Autoflowering cannabis varieties automatically switch from vegetative growth to the flowering stage based on age, as opposed to the ratio of light to dark hours required with photoperiod dependent/short-day strains.
Autoflowering cannabis seeds produce plants that flower on their own after 2–4 weeks of growth. Growers don’t need to worry about switching the light schedule to initiate and maintain the flowering phase, like they would if growing feminized photoperiod cannabis.
Autoflowers also need much less time to grow. Some varieties are ready to harvest in a short 8 weeks after sprouting. Plus, autoflowers are compact, which makes them great for indoor growing. Because they are so convenient, autoflowers are (not just) ideal for beginners to cannabis cultivation. More experienced growers can also take advantage of the unique growing traits of autoflowering cannabis.
Non-Photoperiod Strains: What Does It Mean?
Feminized (photoperiod) cannabis plants flower depending on the hours of light they receive. Out in nature, they start to bloom when the days get shorter at the end of summer. Indoors, cultivators initiate flowering by adjusting their grow lights to 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness.
In contrast, autoflowering strains flower based on age, independent of light hours, which means they are non-photoperiod strains. Autoflowers have several noteworthy characteristics:
- Plants flower automatically after 2–4 weeks.
- The average period between planting and harvest is 10 weeks.
- Autoflowering seeds are also feminized. No need to worry about male plants.
- Plants stay small (30–100cm).
- They don’t attract too much attention. Ideal for stealthy grows.
- You can harvest several crops per season.
Particularities of Autoflowers
The autoflowers that first appeared on the market in the early 2000s didn’t really impress. They weren’t very potent, their aroma was lacking, and their yields were not great either.
But autoflowers have come a long way since then. Modern autoflowers rival feminized photoperiod strains (and some even surpass them) in terms of potency, yield, and aroma. Yet, they still provide the same great benefits as mentioned above, along with having a reputation for being particularly stable and sturdy.
These days, autoflowers can satisfy even the most demanding of users: Recreational users won’t have difficulties finding automatic varieties rich in THC, and holistic users can get autoflowers low in THC but high in CBD to benefit from the non-psychoactive cannabinoid.
How Are Autoflowering Plants Created?
Autoflowering strains are created by crossbreeding indica or sativa plants with ruderalis. Ruderalis is a wild subtype of cannabis that grows in regions where the summer is very short but features many hours of daylight (e.g. Northern Europe or Siberia). These plants have evolved to not rely on daylight hours to flower, instead flowering according to age.
- Ruderalis on its own isn’t too useful: Its buds won’t produce a high, and the plants are small with low yields. However, breeders discovered that they could crossbreed high-quality indica and sativa strains with ruderalis to make them autoflowering. This has revolutionised cannabis cultivation by fusing the best traits of all the cannabis subspecies.
Who Uses Automatic Cannabis Strains, and Why?
- Growers: Growers like autoflowers because they are convenient and easy, producing a fast harvest with decent yields. With their compact size, they are among the best plants for growing in small spaces—great for micro-grows or putting a plant or two on a balcony. They also make good strains to grow outdoors as they are resilient and robust. Plus, their small size makes them a good choice for stealthy guerrilla grows.
- Smokers: Recreational users can enjoy autos just like feminized photoperiod cannabis. If you’re smoking for the high, which can be anything from relaxing to uplifting, fun, and giggly, you can find the right autoflower to suit your tastes! Some autoflowers are slightly lower in THC than the average strain, making them ideal for people who like a milder and more balanced effect when smoking cannabis.
What are autoflower seeds
Autoflowering cannabis seeds produce plants that flower on their own after 2–4 weeks of growth. Growers don’t need to worry about switching the light schedule to initiate and maintain the flowering phase, like they would if growing feminized photoperiod cannabis. Autoflowers also need much less time to grow.