Autoflowering strains are a great solution for novices and experienced growers. In this article, I’ll discuss everything you need know about them. Below you will find five top tips for getting the most out of your autoflowering cannabis plant.
What Are Autoflowering Cannabis Strains?
Autoflowering strains start to flower as the plant matures. This is different to photoperiod strains that start to flower as the hours of daylight decrease. In nature, that would be at the end of the summer.
This means that for a novice grower autoflowering plants can be a lot easier to handle. You can just put it in the garden and just concentrate on watering and feeding knowing that the flowering will take care of itself.
There are cases where an experienced grower may want to chuck an autoflowering seed in the earth. For example, if growing outdoors or in a greenhouse, they could plant autoflowers alongside photoperiod plants. The autoflowers will finish before the other plants have even started to flower, giving the grower something to smoke in late summer.
They are ideally suited to guerrilla growing thanks to their compact size and fast finishing time.
Where do they come from?
There are three subspecies of cannabis; sativa, indica and ruderalis. Sativa plants are tall and usually produce potent flowers that have a racy high. Indica plants tend to be bushier and offer more of a mellow stoned effect. Both sativa and indica start to flower when the hours of light are decreased. If grown naturally they would start to flower at the end of summer. When grown indoors this is when the grower manually switches the lighting schedule to something like 12 hours on 12 hours off.
Ruderalis is quite different. In nature, a ruderalis plant is small and strange looking. It is called “ditch weed”. It is a feral plant that you may find growing by the roadside in extreme places such as Russia. Growing in such extreme conditions it developed a trait that makes it flower as the plant matures. It makes sense from an evolutionary point of view. As soon as the plant is established it starts to flower to ensure that it produces seeds and passes its genetics onto the next generation before winter sets in.
In theory, this trait sounds great and would have many applications, however, there is a catch. Ruderalis growing in the wild does not contain much THC and also does not produce very impressive flowers. Expert cannabis breeders crossed ruderalis plants with sativa and indica genetics to combine the best of both worlds. A potent plant that finishes fast.
In many cases, autoflowering plants are now just as strong as their photoperiod counterparts.
Five Autoflowering Grow Tips
These 5 tips will help you get the most out of your autoflowering plant and help you avoid getting a cute little lollipop cannabis plant.
#1 Buy Quality Seeds
You want companies to look after their seeds correctly before they ship. Seeds must be dried and stored at the optimum levels of temperature and humidity to ensure a high germination success rate. Established companies have a reputation to uphold to ensure their seeds arrive in their prime.
Once you’ve identified the strain you want, do some research to make sure it’s not coming from a fly-by-night breeder or seed supplier.
All Azarius seeds are stored in optimum conditions and they only sell seeds from the best breeders out there.
#2 Plant In The Pot You’ll Finish In And Don’t Transplant
Growing autoflowering seeds differs from photoperiod seeds. It’s extremely important not to restrict the roots of an autoflowering plant. If a root is restricted in a smaller pot this could impact the final size of the plant. This is because these plants grow and flower fast. As soon as the roots are restricted they send signals to the plant to say “I’m root bound stop growing and concentrate on flowering”.
Therefore we must give the roots plenty of space to grow in. Plant the seed or seedling in the pot the plant will finish
#3 Let The Roots Breath
Unlike leaves, which require carbon dioxide, roots need oxygen. To enable them to breath you must plant in an airy substrate. Perlite works well to provide the pockets of air your roots need to help the plant grow to its true potential.
Perlite is an inert volcanic rock. The grains of perlite are white and look like puffed rice. You will no doubt recognise it from potted plants you get from the garden centre. It won’t impart anything nasty into your soil.
The soil you get from your local grow shop will most likely already have perlite mixed in - I like to add more. To have an end result of one-third perlite and two-thirds substrate (preferably organic).
#4 Give Them Plenty Of Light
Plants feed on light through photosynthesis. You have to consider light a nutrient just like any other food a plant needs. Autoflowering strains require as much light as possible.
For outdoor or greenhouse growing to get the most out of your autoflowering cannabis plant make sure it gets at least 15 hours of sunlight per day. This means germinating late April or early May (or later depending on your location).
If you are growing indoors you can put the light cycle on for 20 hours and give the plant a 4-hour rest each day whilst the light is off throughout the entire cycle. This resting period is important for the health of the plant.
#5 Don’t Overwater
If your autoflowering plant is well watered the roots will not have to work so hard to find the water the plant needs. This means that they will not grow to the fill the large pot you have them in. As stated in rule number 2 “more root = more fruit” so small roots will equal a small plant.
Don’t be afraid to let the soil dry a little between waterings. The leaves will start to droop as a signal the plant needs watering. They will bounce back almost instantly when you water them.
If you water too much the roots will drown and could even start to rot. Don’t forget that the roots need oxygen.
Remember that smaller pots need watering more often than large pots as they dry out faster.
Bill Griffin, Author of Easy Organic Weed
Main picture: Honey Peach Auto CBD by Sweet Seeds (detail)
Beetle autoflower: Max Pixel