If you have the slightest familiarity with cannabis and its cultivation, you’ve likely heard of autoflowering. This is a popular (and often contentious) topic within the cannabis industry, especially among beginning cultivators. Before you dig into this article and the soil, review your state’s laws and regulations to ensure the legality of purchasing autoflowering cannabis seeds and cannabis cultivation in general.
What Is Autoflowering?
Autoflowering cannabis plants are genetically linked to a wild hemp strain originating in Eastern Europe, Asia, and Russia. In 1940’s Russia, this hemp strain was identified as Cannabis Ruderalis. Like other types of hemp, Ruderalis had low levels of THC; however, an unknown visionary breeder understood the autoflowering capacity of this hemp plant and decided to intermingle Ruderalis plants with famous strains of photoperiod (non-autoflowering or regular) cannabis to increase THC potency while retaining the autoflowering capabilities.
Known for its autoflower power, Cannabis Ruderalis matures differently compared to indica and sativa plants. The difference that has long fascinated researchers is Ruderalis’s ability to flower without a specific light cycle. As the name suggests, it flowers automatically. This trait is a result of the extreme environmental conditions in which the plant evolved. Some think these plants escaped from cultivation, and were later exposed to these conditions. As a result, the flowering stage isn’t dependent on a certain amount of light — making it easy to grow, thus appealing to beginning cultivators.
Autoflower Light Cycle
As a general rule, autoflowering weed needs at least 18 hours of light and 6 hours of darkness (18/6) since these plants have a shorter vegetative period than photoperiod plants. This practice maximizes energy use within the plants and allows for hardy growth. Alternatively, some cultivators claim that autoflowering strains need 24 hours of light to maximize vegetative growth. There’s no general consensus among cultivators on an exact amount of light time; it’s best to experiment with both methods and decide which one works best for you and your cultivation goals.
Best Autoflowering Seeds
There are numerous seed banks online where you can purchase an incredible variety of autoflowering cannabis seeds from autoflowering strains. Again, thoroughly research the cannabis laws in your area before making any seed purchases.
The sheer volume of available autoflower seeds can be intimidating, but there are several specifically touted for their fast growth, high quality, and potency. Some of the best indica-dominant autoflowering cannabis seeds include Critical Thunder, Dwarf Low Flyer, Bluetooth, and Early Miss, while Trainwreck, Silver Bullet, and Amnesia Haze are the best sativa-dominant seeds. Hybrid strain seeds such as Cheese NL and NYC Diesel are at the top of most lists as well. However, Blue Dream is consistently rated as the #1 autoflower seed as it is easiest to grow and is versatile enough to grow both indoors and outdoors– a dream for novice cultivators. Plus, Blue Dream tastes like delicious, sweet berries that also get you high.
Tips for Growing Autoflower
- Time is limited due to the accelerated growth rate of autoflowers.
- Top your cannabis plants after 3 nodes.
- A normal light cycle isn’t needed for autoflowering cannabis but warmth is.
- Autoflowering weed won’t require as much feeding as regular sativa and indica cannabis plants.
- Use less nitrogen than what would be used during a regular vegetative growth phase.
How to Grow Autoflowering Seeds
When growing autoflowering cannabis seeds, there are several points of consideration to keep in mind. Failing to follow the suggested procedures will likely cause your cannabis plants to fall short of expectations, which no one wants to see.
You’ll only have about two weeks to train your plant, so be cognizant that time is limited from the beginning. Many cultivators with experience growing autoflower seeds claim it’s best to harvest the colas first, and wait for the bottom buds to gather some density before harvesting those. Try to top each plant after it develops three nodes.
Due to the lack of need for a photoperiod, many people choose to harvest auto flowering strains early or late in the season. Keep in mind these cannabis plants don’t need a normal light cycle, but they do need warmth. To combat this, it’s best to use a greenhouse if you anticipate excessive rain.
Best Feed for Autoflowers: Do Autoflowers Need Nutrients?
Due to their small size and short amount of time spent in vegetative growth, (autoflowering cannabis) plants won’t require as much feeding as photoperiod plants. Feed lightly, and make the vegetative nutrients available as early as possible; but, also understand that autoflowers don’t need as many vegetative nutrients such as nitrogen.
How Do You Feed Autoflowers with Coco?
Feeding autoflowers in Coco is significantly different than feeding them in soil as Coco Coir does not contain any nutrients. You’ll need to provide nutrients from the first week, unlike soil where nutrients are already present. However, you’ll still use less nitrogen compared to photoperiod cannabis plants.
Can You Force an Auto Flower to Flower?
While there is some anecdotal evidence of forcing autoflowers to flower, there isn’t any solid scientific evidence to support this claim. These cannabis plants originally adapted to harsh environments by flowering automatically without a specific light cycle, unlike photoperiod plants.
How Long Can Autoflowers Live?
From seed to harvest, autoflowers live about 8-10 weeks. Most cultivators begin the harvest during week 11. Make sure at least half of the trichomes on your autoflowering cannabis plants have turned to an amber color before harvesting buds, otherwise the THC potency will be greatly reduced.
Additional Readings on Cultivation
The Weed Blog is a comprehensive source to find reviews of specific top strains of cannabis and online news resources regarding the legalization of marijuana. We are committed to helping you find valuable information about cannabis on our website. With marijuana law constantly changing, learn about the latest legislation from our website and what you can do to help. Otherwise, consider these other top tier articles regarding cannabis cultivation:
A guide to Cannabis Growing in Coco Coir