How To Grow Autoflower Cannabis Strains

17 min read
How To Grow Autoflower Cannabis Strains

There are different types of plant  seeds that are available to both commercial and home growing enthusiasts, but not every plant seed is the same. Sure, everyone knows about the hundreds of different plant strains out there to choose from, but the type of plant strain definitely matters the most. The three main kinds of plant seed are categorized as regular plant seeds, feminized plant seeds, and autoflower seeds. Recently, there has been a rise in popularity surrounding autoflower seeds and for good reason! Many might not have known about this type of cannabis seed before, but once you get your hands on some and realize the perks of knowing how to grow autoflower plants you might not turn back. We’re here to put you on game to grow autoflower plants so by the end you’ll know exactly which autoflower cannabis seeds to add to cart.

Autoflowering herb plants

If you are unaware of what an autoflower plant actually is, autoflower plants are basically legal dry herbs that automatically flowers regardless of how much light it is exposed to. Photoperiod seeds are plant seeds that are dependent on the amount of light and have a required amount of light they need in the vegetative stage to move towards the flowering phase. 

Autoflower plants derives from the cannabis ruderalis plant, a subspecies of the plant that holds regular seeds and is often found in colder and more harsh environments. We can thank adaptation for the way autoflowering operates, since the cannabis ruderalis would have never evolved to optimize its own growing cycle without adjusting to its surroundings. Here are a few fun facts about the cannabis ruderalis subspecies, aka autoflower plants:

  • Cannabis ruderalis comes from the term ruderal, which refers to plants that grow on waste ground or environments where humans disturbed its natural state then left the area alone, thus encouraging ruderal to occur
  • Autoflower seeds have been around longer than all the countries we now know by name, most believing Russia was its originating country and spread all throughout Asia
  • In most countries it is considered to be like a weed (not the kind you smoke) and undesirable compared to other useful plants in those regions

Autoflower plants are convenient for many growers that want an immediate yield since this type of a plant seed will take a lot less time to grow as compared to regular or feminized seeds. There are many benefits when learning how to grow autoflower, with of course a few downsides as there is with anything. 

Pros and cons of autoflower plants

Modern plant growers have more options now than ever before, which is a relief to novice cannabis cultivators that are looking for easier ways to grow their garden. But what is so exciting about autoflower and why would you want to learn how to grow autoflower if you can run to the dispensary around the corner? While dispensaries offer a large variety of buds to choose from, there’s nothing like growing your own stuff and turning to smoking only organic, homegrown plants. You will definitely taste the difference and will have you looking at cannabis in a new light.

Autoflower seeds grow faster than photoperiod seeds

The common life cycle of autoflower seeds is completed in as little as 8 to 14 weeks, which is astonishingly quicker than a regular or feminized seed cycle that can run as long as four to five months. This is probably the biggest reason for growers flocking towards autoflower seeds because you just can’t beat the time you save taking the autoflower route. 

Autoflower strains contain CBD

Those that like a little cannabidiol (CBD) in addition to smoking plants will prefer learning how to grow autoflower since it has a nice balance of legal dry herb and CBD, along with other cannabinoids like CBN and CBG! Autoflower strains are definitely a top choice when it comes to users that want a light psychoactive effect as compared to cannabis indica or cannabis sativa. 

Autoflower is not as potent as photoperiod seeds

In relation to other plants, autoflower is not as strong compared to using indica or sativa for the sole purpose of getting high. Autoflower will not have as much THC content in it that you’d find in the type of plant found in dispensaries, but nonetheless you can still grow it and get a pretty good high depending on the strain and brand!

This is also a great alternative for those that do not like the psychoactive effect and prefer a calmer experience where they feel more in control.

Why are autoflowers worth growing?

Why are autoflowers worth growing?

