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What Are Autoflowering Seeds?

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Autoflowering cannabis seeds produce plants that flower on their own after 2–4 weeks of growth. Growers don’t need to worry about switching the light schedule to initiate and maintain the flowering phase, like they would if growing feminized photoperiod cannabis.

Autoflowers also need much less time to grow. Some varieties are ready to harvest in a short 8 weeks after sprouting. Plus, autoflowers are compact, which makes them great for indoor growing. Because they are so convenient, autoflowers are (not just) ideal for beginners to cannabis cultivation. More experienced growers can also take advantage of the unique growing traits of autoflowering cannabis.

Non-Photoperiod Strains: What Does It Mean?

Feminized (photoperiod) cannabis plants flower depending on the hours of light they receive. Out in nature, they start to bloom when the days get shorter at the end of summer. Indoors, cultivators initiate flowering by adjusting their grow lights to 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness.

In contrast, autoflowering strains flower based on age, independent of light hours, which means they are non-photoperiod strains. Autoflowers have several noteworthy characteristics:

  • Plants flower automatically after 2–4 weeks.
  • The average period between planting and harvest is 10 weeks.
  • Autoflowering seeds are also feminized. No need to worry about male plants.
  • Plants stay small (30–100cm).
  • They don’t attract too much attention. Ideal for stealthy grows.
  • You can harvest several crops per season.

Particularities of Autoflowers

The autoflowers that first appeared on the market in the early 2000s didn’t really impress. They weren’t very potent, their aroma was lacking, and their yields were not great either.

But autoflowers have come a long way since then. Modern autoflowers rival feminized photoperiod strains (and some even surpass them) in terms of potency, yield, and aroma. Yet, they still provide the same great benefits as mentioned above, along with having a reputation for being particularly stable and sturdy.

These days, autoflowers can satisfy even the most demanding of users: Recreational users won’t have difficulties finding automatic varieties rich in THC, and holistic users can get autoflowers low in THC but high in CBD to benefit from the non-psychoactive cannabinoid.

How Are Autoflowering Plants Created?

Autoflowering strains are created by crossbreeding indica or sativa plants with ruderalis. Ruderalis is a wild subtype of cannabis that grows in regions where the summer is very short but features many hours of daylight (e.g. Northern Europe or Siberia). These plants have evolved to not rely on daylight hours to flower, instead flowering according to age.

  • Ruderalis on its own isn’t too useful: Its buds won’t produce a high, and the plants are small with low yields. However, breeders discovered that they could crossbreed high-quality indica and sativa strains with ruderalis to make them autoflowering. This has revolutionised cannabis cultivation by fusing the best traits of all the cannabis subspecies.

Who Uses Automatic Cannabis Strains, and Why?

  • Growers: Growers like autoflowers because they are convenient and easy, producing a fast harvest with decent yields. With their compact size, they are among the best plants for growing in small spaces—great for micro-grows or putting a plant or two on a balcony. They also make good strains to grow outdoors as they are resilient and robust. Plus, their small size makes them a good choice for stealthy guerrilla grows.
  • Smokers: Recreational users can enjoy autos just like feminized photoperiod cannabis. If you’re smoking for the high, which can be anything from relaxing to uplifting, fun, and giggly, you can find the right autoflower to suit your tastes! Some autoflowers are slightly lower in THC than the average strain, making them ideal for people who like a milder and more balanced effect when smoking cannabis.

The Influence of Terpenes in Autoflowering Strains

Terpenes are the aromatic compounds in cannabis. Each strain has a different terpene profile, which gives them their distinct aromas and tastes. So, if you’re smoking your autoflower buds and you can taste or smell citrusy, flowery, fruity, skunky, or even fuel notes, this is due to the distinct terpene profile of your strain. It is also suggested that terpenes do more than offer appealing tastes and smells; they may even influence the effect a strain has.

Popular Autoflowering Cannabis Strains

Here are some of the most popular autoflowering varieties based on well-known cannabis strain families.

Lowryder (Quick One, Diesel, Solomatic CBD)

Lowryder was the very first “commercial” autoflower, released in the early 2000s. Based on these legendary genetics are Royal Queen Seeds’ Quick One, Diesel Automatic, and Solomatic CBD—the latter of which is aimed toward holistic users, as it contains 21% CBD and less than 1% THC.

