What Is Autoflowering Cannabis? Autoflowering cannabis is the third and smallest specie of the cannabis genus, which includes cannabis Sativa and cannabis Indica, this third specie is also called Before growing, you’ll need to choose which type of seed you want to work with: feminized or autoflower. Here at Potguide, we recommend starting your cannabis growing hobby/career with auto-flowering cannabis seeds. Let's get into why. This definition explains the meaning of Autoflowering and why it matters.
What Is Autoflowering Cannabis?
Autoflowering cannabis is the third and smallest specie of the cannabis genus, which includes cannabis Sativa and cannabis Indica, this third specie is also called cannabis ruderalis/autoflower/auto cannabis/automatic cannabis.
So what does that autoflowering characteristic mean? It means that this variety of cannabis will automatically flower under almost any light, and because of that these plants don’t need the 12/12 light cycle to start producing flowers and they can grow under 24 hours of light from seed to harvest.
The Ruderalis plant is probably a wild variety of the cannabis Sativa and it is a small bushy plant that has adapted to automatically flower and it reaches full maturity anywhere from 8 to 11 weeks in harsh climates and almost any growing conditions. The first autoflowering plants were found in the former Soviet Union and they were some leftover hemp plants that had adapted to the harsh region. Now we can see ruderalis plants all over the world and these strong plants are well adapted to the diseases and insects that surround them and they do everything to flower as soon as possible and produce flowers and seeds faster than any Sativa or Indica plant can.
Although the wild ruderalis cannabis plants contain little or no THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) breeders from all over the world have produced some amazing autoflower strains by crossbreeding these wild varieties with some of the best commercial strains. After countless failures, those breeders managed to perfect that cross-breeding and now the market is flooded with new and exciting autoflowering seeds that start their flowering process after a certain time period. But the best part is that these smaller strains can be ready to harvest in 60 days from seed, stays between 50 to 100 cm and contain 20 to 30 % THC!
Automatic cannabis is becoming the next big thing in the grower’s community because it can be grown very fast and it doesn’t need the light cycle change and that eliminates the need for different growing rooms for plants that are flowering and those that are in the vegetative stage. Autoflowering cannabis seeds are perfect for beginner growers because this plant stays small and can be grown stealthily in small growing places and it is also very strong and resilient, so beginner mistakes won’t do any damage. That is why this ruderalis plant will most likely recover from things like Over or Underwatering, potbound roots, Temperature fluctiations, transplanting and Nutrient burns as well as other stresses and mishaps.
The question “Why choose autoflowering seeds?” is discussed more and more as these strains expand their reach and become mainstream. Now we can find almost every commercially successful strain cross-bred to produce autoflowering seeds to have both the small ruderalis and regular plant traits in them.
If you ask – why so many people nowadays choose autoflowers over the regular Indica and Sativa strains?
There isn’t one correct answer to this question but there are many advantages to these autoflower plants as they have some traits that regular cannabis plants just can’t match.
Fast growth and short life cycle
The first thing why people choose auto seeds over the regular ones is their short life cycle. Fastest autoflower plants can grow from seed to full maturity in under 60 days and that gives limitless possibilities to indoor and outdoor growers.
For example, if someone plants regular seeds and autoflowering seeds side by side, then he can see that these small bushy plants are ready to harvest long before the regular strains start to produce flowers and that makes autoflowers less likely to be damaged by critters, bugs, diseases and even inexperienced growers and harsh weather conditions.
Indoors the short turnaround of autoflowering cannabis plants can be properly exploited to have some continuous harvest setups or even “Sea of Green”.
Outdoors these dwarf plants are harder to see because of their small size and that makes them more stealth and less likely to be found by other growers, law officials, tourists or ripper gangs so they are perfect plants for stealth guerrilla grows.
Indoors small plants can have a big advantage to growers who have limited space for growing or growers who want to produce their bud stealthy. These short autoflowering seeds will produce plants that can be grown in almost any space and an empty closet or refrigerator will do just fine. But small plant growing doesn’t stop there and some growers are even growing these cannabis plants in their PC-cases and ice-boxes and this is called micro growing. Even if these cannabis micro growers don’t get much yield they are still growing cannabis and without autoflower seeds this just would not be possible.
Advantages of autoflower plants
The advantage that characterizes all ruderalis plants is that they can automatically flower under almost any light cycle. This privilege means that indoor growers don’t need separate grow-rooms for plants that are in the vegetative stage and those who are flowering. Commercial growers can even put some autoflower plants in their vegging room and get some fine bud before harvesting those regular strains.
