Growing autoflowering cannabis seeds outdoors is easy and it's a very good option for beginner growers. Learn how to grow autoflowering weed with our week by week autoflower grow guide. Plus bonus tips on growing autoflowers indoors or outdoors! What are the biggest mistakes you can make when growing autoflowering cannabis? Read the basics and find out how to take care of your strain's buds.
How To Grow Autoflowering Cannabis Seeds Outdoors
Find out all you need to know about growing autoflowering Cannabis outdoors, and all the important things to consider.
- 1. What should i consider before planting?
- 1. a. Indoor vs outdoor
- 1. b. Climate region and your location
- 1. c. Mold and pests
- 1. d. Protecting your plants outdoors
- 1. e. Tips for beginners
- 2. Optimal conditions
- 2. a. Light cycle and best time to start
- 2. b. Temperature
- 2. c. Humidity
- 2. d. Spacing
- 2. e. Best nutrients
- 2. f. Genetics
- 3. Step-by-step guide on growing autoflowering cannabis outdoors
- 3. a. Step 1: germination
- 3. b. Step 2: seedling
- 3. c. Step 3: the vegetative stage
- 3. d. Step 4: the flowering stage
- 3. e. Stage 5: harvest
- 4. Drying, trimming, and curing your outdoor auto harvest
- 4. a. Drying your buds
- 4. b. Trimming your buds
- 4. c. Curing your buds
- 5. In conclusion
If you reside in a location where growing weed is legal, you’re in luck. Not everyone can grow cannabis especially outdoors, but if you do get this opportunity use it! With a little knowledge, you can produce loads of buds. And, if you’re here to understand a bit more about how to grow autoflowering plants outside, read on and you’ll know everything there is to know. Growing autos outdoors is easy because they don’t depend on light to flower. You can grow them almost all year round, by just providing good nutrients and protecting them from pests and rain. Remember that the yield will depend on the light cycle so it’s better to plan ahead.
1. What Should I Consider Before Planting?
Indoor vs outdoor
This is a huge question growers have before starting to grow their own weed because both of them have their pros and cons. To make this decision, you will have to have a couple of things in consideration: environment, smell and most important of all: cost.
Cost is the most important because you will need to spend quite a bit of money to buy a good light fixture, exhaust fan, filter and grow tent, even though it seems like a lot, this will allow you to control every aspect of the growing environment, will allow you to eliminate odor and be more discreet because unless you allow a person in, no one will be able to see your growing operation.
When growing outdoors you won’t have to spend much other than with pots and nutrients, but you should remember that when growing outdoors you won’t be able to control the climate and you can suffer from extremely cold or hot climates and this will affect your plants growth. Another disadvantage is that your plants will be visible and the odor can be a problem if you live in a place where cannabis is not legal.
Climate region and your location
If you’re starting to grow cannabis just now, you probably are wondering When to plant? Well, this will depend on the expected weather and all the things that come with it. There are 6 climate regions in the world, in each one of them the temperature, humidity, and sunlight vary so you should plan according to your environment.
The tropical climate can be found along the equator region, in cities like Brasília (Brazil), Miami (United States), and Biak (Indonesia), and is characterized by a high temperature and high humidity with an average temperature of 18°C all year long.
The subtropical climate is characterized by hot, humid summers and cool, mild winters and is usually located near the coasts like São Paulo (Brazil), Orlando (United States), and Hong Kong (China). This type of climate can be found in all the continents with a high average of 24-27°C and lows from 10-16°C with moderate humidity.
Cold climates (Subarctic and arctic climate)
Cold climates occur in cities like Anchorage (Alaska), Sumedang (Indonesia), and Moosonee (Canada), in these climate regions the humidity is fairly low, the climate is extremely harsh, with an average of -10°C in winter and not exceeding 26°C in summer.
Temperate climates can be found in cities like Sydney (Australia), Buenos Aires (Argentina), and Atlanta (United States), it has moderate relative humidity, with an average low of 10°C during 6 months of the year and an average high of around 22°C.
Dry climates (arid and semi-arid climate)
Dry climates can be found in cities like Lampedusa (Italy), Reno (United States), and Jaipur (India), it is characterized by really low humidity, with extremely low temperatures at night, reaching -10°C and extremely cold hot during the day, around 45°C.
Depending on where you live, you will have to plan ahead, knowing the expected temperature, humidity, and amount of sunlight your plants will receive can make a huge difference in yield.
For example, California gets an average of 14:30hrs of sunlight in the summer1 and around 9:40hs in the winter, so you should plan your growing cycle according to where you live.
Mold and pests
When growing outdoors it can be fairly easy to get bugs and pests.
Your plants are directly exposed to the environments so you should be careful with rain, high humidity, and temperature, the right combination of these elements can attract bugs or mold to your cannabis plants and because you can’t control the environment, it can be quite hard to deal with it.
Protecting your plants outdoors
Cannabis plants must be protected from harsh weather and predators, depending on where you’re growing your plant can be attacked by bugs or even bigger animals like dogs, cats, or rodents this is why it’s better to have a wire fence around them if needed. The fence needs to be underground and above ground around your plant and the roots, despite seeming too much it is essential because animals like gophers and moles live underground, they look for roots to feed on and can eat a whole plant overnight.
It’s also a good idea to build a simple structure to help protect your plants from snow and rain, this structure can be built with wooden stakes and a plastic sheet and will ensure your plants don’t freeze or get mold.
When planting in the ground it’s essential to protect your plants against gophers and moles with a wire cage.
There’s no need to spend too much to protect your plants, a wire fence is fairly cheap and if you want to make a hoop-house it can be easily made with a plastic sheet and plastic tubes, if you want a sturdier one you can build a metal or wood but the structure will be basically the same.
Tips For Beginners
If you’ve never grown cannabis before, there are a couple of things you need to have in mind. Depending on the city you live in, you have to be sure your growing space is discreet, this means not only the plants shouldn’t be visible but also neighbors shouldn’t be able to smell the plants. This not only applies to the plants themself but also the light. Usually grow light fixtures are super bright and can be seen from far away if you don’t make sure there are no light leaks. Masking the smell outdoors can be a little bit tricky because you don’t have a way to eliminate the smell.
You can guerilla grow on your balcony using lots of aromatic plants that will help to camouflage your cannabis plants, it’s not a guarantee that the smell won’t bother your neighbors. Even though you can train your plants, the best way to avoid this is to grow Indica dominant, they tend to grow shorter and compact, so you don’t need to train them (if you don’t want or know how to).
If you wish to grow a specific strain that grows tall, you should grow them in smaller pots or train them so they can’t be seen by people walking by or from other balconies. You can also build a structure similar to a hoop house around your plants, by covering them with a plastic sheet you can keep the rain off, reduce light like most outdoor growers do with the light deprivation technique, and have more stealth cannabis grow.
2. Optimal conditions
Light cycle and best time to start
It is important to understand the life cycle of an autoflowering Cannabis plant, and how they differ from normal photoperiodic cultivars. As the name suggests these strains will begin to flower automatically thanks to their Ruderalis heritage. Originally found in Siberia, the dwarf-sized, low potency Ruderalis had the ability to grow in a vegetative stage and then flower automatically independent of the light cycle. An incredible trait that autoflowering cannabis strains carry nowadays.
Hours of darkness
Once you understand that it’s possible to plant automatics outdoors at any time of the year, you can begin to plan your growing cycles based on the temperature, humidity, and sunlight where you live, although you need to have in mind that outdoors, the light cycle depends on the season you’re in and can differ from one place to another, resulting in more or less plant growth and consequently better (or worse) yields.
The best time to start growing photoperiodic cannabis depends on the amount of light you get, but with autoflowers, things are different. Because they grow fast and don’t depend on light to start flowering, you can grow them outside whenever you want. Of course, the temperature may have an influence on the result but you most likely will have beautiful flowers after every harvest.
