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does auto flowering marijuana always produce seeds

9 Mistakes To Avoid When Growing Autoflowering Cannabis

Autoflower cannabis has always sparked debates among growers in the cannabis community. Due to a dearth of knowledge or experience, many growers avoid growing autoflowers. Beginners are expected to only grow photoperiod plants, and while the fear of something new and unexpected is understandable, you might discover something more amazing if you just try.

Autoflowers are really easy to grow but there are basic guidelines you should know, just like when growing other plants or vegetables. All plants are different and even though you can successfully harvest the first time you grow cannabis, there are common mistakes that are better to avoid.

If you’re new to autoflower growing and are looking for an autoflower grow guide or want to know how to grow autoflowering strains, here are a couple of tips to have you growing in no time.

1. Knowing the basics

To set things straight, let’s begin by saying that autoflowers are really easy to grow. In fact, beginners can try growing autoflowers with little to no experience as long as they understand the basics 1 .

And this is true for all plants. Can you expect to grow tomatoes if you’re clueless about using nutrients? Or, can you harvest cucumbers if you don’t even know when to harvest them? No? Similarly, autoflowers need you to follow a few basic guidelines like other plants, and you’ll do just fine if you take the time to understand them.

After all, a plant that gives you lip-smacking buds in just 2 months deserves some research, eh? Autoflowers may scare you at first, but if you avoid a few common mistakes, you’ll harvest much more than you can imagine, and it only gets better.

2. Time it right

Timing is everything if you’re planning to grow autoflowers outdoors. Since autoflowers don’t depend on light to flower, you don’t need to worry too much. But, planting too early will generate smaller yields and planting too late affects yields too.

Frost must be avoided at all costs. Typically, most growers begin planting when spring is just around the corner. Depending on where you live, you can plant the seeds as soon as the frost clears. If you reside in a location that doesn’t receive any snow, go ahead and plant when the temperatures range between 22°C to 28°C (71°F to 77°F).

Bigger plants can tolerate much higher temperatures but tender seedlings will succumb to extreme temperatures. Remember to avoid rainy seasons since the plant doesn’t receive too much light. Of course, the timing doesn’t matter if growing indoors, so sow those seeds whenever you wish!

3. Germination

For beginners, germinating the seeds is an important part of the entire process. To get better results, soak the seeds in plain water for at least 24 hours and wrap them in moist paper towels for a day or two. Use a ziplock bag to store the towels.

It’s important to keep the towels moist because the seeds can rot if there’s too much water. Similarly, the seeds won’t sprout if the towels are completely dry. Don’t make the mistake of directly planting the seeds, especially if you’re doing it for the first time. Once the seeds show a tap root, plant the seeds in the final container.

Despite having to keep the seeds in damp paper towels, make sure they are not completely wet, too much water can rot the seeds. The best way to identify this is by smell if the paper towels start to smell like mold, immediately take them out and change the towels.

Depending on your experience, you can also germinate your seeds directly in the medium, just make sure you’re not overwatering it because you can end up drowning your seeds. As you can see in the video, germinating in the soil is easy and doesn’t require anything extra, just be careful and you’ll see a seedling coming out of the ground in a couple of days.

4. Choose the right medium

Growing plants in hydroponic setups seem very cool, but soil is your best bet if you have no experience. Avoid using clay soils that clump up because autoflowers thrive in well-aerated soil. A soilless medium of equal parts of peat moss or coco peat, perlite, some airy soil, and sand is the best potting mix for autoflowers.

If you don’t want to bother about fertilizing at all, you can even try growing autoflowers organically. There are various ways to make your own organic soil, but you can buy some in your local store to start with. Organic soil is premised with nutrients, so it’s ideal for someone that doesn’t have a lot of time. For growers that don’t mind putting in the efforts, composting and building super soil is the best soil mix for autoflowers.

If growing outdoors, till the soil well and amend it with organic nutrients to produce a happy, healthy plant. But, no matter what you do while growing indoors, stay away from old used soil or sterilize it before you plant seeds to prevent diseases.

5. Choose good containers

Please don’t stuff seeds in plastic containers that make life hell for the poor roots. Use porous containers such as fabric pots or even Airpots to help the plants grow as much as possible. Autoflowers are typically small, but they need containers that are at least 5-8 liters in size.

Bigger autoflowers need bigger containers, so make sure you check the description before purchasing seeds. Root aeration is often overlooked, but it’s an important factor in determining your yields.

