Do you have questions about autoflowering seeds? It’s no surprise - autoflowering cannabis is a popular choice for many marijuana growers. We think everyone should grow autoflowering strains, but it’s also important to be aware of scenarios where they aren’t best.
If you aren’t already growing autoflowers, you may be wondering whether they are a good idea for you. If you haven’t grown before, it can be hard to know which is best for you. Once you know both the good and the bad, you can then make an informed decision.
What Does “Autoflowering” Mean?
An autoflowering cannabis strain switches from the vegetative stage to the flowering stage automatically instead of requiring closely timed hours of light and dark. Choosing an autoflowering seed is just one of many ways to grow weed. In our opinion, there are more pros than cons, so we came up with 10 pros and 5 cons to get you started.
The Pros of Autoflowering Cannabis Seeds
Autoflowering cannabis plants grow quickly and flower a lot faster than their photoperiod counterparts do. For example, some autoflowers can flower in as little as 3 weeks to 30 days after the seed is planted, while many photoperiod varieties take months before they transition into the flowering stage from the vegetative growth phase. If you want the fastest harvest, autoflowering varieties are your surest bet.
Related: Harvesting and Drying
One of the biggest pros (out of many pros and cons of autoflowering seeds) is their small size. Because of their cannabis ruderalis heritage, autoflowering marijuana plants tend to be smaller and more compact when compared to the ordinary sativa, indica, and hybrids of these two.
This smaller size makes autoflowering cannabis plants suitable for growing in confined spaces, such as a closet or on your balcony. Their compact size also makes it easier to look after. It’s simple – if your plant grows past six feet and you can’t see the top of it, it will be harder to manage. Autos, however, rarely exceed four feet, so it is easy to trim, train, or otherwise care for them during the different stages of their growth.
Autoflowering cannabis seeds combine the genetics of sativa, indica (or hybrids of them) with cannabis ruderalis. Cannabis ruderalis is a variety very few people know about because it is naturally smaller, with smaller buds that produce very little to no THC.
Older strains of cannabis ruderalis had few desirable qualities, such as an ability to grow very fast. This is because it is native to Siberia, where the growing season is shorter and daylight hours are fewer. As a result, ruderalis outside of its original growing zone adapted to maturing quickly and switching to the flowering stage regardless of how many hours of sunlight it is receiving.
Autoflowering cannabis seeds exhibit this attribute. They switch into a flowering mode as a result of their genetic programming rather than environmental factors, such as the amount of light they are receiving each day. Therefore, you don’t have to bother changing to a 12/12 light cycle to induce the flowering phase in autoflowering marijuana plants. Autoflowering strains require less maintenance, making them easier to grow.
Related: A Pot for Pot Grow Lights
Another key benefit of autoflowering marijuana plants is an easy growing experience due to their ruderalis heritage. Because of their fast adaptation as detailed above, these plants are hardy and resistant to several adverse conditions. Ordinary cannabis plants can easily succumb to many diseases and pests, but autoflowering plants will stand up to such a threat and survive. Similarly, autoflowering strains are also resistant to mold, overfeeding, and underfeeding, while regular photoperiod varieties will be adversely affected by these conditions.
If you live in an area where the climate can change rather quickly, or you aren’t too particular about maintaining the ideal growing conditions for cannabis, then opt for autoflowering strains since these are more forgiving when conditions aren’t exactly right.
Related: How to Grow Autoflowers Outside
Let’s face it. While legalization has made growing cannabis easier, not everyone is pro-pot. Even in legalized areas, you still need to practice discretion. Autoflowering seeds are the best way to achieve this.
With autoflowering seeds, you can grow compact cannabis plants in an inconspicuous part of your property without anyone asking what you are growing. Plus, their rapid growth makes it even less likely for visitors to notice them. Regular cannabis plants take a lot longer to reach full maturity, which only increases the chance that people will notice your plants. Since some autoflowering cannabis strains can mature in as few as 8 or 9 weeks, the amount of time that it takes to reach harvest is a definite pro on the pros and cons of autoflowering seeds list.
Whether you are a large-scale commercial grower or a hobbyist, you can benefit from the space economy that autoflowering cannabis varieties provide. Since these plants are small, practically anyone can grow their own cannabis plants.
For example, you can grow autoflowering plants on your balcony if you live in an apartment block. Heck, these plants can even feel at home inside a small closet!
Autoflowering plants don’t rely on the amount of light available each day to enter the flowering stage. This independence means you can harvest outdoor-grown mature buds several times a year. How do you do it?
One way is to stagger your plants. Start a couple of plants a month or two before the rest. That way, you can harvest some plants while others are nearing maturity, and the harvest cycle continues.
You could also start a few plants at the beginning of your outdoor growing season, and then plant a few more once the first few plants have finished. Because they grow so fast, there is plenty of time.
Research into the medicinal value of marijuana is still ongoing, but we, so far, know a lot about the therapeutic benefits of cannabidiol (CBD). It is actually one of the most abundant cannabinoids in the cannabis plant.
