It seems like the science behind cannabis growing gets more advanced with each passing year. As marijuana gets legalized in more places across the world, there also comes a need for knowledge about it.
Countless newbie growers want to know how to grow cannabis seeds and the right seeds to do it with. In this guide today, we want to put a spotlight on how to grow autoflowering cannabis seeds.
What is an autoflower seed, in the first place? What are the benefits of using autoflowering marijuana seeds over regular or feminized seeds? Maybe you just want to cut straight to how to grow them. Whatever your reason for wanting to learn more, you’ve come to the right guide.
Regardless of if you have an indoor or outdoor grow setup, there’s a lot to love about autoflowering strains. Consider this the ultimate guide in everything you might want to know.
Just like cannabis ruderalis, autoflowers are gaining a lot of traction in the industry. Nowadays, what used to be hard to fathom as a possible strain is what growers yearn to cultivate themselves. With that in mind, let’s dive in to get a clearer understanding of this phenomenon type of strain.
What is an Autoflowering Marijuana Strain?
The term “autoflowering” was first coined in the early 1920s. A Russian botanist happened to cross two rare marijuana strains. What was bred became the first autoflowering cannabis strain!
D.E. Janischewsky, the Russian botanist in question, wanted a marijuana strain that was at least somewhat independent. At the time, marijuana wasn’t nearly as easy to grow as it is a century later. For many years, he sought to find a marijuana strain that didn’t depend on conventional weather patterns to grow.
To finally find that kind of strain, Janischewsky crossed ruderalis strains with either sativa or indica strains. The result was a marijuana plant that grows and flowers without your necessary attention. It was a much lower maintenance strain, requiring little interference to flower beautifully.
The Big Differences
Unlike regular plants, autoflowering plants don’t need specific signals to continue growing. Regular plants must wait for specific signals, typically from the sun. The signal is anything that tells the plants that they’re approaching a cold or winter season.
As it’s typically from the sun, this means regular plants can only grow under the right light conditions. They need a certain programmed pattern of light for them to grow to full maturity.
Meanwhile, autoflowering plants don’t need any signals to grow leaves, flowers, branches, buds, or even to shed. Whether it’s cold or hot, low-light or not, autoflowering strains can keep growing.
As a result, the term autoflowering suggests that the mode of flowering is automatic. With zero signal from the sun, these strains start to flower within a few weeks. This type of weed strain doesn’t wait to be induced or directed by a particular light cycle.
In addition, autoflowering marijuana strains start to produce buds the moment they’re ready. On the other hand, regular strains need an inducement. This is typically done through a major change in the lighting pattern.
Better, Faster, Stronger
Critics of autoflowering marijuana strains argue that regular or photoperiod strains have a higher potency and yield.
However, when autoflowering plants are grown with expert tips also show extremely plentiful results. Both in potency and yield quantity, autoflowering strains offer more than enough.
Our autoflowering cannabis seeds are engineered to provide a maximum yield as fast as possible. Especially when you break down how quickly autoflowers grow in comparison, choosing this type of strain becomes an easy choice.
Plus, cannabis genetic breeding techniques advance further every day. Now, it’s fully plausible to have higher yields compared to certain photoperiod strains.
There are many reports of growers having autoflowering marijuana strains that produce high THC levels. Something no one would think possible even just a few years ago can happen easier than ever in today’s cannabis climate.
Quick Advantages to Autoflower Strains
- This type of weed doesn’t rely on a particular lighting cycle for the seeds to be able to germinate.
- Autoflowering strains don’t need a lot of attention regardless of their stage of growth. Whether they’re at a tender age or they’ve put on some leaves and branches, they keep it low maintenance.
- They grow significantly faster than their regular or feminized alternatives. Any time of the year, you can grow autoflowering strains within just a few weeks. It all depends on the strain.
How Fast Do Autoflowering Marijuana Strains Grow?
To be more specific, autoflowering cannabis strains can take up to 14 weeks. Most, however, often take less than 12 weeks to grow. Typically, they can be ready for harvest in 60 to 90 days. In some rare cases, you could grow an autoflower in as little as 6 or 7 weeks.