The appropriate pot size can also help you control the height of your cannabis plants, usually, a 12L pot will allow your plant to develop to its maximum, an auto in a 7L pot will grow up to 70cm and in a 3L pot will grow around 40cm.

6. Do not transplant

It’s important to start autoflowers in their final containers rather than planting them in smaller ones and transplanting them later. Sure, growing cannabis is like growing tomatoes, but autoflowers have a limited time period and can’t afford to lose days while the plant settles and searches for roots.

Some growers use small plastic cups to plant seeds. While this method may work with photoperiod plants, it’s not recommended for autoflowers. If you’re already committed the mistake of planting them in small containers, try to transplant the plant only when the soil is moist. If the soil is too wet, the roots tend to break, and if it’s too dry, transplanting becomes a pain. Of course, experienced growers do transplant autoflowers but it’s not really necessary.

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7. Over and under-watering

Most plants die if you over or under-water them. Yes, autoflowers need water to grow, but it’s critical to supply it only when the plant needs it. It’s obvious that the timing is important even when the plants need water.

A way to check if the soil is dry is to use your index finger and stick it in the soil, if it comes out moist then the soil is still humid, although by doing this you won’t be able to know if the bottom is still wet so in order to get the timing right, lift the pots and check the weight.

A dry pot will be easy to lift whereas container with lots of water will be heavy. The trick is to not let the soil go too dry or too wet, so water the plants only when the pot isn’t too heavy or light.

8. Overfeeding and underfeeding

Nutrients play a big role in growing autoflowering cannabis strains. Autoflowers are compact, so they don’t need loads of nutes in order to survive. In fact, autoflowers grow best when light fertilizers are used. It’s also important to feed the right nutrients at the right time.

Macro and micronutrients

For example, cannabis needs more nitrogen in the vegetative stage. In the pre-flowering stage, nutrients with more phosphorous are preferred, and in the flowering stage needs a lot more potassium than nitrogen or phosphorous.

If you’re wondering what the term “N-P-K” printed on fertilizer bags means, it’s nothing but Nitrogen-Phosphorous-Potassium. The plants also need other micronutrients along with calcium and magnesium, so it’s extremely important to get the dosage right.

Don’t make the rookie mistake of using Miracle Grow or any other fertilizer meant to grow vegetables. Autoflowers will grow well even if you do that, but since they have special needs, you might as well stick to nutrients that supply everything. From humic to fulvic acid to enzymes, you can do a lot to make the plants perform to the best of their potential.

Talking about nutrients, some growers try to make their own nutes. While it’s completely okay to do so, you should avoid doing it if you’ve never done that before. Nutrients are expensive and it’s tempting to make your own, but try to attempt that after you’ve gained some experience.

Why? Because cannabis plants require a good blend containing all micro and macronutrients in exact concentrations to thrive. It’s not as simple as diluting a random fertilizer and feeding the plants. You not only risk burning the plants, but the yields will suffer drastically since the plants have no time to recover.

PH levels

So, if it’s your first time, stick to commercial nutrients. And, the topic on nutrients is incomplete if you don’t talk about pH. Depending on the medium 2 you choose to grow, the pH must be regulated accordingly. Cannabis plants love acidic soil, so the pH must be maintained between 5.5 to 7 in both soil and hydroponic setups.

If the pH drops below 6, the roots will not be able to intake vital nutrients such as magnesium, calcium, and phosphorous. Similarly, if the pH is too alkaline and goes above 7.5, the roots cannot take up micronutrients like copper, manganese, boron, etc. It’s very important to regulate the pH at all times to prevent nutrient deficiencies.

Here’s a quick table to help you understand pH better:

Nutrient Ideal PH Level for Absorption
Nitrogen 6.0-8.0
Phosphorus 6.5-7.5
Potassium 6-8
Calcium 6.5-8.5
Magnesium 6-8.5

Sometimes, it just so happens that the plant refuses to respond even if you’ve done everything. In such cases, flush the plants with lots of water (at least double or triple the size of the container) to reduce any nutrient or salt buildup so that the plants can breathe again. Flushing is typically done at the end, but it doesn’t hurt the plant even if you do it in between because it reduces buildups to a good extent.

Some growers also flush during the pre-flowering stage, when the plants are transitioning from the vegetative into the flowering stage so they can start feeding from zero, as said above, this won’t hurt your plants but should be done properly.

