, 18 or 24 hours a day, for example. The autoflower always blooms!
- Good yields: Autoflowers can tolerate a lot of light and as the experienced grower knows: light means weight. And more weight means a higher yield.
- No problems with rot and moulds: By growing them in a controlled indoor space, the chance of top rot is very limited.
- No burden of excessive wind or rain: Unlike outdoors, you don’t have to worry about the weather conditions.
- The autoflower is robust and forgiving: Autoflowers are strong and tough plants. If you forget to feed or water the plant once, there is usually not much to worry about.
How to grow an autoflower indoors?
Are you convinced of the advantages of indoor growing? Awesome! Let’s explain straight away how to get off to a flying start and do this job expertly.
Step 1: choose your spot and grow setup
First of all, you decide where to start your autoflower grow. Of course you can do this in a grow tent, grow box, a specially reserved room, but maybe you prefer to keep it simple and grow your autoflower in a sunny spot in front of the window. In any case, make sure there is enough light available.
Step 2: buy autoflowering seeds
Strong genetics form the basis for a healthy plant. Whether you buy your autoflower seeds at Weedseedsexpress or from another (online) seedbank, choose your seeds carefully. Check references and reviews from the seller. Read the specifications of the different varieties so you will grow an autoflower that meets all your wishes and requirements.
Check all our: autoflowering seeds
Step 3: choose your pots and growing medium for indoors
An autoflower grows fast. Often the plant starts flowering within 30 days so you don’t have much time to repot. We therefore advise you to place your germinated seed directly in the final pot or to repot within 1 week from the start to the final pot in which you grow your autoflower.
Use a lightly fertilized, well aerated growing medium. Think of soil mix or coconut. Air pots are very suitable but also dark pots of 15 – 30 litres with drainage.
Step 4: choose your (LED) lamp
When it comes to the lights there is plenty of choice. Basically it’s hard to make a wrong decision as each choice is a good one. LED, CFL, HPS or MH lamps, the choice is yours!
Growing with LED lighting is gaining popularity lately as LED lamps are more economical, emit less heat and can be placed closer to the plant which saves space.
Growing autoflower indoors without lights, is that possible too?
Yes, you can very well grow an autoflower indoors without lights. These plants love to stand on the windowsill in front of the window or in the conservatory. In any case, choose a sunny spot. A window sill or conservatory facing south is preferable. This way you ensure the plant of maximum sunlight.
Step 5: germinate and plant seeds
As soon as you have all the equipment you need, the real work can begin. That starts of course with germinating and planting the seed.
Step 6: plant care, cultivation and harvesting
After you’ve planted the seed, the care begins. Make sure you have enough water at all times, but do not let your plant drown. If desired, add some nutrition at the start of flowering and cultivate your plant completely. After about 10 to 12 weeks your plant will be ready to be harvested.
Tips for growing an autoflower indoors
Finally, we have some useful tips for you to be sure that your indoor growing will be a great success!
- Nutrition – The autoflower is a relatively small plant with a short vegetative phase (growth phase). In contrast to most photoperiod species, they therefore require considerably less nutrition. In fact, an autoflower grows fine without extra nutrients. However, do you decide to use nutrition? Then take it easy and avoid overfeeding.
- Temperature and humidity – Autoflowers grow best at a temperature between 20-25 °C with a humidity of 50-70%. Therefore, do not grow your autoflower in winter, but rather in spring, summer or autumn.
- Lighting – The light doesn’t have to be on all day. With 12 to 16 hours a day, you can already grow a beautiful autoflower. However, do you want to get the most out of your autoflower and do you have growing experience? Try 24 hours of light a day!
Note: autoflowers grow quickly and therefore have an increased risk of burning. Keep a close eye on your light and place it a bit higher rather than too low. LED lighting significantly reduces the risk of burning.
Related article: Growing weed with led
Growing autoflowers outdoors
Above you can read that indoor growing offers many advantages. But can you grow autoflowers outdoors as well? Sure you can! Let’s look at the advantages first.
Advantages of growing autoflowers outside
Every plant grows naturally outdoors. This also applies to the autoflower (also called cannabis Ruderalis). The autoflower strain originates from wet, cold regions. Logically, the plant thrives well in the Northern Hemisphere. However, this isn’t the only advantage. Wondering why you should grow your autoflower outdoors? Take a look at the advantages below.
- Autoflowers are mould resistant: despite a humid climate, the autoflower can grow undisturbed and mould-free.
- Little space required: the compact size makes the plant less conspicuous.
- Better yields: because of the short cycle, you can sow and harvest 2 to 3 times per season. The final harvest of an autoflower is often better when grown outdoors.
- Faster harvesting: CO2 ensures a fast metabolism which makes the strain grow faster. This means that in the end you can harvest faster.