Kush (Bubble Kush Auto, Royal Kush Auto)

The “mother of all indicas”, Kush is also well-represented in the autoflowers you can get at Royal Queen Seeds. Check out the fruity Bubble Kush Auto or Royal Kush Auto, both autoflowering variants of classic strains.

Haze (Amnesia Haze Auto, Royal Haze Auto, Royal Jack Auto)

The famous Haze family of strains provides a cerebral buzz that makes it top for daytime smoking. RQS has autoflowering variants of the classic Hazes, including Amnesia Haze and an autoflowering Jack Herer called Royal Jack Auto. Royal Haze Auto is a cross between Amnesia Haze, Skunk, and ruderalis.

Afghan (AK Auto, NL Auto, Critical Auto)

Enjoyed in the Middle East for centuries, Afghan is another classic cannabis variety loved by smokers and growers alike. Enjoy the relaxing effects and spicy notes of RQS’ AK Auto, Northern Lights Auto, or Critical Auto, along with their great yields.

Cookies (Gorilla Auto, Cookies Auto)

From the West Coast of the US hails the immensely popular Cookies family of strains—famous not just for their sweet dessert flavours, but also their uplifting and social effect. Some of the best autoflowers with Cookies genetics are Royal Queen Seeds’ Gorilla Auto (based on the ultra-potent Gorilla Glue) and Cookies Auto.

Blueberry (Haze Berry Auto, Bluematic)

Renowned for their sweet berry notes is the famous “Blue” family of cannabis. Originally from the US West Coast, Blueberry has been infused into two popular RQS offerings: Haze Berry Auto combines Haze Berry and Blueberry Auto, while Bluematic is the automatic variant of the original Blueberry.

Purple (Purple Queen Auto, Purplematic)

Made from select Kush varieties from Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Purple family of cannabis features plants with a gorgeous appearance. Purple Queen Auto is an automatic variant of Purple Queen, and Purplematic CBD has 17% CBD and only trace amounts of THC for a clean and clear high.

Banana (Fat Banana Auto)

What do you get when you add Cookies genetics to one of the fruitiest Kushes, Fat Banana? That’s right, you get an incredibly fruity cannabis delight. With 22% THC, this one is also remarkably potent, providing a double-whammy for cannabis aficionados.

Gelato (Green Gelato Auto)

Lovers of great Cali weed won’t say no Green Gelato Auto by RQS. This girl was made by combining Green Gelato with an autoflowering Girl Scout Cookies. The result: an incredible aroma and mind-blowing potency (24% THC).

Skunk (Royal Dwarf, Sweet Skunk Automatic)

No list of good cannabis would be complete without the legendary Skunk family. Royal Dwarf blends ruderalis with Skunk, while Sweet Skunk Automatic adds autoflowering magic to Early Skunk and Critical. Spicy and skunky flavours galore!

Cheese (Royal Cheese Auto, Blue Cheese Auto, Fast Eddy)

For all the fans of the famous Cheese from the UK, Royal Queen Seeds has you covered as well: Royal Cheese Auto has a spicy taste and provides a deep stone. Fast Eddy Automatic CBD is also made with these legendary UK genetics: Low in THC (9%) and rich in CBD, she provides a clear and mellow high.

How to Grow Autoflowering Seeds

Use light, well-draining soil

For autoflowers, you want soil that is even lighter than that used to grow feminized photoperiod cannabis plants. If needed, amend your soil with perlite to increase airiness and drainage.

Indoors vs outdoors

Indoors: No need to switch your lights to a flowering schedule like with photoperiod cannabis. You can keep your autoflowers on an 18/6 (18 hours of light, 6 hours of darkness) or 24/0 light schedule from seed to harvest.

Outdoors: You are not as beholden to the natural seasons as with photoperiod plants. You can plant your autos at any time of the year, provided there is no frost. Harvest 8–10 weeks after planting. If you plant your autoflowers several weeks apart, you can achieve several harvests per year! Autoflowers are stealthy and compact. This makes them perfect for low-key outdoor operations.