Due to the tough resilient nature that autoflowering Cannabis possesses, depending on the strain, it is easily possible to harvest buds during the coldest time of the year with the shortest daylight hours, as well as during the hottest and longest days. It is this incredible ability to adapt to any climates from harsh and cold to lovely and hot that allow for any grower to achieve a harvest all year long.
Although there is an optimal environment that all plants prefer, even though autos can withstand harsher climates, the best temperature to grow auto cannabis plants is from 18-25 °C, with a 60% relative humidity and preferably 18 hours of light per day.
The ideal conditions for a plant to develop to it’s maximum are at least 18hs of light, 60% relative humidity and a temperature between 18-25°C.
Growing in summer
If you’re growing in hotter climates you will need to adjust watering and the amount of nutrients. This is because higher temperatures tend to accelerate the plant’s processes, so you will have to adjust feeding to your plant’s necessities. Also, have in mind that in summer there is an increase in humidity levels so it is good to perform LST techniques to keep good airflow in between the buds and branches and avoid fungus or bugs.
Growing in winter
In colder climates plants tend to slow down their rate of growth, so you will usually use less nutrients. Also have in mind that in the winter the humidity levels are lower, so you’ll want to water sporadically so your plant has time to absorb the nutrients. Have in mind that if the temperature is below 4°C, water can freeze the roots, so it’s better to feed your plant when the temperatures are higher.
- Some automatics can take very cold weather as well as intense heat.
- It is possible to plant from early Spring until late winter with great results.
- Autoflowering Cannabis is very resistant to mold, mildew, and wind.
- Avoid planting seeds if your garden is showing signs of frost.
The humidity levels are super important for a cannabis plant, if the humidity is too high or too low the plant will have a hard time “breathing”, so it’s crucial you know what humidity levels to expect for each stage of plant growth before cultivating. In the seedling stage, your plants will develop better in 60% relative humidity because baby plants don’t like a drier environment and actually need the extra moisture to develop properly in the first weeks of life.
You have to gradually decrease the humidity from 60% down to 50% in the vegetative stage, this is because at this stage plants have already started photosynthesizing and need that relative humidity level to be able to do it properly. Once your plant has entered the pre-flowering stage, you will have to gradually decrease the humidity level to around 40-45%, the buds are full of water so this will prevent them from molding and will result in a healthier plant.
Because cannabis plants will grow and develop a lot of branches, it’s necessary to leave space between them, if you don’t know how much space you should leave between the plants you need to think about the size they will have. For example, in 1m 2 you can fit around 10 small plants, 6 medium plants, and 3 big plants or have around 30-45cm in between small plants, 50-60cm between medium plants, and 65-100cm between big plants, although autoflowering plants usually don’t grow too much so if you leave around 40cm in between you should be fine.
By providing enough spacing between plants you prevent problems you may have further into the growth cycle, like the light not reaching deep enough, taller plants overshadowing the smaller ones, and other issues like the lack of airflow.
Depending on what you can find (or want to use) there are two options for feeding your plants: organic or synthetic nutrients, both of them will work just fine but each one has its pros and cons. Organic nutrients can be harder to use for new growers but can result in a better tasting, better smelling flowers and will be harder to burn your plants while synthetic nutrients are super easy to use, you just have to follow the instructions on the package and maybe adjust the dose with some plants, but it’s fairly easy, just have in mind that synthetic nutrients can burn your plants easily so you need to feed with care, paying attention to the signs your plant gives you.
Either way, as long as you provide an NPK ratio of 2-1-3 in the vegetative stage and 1-3-2 in the flowering stage, your plant will grow great.
A big issue when growing autoflowering strains is the genetics, even if you do everything perfectly you can still be disappointed with the quality and amount of flowers your plant produces, that is because you need good genetics to have a good harvest. Depending on where you live, a certain type of strain will have a better result than another.
If you live in a part of the world that has hotter weather, you are able to grow any type of autoflowering strain but it is recommended to grow Sativa-dominant hybrids. This way you’ll make the most out of every seed because Sativas usually grow taller and with more flowering sites, resulting in a bigger yield.
I grew this with other fast buds strains. I’m very happy how they all grew. I use soil, 19L pots on a 20/4 light cycle. They love it.
This more demanding and larger yielding variety will flourish under the constant sunny climate.
Automatics can really help a grower who experiences colder climates, you should grow Indica-dominant hybrids because their Indica heritage makes them more resistant to cold and a high level.
Just an easy to grow, solid packed buds. A heavy feeder and can be a bit prone to light burn at the end but otherwise perfection!
She is very resistant and will be ready to chop, even after any heavy rain or cold spots.
3. Step-By-Step Guide On Growing Autoflowering Cannabis Outdoors
Growing autoflowering cannabis outdoors can be really simple, by following these steps which represent the timeline of a cannabis plant’s growth you can successfully grow your own medicine.
Step 1: Germination
Before planting your seeds, you will need to germinate them, this is the first step to a successful harvest. There are a couple of ways to germinate seeds, you can germinate them directly in the soil, in paper towels, or submerge them in a glass of water.
We recommend submerging them in water for around 12 hrs before planting or transferring them to paper towels. Remember the seed shell needs to be damp so it’s easier for the seedling to grow out of it.
You should also have in mind that leaving the seeds in water for too long will drown them, so you should keep them for a maximum of 24hrs if they’re too old, but 12hrs is all you need for good seeds.
How Deep To Plant Your Seed?
After germinating your seed, you’re gonna have to plant it in the medium. You should be extremely careful with this process because the radicle is super fragile. To avoid damaging it, you have to make a small hole with your finger up to the first line of your index finger or around 2-3cm with a pen. That is deep enough for your seedling to grow relatively fast, also make sure you don’t press the soil on top, just throw a little bit of dirt so it’s not too compact and the seedling doesn’t struggle to come out.
Planting In Pots or The Ground?
Once you germinate your seeds, you will need to decide to grow in pots or directly into the ground. Sometimes it is more logistical to use pots because they can be moved around if you need to, however, if you want to spend less and can find a good spot for your plants, you can definitely plant them in your backyard, for example. Be careful when planting in the ground, gophers and moles are hard to spot because they live underground and they can eat your plants, if you see holes in the ground you should avoid that place. These animals feed on the roots and fibers of the plant and will make your plant disappear overnight.
If you’re growing in pots you should go for a mix of mediums, such as coco coir, perlite, and soil. This will allow your plants to grow more easily, with more oxygenation in the roots, and will help drain the water when watering.
- Pots can be moved around to follow the sun.
- Small plants can be easily camouflaged.
- Planting in the ground (in fertile soil) saves you from having to buy soil and nutrients.
- Organic nutrients are packed with beneficial microorganisms.
Step 2: Seedling
Around 10 days after your seeds have germinated and you placed them in your medium of choice, the seedling will start to emerge from the soil. If you want to make sure your seedlings are safe, you can keep them indoors and transfer them outdoors after you see the first true leaves.
Cannabis seedlings don’t need that much light so they can grow under a CFL light, remember that if you keep your plants under LED or light bulbs, they can get stressed when transferred outside, so you should transfer them as soon as you see the first pair of true leaves fully developed to avoid this. At this stage, the cotyledons have run out of nutrients so your plant will start to need sunlight and nutrients to develop properly.
Step 3: The vegetative stage
When your plant has developed the first pair of true leaves, it is officially in the vegetative stage and this is when you should start watering with nutrients, starting with a low dose and gradually increasing.
At this stage, you should give plants more nitrogen (N) and potassium (K), these are the macronutrients a plant needs to thrive, you should also decide on your location and which part of the garden or terrace receives the most sun.
