Autoflower, feminized, and photoperiod (regular) are all options you may be confronted with when it comes time to buy cannabis seeds. Autoflowering promises predictable growth, with no need to fuss with light schedules. Feminized seeds promise no wasted space or time sexing out males. Photoperiod (or normal cannabis se In the current cannabis seed market, it is possible to buy both regular and feminized seeds. But, what's the difference between regular and feminized seeds? The difference between regular, feminized and autoflowering cannabis seeds is more than skin deep, and regular cannabis seeds lend themselves to all kinds of fun for growers who want to experiment. Discover what Sensi Seeds original varieties could bring to you!
Autoflower vs. Feminized vs Regular (Photoperiod): A Easy to Understand Guide
Autoflower, feminized, and photoperiod (regular) are all options you may be confronted with when it comes time to buy cannabis seeds. Autoflowering promises predictable growth, with no need to fuss with light schedules. Feminized seeds promise no wasted space or time sexing out males. Photoperiod (or normal cannabis seeds) are needed for breeding, experimenting and guaranteed rigorous growth.
But is this too much technical cultivation lingo too soon? Every grower has an opinion about what type of seed is best, but it always comes down to growth expectations, space restrictions, and personal opinion.
Here are the basic details on autoflower versus feminized versus old-fashioned, unadulterated normal cannabis seeds. By the end, you’ll have the information you need to make an informed decision.
Autoflowering Strains 101
Autoflowering strains of cannabis have genetics that guarantees flowering on a predictable schedule. Regular photoperiod plants need changes in the day/night light schedule to trigger a transition from vegetative into flower. Autoflower, as the name suggests, will launch into flower at the appointed time, no matter what.
A typical auto-flowering strain will be ready to harvest between 60 to 90 days after germination. Conventional photoperiod varieties take a minimum of 90 days but can run upwards of six or seven months, depending on the environment and cultivator preference.
Why are auto-flowering varieties different? They contain ruderalis genetics. This is a third landrace strain, like indica and a sativa. Thanks to comprehensive cannabis breeding programs, most established and popular strains are available in regular and auto-flowering varieties.
Autoflowering is useful for pumping out several harvests in the same time it would take to grow a single conventional variety. They also grow smaller (perfect for small indoor spaces) and are more predictable in growth rate and pattern. As a bonus, you will be able to sex your plants within roughly 21 days and maintain the same light schedule (18:6) for the entire operation.
According to experienced cultivators, it can be nice to grow a few auto-flowering varieties while you veg out the main regular strains. The small size also works well for Sea of Green cultivation.
The problem with autoflower strains? Compared with their regular counterparts, their harvests are smaller, including bud size and quantity. Many people also feel that even the cannabinoid and terpene profiles are not as good as the normal varieties.
Feminized Seeds 101
Feminized seeds are preselected female seeds. They are photoperiod, not autoflowering, which means you’ll use changes in light to trigger the flowering.
The benefit of spending the extra money on feminized seeds is that there is little to no risk of wasting time on sexing males. According to some reports, regular seeds run the risk of producing a male approximately a third of the time.
For small-scale indoor operations, or those legally capped at a strict number of plants, feminized seeds make a lot of sense. Why waste time and resources raising a male when you can start with already-feminized seeds?
Feminized seeds are a human-made creation. Breeders and seed sellers use colloidal silver or other chemicals to inhibit ethylene production in a female plant before it goes to seed. Ethylene is a hormone produced during flower by cannabis plants. The treated plants result in almost 100 percent female seeds.
Feminized seeds are specialized and are therefore more expensive to produce and, for the consumer, more expensive to buy. But, many growers prefer feminized seeds because they make growing that much smoother.
Still, even feminized seeds come with a risk. The chemical retardation of ethylene production also increases the risk of developing a hermaphrodite plant, which can appear far later than a male. As per one forum post, “The way I look at feminized seeds, simply put they are hermaphrodites in disguise. Yes, you are more likely to produce females yet they still carry the herm gene.”
Regular (Photoperiod) Seeds 101
Regular seeds produced the way nature intended them are photoperiod. They will need transitions in light schedule and will grow both male and female plants. Female cannabis plants produce seeds when exposed to pollen produced by male plants. It’s the birds and the bees, cannabis edition.
There is a long-standing tradition among growers to value the vigour, variety, and purity offered by regular seeds. There are notable differences in the quantity between auto-flowering strains and their regular counterparts, but what about regular and feminized differences?
These differences may be more lore than reality. To be sure, using synthetic chemicals or colloidal silver to produce feminized seeds can pose risks to both the plant and the people, but there are methods of executing this safely these days.