9. Harvest at the right time

You’ve come all this way, and the end is almost near, so don’t screw this up now! Now you’re probably asking “how to tell if my autoflower is ready for harvest?” Well, after you’ve put in all the hard work, wait for the right time. Growers use microscopes to check the trichomes that usually indicate the right time, but you can harvest when at least 50 to 70 percent of the pistils are amber in color.

If you wait too much, the buds tend to produce a couch-lock effect leaning more towards the Indica side while buds harvested too early generate unpleasant psychoactive effects. Also, the main colas ripen faster than the lower portions of the plant.

Often referred to as popcorn buds, the lower portions stay small. However, harvesting the main colas and leaving the popcorn buds on the plant for a week more will increase yields dramatically. Be patient, and let Mother Nature do the rest for you! If you avoid these common mistakes when growing autoflowering cannabis, you’ll soon be rewarded with potent resinous buds that will last a long time if stored properly.

10. Frequently Asked Questions About Autoflowers

What’s the average autoflower size and how tall can they get?

Most autoflowers reach a height of around 50-100cm but a plant’s size depends on the genetics and growing conditions. Also, all strains are different so you will find Sativa and Indica-leaning autos; Most Indica hybrid autoflowers will stay around the 80-120cm mark but Sativa-dominant autoflowers can reach up to 175cm tall.

Can I grow my auto on my window sill?

Yes, you can, although it’s not recommended if you want to get the best results possible but if this is the only way you have, make sure your plant gets at least 4-6 hours of direct sunlight a day and that you’re using at least a 10-liter pot.

Do autoflowers grow normal or smaller because of the Ruderalis genes?

The size of an autoflower can be influenced by several factors, genetics being the main one. More modern autoflower breeders breed their genetics to contain as little as Ruderalis genetics as possible, focusing on the more appealing characteristics such as size, structure, potency, and yields.

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But when compared to a photoperiod plant, an autoflower has a limited lifespan so things such as stress, damage, or a bad environment can ultimately affect your auto’s height, so it’s ideal to provide optimum grow conditions to get the best results possible.

When is the best time to plant autoflowers outdoors?

This solely depends on your climate, you need to remember that autos prefer dry sunny days so if you’re planning to have just one grow cycle, you can start them 1-2 weeks into Summer, and if you’re planning to have 2 harvests, start the next one right after finishing the first one.

What yield can I expect per autoflowering plant?

The yields depend on genetics, environment, stress, growers skills, and etc.. But in general, you can expect between 50-110 grams per plant.

How long will it take for my auto to start flowering?

In general, autoflowers stay for 4 weeks in the vegetative stage, so about 4 weeks. Then your auto will start developing flowers for 3 weeks, and fattening up the buds for the last 3 weeks.

This may vary according to the genetics and growing environment, have in mind that it’s just to give you an idea of what to expect, some autoflowers may take less and others take longer.

Yes, you can, although it’s not recommended because it can affect the yields. To prevent shocking your autoflowers and consequently affecting yields, it’s recommended to transplant 7-12 days after germination and if possible, use rooting cubes to prevent damaging the roots.

Can you grow autoflowering cannabis in a greenhouse?

Of course you can, you can grow autoflowers in a greenhouse all year round as long as you keep the inside temperature to a minimum of 15°C and there’s enough ventilation, airflow, and sunlight.

11. In conclusion

Autoflowers (aka self flowering seeds) are suited for beginner growers but it’s crucial you know the basics if you want to have a successful harvest the first time you grow cannabis, although you can learn as you go, it can be disappointing if you waste time and money, and end up with nothing to smoke.

Now that you know the basics and what to avoid, you’re all set up to start your first autoflower indoor grow.

If you’ve never grown cannabis before and are planning on growing our autos, feel free to ask us anything in the comment section below!

Why Beginners Should Grow Auto-Flowering Strains

What’s So Special About Auto-flowering Strains?

Have you ever heard of “autoflowering” strains of cannabis? How are these strains different from traditional (photoperiod) strains, and what makes them easier to grow for beginners?