The life cycle of an autoflowering strain is short and rewarding.
For most, once the seeds germinate, it takes 1 to 2 weeks for them to adjust to their seedling stage.
Then, there’s the explosion that is the third week.
After that, they take only 1 to 4 weeks before they enter their flowering stage. This makes them faster than their photoperiod counterparts. To give you an idea, regular cannabis strains can take 3 to 8 months. That’s anywhere from 10 to 32 weeks.
On average, the majority of autoflowers take between 6 to 10 weeks to mature fully. It’s because of this significantly shorter maturity time that many growers prefer autoflowering strains to regular photoperiods.
How to Grow Autoflowering Cannabis Seeds
Whether you want to know how to grow autoflowering cannabis seeds outdoors or indoors, we want to help. We’re going to go over what you’ll need before you get started.
What You’ll Need First
The first thing you need to ensure you grow beautiful autoflowering cannabis strains is proper support. While we’ve bragged about how much easier autoflowers are to grow, they do still require some tender love and care.
Compared to regular photoperiod marijuana strains, autoflowering strains can be more feeble. If it won in every department, regular strains would be a thing of the past. However, even though they may be more feeble, it doesn’t mean they’re not right for cultivation.
As far as proper support goes, start with good artificial light. This is, of course, if you’re growing indoors.
Now, you may be wondering why you need light if it doesn’t need a light pattern to grow. On the contrary, all plants need some kind of light. The only contrast is that this type of marijuana doesn’t follow a specific lighting pattern.
They can start flowering, branching, and even introducing buds in many different lighting patterns. It’s not that autoflowers need no light at all. Rather, they are more versatile in what light they will accept.
Germination is Key
Ensuring your autoflowering seeds get germinated is the key to any other growth stage. You might opt to follow the conventional, traditional way. Grow the seeds directly into the soil, and upon germination, transfer them to an indoor structure or greenhouse.
Alternatively, you can use a medium such as a pot or paper towel for germination. Whatever medium you use, ensure the soil has proper nutrients for quicker germination and a stronger, healthier plant. This is especially important during its younger stages.
Still not sure how to even get started? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here’s an easy-to-follow, stage-to-stage general guide.
How to Grow Autoflowering Cannabis Strains: Stage by Stage
Keep in mind, every strain is different. You may need to adjust times appropriately if you have an autoflower that takes a bit longer. Pay attention to which strain you choose so you can adjust each grow stage accordingly.
For this guide, we’ll be using our autoflower cannabis seeds that have the shortest grow times, which are 6 to 8 weeks indoors.
Stage One: Germination, Early Seedling Phase
Germination will occur within the first 3 days. For some strains, they can germinate in as quickly as 24 hours. You’ll need to ensure you’re using a suitable soil mix for this step.
To give you a better idea, autoflowers prefer light, airy soil. They don’t need as many nutrients as their photoperiod variants.
During this phase, seeds will activate and send a root down to the soil and a shoot just above the surface.
When it does germinate, it’s time to further plant your seeds! Start by poking holes about 10 to 15mm wide and deep. This will be your seed’s final potting place.
(Transplanting plants too much can cause them to go into shock, so it’s simpler to avoid altogether. Autoflowers often grow so fast that the recovery time for transplanting can negatively impact them too much.)
Place a seed in each hole. Cover them lightly with soil. and expect them to emerge within the following days.
- Humidity - 70% to 90% (for relative humidity, or RH)
- Temperature - 70 to 85° Fahrenheit (or 22 to 25° Celsius)
And make sure your potting soil has:
- Nitrogen-rich tablets
- Moistened vermiculture
- Moistened perlite
- Peat moss
Alternatively, you can purchase an autoflower soil mix that has it all for you. While some growers prefer to make the soil mix themselves, it all comes down to preference.
Stage Two: Late Seedling Phase
Your little seedling is well on its way now! At this point in the growth stages, your seedling should be creating energy from its light source. It’s now emerged, and the process of photosynthesis is underway.
We recommend an LED light for this endeavor. How much light you need will depend on your specific autoflower cannabis strain. Likewise, it’ll depend on how many plants you’re trying to grow at once.