To date, there is no real evidence (scientific or cultivator case study) that indicates feminized seeds show any less vigour, yield or resin production than the regular seeds.
Regular seeds are much cheaper than feminized. Many growers, who have space, may want to take the birds and the bees into their own hands to maintain genetics or breed new experiments. Having male plants around, when done correctly, is a valuable endeavour.
What is Best for Cultivators: Autoflower, Feminized or Regular?
What convinces a cultivator to grow auto-flower versus regular, or feminized versus regular? Often it comes down to cultivation experience, the primary goal for the harvest, and time or space constraints.
Small indoor spaces, growing one round at a time, may want to stick with autoflower strains. Larger operations looking to sell their harvests but need to stick to a specific plant count may choose feminized. Finally, those who love a traditional approach and are blessed with lots of space will likely stick with regular photoperiod seeds.
As always, there are as many opinions on the matter as there are people growing weed.
What is the difference between regular and feminized seeds?
In the current cannabis seed market, it is possible to buy both regular and feminized seeds. But, what’s the difference? Beginners could purchase seeds without understanding the real difference. Further, we explain the main characteristics of each of them and how they can influence cultivation. This is done in order to evaluate which are the most suitable cannabis plants for your needs. Regular seeds are completely pure and natural and produce both female and male cannabis plants. Feminized seeds are seeds obtained from Cannabis plants treated with special agronomic techniques. In this case, the plants produced from these seeds will express only the female sex. The first seed company to introduce feminized seeds to the market was “Dutch Passion” in 1998.
Both of these seeds have their own qualities that make them unique.
Thus a real revolution in the cultivation of cannabis seeds began. Today, we find several seed companies on the market that offer a wide range of feminized seeds in their catalogs. And, in some cases, there are companies that sell exclusively this type of product. The reason for this commercial strategy is quite obvious: most cannabis growers are not interested in hybridization and their only goal is to produce large quantities of top quality marijuana. This means that the ultimate goal is to grow only female cannabis plants. Buying feminized cannabis seeds avoids wasting time and being overwhelmed by frustration (there is nothing worse than growing numerous cannabis plants for several weeks and then discovering that half of them are male when the target initial was to get only female plants). When introduced to the market, the feminized seeds initially showed a rather poor quality, receiving heavy criticism from the public (given the high percentage of hermaphrodite Cannabis plants that developed from these seeds).
Feminized seeds and the methods
However, over the years, the seeds and the methods used for their production have reached very high levels, becoming a real art. The quality of the feminized marijuana seeds that you find on the market today is extremely high and the chances of a hermaphrodite plant developing are almost zero. When feminized seeds were introduced to the European market in 1998, a real revolution began which inevitably led to a lack of interest in regular seeds. Today, over 95% of the European cannabis seed market is occupied by feminized seeds. In the United States, however, regular seeds continue to have an important market, still managing to cover a large part of the sector.
This is what feminized seeds look like
For most growers, feminized seeds are the ideal choice when buying a variety of cannabis: they produce excellent quality grass without the risk of running into some male plants. When a professional cannabis grower wants to produce his own seeds and create his own hybrids he needs to work with plants that show both male and female sex. This is necessary in order to pollinate female flowers with male pollen, thus obtaining new genetic crosses and new seeds. This is one of the main reasons why regular seeds continue to be grown.
In a sense, one could say that this growing market interest in feminized seeds could become very dangerous for cannabis communities, turning cannabis growers away from experimentation and dissuading newcomers to create new and interesting varieties. In fact, if we consider a seed company specializing exclusively in the sale of feminized seeds, a grower will never have the opportunity to exploit those particular genetics to create new hybrids. Fortunately, there are still some companies out there that are interested in maintaining this market, where normal growers are allowed to experiment with hybridizing cannabis through regular seeds. Most recommend the use of the seeds, especially for beginner growers.
The difference between regular and feminized cannabis seeds – Which should you grow?
With the general hype surrounding the relatively recent developments of feminized and autoflowering seeds, you’d be forgiven for maybe thinking that regular cannabis seeds are somehow less exciting. You’d also be wrong. Regular seeds contain endless possibilities for growers to experiment with.
In the beginning of Sensi Seeds, and therefore the European cannabis seed industry, a seed was a seed. Now, we use the name ‘regular cannabis seeds’ to distinguish the originals from feminized cannabis seeds and autoflowering cannabis seeds. Both of these types are relatively recent developments when you consider that cannabis has been cultivated by humans for thousands of years.