Several different autoflowering strains growing together

Why Auto-Flowering Plants Are Great for Beginners

  • Automatically start making buds just a few weeks after they sprout – This is why they’re called “auto-flowering” strains. Traditional photoperiod strains grown indoors need to be manually forced to start making buds by altering light periods to give long nights (why they’re called “photoperiod” strains).
  • Autoflowering plants stay a manageable size – Most auto-flowering strains stay under hip height and will not grow into huge monsters that unexpectedly take over a closet or become taller than your fence. Although some auto-flowering strains can get pretty big, any strains with the tendency to grow extra-large are typically labeled as such by the breeder.
  • Ready to harvest in 3 months or less – While traditional grows take 3-5 months from seed to harvest on average, auto-flowering plants are typically ready to harvest in 3 months or less from when they first sprout. A lot of growers prefer a quicker harvest.
  • Can be grown outdoors in most climates – Traditional outdoor cannabis plants must be planted in the Spring, and need at least 4-5 months of warm-but-not-too-wet weather before Fall. This set of requirements makes it difficult to grow outdoors in a lot of climates. But as long as your climate gets warm, sunny weather for at least three months at a time, you should be able to grow an auto-flowering plant outside. This is great for growers who would like to grow during a short but sunny summer, during warm winter months, or to get an early outdoor harvest.
  • Not sensitive to light leaks or light periods – If light accidentally leaks into the grow space during a traditional photoperiod plant’s dark period (for example if you open the closet door to look at your plants, or even from a blinking indicator light on a piece of equipment you didn’t notice), it can cause big problems. The amount of time the grow lights are on each day also has a huge effect on how photoperiod plants grow. Outdoors, photoperiod plants are sensitive to the time of year, and their internal cycles can be disrupted by security spotlights, street lights or even the light from a nearby window. Light stress can interrupt bud development or even cause traditional plants to make “male” flowers, which growers don’t want because you can’t really smoke or use them and they can cause seeds. Auto-flowering plants are basically unaffected by light periods or light leaks. It’s just one less thing to worry about for a new grower.
  • Feminized auto-flowering seeds always make buds – Speaking of male vs female flowers, when it comes to auto-flowering strains you typically don’t need to worry about sex. In fact, you would specifically need to seek out seeds that will produce male flowers because just about all auto-flowering seeds available online are feminized. If you buy feminized auto-flowering seeds, you are basically guaranteed to get a “female” plant, which means that every plant will produce buds and you don’t have to worry about male plants, seeds or pollination.

A bunch of autoflowering plants in a mini grow tent (view the tutorial on how to copy this grow style)

Did you know? Half of all traditional non-feminized seeds (the kind of seeds you typically find in your bud) grow into male plants that must be removed from the grow room as soon as you spot them. Growing with feminized seeds prevents that potential headache!

Auto-Flowering Frisian Dew by Dutch Passion may produce incredibly vibrant purple buds under the right conditions, and tends to grow well outdoors

Auto-Flowering Strains Have Better Genetics Than Ever

All modern autoflowering plants are the decedents of a type of wild hemp that grows in Siberia known as Cannabis ruderalis, which is a cousin of the THC-producing cannabis plant we know and love. Wild ruderalis plants grow very small buds that don’t contain much THC, but due to the extremely short summers, they have the odd quirk of flowering immediately after sprouting regardless of day length.

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Some forward-thinking marijuana breeder saw the potential of this and started cross-breeding Ruderalis plants with cannabis strains that contain THC. The results from the initial hybrids were disappointing, but breeders didn’t give up and kept selecting for plants with higher yields and more potent buds while carefully maintaining the auto-flowering capability from generation to generation. Cannabis lore says the first experimental crosses between “Marijuana” and Ruderalis strains were done in the 1960s, with some strains starting to be sold in seed banks by the 1980s.

Ruderalis – This Tiny Wild Hemp Plant is the Ancestor of All Auto-Flowering Strains

The first time I heard about auto-flowering seeds was around 2010, when we first started making GrowWeedEasy.com. At the time, auto-flowering strains were often referred to as “Lowryder” plants, or some variation such as “Short Ryder” or “Diesel Ryder”. The “Ryder” strain options were extremely limited at first, but they were starting to catch on.

An original “Lowryder” plant

Home growers started demanding more and better options, and some breeders began specializing specifically in making auto-flowering strains (which mostly lost the “Ryder” name). The genetics have been improving exponentially ever since.

Now there are hundreds of auto-flowering strains to choose from, and many traditional strains offer an auto-flowering version. You have competitive breeders that consistently sell auto-flowering seeds that are extremely fast-growing, give you great yields, and produce buds that feel as potent as their photoperiod counterparts.