Simply put, the amount of time you can save once you know how to grow autoflower can now be put to better use. Compared to growing photoperiod plant seeds, growing autoflower seeds is a completely sped up process that wastes no time from germination to vegetative to flowering and full harvest. Autoflower is the best choice for beginners because it is a much more forgiving process than attempting to grow photoperiod. Growing any type of plant seed is a trial and error process but with autoflower grow time is cut in half and the effort is minimal which is perfect for someone that does not have the greenest of thumbs. Autoflower is also the perfect seed to get into a perpetual harvesting cycle where a cannabis grower can plant autoflower seeds all year long and be in constant harvest. With such a short growing cycle it is much easier to have these types of cannabis plants in rotation where the more you work with them, you’ll know exactly how many weeks it will take to fully harvest. 

Autoflower size and maintenance

When it comes to the size of autoflower, many plant cultivators growing autoflower indoors do it specifically because of its compact size compared to photoperiod. Autoflower strains are constantly evolving so while there are larger autoflower plants available and more on the horizon, autoflower cannabis seeds are mostly known for producing smaller cannabis plants, making it the perfect seed to cultivate an indoor plant setup. Whether you are lacking room for bigger growth or looking to be discreet in your growing endeavors, autoflower will probably grow to be around two feet which is totally manageable regardless of any space.

Maintaining autoflower strains are extremely easy and low maintenance considering they do not depend on the light they receive to grow and flower. Since originating from harsh conditions, autoflower seeds have adapted to quick growing seasons without needing too much of a consistent light source. Normally, photoperiod strains must go through a strict light cycle like 12/12 or 18/6 cycles (daytime/nighttime lighting schedule) while growing autoflower only requires a normal amount of light (which is 18 hours of daylight and 6 hours of darkness). Even if the daytime hours are shorter and on more of a 12/12 schedule, autoflower seeds will adapt to almost any environment and should survive even the worst of conditions. 

How to maximize autoflower yield

How to maximize autoflower yield

Even though growing autoflower might not produce the highest yields compared to photoperiod seeds, home growers can still get a decent harvest with a few tips and tricks when learning how to grow autoflower. Depending on how many seeds are intended to germinate and grow, each seed can harvest between one to two ounces of autoflower. There are three factors that are essential to a successful autoflower yield: environment, nutrients/soil, and pot size. 

Environmental factors

It is best to attempt growing autoflower indoors instead of outdoors because it is easier for the grower to control the environmental conditions of the growing space. When growing autoflower outdoors, you are reliant on the climate to grow the plant seeds and this can severely affect your chances of a high yield. Moving the grow space indoors and having full control of the lighting, temperature, pot size, etc. will all make a difference in yield potentially increasing. 

Nutrients and soil for growing autoflower indoors

It is absolutely vital that all plant seeds receive the proper nutrients and quality soil when moving from the germination phase to the vegetation stage. When growing autoflower outdoors, it can become difficult with outside environmental factors being a possibility for risking plant growth. But with growing autoflower indoors, every grower has the ability to choose which soil to use and what nutrients to add to the soil for the well-being of the plant. 

Every herb plant must have a combination of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (NPK) as these are nutrients that will help autoflower seeds to blossom and flower. Nitrogen is used to promote healthy foliage, phosphorus for strong roots and potassium to ensure healthy growth. During the vegetative stage, it is best to use a 3-1-2 ratio and 1-2-3 ratio during the blooming stage. Although using a synthetic mixture of NPK, this is only necessary if growing autoflower indoors. If growing autoflower outdoors, there is a good chance that if the seeds are growing in fertile soil the proper nutrients should be there. 

Pot size recommendations for growing autoflower indoors

If growing autoflower indoors, most home growers do not have all the space in the world to create an entire room for growing autoflower - if you do, kudos to you and share some tips with the rest of us! In the case that you only have a corner or closet at best, pot size is essential to evaluate to fully maximize autoflower yield and get the most out of every growing season. When working in a small space indoors, pots will save you a lot of space and you can manage the seeds a lot better too. There are a few ways to determine how many seeds and pots you’ll need to get this whole cycle going:

  • Spreading out seeds per pot might work as plant seeds don’t like to fight for root space, but you’ll need a lot more space even if you are working with smaller pots. It is possible to use 1.5 gallon pots to plant five to ten plants over the span of a square foot, and it is best to see what works for you as this is just one way to help with plant size
  • Working with larger pots between two and two and a half gallons will only hold a few plants but they should grow thicker than they would separately and the grower can focus on growing it as dense as possible with its multiple seeds.
  • If a grower wants to work with a single pot, they can put all their efforts into a three to four gallon pot that can hold as much as three plants with much higher expected yields. 

