When you grow outdoor marijuana plants, you’ll want to grow them in a predictable, safe environment. Since the elements outside are not always predictable, starting your baby plants indoors is the best way to go. Young marijuana plants – whether they’re autoflowers or the more regular photosensitive plants – are always vulnerable in their first stages. This is especially true when going from a seed to a young seedling. Gardeners who coddle their baby plants a little bit are usually better off later in their plants’ lifetimes as well. Giving your grow season a healthy start is the best way to ensure you grow healthy plants that produce plenty of weed in the end.
It starts with germination. This is when the little plants pop out of their shells when given a bit of water. Germinating autoflower seeds is the same process as germinating other kinds of seeds. The differences come a little bit later. There are a few methods for germinating your seeds. You can put the seed directly in the soil, you can soak it in water until it cracks open, you can use a wet paper towel or cotton pad to do the job, or you can soak your seed in water then plant it in a peat moss jiffy pellet, which is the method we recommend.
The soil germination method
This low-maintenance method keeps the roots protected from the very start. Simply make a small hole in the soil with a pencil, put the seed in the hole, and cover it over. Get the soil moist by spraying it with water, and keep the temperature at 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep the soil moist, and in less than a week, you should see some green popping up out.
The water method
Drop your seeds into water and leave them there. Let them remain for 24-48 hours, long enough for the roots to start showing. This should take less than a week for the whole process overall. The water should be 65 degrees Fahrenheit and kept relatively fresh by changing it every other day or so. You can plant the seeds whenever you like after they’ve cracked open, just make sure to continue to keep the soil moist (but not wet), especially if you plant them on the earlier side. Be sure not to touch any exposed root tips with bare hands. Use a clean spoon to relocate and plant the seed. This method is riskier because fragile root tips can get damaged, and seeds can become water logged and drown if left in water too long.
The paper towel or cotton pad germination method
Grab either two cotton pads or a paper towel and place some of your seeds (if you have more than one) into it (or between the two cotton pads). Spray the towel or cotton pads with water so that they are moist. Make sure the temperature is always at about 72 degrees Fahrenheit and stick the seeds and their wrappings under an upside-down bowl. You could also place them between two plates, or inside a Ziploc bag. The seeds will crack open in a few days, and you can then plant them in the soil. Be careful not to tear or damage root tips that may extend, as they can sometimes entangle in the paper or cotton fibers.
Soaking and planting in peat moss jiffy pellet
This is the method we recommend for customers at a Pot for Pot. Soak your seed in a glass of neutral pH (or bottled) water for 12-24 hours, but do not exceed 24 hours. If a root tip pops out, do not touch it with bare hands. Instead, use a clean spoon to move your seed. After soaking your seed, expand your jiffy pellet by soaking it in neutral pH (or bottled) water for about 10-15 minutes or until fully expanded. Drain excess water, then plant your soaked seed about one knuckle (1 cm) down into the pellet, being sure to cover it with pellet soil so the seed is in darkness. Keep your pellet moist but not wet, give it 2-7 days, and you should see green sprouting above the surface.
Since you’re planning to grow your autoflower plant(s) outside, it’s a good idea to get the plant gradually used to the outdoor conditions without shocking it. This is best done if the temperature outside is consistently warm enough (always above 40 degrees Fahrenheit), and it can take just a few days. Start by keeping your plant outside for just 3 hours, and make sure that outside spot isn’t too exposed. Gradually increase the amount of time, day by day, until you have reached 24 hours. At that point, your plant will be ready for constant exposure to the elements without getting a shock that could affect its health and yield.
When to plant autoflowers? Any time!
The beauty of autoflowers is the fact that they don’t depend on specific amounts of light to grow properly. Unlike other types of marijuana, autoflowers have a sort of internal clock that means they will enter the flowering phase no matter what. Photosensitive plants, on the other hand, need a certain number of hours of light and darkness per day to “know” that the seasons are changing and it’s time to start flowering. This is why autoflowers can be grown just about any time of year – they don’t need that natural cue to flower.
Summer vs. winter
If you live in a place that’s warm enough to grow outdoors during the winter, you might be wondering what the pros and cons of growing in the summer versus the winter are. Generally speaking, in the summer, your plants are going to have bigger yields because they are receiving more sunlight, and that means more energy for growing their buds. In the winter, however, marijuana plants tend to produce more resin. That means some shiny, sparkly plants that will be just dripping in delicious resin by harvesting time.
Move your plant with the weather
Just because marijuana plants are hardy and growing outdoors is easy, it doesn’t mean you’re off the hook no matter what. It’s still a good idea to keep a close eye on the weather and the forecasts every day and night because a drastic change in weather could harm your plants. This is especially the case if a storm is brewing, for example, but also if there is just a cold snap coming in. Marijuana plants like mild, sunny, warm conditions. If things get to cool and wet, for example, mold could end up developing – and that would ruin your plant (and your weed) altogether. Avoid this by bringing your plants in during a rainstorm, during a frost, and even sometimes during other extreme conditions such as a heat wave or an excessively windy day.
Time to flower
Autoflowers have a flowering time that lasts a little bit longer than other types of marijuana plants, for the most part. However, the strain is the name of the game here; there are so many different strains with different flowering and growing times that you always need to check out the specifics before you buy. Luckily, you can get plenty of that information from a Pot for Pot when you order your first kit and seeds, but you can also check online for different strain reviews and sources of information. Often people will leave their own personal reviews so you can get a sense of what to expect with a particular strain of marijuana. It never hurts to do a little bit of homework!