Outdoors autoflowering seeds give growers multiple harvests every season and it also allows cannabis to be grown in climates where regular strains wouldn’t be able to mature in time.
Autoflower Breeding, seed production
Auto plants are easier to breed and produce seeds because they are small and their life cycle is short. By breeding autoflowers you can get about 250 seeds from a plant that is just 7 inches (17.78 cm) tall and you can get them in under two months.
Breeding autoflowering strains can be done much faster than with regular strains because where the regular strain takes 5 to 6 months from seed to harvest, at the same time period you can grow two autoflower crops from start to finish and therefore make more stable hybrids faster.
As you can see autoflowers are amazing in that they give us, growers, a completely new perspective and advantages on cannabis growing. As the laws change and more and more people start to see the potential of this amazing plant then their first growing experiences will have to be small and those plants will have to be strong. And these autoflowers are just perfect for those situations!
So please look through the website and get the best information on autofowers and if you have any questions do not hesitate and leave a comment! But if you do not know where to start you can check out the Complete Autoflower GROW GUIDE!
Autoflower Seeds Explained
T here’s a lot that can go into growing a flowering cannabis plant, which may seem a little daunting to those who were hoping for something as simple as step 1: put seed in soil, step 2: wait, step 3: cannabis! It’s important to choose which easy-to-grow strain sounds the best for your first foray into the world of cannabis farming, however, before picking the strain, you’ll need to choose which type of seed you want to work with: feminized or autoflower.
There are some key differences to be aware of. Especially if you’re new to gardening in general, here at PotGuide, we recommend starting your cannabis growing hobby/career with auto-flowering cannabis seeds. Let’s get into why.
What are Autoflower Cannabis Seeds?
Back in the day (way, way back) there were three basic subgroups of cannabis plants that had found their ecological niche thanks to human cultivation. Taller, skinner sativa strains thrived in warmer, tropical climates like Southeast Asia and Polynesia. Indica strains grew in the higher, windier Hindu Kush region. Ruderalis strains were hardier and grew in the colder, far northern hemisphere where the sun either shines at all hours for months on end or disappears for that same timeframe. Ruderalis strains didn’t have the same regular access to night and day that told their indica and sativa cousins when to stop growing and start flowering. Instead, they evolved to bloom when the sun was out based on how many weeks they’d been growing.
Interested in marijuana cultivation? Click here to purchase seeds and start growing today.
Modern-day cannabis growers realized that this adaptation to flower based on age rather than light exposure basically puts growing on easy mode, so they cross-bred ruderalis with indica and sativa strains to create autoflower seeds.
How are Autoflowering Seeds Different from Feminized Seeds?
Left to their own devices, cannabis will follow the same reproductive path that nature has set out for nearly every seed-producing plant: sprout, mature, meet a nice plant, exchange pollen, and start dropping seeds of their own. However, long ago humans discovered that the female cannabis plants also produced some flowers that were pretty fun to smoke, and thus cultivation began.
Jump forward to today’s modern cannabis market, and we find there are two main types of seeds that cannabis growers use: feminized seeds and autoflower seeds.
Feminized seeds are seeds that have been specially bred to only grow resinous-bud-producing females. This was achieved by eliminating the male chromosome through various manipulation methods (*cut to Jurassic Park’s Ian Malcolm looking concerned). However, these methods make use of a natural response that the plants have when they are stressed and lack male plants.
More experienced growers tend to use feminized seeds. Sowing feminized seeds tends to lead to far greater yields of potent buds than auto-flowering seeds. The plants will create stronger, THC-rich resin, and if one cannabis plant turns out to be exceptional above the rest, it can be cloned rather than having to be grown from seed every time.
However, growing with feminized seeds also takes extra care, attention, and know-how. They require scheduling the grow light’s hours and intensity in order to signal to the plants when it’s time to stop growing and start blooming. They also require extra room to spread their branches and are more susceptible to stress, disease, and pests.
Autoflowering seeds, on the other hand, are much hardier thanks to their ruderalis lineage and thus more resistant to environmental stressors than feminized seeds.
They have a far easier time brushing off pests and diseases and are able to be grown in a wider temperature range. All this means that they can bounce back from a lot of first-time grower mistakes that usually kill feminized seed plants.
Another advantage to autoflowering plants is that you don’t need to worry about maintaining a strict light schedule. The ruderalis genetics are used to unbroken stretches of sunlight during those northern summer months. Flip on your grow lights for about 20 hours a day and autoflowering seeds will do the rest.