Placing your plant in the direction where the sun rises is the best option, meaning that when the sun sets, the plants will receive the final amount of sunlight each day ensuring the most direct sunlight possible. To be 100% sure, you can easily look up on the internet in which direction the sun rises, for example, East in Manaus 2 and Northeast in Sydney 3 .
How often to feed?
The watering schedule will depend on the genetics and the environment, there’s no way to say exactly how many times and how much water your plant needs. The best way is to water again when the soil is approximately 65% dry or by lifting the pot, if it’s heavy then it probably still has water in it, if it’s light it probably is dry and needs watering.
For How Long Plants Grow?
Depending on the strain you choose to cultivate, the amount of time it needs to completely mature may be different. Even though all autoflowering cannabis plants are hybrids, some of them have Sativa heritage and others Indica, so their size and how long they grow varies. For example, strains with Indica heritage can take around 8 weeks to mature whereas strains with Sativa heritage can take up to 11 weeks.
How Big Plants Get?
How tall a plant grows depends on their heritage. This is because Sativa’s usually stretch and grow less leaves than Indicas, which grow short and bushy.
So the size will depend on their genetics. For example, a Sativa dominant strain can grow up to 150cm while an Indica dominant hybrid will range from 80-100cm.
When growing Cannabis outdoors, it is a good idea to plan ahead in terms of plant training. This will normally be done in the early stages and will benefit the plants greatly once flowering commences. Low stress training is a very simple technique that has many benefits and can be performed in different methods and several ways, the most known technique being the Tie-down method.
Plant training techniques should be started when your autoflower has around 3-5 pairs of leaves and should be stopped right before the pre-flowering stage or when you have achieved the structure and size you were aiming for. In this timelapse video, our grower shows you a combination of high stress and low stress plant training methods, although you shouldn’t HST unless you have a bit of experience.
As you can see, Green 75 spaced out the branches and cut off the excess foliage so the buds have more space and light to develop, this also encourages the plant to develop more bud sites, allows more airflow in the buds and the light to reach deeper, resulting in better developed and fatter buds.
When plant training autoflowers it is not always recommended to use high stress training techniques (HST) if you’re not experienced, this is why we recommend using low stress training (LST) techniques like the one shown above.
Step 4: The flowering stage
After a couple of weeks in the vegetative stage, your plant will start to show white hairs (pistils), this is a sign that your plant is ready to start producing flowers, at this stage you should start feeding flowering nutrients.
Your plant needs lower amounts of nitrogen (N) and higher amounts of phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) to properly develop flowers, if you don’t provide phosphorus and potassium the buds will develop airy and light, it is crucial to feed your plant properly if you want fat dense buds.
How to make buds bigger?
There isn’t an exact way to make the buds bigger, buds develop big and dense when they grow with a combination of a good environment and good nutrients, this is why you should plan your grow cycle a couple of weeks before germinating your seeds.
There can be huge differences in the quantity and quality of flowers between a plant grown in cold with fewer hours of sunlight and a plant grown in better conditions with more sunlight.
Supporting autoflowering cannabis outdoors
Cannabis plants outdoors usually don’t have a limit to stop growing and unless you limit their size by planting them in smaller pots, they can grow huge.
Despite huge plants not always being a bad thing, the buds will also grow big and dense, and sometimes the branches won’t be strong enough to hold them and snap, this is why you need to add support. There are several ways to provide support to your plants, you can do this with bamboo stakes, a trellis net, or tomato wire cages.
When do plants start to smell?
Autoflowers usually start smelling around week 4-6, when they’re in the pre-flowering stage, this happens because when your plant starts developing flowers it will also produce trichomes which contain terpenes and are responsible for the smell.
This is when you should install your carbon filter or any other method to eliminate the typical cannabis smell, remember this is just a guideline and some cannabis plants can start to smell as early as the 3 week of plant growth.
How much plants yield?
How much plant yields will depend on the genetics, although despite the size, Indicas can yield more than Sativas or vice-versa. Usually, the amount they yield will depend on the growing conditions, you can harvest up to 200g from a single plant or as low as 40g. It solely depends on how you take care of your plants and their genetic characteristics like the density of the buds and the amount of bud sites.
Bamboo stakes are the most common way to support branches because they’re cheap and effective although they cannot be used for long because they are exposed to rain so they can rot and spread powdery mildew to your plants.
A trellis net can be used not only to support the buds but also to control the size of your plants, although it’s a bit harder because you will need to build the structure (metal or bamboo stakes around the plant) to secure the net too.
Depending on how you use a trellis net it can provide support and also control the height of your plants.
A trellis net can be used both horizontally on top of your plants (like in Scrog) or vertically around the plants (like a tomato cage), both ways will work great and it’s just a matter of preference, if you want to control height you can place it on top but if you don’t need to, just place it around to support the branches.
Tomato Wire Cages
Tomato wire cages work the same as placing a trellis net around your plants, they will support the branches from every side but won’t control the height.
Tomato cages can also be used as a structure to tie-down the branches to and are fairly cheap, although you will have to cut it open to remove your plants so they aren’t reusable.
Stage 5: Harvest
When to harvest?
The best time to harvest your cannabis plants depend on the type of effect you wish to achieve, there are three types of high that you can achieve by looking at the trichomes. You shouldn’t harvest when the trichomes are clear because they have not developed enough and the potency will be reduced.
You should harvest your plant when around 40% of the trichomes are amber, this is when trichomes are at their peak potency.
When the trichomes are cloudy, you will have a balanced mix of cerebral and corporal effects, this is when you should harvest your plants if you want to experience all the potency a plant can offer. If you want to experience the complete effect a plant has to offer, you should harvest when around 30-50% of the trichomes are amber. If you harvest when the majority of the trichomes are amber, you will have a more corporal effect because the trichomes have ripened a bit too much.
There’s no correct time to harvest, as long as you harvest to get the effect you wish you’ll be satisfied with the result.
- Check if the buds are dense, swollen, and hard to squeeze. Even if you have exceeded the advised harvest date, it is better to wait until your flowers are as dense and resinous as possible.
- Using a lupe, examine the state of the trichome. Once most of the trichomes are a cloudy white and a bit amber is the best time to cut and hang. dominant autoflower hybrids may take longer than Indica dominant, so be prepared to give your plants an extra week or two if they need it.
4. Drying, Trimming, and Curing Your Outdoor Auto Harvest
So, you have finally seen the crop go all the way from seed to harvest. What a feeling, right? The levels of excitement surrounding the thoughts of at long last being able to smoke those gorgeous, juicy nugs that you have grown yourself are at an all-time high. But hold up just a minute (or actually, a little longer than a minute). We are sorry to be the bearers of bad news, but you are still a little way off from being able to consume the fruits of your labor. Sure, you could go down the hillbilly route and chuck some buds in your oven at the lowest temp possible and dry some of those bad boys out, but that would only be doing you, your hard work, and the plant itself a disservice.
Cultivating and harvesting a crop is really only half of the work. To get the very best out of the buds they need to be properly and carefully dried, trimmed, and then cured. Let’s have an in-depth look at exactly the steps that need to be taken to see the best results in terms of terpene maturation and smoke quality.
Drying Your Buds
Drying cannabis is not rocket science, and is a pretty easy task to complete as long as you have the correct setup. So, what’s the correct setup? Well, that really depends on how much weed you are trying to dry. If you are reading this guide then there is a good chance that you are a novice grower, so we are going to stick to a small-scale operation here. The very first decision you will need to make is whether you are going to wet or dry trim. There are pros and cons attached to both styles of trimming, but for the vast majority of growers, we suggest going for dry trimming. Wet trimming is when you remove most of the unwanted plant material as soon as you harvest, and before the drying period begins. Dry trimming involves leaving the majority of the sugar leaves attached to the buds while you let the plant dry. It is fine to remove the larger fan leaves, but for the most part, you can just break the plant down and hang it for drying.