Regular cannabis seeds are produced when a male cannabis plant pollinates a female cannabis plant. Male pollen is released from ripe pollen sacs and blown by the wind (or carried by the careful hand of a breeder) until it finds the receptive stigmas in female flowers. Pollination results in hundreds, if not thousands, more regular cannabis seeds which will all in turn produce either male or female cannabis plants.
Can you see the difference between regular and feminized cannabis seeds?
Feminized cannabis seeds look exactly the same as regular cannabis seeds, whether male or female. But inside their modest brown husks there’s a crucial difference. Feminized cannabis seeds lack male chromosomes, whereas regular cannabis seeds contain the full complement of genetics that enable them to be either male or female.
This is also why feminized seeds must always be referred to by that name – they aren’t truly female, and therefore cannot be sold as such. Watch out for seeds described as ‘100% female’, as this is nothing more than a marketing ploy!
The main advantage for growers who choose feminized cannabis seeds is that they don’t have to identify or remove male plants which would cause pollination. Unless the gardener desires more seeds, rather than buds, this is an essential part of the cultivation process.
Automatic, or autoflowering, cannabis seeds are even easier. Not only are they feminized, they do not rely on a change in lighting cycles to trigger flowering. So what are the advantages of regular cannabis seeds?
The Difference Between Craft and Commercial Cannabis, And Why You Need to Know
What are regular cannabis seeds used for?
There are two main purposes for regular cannabis seeds, aside from the usual and most common one of simply growing buds.
- The first is breeding. Selective crossings of one cultivar with another has been taking place since the earliest days of agriculture, with all types of plant life. Sometimes this is to maximise the yield of whatever crop the plant produces which is desired by the people growing it; sometimes it’s just for fun and experimentation.
Whatever the intention of the breeding is, it’s best to begin with all the genetic material in order to give the new cross the best possible chance of success, rather than missing the chromosomes that are absent in feminized cannabis seeds.
- The second use for regular cannabis seeds is the one that was, before the advent of feminized seeds, most commonly used to produce crops of uniform cannabis plants without any males among them. This technique is called cloning. Just as with breeding, it’s best done with plants that have their full set of chromosomes, and all the robust qualities that go with that.
From a crop grown from regular cannabis seeds, the best female plants are selected to become ‘mothers’ – so called because with loving care, they can produce potentially hundreds of ‘children’ over the space of several years. The clones that are taken from these mother plants are tiny replicas down to the last scrap of genetic material – including their female sex.
Why do Sensi Seeds still produce regular cannabis seeds?
There are many seedbanks which only carry feminized cannabis seeds. This has become more common as seedbanks themselves have become more common. With the growing awareness (pun intended) of the advantages of feminized seeds, the question of why Sensi Seeds still carries regular cannabis seeds is quite a reasonable one!
The overall answer is simple, and one which anyone familiar with Sensi Seeds will probably have heard before: we want to bring the joy of cannabis to as many people as possible. That’s not limited to simply selling seeds.
We’re confident in our genetics, we’re confident in our service, and we’re confident in our customers. That means giving everyone the broadest range of options possible. This could be taking the simplest route to a crop of buds, which for most people is automatic seeds. But it could be experimenting with creating a unique cross of their very own, using our genetics as the building blocks.
We have quite often been asked if it’s possible to do all the things that can be done with regular cannabis seeds using feminized seeds.
The short answer is, you can try. There’s no reason you shouldn’t attempt to breed, or create a mother plant, using feminized cannabis seeds. However, it’s our firm belief that these practices are more likely to succeed using plants grown from regular cannabis seeds.
What is the difference between indica and sativa?
Tell us what you think
Have you experimented with regular cannabis seeds? Do you think feminized cannabis seeds are a boon to the grower? Would you be sad to see regular cannabis seeds leave our selection, or do you think they are a thing of the past? Let us know in the comments!
Laws and regulations regarding cannabis cultivation differ from country to country. Sensi Seeds therefore strongly advises you to check your local laws and regulations. Do not act in conflict with the law.
32 thoughts on “The difference between regular and feminized cannabis seeds – Which should you grow?”
I’m a newbie at this – and I’m growing a few different plants.
I am having a blast with all of this fun stuff –
I didn’t know anything about seeds females/ males or feminized and auto flowering until this year.
But I am really enjoying this adventure.
I really like and appreciate your posts and blog for learning new things about all of the different seeds and processing/ cultivation. You have given me some good info and great explanations on the differences between regular and all other seeds – which is definitely good info for a newbie thank you
Thanks for your comment and your feedback.
I’m so pleased you are finding the blog educational, and having a blast learning!
Please check out the following articles which I think you may find of use, and I hope you continue to enjoy the blog!
