Since their introduction, growing autoflowers has become an experience all on their own. Their flowering time vs their yield and growing conditions is an interesting conundrum for hobbyists and experts alike.
Autoflowers are a Seedsman specialty. In fact, we were the first seed bank on the globe to sell them to the mainstream.
By their very nature, autoflowers are easier to grow. Unlike regular photoperiod strains, autoflowering cannabis shifts automatically between vegetative and flowering stages with age instead of the ratio of light exposure. This means most autoflowers are ready to harvest in 10 weeks from the first germination.
This makes them ideal for beginner growers looking for an easier way to begin and comes in handy for traditional harvesters due to their quick turnarounds.
But, even though they’re inherently simpler to grow, that doesn’t mean you can just plant and leave them expecting a bountiful harvest. There’s still plenty to keep in mind.
So, with that being said, here are Seedsman’s top 10 autoflowering growth tips.
#1 Getting started before you get started
It’s tempting to browse an autoflower product page and get excited by the prospect of your own home-grown buds in just a few weeks. But, because they don’t take long to grow once potted – you must plan your growing process beforehand.
What growth medium are you using? If you’re growing outdoors, is the climate correct this time of year? If you’re growing indoors, have you sorted out your lights and ventilation?
Growing different plants gives you wiggle room to adjust how you raise them. Autoflower’s speed means you need to have all your ducks in a row before you even begin germinating.
#2 The right pot for pot
You’ve designated your space outside, or you’ve plugged your lights indoors, and you’re ready to go. Autoflowering cannabis doesn’t like being repotted due to its short growth cycle (if you’re going to repot, rather do it sooner than later), once your seeds are planted, ideally, then that’s where they should stay. You need to ensure your pots are the right size for a fully grown plant.
You shouldn’t need overtly large pots as autoflowers are generally more petite; nevertheless, the pot needs to have enough room for the roots to grow.
They also need to drain well, so perhaps breathable containers like fabric pots are your best bet. Otherwise, plastic pots with plenty of drainage holes will work just fine if that’s your only option.
#3 Getting your nutrients right
Recently, the Godfather of autoflower strains himself, The Joint Doctor, joined Seedsman on a live stream to share his advice on growing autoflowers; he said – “One of the best ways to grow autoflowers is low intervention, don’t overthink them.
Nutrients are important, but most autoflowers don’t require too many nutrients because you’re adding things to improve a plant that’s already genetically designed to grow as is. Just use your common sense. If the plant is growing fine and looks good, then adding nutrients is just trying to improve something that’s already working well. If they need ‘em, then add ‘em, but don’t add nutrients for the sake of it.
Anything that you do wrong will stunt the plant, so, be gentle with it – whether that’s gentle with planting or with nutrients. Be gentle”.
So, there you have it. Autoflower roots are less expansive than photoperiods, so if you’re following a nutrient chart, ensure you’re considering the size of your plant and adjust accordingly.
The best practice with autoflower nutrients is not adding too many and allowing the plant to grow as organically as possible, if possible. If you’re growing indoors where you’re controlling the environment, if you get your lighting, ventilation and humidity right then, nutrients shouldn’t be overthought but still, need proper consideration.
#4 Let there be light
Autoflowers are tough and adaptable, but if you light them right, you’re making their lives that much easier. Autoflowers work best with an 18/6 light ratio. Some growers insist on a 24-hour life cycle from the beginning until harvest. We’d say give them a break as sometimes you can get too much of a good thing.
If you’re growing outdoors in the summer, you may be worried about only getting between 10 and 12 hours of sunshine, but the sun is far more powerful than any artificial light, so don’t stress too much.
Indoors try and use full-spectrum LEDS as the more lumens on offer, the greater the yield. That being said, autoflowers do prefer HPS and LEDs over CFLs or fluorescents.
#5 Go go H20
Yes, autoflowers are resilient and more forgiving, but get your watering wrong, and you’ve got no chance. Not enough water means a dead plant, too much water leads to a rotting one.
So, how do you get this right?
Well, try and stick to a regular watering schedule. But use your common sense. There isn’t one schedule that fits every grow. There are too many variables like soil composition, humidity, plant size, age and more to nail down a single watering guide.
When you first plant your germinated seed, try and ensure your soil is moistly dampened before adding the seed. Many first time-growers make the mistake of watering the soil immediately, which can drown the seed. If needs be, give it a light sprinkle.
Water, like lighting and nutrition, comes down to observation. Adjust accordingly.
#6 Consider your pH
Inside or outside, soil or hydroponic, pH needs to be considered every step of the way.
For a hydroponic grow, your pH balance should sit between 5.5 and 6.5. In the soil, anywhere between 6.0 and 7.0 is fine.
pH falling below 5.5 means nutrients like magnesium and calcium aren’t absorbed; the same goes for anything higher than 7.0. An incorrect pH in either your water or your soil can and will ruin a yield.
So, ensure you invest in a suitable pH measuring product like a pH meter handy to keep an eye on your harvest.
#7 Don’t forget your training
Due to the reduced seed–harvest period, you need to train your plant to encourage a better yield as soon as possible. These need to be LST’s (o, Low-Stress Techniques) as the plant will still be quite fragile.
This means ensuring all bud sites get equal light and possibly using string and toothpicks to ensure they’re propped up and balanced.
Some say you should top your autoflower as soon as nodes appear to encourage a more extensive canopy as well, but, as the Joint Doctor said, sometimes less is more.
Your aim should be to ensure your stems are supported and equally lit. How you do that is up to you!
#8 Not too hot, not too cold
Despite their resilient nature, if you’re constantly fluctuating the temperature in which your plants are growing, then you’re not going to have any success.
Growing them outdoors means you’re at the mercy of the elements, so ideally, you’d have them planted in the summer, where most of the time, it’s warm. Even still, if the temperatures are soaring, you might need to consider shading your plants to reduce the heat on them.
The perfect temperature for an ideal autoflower harvest is debatable, but most agree that anywhere between 67 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit (20-25 degrees Celsius) is excellent.
Also, your plants need fresh air circulation (as does any growing plant) to help reduce the chance of moulding and ensure proper moisture.
Sit down where your plants are growing for a few minutes. Are you warm enough? Too warm? Is it too breezy? Do you need some shade? If you’re feeling any adverse effects, then so are your Autoflowers.
#9 Harvest patiently
When your plant begins to flower, each bud will bloom differently and thus not ready to harvest all at the same time. The buds at the top usually mature faster than those lower done, so start with those.
Leave the rest for another day, two or three, and then they can be harvested. This ensures a good yield and, if done correctly, can give you a result all year round if they’re growing in the right conditions (indoors, usually).
#10 Have fun with it
If this is your first time growing autoflowers, then chances are it’s not going to go perfectly. The best way to learn is to make mistakes and ensure you don’t repeat them. Autoflower cannabis, despite its incredible genetics, is still just a plant.
And, like any plant, on top of light, food and water – they need love and attention. Your yield matches your efforts. Put the work in, share the love, and your plant will grow big and strong with large, sticky buds.