How much time do you need to grow autoflowers?

It depends on the strain. But in general, autoflowers will be ready much quicker than feminized photoperiod cannabis. The average life cycle of autoflowers is about 10 weeks, with some strains ready as soon as 8 weeks after germination.

Can you grow feminized photoperiod and autoflowering cannabis in the same grow room?

You can, but it isn’t optimal. One issue can be the difference in size between the two types. The other is that you’ll need to switch your lights to 12/12 to flower your photoperiod plants, meaning your autos will get less than the recommended 18 or 20 hours, and your yields will be smaller as a result.

Optimal temperature and humidity for growing autoflowers

Keep your grow room’s temp at a moderate 21°C (room temperature) for healthy growth. Colder temperatures or excessive heat can lead to growing problems. For best results, grow in an environment where you can maintain full control. Use heating and/or cooling if necessary.

Optimal humidity for your autoflowers depends on your plant’s age. In the first few weeks, they prefer a more humid environment. Reduce relative humidity to 40–50% when your plants start to flower to reduce the risk of mould.

What kind of nutrients do autoflowers need?

In general, autoflowers are smaller than feminized photoperiod cannabis. Smaller plants require less nutrients than large plants.

If you’re using commercial cannabis nutrients, give only ½ or ¼ of the recommended dose to your autoflowers. When using commercial potting mixes that are pre-fertilised, you will likely not need to feed until your autoflowers start to bloom, at about week 3 or 4.

What kind of water for autoflowers?

With autoflowers being smaller and having a smaller root system, they will also drink less than large feminized photoperiod plants. Don’t overwater, and allow the soil to dry out between waterings.

When growing in soil, the optimal pH level of your water/nutrient solution is 6–7. You can adjust your water to the correct pH level using natural pH “up” or “down” products.

What about plant training with autoflowering cannabis?

Plant training techniques such as topping, FIM, super cropping, and defoliation are not recommended for autoflowers. Any training that involves damage to your plants will temporarily slow or halt their growth and requires time for recovery—time that autoflowers don’t have (given their limited lifespan). You’d end up with greatly diminished yields.

On the other hand, you can try gentle plant training such as LST (low-stress training), where you bend down the stems and branches to create an even canopy and optimise light exposure. Skip the parts that involve any cutting or pinching.

Get the scoop on autoflowering cannabis seeds. Find out what autoflowering seeds are and get tips on how to grow autoflowering cannabis

The Pros And Cons Of Autoflowering Cannabis Strains

Autoflowering strains are the go-to genetics for beginner growers and those looking for a fast return. But they’re not perfect. Find out what makes them great, and where they run into issues.

A complete guide to the pros and cons of autos.

  • 1. What is autoflowering cannabis?
  • 1.a. Autoflowering vs feminized
  • 2. Pros
  • 2.a. Faster life cycle
  • 2.b. Discreet plants
  • 2.c. Simple lighting demands
  • 2.d. Resilient plants
  • 2.e. No problems with light pollution
  • 2.f. Fewer nutrients needed
  • 2.g. Higher CBD percentage
  • 3. Cons
  • 3.a. Lower yield
  • 3.b. Cost of lighting
  • 3.c. Lower THC content
  • 3.d. Poor-quality clones
  • 3.e. No time for recovery
  • 3.f. Should beginners start with autoflowering cannabis strains?
  • 1. What is autoflowering cannabis?
  • 1.a. Autoflowering vs feminized
  • 2. Pros
  • 2.a. Faster life cycle
  • 2.b. Discreet plants
  • 2.c. Simple lighting demands
  • 2.d. Resilient plants
  • 2.e. No problems with light pollution
  • 2.f. Fewer nutrients needed
  • 2.g. Higher CBD percentage
  • 3. Cons
  • 3.a. Lower yield
  • 3.b. Cost of lighting
  • 3.c. Lower THC content
  • 3.d. Poor-quality clones
  • 3.e. No time for recovery
  • 3.f. Should beginners start with autoflowering cannabis strains?

Modern cannabis growers are spoiled for choice. There are more strains on the market than ever before, and many growers have taken a liking to the new and improved selection of autoflowers.