The rest of your setup can be just as basic. Autoflowering seeds tend to grow a lot more compactly than feminized seeds, which makes them ideal for small closet grow operations. While autoflowering plants tend to produce much smaller yields than feminized seeds, you’ll have them much faster. Some autoflowering strains will start producing flowers in just 2-4 weeks, and be ready for harvest in 6-8 weeks. While the buds won’t be as potent as feminized seeds, they tend to contain higher levels of CBD, which can be ideal for medical growers.
This also isn’t meant to imply that autoflowers can’t make potent buds. They certainly can, and a significant part of dispensary stock is produced this way. Feminized seeds just tend to do better when compared bud to bud.
When buying your seeds, be sure to check whether or not they have been feminized. Depending on the company selling them, you could end up with either all female autoflower seeds, or a 50/50 chance.
Which Seeds Should I Choose?
While feminized seeds can be considered the Goldilocks of growing (everything has to be just right), autoflowering seeds are more the Gretel of growing (hardy, resilient, would kill a witch if it came to it.) Both, of course, have their advantages. If you are growing cannabis in order to produce only the most resinous, power-flower buds in the highest yields, go with feminized seeds. You’ll have to crack the books when it comes to bulking up your cannabis growing knowledge, and you’ll have to pay close attention to how each of your plants are doing on the regular. However, it will all pay off once you’ve got those sticky, stanky buds all cured and sitting in their jars.
On the other hand, growing your own cannabis can also be an easy, fun way to get some free weed off of your new plant friend. Autoflower seeds are the choice of any beginner looking to get from Point A (Seeds in soil) to Point C (Hell yeah!) as quickly as possible with minimal effort. With a more basic light setup, less care about the temperature, and a grow room as small as a bedroom closet, autoflower seeds are your entry ticket into the world of cannabis growing.
Do you prefer autoflower or feminized cannabis seeds? Sound off in the comments!
Paul Barach is a Seattle-based freelance writer, editor, and author with experience creating well-researched, edited web articles covering cannabis news, culture, history and science. Paul is a regular contributor to PotGuide and has also contributed to publications such as Medium.com, SlabMechanix, Litro, and The Trek. He prefers to spend his free time outdoors and most recently hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. So far he has only fallen into the La Brea Tarpits once. You can follow him on Instagram @BarachOutdoors and stay up to date professionally through his LinkedIn page.
Unlike photoperiod-dependent plants, autoflowering cannabis is a cannabis plant that reaches the flowering stage after vegetative growth on its own, regardless of the amount of light it receives.
Most plants require a certain amount of light/darkness per day to produce flowers, for example, 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness. However, plants with the ability to autoflower do not flower based on the amount of light/darkness they receive. Instead, plants with the capacity to autoflower will produce buds and flowers based on the plant’s size and growth. On average, the lifecycle of an autoflowering strain is 60 to 90 days.
Maximum Yield Explains Autoflowering
The benefit of autoflowering is that most plants are ready for harvest in 10 weeks or less, regardless of the amount of light/darkness they receive. The plant that has the capacity to autoflower has a quick lifecycle, so it will produce buds and flowers in a shorter span of time, without stringent light/darkness requirements. Autoflowering cannabis plants are best suited for areas where there is fewer daylight hours. There are even hybrids that flower in less than 6 weeks.
Autoflowering cannabis plants are typically smaller than standard plants. Consequently, autoflowering plants typically have lower yields. However, there are super autos that can be tall and have higher yield. Given that autoflowering cannabis have a greater hardiness, they can potentially grow through the year.
Autoflowering strains are not a good choice for cloning as cuttings will transition to the flowering stage too quickly to provide a worthwhile yield.
A cannabis plant’s ability to autoflower is a genetic trait passed down to a plant within its DNA. Not all plants have the ability to autoflower, however, some cannabis plants can autoflower.
Cannabis is considered a diploid, which means that it receives one chromosome from its father plant’s pollen and one from its mother plant’s ovum. Each chromosome from the father and mother contains two genes. Those genes are either photodependant (photodependant allows autoflowering) or non-photodependant (non-photodependant does not allow autoflowering). In other words, autoflowering is a recessive trait, which means that both parents must contribute the gene in order for the offspring plant to autoflower. So, one of the chromosomes from one of the parents may allow autoflowering, but the other chromosome from the other parent does not contain the gene to grant autoflowering.