Auto-Flowering Plants Today Come in a Variety of Strains

These auto-flowering plants produced about 2 ounces each (here’s the grow journal)

Outdoor auto-flowering plants don’t care about light schedules or the time of year. Your climate is likely suitable to grow an auto-flowering plant if you have at least 3 months of sun and warm weather (above 60°F / 16°C during the day, and no freezing nights). These auto-flowering plants were grown in a homemade greenhouse in a cold climate. They were planted in Spring and ready to harvest before freezing temperatures came, despite a very short summer.

Nebula’s Recommended Auto-Flowering Cannabis Breeders

Mephisto Genetics

The Mephisto breeding program was started in the UK in 2012 by two friends that felt auto-flowering strains should be bred to have the same level of bud quality as photoperiod strains. Although auto-flowering strains have been available for purchase since at least the 1980s, there has only been spotty interest in auto-flowering breeding programs. Mephisto has led the way and there are now dozens if not hundreds of auto-flowering breeding programs. Mephisto only works with auto-flowering strains and the buds always come out at photoperiod quality. I will say that some of their strains can be a bit sensitive when growing and not necessarily the best yielding, but Mephisto makes up for that with bud quality. If you care more about quality than quantity, I highly recommend any Mephisto strain.

  • Awesome bud quality
  • Their focus is on buds above all. As a result, some of their boutique strains don’t get the best yields or may not be the most beginner-friendly

Recommended Beginner Strain

    (Sour Orange Diesel Kush) – Easy to grow, good yields, amazing smell, dense buds. This strain is great for beginners!

A different SODK autoflowering plant

Dinafem

I have been pleased every time I’ve grown with Dinafem genetics, whether it was auto-flowering or photoperiod strains. Their strains have pleasant effects, and plants are generally easy to grow with good yields. For photoperiod connoisseurs, I also recommend their Original Amnesia as a weirdly potent photoperiod strain that produces sativa effects with an indoor-friendly growth pattern.

  • Easy to grow strains with good yields and pleasant relaxing effects
  • Strains typically aren’t the most trendy and buds don’t focus on pretty (which may or may not be important to you)

Recommended Beginner Strain

    – Easy to grow, good yields, smells great, enjoyable bud effects.

Sweet Seeds

Sweet Seeds is a breeder from Spain which has been developing auto-flowering strains for many years. Their strains and buds tend to look/smell/feel different from other breeders.

  • Unique bud effects as well as interesting colors and scents

Recommended Beginner Strain

    – smells sweet, buds are sticky and vibrant purple, easy to grow, great effects.

Dark Devil Auto by Sweet Seeds (grown by my friend LuckyAcres)

Dutch Passion

Dutch Passion breeds both photoperiod and autoflowering strains, but they’ve really focused on their autoflowering program and have created some memorable strains.

  • Big yields, interesting smells, good looking buds
  • Some of their best-yielding/pretty strains produce bland effects (for example their Ultimate Auto always looks and yields amazing, but bud effects don’t feel that unique or interesting)

Recommended Beginner Strain

    – easy to grow, pretty buds, and super potent with great effects. Always a winner! I highly recommend Cinderella Jack if you’re looking for a potent autoflowering strain.

Cinderella Jack Auto plant just before harvest

Seedsman

Seedsman is a seed bank that offers strains from many different breeders, but they also have their own in-house breeding program along with access to all the best and latest genetics. As a result, their strains are always top-tier. Seedsman recently has put a lot of time and effort into their auto-flowering breeding program and offer auto-flowering versions of many popular strains. When you grow any Seedsman strain, you can always expect good-to-exceptional results.

  • Trendy strains, pretty buds, strong effects, consistent results, good yields
  • Seedsman offers their version of many popular strains, but some growers prefer getting new and original strains

Recommended Beginner Strain

    – strong but relaxing bud effect, easy to grow, quick harvest.

Bomb Seeds

This breeder has great autoflowering adaptations of their most popular photoperiod strains.

  • Easy to grow, good yields, consistent results
  • Only a few autoflowering strains to choose from

Recommended Beginner Strain

    – I’ve grown this strain under several different types of grow lights and it’s a sleeper. Buds look ordinary and yields are average, but always produce strong and memorable effects. It’s one of those plants that I don’t pay attention to while growing, but then always becomes a favorite after buds are dried and cured.

THC Bomb Auto buds covered in glittery trichomes

There are many other great breeders that offer auto-flowering seeds, but we’ve listed these ones because we’ve personally had good results with these breeders and feel confident recommending them. Let us know if there’s an auto-flowering cannabis breeder you think should be added to this list!