The only time we really suggest wet trimming is if you live in an area where the temperature and relative humidity is quite high and you are unable to bring them under your control. For the rest of this guide we will assume you are going to dry time your harvest. Using a large cardboard box as the drying area is one of the most common solutions for novice growers. We suggest using twine to create a bunch of horizontal hanging lines throughout the box and hanging the buds or branches directly from these lines. You can also use your grow tent to dry the weed, but that takes the tent itself out of action for a couple of weeks. Another common solution is a herb drying rack.
To properly dry cannabis you need to be able to control the drying environment unless you are lucky enough to live in the perfect environmental conditions. In terms of temps, we are looking for it to sit in the range of 60 – 70°F (15 – 22°C). For relative humidity, a range of 55 – 65% is perfect. This should result in a slow drying time of between 10 to 14 days. Any faster and you run the risk of destroying the terpene profile, any slower and you could be looking at mold issues. To get this right you may need to use some kit, depending on your current environmental conditions. An AC may be handy if it’s way too hot, as may a dehumidifier (or a humidifier for that matter). You could also use some fans or even a small electric heater. It all depends on your set up really. Just remember that a hygrometer is your best friend, and will give you all the info needed to be successful in drying your harvest.
Trimming Your Buds
Dry trimming weed isn’t a hard job, but boy oh boy can it be a super tedious one – especially if you have a bunch of buds to deal with. To make life as easy as possible do not use any old pair of scissors. Trimming scissors are going to make the process much quicker and easier. And make sure you grab a decent trim tray like the OG Trim Bin. Trim trays do a great job of grabbing all of the fallen trichomes that would otherwise be lost.
When trimming, the golden rule is to never shave the buds. You want to use the tips of the scissors to dig into the flowers and snip the stems of the sugar leaves while leaving the calyxes and pistils undisturbed. Now that the drying and trimming are done it must be finally time to smoke, yeah? Hell nope! Look, at this stage, the buds will be fine to smoke – but if you really want to get the best out of them, you need to let them cure.
Curing Your Buds
It is best to think of the curing process in the same way as aging wine or whiskey. Without it, the product will not be at its peak. Thankfully it doesn’t take nearly as long as aging alcohol, but it does still require a little bit of patience. How long does it take for the curing process to finish?
Well, that really all depends on the environmental conditions, the strain, and how dense the buds are. The answer is also dependent on who you ask, but for the majority of strains, a curing period of 2 to 4 weeks should be fine. That being said, some strains can take up to 6 months to properly mature, so even if you think the process is finished it’s best to leave them in their curing containers. For the curing process to be successful you need to provide the right conditions, which isn’t too hard as long as you have the right equipment and space.
First up, you are going to need to grab some air-tight containers. Most people choose glass jars, but honestly, anything that is re-sealable will do. One golden rule to keep in mind is to not overfill the containers. Try to keep them less than 75% full so the buds have some room to breathe.
Store the jars in a cool, dark area, and if possible get a separate hygrometer for each jar. These come with probes that can be placed inside the jar with the main body outside. In terms of temps, you should be looking to keep it around 70°F (22°C) with a relative humidity level of 60-65%.
These jars are going to need to be burped twice a day for the first 10 days or so, and then twice a week for the rest of the curing period. Don’t be alarmed if the buds seem to become a little moister in the first 3 days, this is just the remaining internal moisture leaking out. What should alarm you is if you smell anything close to ammonia when you burp them, as this is a tell-tale sign of mold. If this happens then quickly empty the jar and place the buds back in the drying area for a day or two and pray that the mold disappears. Once a month has passed, the buds should be more than ready to finally smoke!
5. In conclusion
So if you were wondering how to grow skunk outdoors or any other strain of your preference, now you know everything you need. Despite seeming hard, inexperienced growers can successfully grow autoflowering strains easily, as long as you provide light, water, and nutrients you will be able to grow your own weed in less than 10 weeks. If you are interested in our genetics or have grown them outdoors before, leave us a comment below!
This guide has been updated for the 2021 outdoor cannabis growing season.
Growing autoflowers indoors in soil & outdoors
Autoflower cannabis plants are a new development in the cannabis market, and it has really exploded the last few years – even Google knows it.
Searches for autoflowering marijuana have doubled over the last single year. Why? They’re looking for information on growing autoflowers!
The autoflower grow guide:
People are getting increasingly excited, interested, and curious about it. There is a good reason for all this excitement. This isn’t a typical marijuana trend; it could be a total game-changer.
Why you should grow autoflowers
Autoflowering weed gives growers a much easier time cultivating cannabis at home.
Unlike traditional types of weed, autoflowering cannabis doesn’t require a change in the amount of light exposure on their plants to induce flowering.
Growing autoflowers has the added benefit of faster growth, especially during the vegetative stage.
The average autoflowering weed strain only needs around 10 weeks (or less) to fully mature.
Outside of having a much easier time flowering, autoflowers are also reasonably small plants that can grow snugly in any indoor grow room.
Today’s autoflowers also no longer have the pitfalls of earlier autoflowering weed plants, which suffered from reduced yields and less potency.
Nowadays, on top of competing with standard strains in terms of potency and yield, autoflowers are more resilient to drastic temperature shifts that allow you to grow them all year round.
- They are smaller.
- This means they are easier to hide, harder to spot, and are, therefore, a safer choice with a greater variety of grow location options.
- in comparison to their size, and are even more resistant to pests and insects than other marijuana strains.
- No matter what the lighting situation is like in your outdoor or indoor grow setup, they follow the growth schedule embedded in their genes. They will flower after a certain amount of time, not after the light begins to change.
All this opens up a lot of new possibilities for many growers. This article is intended to keep you informed about this development in the marijuana world.
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What is autoflowering marijuana?
There are plenty of different autoflowering marijuana strains, and no two strains are exactly the same.
Some people think of autoflower marijuana plants as lower quality than more conventional and traditional types of marijuana.
Others consider it a godsend that makes life significantly easier for us growers.
Whichever category you fall into, it may be important to learn more about it, and the different options out there.
So what is an autoflower marijuana plant?
To fully understand this, it’s best first to know a bit more about marijuana itself.
Marijuana is a photoperiod plant, which means that its life cycle (specifically the flowering phase) is influenced by changes in the timing of exposure to sunlight.
Through this logic, growers can manipulate the growth of their indoor plants with ease.
Young cuttings can be spurred to enter the flowering phase simply by giving them 12 hours of uninterrupted darkness every night for a couple weeks.
Older plants growing outdoors won’t enter the flowering phase until this same light change affects them through the natural seasonal variations.
These don’t occur until after the middle of summer.
Autoflower strains of marijuana flower when the plants are a particular age, rather than flowering in response to changes in light exposure.
This means that, regardless of the weather and sunlight patterns, they will enter the flowering phase after a certain number of weeks.
This, understandably, has opened the door for all sorts of new possibilities in the marijuana growing world.
The addition of autoflower marijuana strains comes from the crossbreeding of ruderalis plants, with a “standard” marijuana plant.
Because ruderalis plants were not cultivated for their high THC content (given the fact that the THC levels were very low), they were not grown or used by smokers very often at all.
For this reason, the dominant traits of the first autoflower strain had to include high THC levels from the “standard” marijuana strain half, and the autoflower genetics from the ruderalis half.
Check this video by Willy Groff of an autoflower in time laps
The process was difficult, and largely unsuccessful at first.
For this reason, not too long ago, growers did not readily trust autoflower strains, because of their low yields and low THC levels.
They ended up being considered a scam, of sorts.
Things have changed, however.