Typically speaking, a 250W LED light will provide enough power for an indoor grow. This level of light is sufficient for growing one large plant per square meter.
The maximum is four plants at once under this light level, as long as you use low-stress training.
There are many reasons growers generally prefer LED lights. LEDs:
- Produce less heat
- Are more energy-efficient
- Allows users to switch between multiple spectrums of light
The right grow LED light will have a timer and different light settings. During this next phase, you’ll change the light to the blue setting. Likewise, you can utilize the timer to meet your ideal light schedule.
In this late seedling phase, it’s time to apply the right nutritional formula for the job. Just like that soil mix we mentioned, there are also formulas that are designed for this step.
Get your plants a nutritional formula that’s fit for the seedling and vegetative phases. Each formula should specify what stage it’s meant for.
Now, since you are dealing with autoflowers, they don’t need as much nutrition. Twice a week, give your plants a quarter to half of the normal formula dose.
Stage Three: Vegetation Production
Vegetation is well underway at this point. This is often around the 3-week mark, but it varies for each strain. Stage 3 consists of maintaining ideal conditions and low-stress training. New fan leaves will form, which will improve its photosynthesis production.
What is Low-Stress Training?
Low-stress training is ideal for indoor grow projects.
Take some garden wire and tie a piece halfway up your plant’s main stem.
Gently bend the stem parallel to the ground.
Attach the other end of the wire to the rim of the pot to secure it in position. This strategy helps to expose more bud sites to the light by flattening the canopy.
Other Things to Keep in Mind for Stage Three
It’s time to change up some of your variables:
- Humidity - 50% RH
- Room Temperature - 68°F (or 20°C air temperature)
- Increase formula feeding frequency by double
Water only once the soil’s top layer dries out. Your plant has the potential to drink about 0.5 liters of water per day now.
Once your plant reaches about half a foot in height, or 15cm, you can reposition your light. Adjust the light so that it hangs around 1 meter from the tip of the canopy. This limits the risk of light stress and allows your plant to get more optimal photosynthesis.
Stage Four: Late Vegetative Phase
This is around week 4 for most autoflower strains. Your plant is close to its flowering stage! At this point, you should be giving your plant 0.5 liters every day.
For the late vegetative phase, you’ll just make some minor adjustments:
- Humidity - 45% instead of 50%
- No change to temperature
- Adjust light to be 70cm from the canopy
- No change to formula feeding frequency
This is also where you need to wrap up your low-stress training. Use more garden ties to pin down any other growth to ensure your buds are at the same level.
Stage Five: Flowering Phase
Flowering has finally begun! Small sacs with hairs atop should emerge at the nodes at this stage. Gradually, these will turn into resinous, sticky buds. This week is all about continuing to make those minor adjustments.
Your plant ought to be about a foot tall here. Make sure these factors are in play:
- Humidity - still at 45% RH
- Temperature - adjust to around 73°F (or 23°C)
- Adjust light to be 65cm from the canopy
- Increase watering to 1L per day
- LED light settings go from blue to red!
Red light during this stage encourages the budding process. Plants will expand and stretch during this phase.
It’s also time to change up your plant’s nutrition formula. It’ll need more magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, and potassium, but less nitrogen than before. Fortunately, there are plenty of formulas that can make this adjustment for you.
Stage Six: Aroma Kicks In, Monitoring Phase
During this phase, things start to get a little stinky. It’s that good, dank kind of stinky, though, so no worries! The flowers have simply start proliferating. They’re growing rapidly and developing a spread of evenly sized buds FAST.
This is right around week 6 for most autoflower strains. Make sure you adjust the humidity here to reduce the risk of mold. In fact, aim for these variables:
- Humidity - 40% RH
- Temperature - around 75°F (or 24°C)
- Light distance - adjust to about 45cm from the canopy
- Increase watering to 1.5L every day
- Change the formula to a solution designed for the blooming phase
Now, keep in mind that this is the biggest monitoring phase. Pay careful attention to the water and feeding schedule you’d established. Keep an eye out for unwelcome intruders, like spider mites and mold. Look at your plant’s leaves to ensure there aren’t signs of nutrient deficiency.