Autoflowering genetics have a lot to offer. There are varieties high in CBD, high in THC, and those with a nice balance of both. That’s not to mention the incredible diversity in terpene profiles.

But it’s not all sunshine and roses. Autoflowering strains have a host of advantages, but they also carry disadvantages that turn some growers off.

WHAT IS AUTOFLOWERING CANNABIS?

What makes autoflowering cannabis different from other types? Well, the key difference resides in the name. Put simply, these strains flower automatically.

There are two main phases of the cannabis growing cycle: the vegetative phase and the flowering phase. Another type of cannabis—known as photoperiod cannabis—requires a shift in the light cycle to trigger flowering.

Autoflowering strains do away with this inconvenience. They don’t rely on external cues to start producing resinous buds. Instead, they flower after a certain amount of time has passed.

The autoflowering trait didn’t emerge by accident. It occurred as an adaptation to environmental conditions. You’ve probably heard of Cannabis indica and sativa. Well, the autoflowering gene arose in Cannabis ruderalis.

The ruderalis subspecies adapted to the cold and often harsh environments of Central Asia, Eastern Europe, and Russia. These regions feature a considerably shorter growing season and colder temperatures.

For this reason, ruderalis abandoned the strategy of waiting for the seasons to change to trigger flowering. Instead, the subspecies developed an autoflowering gene to ensure reproduction before the temperature plummets.

Thanks to this adaptation, growers now enjoy the speedy growth of autoflowering genetics!

AUTOFLOWERING VS FEMINIZED

You’ve probably seen the term “feminized” used frequently as you browse the internet for all things cannabis seeds. Both autoflowering and photoperiod strains can be feminized. All it means is that a breeder modified a particular strain to produce only female plants. Technically speaking, the odds of a female emerging are 99.9%—that’s still quite impressive!

Breeders produce feminized seeds through various techniques that are discussed in detail here. Just keep this in mind: pick up a pack of feminized seeds if you want nothing but buds!

Autoflowering strains have a long list of advantages over photoperiod varieties. Their short life cycle attracts growers seeking prompt gratification, and their hardy nature makes them suitable for beginner cultivators and veterans alike.

FASTER LIFE CYCLE

Autoflowering cannabis varieties are queens of speed. This trait is another result of their adaptive prowess. Most autoflowering strains complete the entire growing cycle in the same amount of time that photoperiod strains take to finish flowering alone—around 7–10 weeks. Their speedy life cycle results from a brief vegetative phase and a fast flowering stage.

Growers rarely cultivate pure ruderalis strains outside of breeding operations as these varieties produce very little in regards to yield. However, by breeding successful photoperiod strains with ruderalis genetics, breeders can create autoflowering, and therefore faster, versions of legendary varieties.

For example, Haze genetics are known for their brilliant sativa effects, but their long flowering times can be a turn-off. The merging of Haze and ruderalis genetics means growers now have access to these sativa effects in much less time.

The speed of autoflowers appeals to growers with a penchant for near-instant results. Waiting for a crop to ripen can be teasing at best and excruciating at worst. If you tend to fall on the impatient side, autoflowering strains are the way to go.

The brevity of autoflowers also appeals to cultivators who grow under pressure. They can support faster turnover for commercial operations, allowing for perpetual harvests indoors.

Again, most autoflowers will race from seed to harvest in around 7–10 weeks, so growers can time their next wave of seedlings in conjunction with the previous harvest.

Cultivators can also maximise yields by using the sea of green (SOG) technique. This method involves planting numerous autoflowers in close proximity and manipulating them to converge into one large, productive canopy.

Here are a few of the fastest autoflowers around:

Life Cycle: 8–9 weeks
Flowering Time:
5–6 weeks

EASY BUD
Life Cycle: 8–9 weeks
Flowering Time: 5–7 weeks
ROYAL COOKIES AUTO
Life Cycle: 8–10 weeks
Flowering Time: 5–7 weeks

Life Cycle: 8–9 weeks
Flowering Time:
5–6 weeks

DISCREET PLANTS

Autoflowering cultivars typically reach a height of between 60–100cm. Their compact size and impressive speed enable clandestine cultivators to set up and dismantle their operation in as little time as possible.

