Most people know of Sativa and Indica, but few people know of the plant’s smaller stepsister called Ruderalis, or more commonly referred to as an “Autoflowering Strain”.
We love auto-flowering plants because you can grow them indoors or outside without any major expense. They are simple to grow, quick to harvest, stay short, and have a high amount of CBD. We want to teach you a little more about where they come from and some tips on growing these amazing plants.
What’s the difference?
Yep, you guessed it. This type of plant automatically flowers, unlike regular cannabis, which only begins the flowering stage when it sees 12 hours of darkness. Autoflowering strains have a gene that starts to generate Florigen, the hormone which tells the plant to flower, about one month after the seed has been planted.
Because of this, they rarely grow over 4 feet tall, unlike its sisters Indica and Sativa, which can grow up to 20 feet tall. Autoflowers complete their flowering cycle in as little as 70 and as long as 90 days from seed. Even today, botanists argue whether c. Ruderalis qualifies as a separate species or subspecies. This unique plant was originally brought to Amsterdam in the 1980’s and crossbred to enhance its THC production.
Related: How Cannabis Became Pot
Ruderalis originates from the northern latitudes of Russia, Siberia, and Eastern Asia. It has a long-standing reputation in local traditional medicine for helping to cure depression and for increased appetite. Because of the high latitude, the sun stays above the horizon for most of the summer. This made the Ruderalis plant evolve with the trait of flowering regardless of how much darkness it sees. In the wild, Ruderalis is typically high in CBD and leans more toward what is known as Hemp. But modern varieties have been hybridized over the years and now parallel traditional strains high in THC, and have the added bonus of being relatively high in CBD too.
Growing Autoflowering Plants
We think they are some of the most fun plants to grow because they are fast and manageable. If you are new to growing, they are a great gateway to growing your own at a cheap price. And funny enough, if you’re an old green thumb, you most likely have never grown one before. Autoflowering plants are always grown from seed because you cannot take a clone from an autoflowering plant, due to the fact they start to flower from the get-go and cloning them won't restart their timer.
Because they evolved in such a harsh environment, these plants grow well outside and indoors. When planting indoors they do not need a specific light cycle, which makes growing them super easy. If you are not putting them into a dedicated growing environment, they will need a sunny window and/or a bright supplemental lighting source. These plants are light hungry, so the more light the better. She still needs her beauty sleep though. Try to let her rest for at least 4 hours of darkness so the plant can do its nightly functions. But she’ll still grow successfully under 24-hour lighting. We will cover lighting with more depth in a later blog post.
When growing outdoors you can plant around mid-April, as soon as your seedling has hardened off. Hardening off is when the seedling is no longer a seedling and has developed a couple sets of true leaves. Because Ruderalis hails from northern latitudes, it does better with the cold than regular cannabis, thus you can get multiple harvests in one outdoor growing season.
Because of their short life cycle, it is best to only transplant them once, early in their life. These are flowering plants, so the less stress they experience ultimately will result in bigger flowers. Your container size will affect the size of your plant as well, so we recommend a minimum of 2 gallons. They grow great in hydroponics or soil, but typically don’t want to be overloaded with nutrients. Since they stay small, so does their appetite.
Enjoy Your Grow! Check out our kits if you're ready to get started.
Related: The Costs of Growing Marijuana