Stage Seven: Flush, Defoliate
The next step is to flush the plant’s soil with a flood of water. This stage, which usually happens around week 8 or 9, clears excess chemicals from the plant. The plant is unable to eat any further chemicals, as a result.
You’ll do this flushing process multiple times over the next week or two. Make sure to let your soil dry between each flush.
While we don’t recommend taking cuttings from the plant, this is a great time to trim it up. Remove any small fan leaves from the bottom nodes. This limits the risk of developing mold, as well as helps the plant absorb more light.
- Stop giving your plants anything other than water
Stage Eight: Harvest Time!
Finally, we’ve made it to the finish line. It’s time to harvest the fruits of your labor! You’ll know you’ve reached this step when the trichomes on your buds are almost white. The pistils should be brownish-red.
Typically, this stage happens between 10 and 12 weeks. If you’re using an autoflower strain that takes less time, simply adjust accordingly.
The results can vary wildly depending on the strain you grew, as well as the quality of that strain’s seeds. Each plant also requires its own time to fully mature, so don’t worry if your plant seems slower to grow.
You’ll notice that some buds have positioned themselves closer to the light. These buds will likely finish ripening first. It’s why the harvest process doesn’t happen all at once.
Take your time and harvest buds as they’ve completely matured.
Stage Nine: Cure and Store
This last step can be an afterthought for many. After harvesting, it’s time to dry, cure, and store your bud. Many of the same techniques for this stage work with regular photoperiod plants, too.
The most popular method is to hang your buds upside down for a few days. This dries them out. Keep a watch out for mold during this step.
Once the buds are dry, store them in airtight containers. Make sure there’s a bit of space in each jar.
Over the next week or two, open the jars once a day for just a few minutes. You can then move to open them every 2 to 3 days. All you’re doing is essentially adjusting the humidity in the jars.
Curing can take a minimum of two weeks, but it can take up to two months. It all depends on how patient you are!
Our Impeccable Growing Tips
- Choose strains whose maturity period is the shortest.
- Grow your weed in nutritious, airy soil. It’s better to grow your seeds directly into the soil.
- While dry autoflowering marijuana seeds will take approximately 4 days to sprout, older seeds may take up to 7.
- You can transfer your plant to a new, permanent location only after the seeds have sprouted. Don’t touch the roots during the transfer!
- You can use root stimulants to ensure your plant is the healthiest it can be.
- If you transplanted the seeds carefully, you won’t need to worry. You can relax as you wait for your marijuana strain to start producing flowers!
- We don’t recommend cutting autoflowers while they’re growing. Because you can’t quite pinpoint when flowering will start, so you can risk damaging the harvest. (Plus, autoflowering cannabis plants that are grown from cuttings don’t often turn out the best. They can turn out shorter than their parent plants.)
- Use the right lighting, especially when the crops are young.
- While lighting pattern isn’t as important, keep a lookout on your watering pattern!
- Try to employ the “sea of green” practice.
- Monitor the pH in the soil and water. This also optimizes just how dank you can grow your bud to be. Likewise, check the airflow, temperature, and humidity.
- Never top the autoflowers.
- Finally, harvest gradually. It’s not a race once the cannabis is ready. Take your time, be gentle, and you’ll have a more productive harvest.
Final Thoughts on How to Grow Autoflowering Marijuana Seeds
We hope this has been an insightful guide for you on how to grow autoflowering marijuana seeds. While the question isn’t new, many can make use of these breeding techniques as they continue to advance.
Now, you have the basics down, as well as the ability to rear, breed, tend, and grow autoflowers, indoors and outdoors. Using these tips, you can start your first or next grow project as soon as you’re ready!
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What size pot to grow autoflowers in?
How to grow autoflower in coco?
- Germinate the autoflower seeds
- Mix the coco coir with perlite in a 70/30 ratio
- Fill the growing pots with ¾ of the mixture
- Make a hole in the pot containing the coco coir and plant the seedling
- Add a little amount of nutrients
- Keep checking that the plants aren’t underwatered or overwatered.