May 7, 2018

Advantages of Feminized vs. Autoflowering Seeds for Indoor Cultivation

May 7, 2018
Feminized vs. autoflowering seeds. Which is best?
When cultivating cannabis indoors, considering every aspect, what would be the better option for the grower?

As cannabis laws change and more people gain their legal right to grow marijuana, indoor cultivation continues to increase in popularity. Why? The reason is simple: control. 

Indoor cultivation allows the grower to control every aspect of the process. Environment, light source, nutrients, ventilation, temperature, irrigation – with an indoor grow, it can all be closely monitored to ensure the operation ends with a high-quality and high-inducing harvest. It’s the (perks of being an indoor grower!) However, an essential aspect of indoor growing often has cultivators confused. What’s the better option out of the two most popular choices – Feminized vs Autoflowering seeds?

What are Feminized Seeds?

Feminized seeds, or “female seeds”, are cannabis seeds specifically bred to only produce female plants. 

What Does ‘Feminized Seeds’ Mean?

The term ‘feminized seeds’ is in reference to the sex of the plant. With cannabis, there are male plants and female plants. So why use feminized seeds? Female plants produce what most cultivators are looking for in a grow – the buds. In turn, they also contain the majority of the plant’s THC and CBD, the most sought after cannabinoids in the cannabis plant.

Male plants, on the other hand, are generally undesirable if you’re growing and hoping to harvest flower. The male cannabis plant’s central role is to produce and spread pollen, allowing the cannabis plant to reproduce. However, if the pollen is released near female plants, the yield will be ruined. With male and female plants in the same growing area, buds will only produce seeds – no flower. 

What are the Best Feminized Seeds?

If you’ve decided to buy feminized seeds, it’s best to purchase them from a reputable seed bank or breeder in order to ensure quality. If you don’t go that route, it’s more likely you’ll come across a tainted batch that goes on to produce a percentage of hermaphrodites or male plants. 

When you’re looking for female cannabis seeds, keep a look out for some of these strains, as they’re some of the most popular among growers this year:

  • Chemdog Feminized (easy grow, 19-22% THC, sativa-dominant)
  • Sour Diesel Feminized (moderate grow, 18.5% THC, sativa-dominant)
  • Golden Nugget Feminized (easy/moderate grow, 22% THC, sativa-dominant)

Past those markers, there are a few general visual cues that might shed light on the quality of seed you’re looking at. If a seed is healthy, you’ll see:

  • No Cracks – If a seed has any cracks or holes, it will most likely not sprout.
  • Hard Shell – If a seed can be easily crushed, chances are it’s weak or dead.
  • Dark Color – If a seed is white or green, it is immature.

What are Autoflowering Seeds?

Autoflowering seeds are cannabis seeds that have adapted to change from the vegitative phase to the flowering phase without a shift in light cycle or other external cues.

What Does Autoflowering Mean?

When approaching the question, “what is autoflowering,” it’s best to take the term “autoflowering” very literally. On one end of the spectrum there are photoperiod cannabis plants (arguably the most prominent form of cannabis), which require a shift in light cycle in order to trigger flowering. However, when cannabis plants began spreading to more harsh and shady environments, they had to adapt. That is when autoflowering plants arose, allowing cannabis plants to begin flowering and reproducing before being triggered by their environment. 

Are Autoflowers Less Potent?

While autoflower strains were definitely considered less potent when they first came on the market, that was over ten years ago, and breeders have worked hard to change that stereotype. Generally, Ruderalis – the species of cannabis that developed the auto flower gene – has high CBD and low THC content, explaining the less powerful psychoactivity. Since then, however, Ruderalis plants have been crossbred with other strains high in THC, leading to knockout autoflower results like Girl Scout Cookies and Gorilla Glue.

Who Has the Best Autoflowering Seeds?

Some of the most popular autoflower strains among growers this year are:

  • Blue Dream Autoflower (easy grow, 14% THC, sativa-dominant)
  • Train Wreck Autoflower (easy grow, 16.5% THC, sativa-dominant)
  • NYC Diesel Autoflower (easy grow, 14.5% THC, hybrid)

But remember to always purchase seeds from a reputable seed bank or breeder, and follow the list of visual cues above for high-quality seeds.

Feminized vs. Autoflowering Seeds

The choice of feminized vs. autoflowering seeds is completely dependent on your needs and resources as a grower. Let’s take a look at each seed’s advantages and see where you land:

Should I Buy Feminized Seeds?

The pros of growing feminized seeds are pretty straightforward. The guarantee of no male plants allows for fast and simple cultivation, eliminating the work of caring for male plants that will have to be discarded anyway. In addition, feminized weed seeds often lead to higher yields, as every plant is producing smokeable flower. The greater harvest means greater value for your seeds and more bang for your buck.

Feminized seeds also allow for freedom of cloning as well as a degree of uniformity in genetics. Reputable seed banks work to bring out a strain’s defining characteristics through carefully controlled breeding. This leads to a more potent, aromatic, and attractive final product.

Are Autoflowering Seeds Worth It?

The main positives of autoflowering are in the ease of the grow – making autoflower strains the first choice among beginner growers. Autoflowering plants have simple lighting demands (18 hours on, 6 hours off throughout the whole grow), resilient genetics (remember – these are the plants that adapted to extreme temperatures and harsh terrains), and a fast life cycle (generally flowering in just 5-7 weeks). 

Autoflower plants are also generally low height compared to other types of cannabis, resulting in less maintenance and eliminating the need for a large grow area.  But the big question is – do autoflower plants produce a worthwhile yield?  

What is the Difference Between Feminized Seeds and Autoflowering Seeds?

Size of YieldLarge YieldSmaller Yield
Growth TimeLong Growth TimeShort Growth Time
CloningCan be ClonedCannot be Cloned
Lighting DemandsStrict Light CycleSimple Lighting

Feminized vs. Autoflowering Seeds F.A.Q.

Are regular seeds better than feminized?

It’s dependent on what you’re hoping to get out of your grow. Feminized seeds are often preferred due to the simplicity of the grow and the generally large yield size.

How long do autoflowers take from seed to harvest?

An autoflowering plant’s life cycle is about 9-11 weeks. 

Do feminized seeds produce seeds?

Feminized plants only grow to produce buds, but you can easily clone female plants.

Are autoflowers weaker?

In terms of potency, autoflowers generally produce buds with lower THC profiles. However, in terms of the resiliency of the plant, autoflowers are anything but weak.

You can expect high-quality cannabis from high-quality seeds, no matter if they’re feminized or autoflowering. As more indoor cultivators grow and experiment, there will be changes in preferences. Currently, feminized seeds seem to be preferred by experienced indoor cultivators due to their high yield and cloning capabilities. However, if the advantages of both seed types seem interesting, a large majority of autoflower seeds are feminized today anyway – giving you the best of both worlds!

Do you have a preference between feminized and autoflowering seeds? Let us know in the comments below!


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