Autoflower yield expectations

When using autoflower seeds to grow your own, home growers must be realistic and understand that autoflower plants tend to grow smaller than photoperiod plants and especially with such a short growth cycle - what would you expect? However, with the tips and tricks above and giving a little TLC to your plants they can grow over time and give you more yields than expected. On average, autoflower yields can be in the range from one ounce to two ounces. Yes, this is a wide range but it purely depends on how much nutrients the autoflower plant receives, how many seeds are growing, and so on. 

Bottom line, if you are giving the autoflower plants the nutrients and care they need, those babies should flourish and deliver a pretty high quality yield. If you do the bare minimum, you should still get around one ounce without giving much effort and that is a pretty good reward for not doing any of the work besides planting it in the pot. 

The upside for possibly having smaller yields when growing autoflower is that since you can perpetually harvest autoflower seeds year round, you won’t see much of a need to have high yield expectations considering you will have constant harvest periods in rotation. 

What to be aware of when growing autoflower

What to be aware of when growing autoflower weed

The typical growth cycle of autoflower is different when growing photoperiod strains, and there are a few things to keep in mind prior to starting a grow garden. As long as a home grower knows what type of plant seeds to work with and certain parts of the growing season to pay attention to, there is no reason to not have a successful harvest with maximum yields! 

Get a good autoflower seed 

Right from the jump home growers can give their plants the best shot at life by making sure they use the best autoflower seeds around. Our plant seeds at EF420 are from brands that cultivate seeds from high quality genetics. Making sure that the autoflower cannabis seeds are high quality, this will instantly increase a grower’s chances of a successful yield. Autoflower seeds actually have pretty high quality genetics all around since they are created to automatically flower and have more control over its growth cycle than a regular or feminized seed. 

Autoflower does not produce seeds

Once a plant home growing enthusiast learns to successfully harvest their own autoflower, one thing that will be noticeable is the lack of seeds present when the autoflower is in bloom. There won’t be seeds when growing autoflower because of the lack of pollen from male flowers, so while autoflower cannabis seeds are pretty affordable they will become a cost every single time. Compared to regular or feminized seeds that have the ability to reuse the seeds after harvest and continue multiplying the grow garden, another pack of autoflower seeds will need to be purchased in order to continue growing an autoflower garden. 

Autoflower grows on its own time

Home growing enthusiasts using feminized seeds are able to manipulate the growth period of each plant to be longer than the plant might have intended, but when it comes to autoflower they are on their own time! Regardless of the conditions, how much sun they are receiving (or not), those autoflower seeds will flower regardless. If you are the type of plant parent to set it and forget it once it reaches the vegetative stage, autoflower is for you and extremely low maintenance. If you at all would like to manipulate the flowering time of your plant and experiment a bit on how much further it can go in bloom - autoflower is probably not the ideal option for you. Prolonging an autoflower seed’s flowering time will shock the plant, stunt its growth and result in a pretty disappointing harvest. Shocking an autoflower plant might occur during the transplant phase so it is best to handle with care and know how to properly transfer the seedlings in their new space to bloom. 

Autoflower grows almost anywhere

If you live in a region with harsh conditions and need a plant that can straight up survive the complex weather, autoflower will be the last man standing. The amazing thing about autoflower is that it is not nearly as needy as feminized or regular seeds are - being able to thrive and grow regardless of their light situation shows how strong their genetics can be and how well autoflower plant seeds have learned to adapt over time. 

