Autoflowers – 101

Everything you need to know to grow.

The cannabis plant is a diverse and genetically flexible creature, having species that have developed entirely different traits as a result of evolving in different parts of the world.

Autoflowering strains make use of the cannabis subspecies ruderalis to produce plants that grow and flower independent of the light schedule or photoperiod. This means they flower depending on their age and not on the hours of light and darkness they receive (hence the name). This is due to ruderalis originating in Central Asia, where the light conditions are a bit different.

The species known as Cannabis Ruderalis evolved in northern parts of the world where summers are shorter and therefore less light is available annually. Having adapted to these conditions, cannabis ruderalis developed the ability to flower based on age, instead of a change in photoperiod. This is a stark difference from other types of cannabis, that all require changing hours of light in order to flower.

This characteristic is what has enabled and inspired breeders to merge ruderalis genetics with that of indica and sativa varieties of cannabis, creating hybrids that maintain the cannabinoid content of sativas and indicas, but that flower with age. But if you want your plants to thrive, hit peak potency, and produce a heavy harvest, they need 18+ hours of light per day. The optimal light schedule for indoor cultivation of autoflowering cannabis is a consistent 20-4 for the complete life cycle.


PROS OF GROWING AUTOFLOWERING CANNABIS STRAINS

Let us first explore the advantages of growing autoflowering strains, of which there a quite a few.

Autoflowering strains grow a lot faster than indica and sativa strains and are ready to harvest sooner. Perfect for those who do not have the time or patience to wait to harvest. Depending on the strain you grow, photoperiodic cannabis is usually ready for harvest in 8–10 weeks after germination of the seed. This means you don’t have to work as hard to reap the flowers of your labour. Note: You may still need to DRY/CURE your flowers and plant material before use.

This is a big advantage for first time growers who want to see their valuable yield as soon as possible.
A sooner harvest also means that you can fit more harvests into one season. Under natural conditions, you can only finish one harvest per season. But with autoflowering genetics, you can get multiple harvests. For a perpetual harvest, start with some plants, and when they begin to flower, add more plants to your room or outdoors. Shortly before the first ones are harvested, you plant the next seeds and so on. The number of plants depends on your grow space, of course. This way, you can harvest up to 4–6 times a year!

AUTOFLOWERING PLANTS ARE SMALL AND COMPACT

Another possible advantage of autoflowering cannabis strains – one that is highly subjective depending on the grower – is that they grow to quite a small and limited size. This factor is again due to the introduction of cannabis ruderalis genetics. Cannabis Sativa plants are known for their vast heights and slender leaves, capable of growing into enormous bushes outdoors if allowed to. Indicas, on the other hand, have a smaller stature, yet are broad which thicker, fan-like leaves. In contrast, pure ruderalis plants really do appear like a Cannabis plant. They are small and thin yet hardy and adaptive. This trait makes autoflowering strains quite small and compact. This fact is a massive advantage to some growers who are either looking to make the absolute best out of their growing space, or those who live in areas that frown upon the growing of cannabis plants. In fact, the rapid growth cycle and compact size of autoflowering strains make them the ultimate choice for stealth and covert growing spaces.

NO CHANGE IN PHOTOPERIOD REQUIRED

One of the main advantages of autoflowering strains is that they do not require a change in the light cycle in order to flower. Instead, they flower with age. Autoflowering strains will flower automatically regardless of the light cycle they receive. For example, they can be kept at a light cycle of 16/8, meaning 16 hours of light and 8 hours of darkness each day, all the way through both the vegetative and flowering stages. This differs from usual cannabis, which reuqires a change in light cycles in order to cause flowering.This gives outdoor one major potential advantage – it is possible to grow multiple harvests per season. And if you forget to plant your cannabis seeds in time, you can still start late in the season with an auto and make harvest in time before the weather gets cold.

Autoflowering seeds have the robust genetics of ruderalis in them. This makes them a lot easier to grow. Not only do you not have to keep an eye on the light schedule, plants are also more resilient and naturally tolerate colder climates. Ruderalis is used to growing in harsh environments, and this trait is passed down to autoflowering hybrids. They are also resistant to many diseases. You will experience less hassle during your grow, which makes them particularly useful for beginner growers who want to try out their skills and master their craft before they move on to more picky strains.

Autoflowering strains usually don’t exceed 1–1.2m in height, which is a big advantage for both indoor and outdoor growers. If you grow inside with limited space or restricted height, an autoflowering plant might just be what you want. If you grow outdoors and want a stealthy, well-hidden plantation, you should also look to autoflowering genetics. Their short size makes them suitable for growing in cupboards (You will need an external LED or COB light for this), on balconies, or in garden beds among other plants as well.

Topping auto-flowering cannabis strains is often not recommended because they’re on a tight schedule and may not recover in time, but it can be done if your plant is growing fast enough during the first few weeks of growth. Auto-flowering cannabis plants are on a tight schedule!

This plays into the easy-to-grow advantage, but should be emphasised as its own point as well. Autoflowering strains are known for better withstanding colder climates and having a greater resistance against diseases of all kinds. Be it mildew, pests, mould, fungi, or pathogens, if you experience trouble with these things, maybe consider growing an autoflowering strain the next time. You could really save yourself some worry and stress! The plants get toughened up and are more hardy thanks to the ruderalis genetics, which makes them not only ideal for novice growers, but growers of all levels. They also tolerate under/overfeeding better although the soil mix supplied should be sufficient for the My Pot Plant product supplied.