The autoflower strains on the market today are just as reliable as any other strain – just be sure to purchase them from a reputable source.
The THC content will also be as high as it is described in the online information provided about the strain.
With these traits stabilized, and the number of high-quality strains of autoflowering marijuana increasing all the time, the dawn of the age of autoflower has finally come.
Autoflower cannabis strains
Autoflower strains of marijuana generally have a shorter life than other types of marijuana plants.
Their quick turnaround is part of their appeal for growers who want more than one harvest per season.
An autoflower strain usually takes around 10 weeks before they are ready to harvest.
When considering an autoflower harvest, it is important to remember that it will be different from the harvest of other types of marijuana.
Certain limitations that come with the plant’s not having the time to grow as long and that includes the fact that it will be smaller.
Consequently, the harvest will be, too. Your yield can only be so high when you grow smaller plants.
Some of the highest quality autoflower marijuana strains require ten to twelve weeks for full growth and flowering, to achieve the best possible harvest.
It mostly depends on the strain you grow.
Be sure to read the information provided for that specific strain, as well as any comments and tips from people who have successfully grown the strain before.
Best selling autoflower cannabis strains from the ILGM seed bank
How to grow autoflower weed
When you grow any kind of marijuana plant, it is crucial to start the growing season, and entire life cycle, rooted in strength.
With the short life span of autoflower marijuana plants, this is especially important.
The very beginning is the time to support your plants so they have as much growth as possible.
If this is not done, you may end up with a harvest that is infinitely more disappointing than the “normal” marijuana harvest failure.
The room for error is smaller with autoflowers.
For this reason, it is often recommended that people who want to grow autoflower marijuana plants start growing them indoors, with artificial lights they can control.
Indoor growing decreases the chance for error and favorably controls each aspect of your plant’s early life.
A strong start ensures that it will get everything it needs to thrive, both now, and later on.
Autoflower marijuana seeds
Properly germinating your marijuana plants is crucial to their healthy development, as well.
This can be done naturally in soil, or in a container without any growing medium. I always germinate my seeds in water.
Most autoflower marijuana growers I know actually prefer the paper towel method.
It simply involves placing a seed within a damp paper towel, or length of toilet paper, and putting it in a container of some sort that will retain moisture and humidity.
This should cause the seeds to sprout within days.
After they sprout, they should then be transplanted to their final growing medium.
After this, do not transplant them again if you can help it as autoflower plants are small and are vulnerable to greater transplanting shock.
Autoflower weed cuttings
For now, cuttings are not a great idea with autoflower marijuana plants.
The problem is that, while you can easily take a cutting successfully, you have to remember that the plants will autoflower after a certain age.
The cutting’s age will merge with the parent plant’s age.
This means they will flower at the same time.
So if you are growing a cutting of an autoflower plant, the final plant will be much smaller than the parent, when it enters the flowering stage.
When all this is considered, cuttings aren’t exactly worth it, as these particular plants are already small to begin with.
Autoflower weed by week feeding guide
Once your autoflower marijuana plants have reached two weeks of life, you can feed them a small amount of vegetative nutrients.
Feed them higher quantities of it gradually over time, until your plants are either six or seven weeks old.
Bio Bizz feeding schedule
Don’t switch over to flowering nutrients until you have visibly noticed a stop in its vertical growing.
Even if the flowering phase started a week earlier, don’t be premature with the flowering nutrients.
Be guided, instead, by the ending of vertical growth.
Lighting your autoflowering plants
Similar to regular marijuana plants, you can decide on one of two lighting options:
- One choice is to expose your plants to 24 hours of light per day
- The other is to allow them some rest every day, and give them 18hours of light, and sixhours of darkness. It all depends on your personal preferences, as well as the strain that you are growing.
One specific go-to example is to use 120-watt LED lights for the first few weeks of growth and keep it going for 21 hours each day.
In this case, the light should be set up between 70 and 80 centimeters away from the plants.
Once you have potted the older plants, you can convert to larger LED lights, and a schedule of 18 hours of light, and 6 hours of darkness.
Should you prune autoflowering marijuana plants?
While pruning (topping, specifically) can be done in a positive and helpful way with autoflower marijuana plants, certain modifications are needed when pruning regular marijuana plants.
For instance, the pruning needs to take place very early in your plants’ lives, to avoid obstructing their vegetative growth later on.
That being said, many growers claim that pruning autoflower marijuana plants at all is a bad idea and should be avoided altogether.
They say pruning will lower the autoflowers’ harvest.
If you really want to take the risk, try doing it with an autoflower strain that has been proven to take a bit longer than the others.
This way, it has more time to recover and grow, after the pruning has taken place.
What to expect from an autoflower harvest
If everything goes well during your autoflower grow season, what can you expect in terms of a harvest?
Keep in mind that the perfect environmental elements include being around 73°F, 55% humidity, 400 watts per m2 for light, good air circulation, plenty of oxygen, and a solid nutrient regimen (among other things).
To put it bluntly, your harvest will be proportionate to the length of time that your autoflowering weed plants grow.
In simplest terms, longer growth equals a bigger harvest.
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Some strains that grow for about 3 months, for example, often average around 40 grams per plant.
While longer-growing super autoflower strains might get between 150 and 500 grams per plant when grown outdoors.
Choosing when to harvest is also difficult, and equally important to all the other decisions you might make when growing autoflower marijuana plants.
You generally need to check your plant’s trichomes to see when 50% of them are amber in color.
The amber color signifies the point at which harvesting should take place.
Make sure you stop watering the plants for at least one or two days before you harvest them so that their extra nutrients go away.
Curing and storing
Curing your autoflower marijuana buds helps them turn into the delicious product that every grower desires.
If you cure them poorly, then your efforts will not pay off in great taste. Curing should be done inside an airtight container.
This is so the moisture can spread throughout evenly, and move from the middle of the bud, where it is originally held.
During the process, open the container several times per day for a few days straight.
Eventually, you should only open it once a day or longer, until the buds are thoroughly cured, several weeks or months later.
Once they have finished curing, the buds should not have much moisture left at all. A tiny amount of moisture is still good for smoking, though.
Extra dry buds actually make the smoke more unpleasant.
Smoke it within several months, to one year. After a year, it is unlikely that the product will be as pleasant for smoking.
Keep it in a dark, cool location. Freezing it can keep it fresh longer.
How to grow autoflowers outdoors
Although there are certainly plenty of downsides to growing autoflower marijuana plants, they also have some very compelling advantages, as well.
Many would argue that their true value lies in being grown as outdoor plants.
Or, perhaps even better, many might grow them for some time indoors, and then finish their vegetation and flowering stages outdoors.
This usually involves between 1 and 1.5 months of indoor growth, to maximize their vegetative stage.
Then, they are moved outdoors (assuming the temperature is not colder than 50°F).
The reason this is considered such a good thing is because you can get several harvests within one plant’s normal growing season.
While a huge plant will get you a massive harvest at the end of its growth, it takes 8 to 9 months to ever get that far.
Of course, this also leaves more room for unexpected obstacles to mess up your harvest before you even get there.
With autoflowering weed, however, you can have numerous crops growing in the same space of time.
You are, therefore, achieving smaller harvests incrementally while avoiding a long wait to consume any of the buds.
Your work is secured, and you are given several “chances” within the same amount of time, in case one crop gets somehow ruined.
Autoflower marijuana plants will always be shorter than regular marijuana plants.
This means they will not be as easily spotted as the more massive marijuana plants (which definitely tend to attract unwanted attention).
Even if you are growing them in your own personal garden on your owned property, they can still easily go undetected throughout the span of their entire growth cycle, because of their small size.
For reference, the most efficiently grown autos have one square meter each to themselves to grow to their full size (and harvest) potential.