Perpetual harvesting abilities

As mentioned previously, learning how to grow autoflower gives home growing enthusiasts the chance to cultivate their plant strains of choice all throughout the year. Perpetual harvesting is when there are multiple grow spaces that switch off from vegetative and flowering stages so the grower can eventually be in harvest at all times. This gives home growers the chance to always have a steady supply without needing to run to the dispensary if they were to ever run out. When a grower can create a perpetual harvest spot it can save a ton of money in the long run since you can get a pretty decent ounce or two from each autoflower seed. One thing to remember, though, is that autoflower seeds need to be bought fresh and unused before every germination phase since each autoflower harvest will not give you seeds to replant again. 

Best light and climate conditions for autoflower

Best light and climate conditions for autoflower weed

When it comes to the overall growing conditions for growing autoflower , light and climate requirements are not as strict as regular or feminized seeds can be. Photoperiod seeds typically need a 12/12 schedule (12 hours daylight/12 hours darkness) in order to trigger the flowering stage, but with autoflower the flowering cycle happens on its own when the plant feels mature enough. This usually happens right on time and according to age, not on its light cycle. This is what attracts most growers to autoflower because of its low maintenance personality and quick blooming time. 

Four light cycle schedules for growing autoflower 

There are four light cycles to put your autoflower seed through, and these numbers can be adjusted accordingly. While there are many growers that like to play around with light schedules and stray away from the universal four light cycles growers know about, it is highly recommended to not stray from the structured light cycles if you are inexperienced and do not understand what you’re doing - yet!

The four  most common light cycles or light schedules are:

  • 24/0. This means that the autoflower plant will be under 24 hours of sunlight with 0 hours in darkness. If you live in a place where the sun is out all night at the peak of summer, this is probably the best light cycle for the area but you can always bring indoors if you would like to manipulate it. Remember though, with autoflower seeds you do not have to manipulate or change the light cycles very much or even at all. They do this on their own so your efforts would be unnecessarily wasted. 
  • 20/4. An autoflower plant will be under 20 hours of sunlight with 4 hours of darkness. Most indoor setups can be adjusted to this light schedule, but again the amount of light and darkness is a huge imbalance with this cycle to soak in as much light as possible. 
  • 18/6. The closest light schedule to a typical day, with 18 hours of sunlight and 6 hours of darkness so outside plants will most likely experience this schedule unless you are in a region that experiences extremely harsh weather conditions. Sometimes in certain regions during the winter, people won’t even see the light of day themselves so autoflower plants had to adjust in climates like this to still thrive and produce. 
  • 12/12. The best of both worlds, a 12/12 lighting schedule gives equal amounts of sunlight and darkness. This promotes a quick grow phase, however it will stunt the growth of your plant by speeding up the blooming process. While this light schedule probably won’t deliver much yields, plants under this light cycle will flower a lot quicker than someone taking their time like they would with a light schedule closer to 16/8.

How long do autoflowers take to grow indoors?

Before establishing a light cycle schedule, growers need to make the decision of whether or not their plants will grow indoors or outdoors. Growing autoflower indoors or outdoors has both its pros and cons as everything has benefits and drawbacks. What to remember about autoflower is that regardless of where and for how long it is growing, it will always bloom at its right and ripe age. Besides giving your plants nutrients and a healthy watering schedule, autoflower seeds really do their own thing and once becoming a plant will bloom at the exact time the plant is supposed to. This means that no matter if you choose to grow autoflower indoors or outdoors, the harvest result will almost always be the same so if you’re torn and going back and forth between indoors or outdoors - try indoors to get control of the space and lighting then go from there. Outdoor growing can be easy if you put the seedlings directly into the ground but there are also other factors that affect outdoor plants like bugs, overheating, and so on. Especially if you are new to growing plants, try indoors and see how you like growing autoflower. 

On average, it will take around eight to ten weeks to go from seed to harvest, sometimes even up to 12 weeks or 3 months if an autoflower seed takes that much time to fully mature. This will be the shortest harvest time found in any plant which is why perpetual harvest is so popular with autoflower seeds because the growth cycle happens in the blink of an eye compared to regular seed cycles. Instead of waiting half the year to get any kind of harvest, growing autoflower indoors helps maximize its growth cycle and can grow in much less than six months. 