- A bigger plant: when you grow in the open ground, the plant becomes considerably larger compared to growing in a pot. This results in more weed.
How to grow an autoflower outdoors?
Convinced of the advantages? Let’s take a quick look at how you do this job expertly. Growing an autoflower outdoors requires a lot of preparation.
Step 1: choosing a spot
For successful breeding you first choose a suitable place. Preferably in your own garden or on the balcony. In any case, make sure you have a place with sufficient sunlight.
Step 2: choose your autoflowering seeds
Which autoflower seeds do I buy? An important question that is answered by determining what you think is important when it comes to the characteristics of the plant and the effect of the weed. For example, do you want to grow high CBD varieties or perhaps a high THC species? Do you want quick results or is the plant allowed to flower a bit longer? What tastes and smells do you like?
As soon as you have your wishes clear, the search can begin. Luckily, there are numerous suppliers of autoflower outdoor seeds nowadays. Do your research and choose a supplier you have heard good stories about. Also online you will often find many reviews.
Step 3: growing in a pot or in the open ground
Outdoors you can grow in pots or in the open ground. Both methods have advantages and disadvantages. Let us therefore first briefly explain them.
Growing in a pot
A pot is easy to move which is useful when there is a lot of wind outside or when it rains for days. But a pot also offers limitations. The edge of the pot will block the development of roots. An autoflower grown in a pot therefore becomes less tall compared to a grow in the open ground.
Growing in the open ground
Want to grow a big autoflower? In the open ground, roots have free rein. Logically, your autoflower can grow quite large, but when it is windy or raining your plant is less easy to protect.
Step 4: choose the autoflowering medium for outdoors
One of the most important factors for growing autoflowers outdoors is the soil. For firm buds you need a decent soil. Autoflowers like a light organic soil. Organic potting soil mixed with nutrients such as cow- and chicken manure, compost, bat guano, blood meal or permite form an ideal medium. Such a mixed soil is more than sufficient to provide the autoflower with nutrients during the whole process of growing and flowering. In case you spot a nutrient deficiency during cultivation it’s always possible to add extra nutrients.
Step 5: germinating and planting autoflower seeds
Even if you’re going to grow outdoors, germinate your seeds indoors. This also applies to planting your autoflower seed. Seedlings are fragile and can break through a gust of wind. Small plants are also eaten faster by animals.
Step 6: growing and harvesting
After about 2 to 3 weeks you move the plant outside. You can repot the plant to a larger pot or dig it into the ground. Make sure there is enough water and light at all times. You then grow your autoflower all the way to harvest.
Tips for growing autoflowers outdoors
When growing your autoflower outdoors you have to deal with influences over which you have little or no control. Yet you can take various precautions. We therefore advise you to follow the tips below.
- Growing in a greenhouse – Outdoors your plant is subject to the weather. Would you like to grow your autoflower outdoors, but don’t want your plant to be subject to negative weather influences, reduce the chance of top rot and protect your plant against vermin? Then we advise you to grow in a greenhouse. Moreover, a greenhouse offers protection against pollination.
- Mould, insects, animals – Take insects and animals into account. They pose a threat to your plant. We therefore advise you to take precautions. You do this by digging a hole in the spot where you are growing, placing gauze and sealing the hole with the soil. We also recommend placing a chicken wire fence around your plant. Fungi and insects are difficult to control. Fortunately, rain and wind often cause insects such as aphids and spider mites to start a colony on your plant.
Curious how to grow autoflowering seeds? Check this blog with great tips for your autoflower grow – indoors and outdoors.
Growing Autoflowering Cannabis Outdoors
Published : Dec 23, 2019
In this guide to growing autoflowering cannabis outdoors, we’ll cover the benefits and particulars, as well as how to do it successfully. Finally, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of choosing autoflowering seeds vs feminized seeds for outdoor grows.
With each new generation of seeds, autoflowering cannabis becomes more potent, higher-yielding and better-tasting, without compromising speed. Today, most of these hybrids are just as good as photoperiod strains. This makes them extremely popular among indoor growers, and most people—including us—recommend cultivating them indoors.
However, growing autoflowering cannabis outdoors is totally doable. Use this helpful guide to learn why, how, and when to use automatic genetics outside, as well as what advantages they have over photoperiod seeds and clones.
WHY SHOULD YOU GROW AUTOFLOWERING CANNABIS OUTDOORS?
Growing autoflowering cannabis indoors gives you total control over the environmental conditions your plants are exposed to, including the total amount of light they receive each day. This is the key to consistent harvests and potency. However, there are several reasons some growers choose to cultivate automatic strains outside.
Indoor growers maximise yields by packing as many plants as they can fit into their available space, as well as by increasing the amount of artificial light in their tent or grow room. Alternatively, some growers use high-stress training techniques to coax out greater harvests.