You can easily grow autos on balconies and in hidden locations in your garden. They’re also popular among guerrilla growers—cultivators that grow cannabis in hidden public or wild locations. This method helps to keep crops out of sight and hidden from thieves.

If you’re looking for the stealthiest possible way to grow, give micro-growing a go. The goal here is to keep plants as small as possible while still achieving a reasonable yield. It goes without saying that autoflowering varieties are perfectly suited to this method.

More extreme examples of micro-growing include cultivating tiny plants in modified computer towers, buckets, and boxes. Growers often use low-stress training to keep plants small and under control.

Here are a few of the stealthiest autoflowering strains available:

ROYAL DWARF
Indoors: 40–70cm
Outdoors: 50–90cm
ROYAL BLUEMATIC
Indoors: 60–75cm
Outdoors: 70–100cm
ROYAL CREAMATIC
Indoors: 60–80cm
Outdoors: 80–100cm
ROYAL DWARF ROYAL BLUEMATIC ROYAL CREAMATIC
Indoors: 40–70cm
Outdoors : 50–90cm
Indoors: 60–75cm
Outdoors: 70–100cm
Indoors: 60–80cm
Outdoors: 80–100cm

SIMPLE LIGHTING DEMANDS

Autoflower growers typically elect to use a simple light schedule of 18 hours on and 6 hours off for the entire duration of the life cycle. Such a schedule provides plants with an adequate amount of light while saving on energy.

The simple lighting demands of autoflowering strains serve as another advantage. As we mentioned above, they don’t require a change in light schedule to begin flowering. This trait allows growers to be extremely flexible with lighting.

Growers who don’t mind splashing out on expenditures might choose to run their lights for 24 hours. Some cultivators report more explosive vegetative growth and enhanced yields using this method. Others argue that a 24-hour schedule might deprive plants of their natural resting period.

A schedule of 12 hours on and 12 hours off occupies the other end of the spectrum. It’s the best option for growers looking to save money, but yields won’t be as impressive.

Regardless of the schedule, the lighting demands of autoflowering strains are easier to meet than those of their photoperiod counterparts.

RESILIENT PLANTS

Autoflowering plants boast strong, sturdy, and resilient genetics. Cannabis ruderalis didn’t survive the throes of northern latitudes by chance. The subspecies is well equipped to deal with extreme temperatures and harsh weather.

The very name “ruderalis” stems from the Latin word “rudus”, meaning rubble. The subspecies appears in urban settings thriving in broken ground, close to demolished buildings, and in roadside ditches.

The majority of autoflowers can fend for themselves. They laugh in the face of pest infestations and do well to defend against yield-ruining mould.

Their impressive resilience makes them well-suited for novice growers as they’re extremely forgiving of beginner error.

NO PROBLEMS WITH LIGHT POLLUTION

Growing autoflowers means you can be a lot more relaxed when it comes to light pollution. In fact, it’s a complete non-issue.

Light pollution has the potential to screw up a photoperiod growing operation completely. Bright street lights can prevent outdoor plants from initiating flowering.

Indoor growers also experience this inconvenience. They need to make sure that their photoperiod plants grow in the absence of unnecessary light. A leaky grow tent is all it takes to mess up a light schedule.

Fortunately, autoflowering plants don’t fall prey to this irritating occurrence. They don’t obey the command of external lighting cues—they run on their own time.

FEWER NUTRIENTS NEEDED

Autoflowering strains thrive in less-nutritious soil. Their speedy growth and small stature mean they don’t require much fertiliser.

Autoflowers simply aren’t as hungry as their photoperiod counterparts—another result of their hardy nature. Whereas photoperiod strains require a complex nutritional strategy that changes throughout the growing cycle, autoflowers can make do with the bare minimum.

Here’s a basic recipe for a good autoflowering soil mix:

  • 3 parts peat moss
  • 3 parts compost
  • 2 parts perlite, moistened
  • 1 part vermiculite, moistened

Autoflowering strains boast speedy growth, a compact size, and hardy genetics. Discover their pros and cons here.