How to grow autoflower plants (step-by-step guide)

How to grow autoflower cannabis plants (step-by-step guide)

Now that you know way more than you ever thought you would about autoflower, how the heck do you grow it? It’s pretty straight forward in learning how to grow autoflower, all you need is a basic setup and being aware of the stages your seeds will go through.

1. Germinate autoflower seed

To properly germinate a seed, there are a few methods to follow that are very quick and easy. One is the paper towel method, where you place one damp paper towel down at the bottom of a container and put each seed on top about an inch or two apart. Then place another damp towel on top of the seeds, cover the container, and move to a a cool and dark place like a pantry or closet. It is important to note that the paper towels should be damp and not wet, as it could potentially drown out the seeds. The germination phase could take as little as a few days to a few weeks.

2. Transplant sprouted seed to soil

While autoflower seeds are typically not fragile in the slightest and pretty self sufficient, in their first leg of life they will need some assistance as they are highly susceptible to transplant shock. It is best to only transplant an autoflower seed once, because if you try to move and pot more than once, transplant shock will probably occur which will only hurt your plant. A good tip is to do this when the potting soil is dry and right before their dark period, and making sure it is in the same growing medium as previously will help the plant re-learn its surroundings a lot quicker to help it feel right at home.

3. Vegetative stage

When the vegetative stage occurs, it is important to pay attention because in autoflower seeds they will flower when they should actually be in the vegetative phase instead. The vegetative stage should only last two to four weeks and will do it on its own accord since it goes through vegetative and flowering stages based on its age. 

4. Flowering phase

Around four to five weeks is when the flowering phase begins, regardless of its light schedule and purely based on age. It can even take up to nine weeks to fully bloom with bigger autoflower seeds, and the significant cut in the time it takes for the blooming stage is invaluable to most growers. 

5. Harvest time!

Depending on the method you prefer to use, harvesting is the fun part because it is almost towards the end where you can taste test your buds. Depending on what type of autoflower plant you’re working with, harvesting can be some work but that long-awaited smoke sesh with some homegrown plants is an unmatched feeling. 

How to harvest growing autoflower 

How to harvest growing autoflower weed

There are a few things to note before deep diving into the harvesting stage, so hopefully these tips and tricks will help you harvest the best batch of buds every single time. There are a few factors that you should consider and if you can get these under control there should be a successful and bountiful harvest on the horizon.

  • Subject to darkness before harvesting. A quick tip about 48 hours prior to harvesting is to leave them in a room so it can feel like it is experiencing a change of seasons to indicate that their life cycle is coming to an end. What this does is boost trichome production and increase the thickness of buds so you can get those pretty trichome-filled flowers. 
  • Lower temperatures prior to harvesting. Even if you are growing indoors, it is best to turn down the temperature slightly so the plant can feel a difference and start turning their leaves. It is possible to achieve very cool colors (similar to leaves turning color in the fall) and your plant will literally show its true colors.
  • Defoliate and flush before harvesting.  Defoliating means removing the bigger fan leaves prior to harvest because it helps with trimming and jumps to speed up the flushing process which refers to basically flushing the plant of nutrients and other contaminants. Flushing involves giving a plant only water for a period of time, kind of like a detox moment but for your autoflower plant. 

  • When it comes time to chop down your plants, you are in the thick of harvesting and should be excited because you’re almost at the finish line! Using sharp scissors/shears or anything similar, the goal is to cleanly cut the leaves and branches to avoid making a mess and makes things easier on you in the end. Whether you intend to go through a perpetual harvest, partial or staggered harvest, etc. the most valuable piece of advice we can give you is to go through the experience as many times as you can. Most growers will notice and learn something different with every grow cycle they perform, so keeping a journal of your harvest finds is a great way to improve your skills for home growing. 

    Buy autoflower seeds online

    You should be excited to embark on this autoflower seed journey, and as much as we’ve tried to lay it out there is so much in store for you beyond the horizon. It takes time and patience to grow anything, but with growing autoflower, the convenience and low maintenance life cycle, why wouldn’t you take a stab at growing your own buds? With time, even the most inexperienced growers will become masters at the craft. The more you grow the more you know, right? 

