Everything you need to know about autoflowers: a grow guide


So given all the above, why on earth would anyone bother growing this type of cannabis? Well autoflowering marijuana does have some plus points (see advantages below) but I’d argue that its main contribution to the grower’s armory is as an outside plant. Ideally, I give them 4-6 weeks indoors under lights to maximize the vegetative growth stage without problems (mainly heat, or lack of it) then its outside with the little darlings for finishing off. And as long as your night temperatures don’t drop below 10ºC these hardy plants will put in crops quite quickly. YES, you could grow one mammoth plant yielding the magical kilo, but you’ll have to wait the full 8-9 months before you smoke (and that’s assuming nothing untoward happens in the meantime), Alternatively, assuming you are blessed with plenty of sunshine, you can get crop after crop after crop in the same space and be smoking fresh bud for 9 months of the year.

There’s also the added bonus that because they are so short, they are much easier to hide than a large plant, and be camouflaged in your vegetable garden. If you want to get decent weight return, grow in blocks of ten in separate 1msq plots.

Which brings me onto:


Legal implications aside (and we always assume that every grower is acting within the laws of their respective country), the main draw back to the above is the cost of the seeds. If you are looking to get any chance of weight/area or weight/3 months, you are going to have to invest in more seeds than you would with a standard outdoor plant. As someone who was used to having a lovely mother plant who would give me free cuttings ad infinitum, I find it galling to pay such a large amount (5-7€ / seed) when planning grows needing 10 plants per m2. The 100€ spent on seeds for the 2m2 covered by the Fero 900 LED just seemed too steep a price as once you add on nutrients and boosts etc it almost seems cheaper to buy spliff than grow it (at least in my part of the world). And as the accountant in the family has pointed out, if I had had to buy every one of the 300 odd autos I’ve experimented with in the past 18 months, I’d have spent in excess of 1500€.

So therefore (having spent more money than I would have liked) I’ve followed the only sensible course of action and bred my own autoflowering seeds. The process is so easy I really have no idea why the seeds should cost so much. Yes I know the revenue probably all goes on product development, packaging and propaganda, but as I have it from reliable sources that some breeders themselves only get 60c a seed this seems a little unfair.  And it still comes back to the fact that a single photo-period feminised seed can give you several hundred grams for your 5€ but a single auto may only yield 20g.

For those of you who haven’t bred your own seeds, here’s how I do it

  1. experiment a little and find a strain you like in terms of yield, time to harvest and enjoyment of smoke. If you can, either try more than 3 of each type you try, or at least follow others’ grow-histories of the same strain and evaluate if they seem reasonably standard.
  2. Buy yourself 20 unfeminised cannabis seeds. Germinate, grow and sex in 13 cm pots.
  3. Around day 28 (or as soon as sex shows), separate males to a separate room. Any space will do: they can cope with a sunny windowsill (if that’s safe for you), or better still, in a small tent under 2 x 45 watt cfls for around two weeks. At week 5 choose 3 of the strongest smelliest males and kill the rest. After a week I eradicate two and keep only the best looking male. You read horror stories about accidental pollination, but touch wood, with a little thought (washing hands, not going straight from males to females etc) I’ve had no problems keeping my main room pollen free whilst my “dads” grew in a small video cabinet in the garage.
  4. Around weeks 5-6 its time for the love action. Now strictly speaking if you want to develop a special strain, you would only want to pollinate one branch of a selection of plants (all carefully numbered) so that come harvest, you would be able to cross reference the seeds from the plant with the highest THC, biggest yield etc. But lets face it, if you just want to collect a number of seeds for your personal use this isn’t necessary and is likely to increase the risk of accidental pollination to the rest of the mother plant. Simply pick your favourite 2 girls and make your criteria for “favourite” what you will. Obviously you aren’t going to be able to evaluate yield or smoke at this early stage in the game, but you may simply like the look of one plant more than the others (unscientific but often successful), or you may use pointers such as size of plant given the shortness of many autos. Bring the two lucky ladies into the male room, and rest the male between the pots. I think its essential to sing them a little Barry White, but the choice of lurve music is up to you :).
  5. Leave for around 4 days until you see some of the pistils turning brown then kill the male. Don’t be tempted to keep him for any reason. You may have named him, befriended him, but there’s really no further use for him. Spray the mums well with 1 teaspoon of washing up liquid to a litre of water twice over two days as this will ensure you wash away any lingering pollen. You can then take them back to the main chamber
  6. The seeds will take around 4-5 weeks to develop. Its important to let the seeds mature properly on the plant, and then to “prove” in a safe and dry atmosphere afterwards for 2-3 months. Ideally you need your seeds to be the distinctive tiger-striped brown for best rates of germination. But by sacrificing two of ten females, you will easily collect 400-600 viable seeds which should keep you going for a month or two (!)

It used to be at this point that I added a link to buy my own seeds: however these have been so popular that several seed runs have all sold out. So I’ve hooked up with one of the big Dutch seed breeders in order to be able to offer you loose feminized seeds direct from them (via kannaponica.com) .. these are at amazing prices so winners all round 🙂

Pros and Cons of autoflowers

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