If you have spent any time searching for quality cannabis seeds for your home grow, you may have come across auto-flowering seeds. Autoflowering seeds are a relatively new ‘invention’ that makes it easier and faster for growers at every level to grow high-quality cannabis, even if there are a few bumps along the road.
Some novice growers have felt intimidated by the process of growing cannabis, worrying that they will damage the sensitive plants or neglect to tend to their particular needs. Autoflowering plants require less complex care and are less sensitive than ‘traditional’ cannabis strains, making them an appealing choice for plant-phobic beginners or anyone looking for a more effortless cannabis growing experience.
What Is Autoflowering Cannabis?
The family of cannabis plants includes three species: cannabis Indica, cannabis Sativa, and cannabis ruderalis. You’ve seen Indicas and Sativas in your local dispensaries, but you may never have heard of ruderalis. Cannabis Ruderalis isn’t cultivated for use in the same way as Indicas and Sativas, and if you were to find it growing wild, smoking it wouldn’t likely get you high.
Wild Ruderalis is an evolved version of Indica, adapted to the cold temperatures of Northern regions like Siberia, where sun exposure is minimal, and plants must survive with only a little light. Cannabis Ruderalis has a far lower THC content than the cannabis you might buy at your local dispensary, but there’s another reason this species has gained interest in recent decades.
Cannabis plants go through two primary phases of growth: vegetative and flowering. The most common types of cannabis plants require a change in the amount of daylight they receive to transition from the vegetative to the flowering stage. These cannabis plants – called photoperiod cannabis – can be extremely sensitive to too much or too little light at different growth stages, which means that minimal lighting mistakes (which are typical for beginners) could delay or prevent the plant from flowering altogether.
To survive in Siberia’s cold and dark conditions, cannabis Ruderalis plants developed the auto-flowering trait, meaning they automatically begin to flower at a particular growth stage rather than depending on daylight to trigger the shift. Although Ruderalis adapted and shed the dependency on seasonal change naturally, it is thanks to creative cannabis breeders that we now can enjoy high-potency auto-flowering cannabis seeds.
By crossing some of the world’s most popular strains with genetic traits from cannabis Ruderalis, auto-flowering cannabis seeds were created. Auto-flowering seeds provide the same high THC content and psychoactive effects as your average weed strains without the specific lighting schedule responsible for intimidating so many novice growers.
Is It Easy to Grow Autoflower Cannabis?
While growing any plant requires a certain amount of patience and care, growing auto-flowering cannabis is often easier than growing regular photoperiod seeds. Autoflower cannabis plants are less finicky, sturdier, and often grow more quickly than photoperiod plants, just a few of the reasons these varieties have gained popularity in recent years.
Long story short: yes, growing auto-flower cannabis is easy, but there are a few critical pieces of information you should know before you begin.
Do Autoflower Plants Need Nutrients?
Yes! All plants require essential nutrients, but some are pickier or ‘hungrier’ than others. Autoflower cannabis plants are happy to grow in less nutrient-dense soil since their Ruderalis ancestors thrive in poor, sandy, and harsh conditions. Though auto-flowering cannabis needs far fewer nutrients than photoperiod varieties, they may still need additional nutrients to produce the highest possible yield.
Most commercially available cannabis nutrients are intended for photoperiod cannabis, but with a few dosage tweaks – You can easily use them for auto-flowering plants as well. Consider feeding your auto-flowering cannabis plants once or twice during their lifecycle, starting with half the portion recommended for photoperiod plants.
Autoflower Cannabis Light Schedule
Lighting your auto-flowering cannabis plants is simple and can remain the same throughout every phase of growth. Autoflower plants aren’t picky, so don’t worry about choosing the right lighting schedule; choose one that works best for you. Common autoflower lighting schedules include:
- 18 hours ON – 6 hours OFF
- 12 hours ON – 12 hours OFF
- 24 hours ON
Indoor vs. Outdoor Autoflowering Cannabis
Whether you want to plant your auto-flowering cannabis indoors or outside, these hardy plants will grow quickly and with few complications. That said, unlike photoperiod cannabis, which depends on the changing of the seasons, auto-flowering cannabis flowers when the plant reaches maturity, regardless of light availability. Because of this, growing auto-flowering cannabis outdoors is more manageable than growing regular photoperiod cannabis, making it a popular choice among cannabis gardeners and commercial growers with large outdoor operations.
Want to grow your cannabis indoors instead? No problem! Set up a simple light schedule for your auto-flower plants and let nature do the rest – remember to water whenever the soil gets dry.
How Long Does It Take for Autoflower Plants to Grow Buds?
Some photoperiod growth operations can last upwards of half a year, which is quite the commitment if you have never grown your own cannabis before or are new to keeping plants in general. Autoflowering cannabis plants grow far more quickly than photoperiod cannabis plants, with most becoming ready for cultivation within 8-10 weeks of being planted.
When To Harvest Your Autoflowering Cannabis Plants
On average, most auto-flowering cannabis plants will be ready to harvest within 8-10 weeks, but don’t let a calendar tell you when to pick your bud! Look for signs or changes your plant may go through that indicate it is ready for harvest:
- Brown/orange pistils
- Trichomes become slightly amber
- Yellowing fan leaves
- Reduced water consumption