Ruderalis is the rebel antiestablishment of the plant kingdom. While photoperiods are dependent on the sunlight changes to flower, this bad girl just moves into flowering… and there’s nothing you can do about it!
Which makes some growers think that autoflowers have no vegetative stage and it’s not a big deal. However, today I want to talk to you about the great importance of the autoflower vegetative stage.
If you’re raising an eyebrow and wondering:
Why is the autoflower vegetative stage so important?
They’re automatic! They can cope themselves with flowering.
Well, I won’t make you read to the end for that answer. Here it is:
The autoflower vegetative stage is crucial because whatever happens in this period, there’s no going back!
What does that mean?
When you grow photoperiods, you are able to control the vegetative stage by manipulating the light cycle.
That means that you can buy some time by prolonging the vegetative stage in the face of nutrient burns, overwatering, or diseases. That way, you give your plants extra time to recover and force them into flowering once they’re healthy again.
On the other hand, autos will jump into flowering without asking. If they had to deal with pests or diseases (provided they don’t die), you probably would end up with much shorter plants, meager yields, and not-so-tasty buds.
That’s the main reason to take the autoflower vegetative stage very seriously.
Now, read on if you want to find out how to take care of your autoflowering plant during this delicate phase.
Feeding during the Autoflower Vegetative Stage
Since your plants start showing their first sets of fan leaves as a notice of maturity, you need to start feeding them more nutrients.
Now, the trick here is knowing that autoflowers need less nutrients than photoperiods. Vendors usually state the recommended amounts in their nutrients, but these amounts are typically for photoperiods.
Always use ¼ or ½ of the recommended amounts. And watch your plants closely for any signs of nutrient deficiency. Remember, you can quickly troubleshoot the lack of nutrients, but the nut burns are a bit harder to tackle.
You should increase the nitrogen amounts during the veg stage, as this will help your plants develop stronger leaves and branches. The recommended NPK ratio is 10:5:5. Read this article to learn more about autoflower nutrients.
Lighting during the Autoflower Vegetative Stage
These autoflowers don’t need dark hours like photoperiods do to start flowering. Based on that reasoning, some growers leave the lights on 24 hours to ” maximize” the photosynthesis.
Across that school of thought, we strongly believe the poor plants could use some “rest.” So we give them somewhere between 4-6 hours of darkness.
Additionally, we recommend leaving the lights on for the full 24 hours during the last 3 weeks of flowering. That’s a great way to max out the bud potential.
Training during the Autoflower Vegetative Stage
You should start training your autoflowers as soon as they enter the vegetative stage. Remember, this is a race towards flowering, and the clock keeps ticking.
Now, I strongly advise against high-stress training autoflowers. Plants subject to HST experience slowed growth, giving them time to recover and become healthier and stronger.
The autoflower’s short vegetative period won’t allow your plants to recover from the HST shock.
However, low-stress training is the perfect fit for autoflowering seeds. This training technique doesn’t stunt or overstress your plants, thus producing the high-yielding results we look for when we train them.
You can try LST techniques such as the tie-down method and the screen of green.
A Final Tip to Boost the Vegetative Stage
You’ll want to get the most -and the best- vegetative growth possible. Then, continue using vegetative nutrients right until the upward growth stops.
Typically, autoflowers start pre-flowering around week 3, but the vegetative growth may continue until week 6. Obviously, this depends on the specific strain you’re growing.
Autoflowers are a godsend gift for those growers who want to make the process easier or don’t have enough time to track complicated light cycles. For that, we’re grateful.
However, let’s remember the autoflower vegetative stage is like a person’s childhood. Treat them gently, as we’re setting the ground for a healthier future.