How to grow autoflowers indoors in soil
Just like there are perks to growing photoperiod weed plants outdoors, the same can be said indoors.
Autoflowering weed plants synergize perfectly with indoor grow rooms.
Week by week, an autoflower can grow freely without having to worry about space, as autoflowers don’t take much of it.
Many autoflowering weed plants grow no taller than 40 inches.
In terms of lighting, autoflowers work well under artificial grow lights. In particular, LED grow lights are a great option for growing this type of weed.
Despite costing more than fluorescent lights, LEDs will save you on both electricity and replacement bulbs. You can choose from full-spectrum LED lights or invest in two individual LED lights.
You’d want two different types because each stage requires a specific spectrum for the best possible yields.
A blue spectrum lamp benefits autoflowers in their vegetative stage, whereas a red spectrum is best for flowering.
To get the most yield out of your plants, you can leave the lights on 24/7. This method will cost you in electrical bills, and it’s only best suited for cold climates.
The typical ratio of 18 hours of light and 6 hours of darkness is best for autoflowering weed plants, as it’ll save you on electrical cost and give your plants time to rest.
However, lately, many growers have tried giving their autoflowers 20 hours of light and 4 hours of darkness since it produces better yields than the 18/6 ratio but doesn’t cost as much as leaving your lights on 24/7.
Outside of choosing the right type of grow lights and picking the ideal light schedule for your plants, you need to also choose the right strain for your indoor grow room.
To know what strain is the one for you comes down to personal preference and experience. Whether you choose sativa or indica doesn’t matter as much with autoflowering weed.
But, if you’re a first-time grower, don’t mess up simply because you don’t know how to grow. Stick to an easy-growing strain.
Growing marijuana is cheaper than buying weed, but the seeds cost money.
That’s why many growers prefer to buy a single set of seeds and continue growing them by breeding.
However, breeding marijuana is a lot more complicated than growing marijuana from seeds; that’s why we don’t recommend breeding autoflower weed.
Instead, leave it to the experts – us – to breed high-quality autoflowering marijuana seeds for you.
Many people wonder whether they should breed autoflower plants due to autoflowering weed plants’ short lifespan.
Because you can grow a lot more plants in the same amount of time, naturally, that means you could use a lot more seeds. They worry about the cost of buying autoflowering cannabis seeds year after year.
If this is your worry, you are doing it wrong.
The main benefits of growing autoflowering marijuana are lower costs and an easier experience.
You need less space, less time, and likely less electricity.
Supply should not be your concern. If you focus on growing the best marijuana with the highest yield, you’ll find that you’ll have more than enough weed to last you.
If you need some help with that, learn to increase yield by scrogging in this guide.
When it comes to breeding autoflowers, do not make it harder than necessary. Buy extra seeds and grow more plants.
Pros and cons of autoflower growing
Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of growing autoflower marijuana plants, instead of regular marijuana plants.
Pros of growing autoflowering weed
First of all, you have the chance to attain a higher variety of marijuana when you grow autoflower marijuana plants.
This is because of the shorter growing season.
So within one season, you can grow approximately three separate strains, and get that many different varieties of marijuana for smoking!
This is especially valuable for people who are growing just for themselves and prefer a range of highs, which can change depending on their mood or preference that day.
Therefore, growing autoflowers can help keep things fresh and exciting on the marijuana smoking front.
There is also somewhat less hassle involved — at least in certain aspects.
For example, you will not need a complicated setup with one grow room and one flowering room. That means that, even if you had the space for that many rooms, you could instead use that space to time your growing so that you can harvest every few weeks.
You also won’t have to be so careful with your lighting setup, and grow room light-proof sealing.
This is because light leakages have no impact at all on your autoflower marijuana plants’ flowering phase.
Another advantage is multi-crop systems, which are compatible systems that overlap nicely. They allow you to harvest a new crop every few weeks, and can be set up outside.
They don’t require much space in your garden and are unlikely to attract much attention if any.
In the case of power outages (which can be more frequent for people in certain locations), normal marijuana plants could have their growth and flowering phases interrupted, and their harvests consequently damaged.
You will not have these issues with autoflower marijuana plants.
It is also thought that, because autoflower marijuana plants contain genes from the ruderalis marijuana strain, they may be hardier than other types of marijuana plants.
This idea comes from the fact that ruderalis plants are very hardy, and can handle cold and other obstacles better than photoperiod plants.
These plants will also work well in indoor and outdoor areas that have height or size restrictions.
Finally, if your growing friends are already growing their own photoperiod marijuana, you can enjoy smoking your own marijuana, while they wait and wait for their own harvest to be ready.
Cons of growing autoflower cannabis
This is because you will need the same amount of light per plant although these smaller plants have smaller yields.
Light usage per gram less efficient than regular
Additionally, autoflower marijuana plants tend to be inconsistent in terms of their speed of growth, and their size. Even individual plants within one particular strain might have varying sizes and growth patterns.
This makes certain types of growing methods, like hydroponics, particularly difficult — if not impossible.
Sometimes it will be necessary to harvest one crop several times until all of the plants have been harvested because they flower and mature at different rates as well.
Some smokers of autoflower marijuana will complain that the aroma of their product is not as strong as that of regular photoperiod marijuana plants.
Whether this is a pro or con might depend on your own personal preferences, of course.
Male and female
A normal photoperiod marijuana seed has a 50/50 shot at being either male or female.
This is an unfortunate statistic for the average marijuana grower who is only interested in growing unfertilized female(sensimilla) plants.
If you get feminized seeds, on the other hand, you can expect nearly every seed to turn out female.
Autoflower marijuana seeds are not any different in regards to these ratios. Hermaphrodites can be expected in either case and should be watched out for, even if you are expecting all female plants, like when you purchase feminized seeds.
Super autoflower strains
If you have done any research into this new autoflowering trend, you have probably already discovered the term “SUPER autoflower” to describe many different seeds.
So, what are these super seeds, and how are they different from other autoflowering seeds?
The idea behind the super strains is that they are larger, but still share the same useful trait of flowering automatically.
They are stronger and hardier than regular autoflower marijuana plants, especially when it comes to resistance against mold or pests.
They were created specifically with the goal in mind of having bigger, higher-yielding autoflowering weed plants.
Autoflower weed seeds
Perhaps one of the most challenging aspects of the autoflower marijuana plant growing process is deciding which of the autoflower seeds to buy first.
This is an especially important decision if you are a first-time grower or even a seasoned veteran who has never grown autoflower strains of marijuana before.
There are a huge variety of seed strains to choose from, so it is easy to get overwhelmed by all the options. The key is always to consider:
- What type of growing conditions the seeds will be planted in
- What ratio of THC to CBD you would like in the strain
- What taste and smell you prefer in your weed.
If you have clearly defined these main points, then you will have a much easier time choosing the perfect strain for you.
9 Mistakes To Avoid When Growing Autoflowering Cannabis
Autoflowers are too easy to grow if you avoid these 9 common mistakes. Find out if you’re growing autoflowering cannabis plants the right way in this article.
- 1. Knowing the basics
- 2. Time it right
- 3. Germination
- 4. Choose the right medium
- 5. Choose good containers
- 6. Do not transplant
- 7. Over and under-watering
- 8. Overfeeding and underfeeding
- 8. a. Macro and micronutrients
- 8. b. Ph levels
- 9. Harvest at the right time
- 10. Frequently asked questions about autoflowers
- 11. In conclusion
Autoflower cannabis has always sparked debates among growers in the cannabis community. Due to a dearth of knowledge or experience, many growers avoid growing autoflowers. Beginners are expected to only grow photoperiod plants, and while the fear of something new and unexpected is understandable, you might discover something more amazing if you just try. Autoflowers are really easy to grow but there are basic guidelines you should know, just like when growing other plants or vegetables. All plants are different and even though you can successfully harvest the first time you grow cannabis, there are common mistakes that are better to avoid. If you’re new to autoflower growing and are looking for an autoflower grow guide or want to know how to grow autoflowering strains, here are a couple of tips to have you growing in no time.