However, growing autoflowering cannabis under the sun will usually give you higher yields per individual plant. If you’ve purchased expensive automatic seeds and want to get the most out of each one, you may want to try an outdoor grow.
If you don’t have the space or the money to invest in a fully equipped grow room, growing autoflowering cannabis outside is a good idea. You’ll still have to buy good soil and nutrients, but you won’t have to factor in the cost of lighting, ventilation, or filtration.
Photoperiod strains can get massive outdoors. It’s not unusual for them to exceed 3m in height if the weather is warm and sunny for most of the summer. That’s fine if you don’t have to hide your grow, but it’s a major concern if you do.
Autoflowering cannabis, on the other hand, finishes so fast that it rarely has time to get taller than 1m before harvest. You can easily shield an autoflowering plant from view by placing it behind a fence or hedge. The smell might still reveal your secret garden, but you won’t have to worry as much about prying eyes.
PERFORMS WELL IN ANY CLIMATE
From the northernmost latitudes to tropical regions, growing autoflowering cannabis plants outdoors has certain advantages.
In cooler regions with short, damp summers, automatic strains ripen quickly, meaning mature buds can be harvested before an early freeze or a wet autumn. This protects your herb from loss due to rot, mildew, and mould.
In more temperate regions, you can easily reap multiple harvests per growing season when cultivating autoflowering cannabis outdoors. This practice allows you to enjoy cured herb well before any photoperiod plants begin to flower, and autumn harvests let you stock up for winter.
Of course, if you live in an area where the winters are particularly mild, or non-existent, you may be able to grow autoflowering plants outside all year long for a steady supply.
LESS RISK OF DAMAGE DUE TO MOULD OR PESTS
Because autoflowering plants have such a short lifespan, they’re less exposed to the conditions that support mould, pests, diseases, etc. This is true whether you grow inside or outside, but you have much less control in the great outdoors. If you’ve had a problem with mites, aphids, mould, powdery mildew, or bud rot when growing more traditional strains outside, give autoflowering cannabis a try.
PERFECT FOR GUERRILLA GROWS
Autoflowering strains are extremely hardy and require very little care. They don’t need to be trained, and they mature in just two months after germination, on average. That makes them perfect for guerrilla grows.
Find a remote spot that sees little traffic with good access to water, prepare the soil, and plant your autoflowering seeds. If the local wildlife likes to munch on young cannabis shoots, take precautions to shield them from damage using chicken wire or the like. After 8–9 weeks, your plants will be ready for the chop.
WHEN TO START AN OUTDOOR AUTOFLOWERING GROW
Autoflowering cannabis plants, like their photoperiod cousins, prefer strong sunlight when grown outside. They will flower even when exposed to 18–24 hours of light per day, but they need at least 10–12 hours of strong sunlight to produce good yields. Autoflowers can tolerate cold temperatures, but they’re not freeze-proof. That’s why the best time to start your outdoor autoflowering grow depends on where you live.
You can grow cannabis anywhere south of the North Pole, but the further north you go, the shorter the growing season will be. If you live in the far north, plant your seeds outdoors as soon as all danger of frost is over, somewhere between April and June.
If you plant your autoflowering seeds in June, you should be able to harvest in August. This timing avoids the worst of the cold, damp weather that develops as autumn approaches. By keeping the flowers as dry as possible, you minimise the risk of failure due to mould, mildew, and rot.
In the extreme north, you’ll only be able to fit one outdoor grow per season, even with autoflowering strains.
If you grow weed a little further south, you can fit in two outdoor autoflowering grows per summer with proper planning. Start the first between late April and early May for a late July harvest. Immediately reseed, and the second crop should be ready before the end of October.
Keep an eye out for heavy fall rains and early frosts. It may be necessary to cover your second run with a tarp, buckets, or other protective material to protect the fragile flowers from harm in the last week or two.
If you live in a tropical region between the equator and the Mediterranean, you shouldn’t have any frost to worry about. That means you can grow autoflowering cannabis outdoors all year long. If you grow back-to-back, that translates to four or more harvests annually.
Of course, as you get closer to the equator, the total hours of sunlight each day will also get closer to 12 year-round. Although they will produce flowers with as few as 10 hours of strong sunlight per day, autoflowering strains prefer at least 16 hours for the best yield and potency. Grow sites very close to the equator may not be optimal for all breeds of automatic cannabis.
HOW TO GROW AUTOFLOWERING CANNABIS OUTSIDE
Growing autoflowering cannabis outdoors is very similar to growing from photoperiod seeds, but there are some slight differences. In short: growing autos is usually easier, and eliminates some of the more stressful factors associated with cultivation.