With best wishes,
Good day hooter heads from around the world from Australia,due to the economic climate from covd & most govt recognising the money in pot,we won’t have to go to such length,s sneaking about like outcasts,the med uses for this versatile plant have saved the day,the war on drugs is a hoax,if it wasn’t the hard drug crops Afghan, Thailand opium would of been eradicated,like south America,s coke industry..I think govt,big corp are scammers.
I like feminized seeds but I have used regular seeds and they both grow just as well and have the same potency. Some people like feminized over regular seeds but it doesn’t make a difference except that you might get a male instead of a female but you can use that male to get hundreds more seeds and cross breed them with other plants and get different types of plants. Thank You.
For breeding for the rare Cannabinoids you really need to use selfing like is used for feminized seed production. I speak from experience being the very first to commercialize using STS, I did not make and sell feminized seeds I bred varieties that had a single Cannabinoid, for each of the less common Cannabinoids, like CBC, CBG, THCV, CBDV, CBCV, CBGV each in very high amounts and with close to zero other Cannabinoids. This can not be done with regular seed breeding. And male genes as found in regular seeds do not produce better plants for growing or breeding, I think maybe you do not understand plant genetics for Cannabis which is a Dioecious obligate outcrosser.
Why no mention of hermaphroditism? That is not only How you breed then but ultimately also the biggest flaw and why producing fems is really polluting the gene pool.
Hermaphroditism should be a recissive gene, but your breeding requires it to be a dominant trait. It’s like finding people with dodgy heart conditions or baldness (typical recessive traits that can skip generations) breeding them so everyone goes bald and has a bad heart.
But hey the market wants what the market so u gotta sell what people buy.
This article is intended for our readers who are new to cannabis seeds and, as the title says, focuses on the difference in results rather than the difference in the techniques that produce the seeds. In previous decades, creating feminized seeds was indeed reliant on finding lines with pronounced hermaphroditic tendencies, but thanks to improvements in breeding technology this is no longer the case.
With best wishes,
Improvements? like what? using silverfiosulphate instead of gibberalic acid?
Im not familiar with this “new” technique that does not require one parent to be hermaphrodite….I read arjens blog but that explains even less.
what exactly is this new technique? how does one create fem seeds without hermies?
FYI selecting strains more resistant to hermie, that require excessive amounts of stress to turn, is not new.
No. the disparition of regular seeds would be a disaster and I don’t understand the Auto flowering for me it’s a non sense, it is my personal opinion.
Fear not, we have no intention of removing regular seeds from our catalogue; they are the backbone of our gene library! Regarding our autoflowering strains, they are of great benefit to people who have limited resources in terms of time, energy, experience, and / or space, for whom cultivating regular or even feminized seeds would be out of reach.
With best wishes,
why dont you sell seeds in Canada.
Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, legal restrictions on exporting cannabis seeds mean that they cannot be sent to Canada; we wish it wasn’t so, but it is!
With best wishes,
I believe regular seeds Are The seeds. Feminidad and autoflowering Are productos Or decides to Get Buds.
My blessings to tour effort and hope one Day I Will ser My seed baño with My full range Of seeds. We need The cannacopea.
I to agree with the good parts of regular seeds. Also your buds are generally bigger too. Once you have a selection of females it’s time to CLONE!! More fun !
Then one more fun thing is to develop your own breed! Cross your favorite.
I’m just sad you don’t sell to the U.S.. If you change your mind if like to show you some of my cross breeding. And to acquire more seed stocks. Having fun is most important.
Thank you for your comment We wish that our seeds could be sent to the US, but legal restrictions prevent this – as soon as this situation changes, our policies will change too! In the meantime, I hope that you continue to enjoy the blog.
With best wishes,
Long Live Regular Photo Period Seeds.
Did I catch a recommendation to use only reg seeds for a Mother? Please explain. Ive been growing out a FPOG Mother from fem seeds. Will she clone out ok?
Thanks Y’all. 1LUV
Unfortunately, legal restrictions mean we can’t answer grow related questions or give grow advice on this blog. However, we do have the Sensi Seeds Forum where you can ask questions and share your experiences with a thriving community of cannabis and gardening enthusiasts, so please don’t hesitate to join the community!
With best wishes,
I can’t comment as I’m new to all this but just wanted to say I’m really enjoying reading the e mails that come through to me to help me learn in my journey so they aren’t a waste off time, keep them coming ❤️
Thanks for your comment, I hope you continue to enjoy the newsletter emails and the blog! If you haven’t yet discovered the Sensi Seeds Forum , you can visit it to ask questions and share your experiences with a thriving community of cannabis and gardening enthusiasts, so please don’t hesitate to join the community!