1. Knowing the basics
To set things straight, let’s begin by saying that autoflowers are really easy to grow. In fact, beginners can try growing autoflowers with little to no experience as long as they understand the basics 1 . And this is true for all plants. Can you expect to grow tomatoes if you’re clueless about using nutrients? Or, can you harvest cucumbers if you don’t even know when to harvest them? No? Similarly, autoflowers need you to follow a few basic guidelines like other plants, and you’ll do just fine if you take the time to understand them.
But what makes autoflowering cannabis cultivars so easy to grow? Well, there are a few beginner-friendly traits that set them apart from their photoperiod cousins. For one, they descend from a type of cannabis—known as cannabis ruderalis—that adapted to the harsh conditions of Siberia. All autos possess Ruderalis genetics, which endows them with impressive hardiness, good pest and disease resistance, and rapid growing times. If you’re an indoor grower, you won’t even need to adjust the light cycle to get them to flower. Now that you’re more familiar with autoflowering genetics, let’s take a look at what mistakes to avoid to achieve the best outcome possible.
After all, a plant that gives you lip-smacking buds in just 2 months deserves some research, eh? Autoflowers may scare you at first, but if you avoid a few common mistakes, you’ll harvest much more than you can imagine, and it only gets better.
2. Time it right
Timing is everything if you’re planning to grow autoflowers outdoors. Since autoflowers don’t depend on light to flower, you don’t need to worry too much. But, planting too early will generate smaller yields and planting too late affects yields too.
Frost must be avoided at all costs. Typically, most growers begin planting when spring is just around the corner. Depending on where you live, you can plant the seeds as soon as the frost clears. If you reside in a location that doesn’t receive any snow, go ahead and plant when the temperatures range between 22°C to 28°C (71°F to 77°F).
If you live in a particularly cold region, there are steps you can take to protect your plants from the threat of late frosts. Of course, starting seeds indoors will help here. Plus, doing so will help to speed up germination times. Moving them out into greenhouses and polytunnels will add an additional layer of protection as the seasonal frosts begin to wane. If you have no choice but to move them outdoors under the sky, consider covering young plants with bell cloches and mulching the surrounding soil with hay or straw as a form of insulation.
You can also leverage timing to take advantage of successive harvests. Staggering sowings by two weeks till break up the work that awaits come harvest time. It will help you space out all of that trimming, drying, and curing into easily manageable portions. Bigger plants can tolerate much higher temperatures but tender seedlings will succumb to extreme temperatures. Remember to avoid rainy seasons since the plant doesn’t receive too much light. Of course, the timing doesn’t matter if growing indoors, so sow those seeds whenever you wish!
For beginners, germinating the seeds is an important part of the entire process. To get better results, soak the seeds in plain water for at least 24 hours and wrap them in moist paper towels for a day or two. Use a ziplock bag to store the towels.
By soaking your seeds up to 48hrs and then keeping them in a moist paper towel you guarantee successful germination.
It’s important to keep the towels moist because the seeds can rot if there’s too much water. Similarly, the seeds won’t sprout if the towels are completely dry. Don’t make the mistake of directly planting the seeds, especially if you’re doing it for the first time. Once the seeds show a tap root, plant the seeds in the final container. Despite having to keep the seeds in damp paper towels, make sure they are not completely wet, too much water can rot the seeds. The best way to identify this is by smell if the paper towels start to smell like mold, immediately take them out and change the towels.
Sebastian Good gives you all the essential information about germination of autoflowering cannabis seeds.
Depending on your experience, you can also germinate your seeds directly in the medium, just make sure you’re not overwatering it because you can end up drowning your seeds. As you can see in the video, germinating in the soil is easy and doesn’t require anything extra, just be careful and you’ll see a seedling coming out of the ground in a couple of days.
4. Choose the right medium
Growing plants in hydroponic setups seem very cool, but soil is your best bet if you have no experience. Avoid using clay soils that clump up because autoflowers thrive in well-aerated soil. A soilless medium of equal parts of peat moss or coco peat, perlite, some airy soil, and sand is the best potting mix for autoflowers. If you don’t want to bother about fertilizing at all, you can even try growing autoflowers organically. There are various ways to make your own organic soil, but you can buy some in your local store to start with. Organic soil is premised with nutrients, so it’s ideal for someone that doesn’t have a lot of time. For growers that don’t mind putting in the efforts, composting and building super soil is the best soil mix for autoflowers.
There are a variety of different techniques to create healthy compost loaded with organic matter and beneficial microorganisms. If you can get your hands on enough green (grass cuttings, food scraps, coffee grounds, manure) and brown materials (cardboard, paper, woodchips) to fill a compost bin immediately, you can create a hot compost pile that will produce an excellent growing medium in as little as a few weeks. Simply add 50% green material and 50% brown material, stack them in alternating layers, and turn and water occasionally.
If growing outdoors, till the soil well and amend it with organic nutrients to produce a happy, healthy plant. But, no matter what you do while growing indoors, stay away from old used soil or sterilize it before you plant seeds to prevent diseases. If you have the luxury of a garden, you can leverage biodiversity in your favor to produce incredible auto specimens. Consider sowing companion plants such as basil, chamomile, and yarrow nearby to attract beneficial insects that will help to keep pest species away. If you live in a hot climate, low-growing ground cover plants such as winter squash will help to cast a shadow over the soil and, in doing so, boost moisture retention and reduce the amount of watering you have to do.
5. Choose good containers
Please don’t stuff seeds in plastic containers that make life hell for the poor roots. Use porous containers such as fabric pots or even Airpots to help the plants grow as much as possible. Autoflowers are typically small, but they need containers that are at least 5-8 liters in size.
Roots also need oxygen, although they need water to absorb nutrients, a lack of oxygen can damage and kill your plants.
Bigger autoflowers need bigger containers, so make sure you check the description before purchasing seeds. Root aeration is often overlooked, but it’s an important factor in determining your yields.
The appropriate pot size can also help you control the height of your cannabis plants, usually, a 12L pot will allow your plant to develop to its maximum, an auto in a 7L pot will grow up to 70cm and in a 3L pot will grow around 40cm.
If you’re growing autos outdoors in a warm climate, your containers will dry out fast—especially during heatwaves. To help improve water retention, consider applying a layer of mulch onto the top of your growing medium. Straw, hay, or leaf litter helps to produce more of a natural growing environment—how much bare soil do you see when walking through the forest? As well as breaking down and feeding soil microbes over time, these materials shield the top layer of soil from the sun and reduce water loss via evaporation.
6. Do not transplant
It’s important to start autoflowers in their final containers rather than planting them in smaller ones and transplanting them later. Sure, growing cannabis is like growing tomatoes, but autoflowers have a limited time period and can’t afford to lose days while the plant settles and searches for roots.
Some growers use small plastic cups to plant seeds. While this method may work with photoperiod plants, it’s not recommended for autoflowers. If you’re already committed the mistake of planting them in small containers, try to transplant the plant only when the soil is moist. If the soil is too wet, the roots tend to break, and if it’s too dry, transplanting becomes a pain. Of course, experienced growers do transplant autoflowers but it’s not really necessary.
7. Over and under-watering
Most plants die if you over or under-water them. Yes, autoflowers need water to grow, but it’s critical to supply it only when the plant needs it. It’s obvious that the timing is important even when the plants need water.