    If you have any questions about how we do things at EF420, shoot on over to our EF420 FAQs that will answer everything you want to know or contact us for other questions you might have. The EF420 story is one we love sharing and cannot wait to keep adding to it, thanks to all of us who share the love of some good bud! We’re always having sweepstakes going on to win yourself some high quality prizes, so make sure you’re in the know to give yourself a shot at one of our epic giveaways. 

    Back to blog
    • Regular price $36.99
      Regular price Sale price $36.99
    • 11total reviews
      Regular price $24.99
      Regular price Sale price $24.99
    • 6total reviews
      Regular price $37.99
      Regular price Sale price $37.99
    • + 2 types
      53total reviews
      Regular price From $49.99
      Regular price Sale price From $49.99
    • Regular price $129.99
      Regular price Sale price $129.99
    • 5total reviews
      Regular price $124.20
      Regular price Sale price $124.20
    • + 3 strains
      Regular price $19.99
      Regular price Sale price $19.99
    • + 1 color
      Regular price $599.99
      Regular price Sale price $599.99
      🔥Last chance. Only 1 left.
    • + 3 strains
      1total reviews
      Regular price $44.99
      Regular price Sale price $44.99
    • Regular price $37.99
      Regular price Sale price $37.99
    • Regular price $129.99
      Regular price Sale price $129.99
    • 1total reviews
      Regular price $179.99
      Regular price Sale price $179.99
    • Regular price $19.99
      Regular price Sale price $19.99
    • + 4 colors
      Regular price $479.99
      Regular price Sale price $479.99
      🔥Last chance. Only 1 left.
    • + 3 strains
      11total reviews
      Regular price $26.99
      Regular price Sale price $26.99
    • + 1 color
      Regular price $129.99
      Regular price Sale price $129.99
    • + 1 color
      1total reviews
      Regular price $89.99
      Regular price Sale price $89.99
    • + 1 strain
      Regular price $19.99
      Regular price Sale price $19.99
    • + 4 colors
      Regular price $449.99
      Regular price Sale price $449.99
      🔥Last chance. Only 1 left.
    • 2total reviews
      Regular price $54.99
      Regular price Sale price $54.99
    • Regular price $109.99
      Regular price Sale price $109.99
    • Regular price $69.99
      Regular price Sale price $69.99
    • 2total reviews
      Regular price $45.99
      Regular price Sale price $45.99
    • + 4 colors
      1total reviews
      Regular price $399.99
      Regular price Sale price $399.99
      🔥Last chance. Only 1 left.
    • Regular price $54.99
      Regular price Sale price $54.99
    1 of 25
    • Best Hamilton Devices Vapes

      Best Hamilton Devices Vapes

      With so many vapes on the market, Hamilton Devices vaporizers stand out for its patented technology and reliable hardware that provides an unparalleled smoking experience. The cannabis brand has really...

      Best Hamilton Devices Vapes

      With so many vapes on the market, Hamilton Devices vaporizers stand out for its patented technology and reliable hardware that provides an unparalleled smoking experience. The cannabis brand has really...

    • Runtz Disposable Review

      Runtz Disposable Review

      Runtz may be one of the most recognizable cannabis strains out there, but they have recently branched out to offer more products to their growing number of fans. The brand...

      Runtz Disposable Review

      Runtz may be one of the most recognizable cannabis strains out there, but they have recently branched out to offer more products to their growing number of fans. The brand...

    • Are Cookies Bongs Good?

      Are Cookies Bongs Good?

      It’s impossible to not know the Cookies weed strain, but what about the Cookies glass collection? Yes, the trendy cannabis brand now has its very own glassware line that includes...

      Are Cookies Bongs Good?

      It’s impossible to not know the Cookies weed strain, but what about the Cookies glass collection? Yes, the trendy cannabis brand now has its very own glassware line that includes...

    1 of 3