The ruderalis genetics in autoflowering cannabis seeds lead to plants that are relatively lower in THC content and higher in CBD. This means that those looking to enjoy the medicinal benefits of cannabis can easily obtain it from these easy-to-grow plants.
However, if you are mostly interested in the high that cannabis can provide, autoflowers are still a good choice since many varieties offer high THC content (in addition to CBD).
People who are just starting out on the exciting journey of growing their own cannabis would be well advised to opt for autoflowering cannabis seeds. They are easier and less demanding to grow than photoperiod regular strains.
For example, with regular strains, you need to monitor and change the light cycle so that the plants have 12 hours of darkness each day while in the flowering stage. Any light finding its way to the plants can make them halt their flowering and yield poor-quality buds. Light can also cause the plant to re-enter the vegetative phase and stay there for an indefinite duration.
Autoflowering strains are ideal for beginners because you don’t have to worry about lighting. They also grow much faster, leading to even faster rewards.
People who grow regular photoperiod cannabis plants have to go to great lengths to exclude light from their grow facilities, and this task can sometimes seem near impossible. This is because city or urban environments have artificial light that can “confuse” photoperiod plants into “thinking” that daylight hours are still more than the hours of darkness. The ambient light, therefore, tends to lower the quality and quantity of buds harvested from photoperiod cannabis strains.
However, autoflowering cannabis plants remain unaffected by the ambient light in cities, or the light which leaks into a grow facility when a tent tears or the grow facility gets damaged in any other way. The plants will, therefore, reach their full potential as long as you keep other necessary settings in order.
The Cons of Autoflowering Cannabis Seeds
Autoflowering cannabis plants are sometimes called dwarf plants due to their typically smaller size when compared to ordinary marijuana plants. While this smaller size comes with some benefits as discussed earlier, those growing autoflowering plants should be content with a lower yield, since a small plant cannot sustain bigger, dense buds.
This lower yield can be an issue for the commercial grower who wants to maximize the returns earned from each plant. However, for a home grower, the yield produced from an autoflowering plant is often more than enough. If it is not, it’s just as easy to grow multiple plants or choose autoflowering cannabis seeds with higher than normal yields.
Ruderalis plants provide many of the desirable traits of autoflowering plants, but they also produce one noticeably undesirable one. The buds of autoflowering plants tend to be less potent in terms of their THC content. THC is responsible for giving marijuana users a “high,” so lower THC concentrations in a plant mean that you will not get as high as someone who has used buds from a plant with a higher THC content.
However, don’t let this dampen your zeal for autoflowering cannabis plants. You can purchase autoflowering cannabis seeds with higher levels of THC if you want a bigger kick from your plants.
The rapid growth rate of autoflowering seeds is one of its major attractions, but this growth rate can be a double-edged sword. Faster growth can mean bigger problems if you make a mistake, and the plant doesn’t have enough time to recover.
This is most noticeable when training your plants. There are two ways to train your plants. One way is low-stress training (LST). That’s when you’d bend the plant’s branches while they are still soft and pliable. The other training method is called super cropping. This method is very stressful to the plant since it is done when the branches have become harder, so they take longer to recover from this training exercise.
High-stress training methods, such as super cropping, are not a good idea for autoflowering plants since they grow so fast. Remember, the clock is ticking on your plan’s lifespan, and any mistake made can lower the yield. Whereas training methods are designed to increase a plant’s yield, if done incorrectly on an autoflowering plant, they will more than likely harm it.
Sometimes you fall in love with a specific plant. Many times, a certain attribute (yield potential, for example) is so desirable that you’d like to reproduce it in future plants. This is doable through the process of cloning.
For photoperiod marijuana varieties, cloning is simple. You simply cut a small piece of the plant, and that cutting will yield another plant with the exact attributes of the mother plant. For autoflowering varieties, this, unfortunately, does not work. You can only grow these types of plants from seed.
You should also note, however, that growing from clones is not the same as growing from seed. Although cloned plants will have the same attributes as their mother plant, they are also not as hardy as seed plants and are more susceptible to errors during the growing process.
Agriculture has grown into a science where professional cultivators can enjoy varying levels of control over their crops. In grow labs around the world, cultivators play with ways to delay the flowering phase of their photoperiod marijuana varieties. They do this to create bigger plants that subsequently yield a more abundant harvest.
Such control isn’t possible for growers of autoflowering cannabis plants since these varieties change states (from vegetative growth to flowering) based on their age rather than on external environmental conditions. Purists who want some control over the growth process may therefore shy away from autoflowering cannabis seeds.
As you can see, there are many pros and cons of autoflowering seeds, and you need to weigh the benefits against the drawbacks so that you make an informed decision. A Pot for Pot always recommends autoflowering seeds for home growers, because they are cheaper to grow, easy to maintain, and provide a good blend of THC and CBD. With just a little light, the right soil, water, and some love, you can grow not just a beautiful plant, but also a great batch of marijuana.
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