A way to check if the soil is dry is to use your index finger and stick it in the soil, if it comes out moist then the soil is still humid, although by doing this you won’t be able to know if the bottom is still wet so in order to get the timing right, lift the pots and check the weight. A dry pot will be easy to lift whereas container with lots of water will be heavy. The trick is to not let the soil go too dry or too wet, so water the plants only when the pot isn’t too heavy or light.
8. Overfeeding and underfeeding
Nutrients play a big role in growing autoflowering cannabis strains. Autoflowers are compact, so they don’t need loads of nutes in order to survive. In fact, autoflowers grow best when light fertilizers are used. It’s also important to feed the right nutrients at the right time.
Macro and micronutrients
For example, cannabis needs more nitrogen in the vegetative stage. In the pre-flowering stage, nutrients with more phosphorous are preferred, and in the flowering stage needs a lot more potassium than nitrogen or phosphorous. If you’re wondering what the term “N-P-K” printed on fertilizer bags means, it’s nothing but Nitrogen-Phosphorous-Potassium. The plants also need other micronutrients along with calcium and magnesium, so it’s extremely important to get the dosage right.
Don’t make the rookie mistake of using Miracle Grow or any other fertilizer meant to grow vegetables. Autoflowers will grow well even if you do that, but since they have special needs, you might as well stick to nutrients that supply everything. From humic to fulvic acid to enzymes, you can do a lot to make the plants perform to the best of their potential.
Talking about nutrients, some growers try to make their own nutes. While it’s completely okay to do so, you should avoid doing it if you’ve never done that before. Nutrients are expensive and it’s tempting to make your own, but try to attempt that after you’ve gained some experience. Why? Because cannabis plants require a good blend containing all micro and macronutrients in exact concentrations to thrive. It’s not as simple as diluting a random fertilizer and feeding the plants. You not only risk burning the plants, but the yields will suffer drastically since the plants have no time to recover.
So, if it’s your first time, stick to commercial nutrients. And, the topic on nutrients is incomplete if you don’t talk about pH. Depending on the medium 2 you choose to grow, the pH must be regulated accordingly. Cannabis plants love acidic soil, so the pH must be maintained between 5.5 to 7 in both soil and hydroponic setups. If the pH drops below 6, the roots will not be able to intake vital nutrients such as magnesium, calcium, and phosphorous. Similarly, if the pH is too alkaline and goes above 7.5, the roots cannot take up micronutrients like copper, manganese, boron, etc. It’s very important to regulate the pH at all times to prevent nutrient deficiencies.
Here’s a quick table to help you understand pH better:
Nutrient Ideal PH Level for Absorption Nitrogen 6.0-8.0 Phosphorus 6.5-7.5 Potassium 6-8 Calcium 6.5-8.5 Magnesium 6-8.5
Sometimes, it just so happens that the plant refuses to respond even if you’ve done everything. In such cases, flush the plants with lots of water (at least double or triple the size of the container) to reduce any nutrient or salt buildup so that the plants can breathe again. Flushing is typically done at the end, but it doesn’t hurt the plant even if you do it in between because it reduces buildups to a good extent.
Some growers also flush during the pre-flowering stage, when the plants are transitioning from the vegetative into the flowering stage so they can start feeding from zero, as said above, this won’t hurt your plants but should be done properly.
9. Harvest at the right time
You’ve come all this way, and the end is almost near, so don’t screw this up now! Now you’re probably asking “how to tell if my autoflower is ready for harvest?” Well, after you’ve put in all the hard work, wait for the right time. Growers use microscopes to check the trichomes that usually indicate the right time, but you can harvest when at least 50 to 70 percent of the pistils are amber in color. While judging pistil colors works well for many growers, you can use trichome color as an accurate estimation for harvest time, too.
Have you ever noticed that white frosty layer on the surface of cannabis buds? They might not look like much to the naked eye, but these are tiny mushroom-shaped glands known as trichomes that produce all of the cannabinoids and terpenes that underpin the effects, aroma, and flavor of different strains. Low-cost forms of magnification, such as jewelers’ loupes, offer an up-close and personal view of these little phytochemical factories.
By assessing their color, you can get a good understanding of the maturity of your buds. Clear trichomes indicate that flowers are still too young and lack adequate levels of cannabinoids and terpenes. Aim to harvest when at least 50% of the trichomes you inspect are milky and opaque. If you wait too long, these glands will start to display an amber color, signifying the partial degradation of THC into CBN—a byproduct associated with a more physical and stoning effect.
If you wait too much, the buds tend to produce a couch-lock effect leaning more towards the Indica side while buds harvested too early generate unpleasant psychoactive effects. Also, the main colas ripen faster than the lower portions of the plant. Often referred to as popcorn buds, the lower portions stay small. However, harvesting the main colas and leaving the popcorn buds on the plant for a week more will increase yields dramatically. Be patient, and let Mother Nature do the rest for you! If you avoid these common mistakes when growing autoflowering cannabis, you’ll soon be rewarded with potent resinous buds that will last a long time if stored properly.
10. Frequently Asked Questions About Autoflowers
What’s the average autoflower size and how tall can they get?
Most autoflowers reach a height of around 50-100cm but a plant’s size depends on the genetics and growing conditions. Also, all strains are different so you will find Sativa and Indica-leaning autos; Most Indica hybrid autoflowers will stay around the 80-120cm mark but Sativa-dominant autoflowers can reach up to 175cm tall.
Can I grow my auto on my window sill?
Yes, you can, although it’s not recommended if you want to get the best results possible but if this is the only way you have, make sure your plant gets at least 4-6 hours of direct sunlight a day and that you’re using at least a 10-liter pot.
Do autoflowers grow normal or smaller because of the Ruderalis genes?
The size of an autoflower can be influenced by several factors, genetics being the main one. More modern autoflower breeders breed their genetics to contain as little as Ruderalis genetics as possible, focusing on the more appealing characteristics such as size, structure, potency, and yields.
But when compared to a photoperiod plant, an autoflower has a limited lifespan so things such as stress, damage, or a bad environment can ultimately affect your auto’s height, so it’s ideal to provide optimum grow conditions to get the best results possible.
When is the best time to plant autoflowers outdoors?
This solely depends on your climate, you need to remember that autos prefer dry sunny days so if you’re planning to have just one grow cycle, you can start them 1-2 weeks into Summer, and if you’re planning to have 2 harvests, start the next one right after finishing the first one.
What yield can I expect per autoflowering plant?
The yields depend on genetics, environment, stress, growers skills, and etc.. But in general, you can expect between 50-110 grams per plant.
How long will it take for my auto to start flowering?
In general, autoflowers stay for 4 weeks in the vegetative stage, so about 4 weeks. Then your auto will start developing flowers for 3 weeks, and fattening up the buds for the last 3 weeks.
Most autoflowers take around 10 weeks from seed to harvest but may take longer depending on the phenotype and growing conditions.
This may vary according to the genetics and growing environment, have in mind that it’s just to give you an idea of what to expect, some autoflowers may take less and others take longer.
Yes, you can, although it’s not recommended because it can affect the yields. To prevent shocking your autoflowers and consequently affecting yields, it’s recommended to transplant 7-12 days after germination and if possible, use rooting cubes to prevent damaging the roots.
Can you grow autoflowering cannabis in a greenhouse?
Of course you can, you can grow autoflowers in a greenhouse all year round as long as you keep the inside temperature to a minimum of 15°C and there’s enough ventilation, airflow, and sunlight.
11. In conclusion
Autoflowers (aka self flowering seeds) are suited for beginner growers but it’s crucial you know the basics if you want to have a successful harvest the first time you grow cannabis, although you can learn as you go, it can be disappointing if you waste time and money, and end up with nothing to smoke.
Now that you know the basics and what to avoid, you’re all set up to start your first autoflower indoor grow.
If you’ve never grown cannabis before and are planning on growing our autos, feel free to ask us anything in the comment section below!