GATHER THE NECESSARY SUPPLIES
This list details the basic supplies you’ll need for an outdoor autoflowering cannabis grow:
– Autoflowering seeds
– Pots or grow bags, unless you’re planting in the ground
– pH test kit
– Bucket or watering can
CHOOSE A SITE
Pick a spot for your garden. If you’re planting in the ground, make sure your autoflowering cannabis will get as much sunlight as possible. View the site from all sides to ensure your plants aren’t easy to see. Even if discretion isn’t a concern due to legal reasons, you should take the possibility of theft into consideration. Plant close to a water source so you don’t have to tote heavy buckets of fluid frequently.
If you’re planting in containers, the site isn’t as much of a concern because you can move your plants as needed. Invest in a wheeled plant dolly to make it easier to move the pots as the plants get larger.
PREPARE THE SOIL
Purchase a high-quality organic soil mix, unless you prefer to make your own. This can be used to either fill containers or refill holes if you grow in the ground. In either case, good soil is key to growing any type of cannabis successfully.
GERMINATE YOUR AUTOFLOWERING SEEDS
You can germinate your autoflowering seeds in the same way you germinate photoperiod seeds: the paper towel method, root cubes, or sowing seeds directly in soil. As long as they’re fresh, most autoflowering seeds will germinate within a few days. Even older seeds rarely take more than a week.
Once germinated, carefully place your seeds in the ground or in their final pot. Unlike photoperiod plants, autoflowers prefer not to be up-potted (transplanted into progressively bigger pots).
WATER AND FEED AS NEEDED
As the young autoflowering plants grow, water and feed as necessary. Because this type of cannabis develops much faster than photoperiod strains, they may become thirsty or hungry faster than more light-sensitive breeds. On the other hand, you definitely don’t want to overwater or overfeed. Oftentimes, autos can be fed half-strength nutrients and will still produce impressive harvests in good conditions.
Unless you’re trying a guerrilla grow, check your young plants daily for signs that they require fluids or nourishment. As a rule of thumb, use plain water at least once between feedings. As autoflowering plants get larger, they may need to be watered daily, especially if they’re planted in pots or the weather has been particularly dry.
When feeding or watering, always check the pH level of the solution. Adjust as necessary to keep the value between 6.0 and 7.0 pH.
WATCH FOR MOULD & PESTS
Autoflowering strains mature so quickly that they largely mitigate the threat of mould and pests—but you can’t eliminate these problems entirely.
When you check to see if your autoflowering plants need to be watered or fed, give them a quick once-over for other problems. At the first sign of mould, remove the infected bud or foliage and relocate your plants to a drier area.
Visible pests like mites and worms can be plucked off by hand if the problem is minimal. Otherwise, try a safe pesticide like neem oil or insecticidal soap. These sprays can also be used weekly to prevent infestations. Just make sure not to spray directly on the buds.
HARVEST WHEN RIPE
Each breeder will provide an expected harvest time from germination for their autoflowering seeds. This time may be the same whether the seed is grown indoors or out, or it may be slightly longer for outdoor grows.
Don’t go strictly by the suggested time. Instead, watch for the trichomes to turn cloudy, for the pistils to change colour and shrink into the buds, and for the leaves to fade from green to yellow or purple.
When all the signs point to full maturity, it’s time to cut, dry, and cure as you would for any other type of cannabis.
AUTOFLOWERING SEEDS VS FEMINIZED SEEDS FOR OUTDOOR CANNABIS GROWS
Autoflowering seeds and feminized (photoperiod) seeds each have their pros and cons when grown outside.
On the positive side, autoflowering seeds grow quickly and need minimal care. On average, they reach full maturity in half the time it takes a photoperiod strain.
Autoflowering seeds have their drawbacks too. You can clone them, but there’s really no point. They will be at the same point of maturity as their mother, so by the time they recover and start to grow again, they’ll be at or close to their pre-programmed end of life, producing only a few small, fluffy flowers.
Speaking of recovery time, autoflowering cannabis plants don’t have much time to bounce back if they do encounter a problem. Let them dry out too much, overfeed them, or allow them to become infested with pests, and they’ll stall for weeks. However, their maturity point won’t be extended. This can greatly impact both their potency and yield. With autoflowering seeds, much more than with feminized seeds, you need to get it right the first time.
When it comes to yield and potency, there’s less of a gap between autos and traditional strains than there used to be. Breeders have discovered how to minimise the amount of ruderalis required, allowing them to preserve the final weight and THC of the other parent(s), while still keeping the autoflowering trait.
Growing autoflowering cannabis outdoors can be a rewarding project when done right. Plan well in advance by choosing the best time to start your seeds and a good site with optimal light and water access. Monitor their progress so you can give them the right amount of water and nutrients, and so you can correct any problems immediately.
For your work and attention, you’ll be rewarded with a generous amount of aromatic herb that’s just as potent and tasty as weed grown from a similar photoperiod strain.
Learn how to grow autoflowering cannabis outdoors, including the reasons why you should try it. Follow our complete guide!