DIY: Growing Autoflower Cannabis at Home
If you’re going to grow some autoflowering seeds, there’s one thing you need to focus on. Their life cycle is so short two months after planting that it is vital to maximise resources from the start. While feminized varieties, whose life cycle can be as long as four months, can have time to recover from plagues or nutritional mishaps, autoflowering strains develop at full tilt, meaning that every step matters. But don’t worry; their genetics make them true champions of resistance. Autoflowering varieties are genetics crossed with Ruderalis, a species from the cold regions of northern Europe that has adapted to tough environmental conditions, developing extraordinary speed and high resistance to harsh weather conditions.
These days auto-flowering strains, originally known as “Lowryders,” are found at most seed banks alongside photoperiod strains. Although the wild Ruderalis ancestors contained almost no THC and were tiny, most modern auto-flowering strains produce buds that are comparable in potency to other strains of cannabis due to many generations of diligent breeding. The best modern auto-flowering strains have been bred to produce bigger and denser buds than the original Ruderalis plants. Buds have also been bred to be as potent as photoperiod strains.
Let’s look at some of the 3 best attributes of the plant:
- They are smaller. This means they are easier to hide, harder to spot, and are, therefore, a safer choice with a greater variety of grow location options
- They grow very quickly, have high yields in comparison to their size, and are even more resistant to pests and insects than other marijuana strains.
- Ready to harvest in 10 weeks! No matter what the lighting situation is like in your outdoor or indoor growing setup, they follow the growth schedule embedded in their genes. They will flower after a certain amount of time, not after the light begins to change.
Autoflowers can be grown indoors and outdoors and both places have their advantages, but it basically is up to you to decide the best growing environment. Here are some advantages to indoor and outdoor growing:
- Autoflowers can be grown stealthy in mini cabinets,
- You don’t need to change light cycles,
- You can grow them in the vegging room where regular photo-sensitive plants are growing,
- You can get a harvest every two months from seed.
- You can get multiple harvests in one season,
- Autoflowers are adapted to resist pests and mold,
- They stay small and won’t be noticed by unwanted eyes,
- They can grow in any time of the year if the temperature is not below 10 to 15 degrees Celsius.
Autoflowering cannabis is the third and smallest specie of the cannabis genus, which includes cannabis Sativa and cannabis Indica, this third specie is also called cannabis ruderalis / autoflower / auto cannabis / automatic cannabis.
Properly germinating your marijuana plants is crucial to their healthy development, as well. This can be done naturally in soil, or in a container without any growing medium. I always germinate my seeds in water.
Most autoflower marijuana growers I know actually prefer the paper towel method. It simply involves placing a seed within a damp paper towel, or length of toilet paper, and putting it in a container of some sort that will retain moisture and humidity. This should cause the seeds to sprout within days. After they sprout, they should then be transplanted to their final growing medium. After this, do not transplant them again if you can help it as autoflower plants are small and are vulnerable to greater transplanting shock.
Autoflowering plants require an aerated substrate that allows them to make full use of available resources, to properly develop their roots and to accelerate all their metabolic processes. How is soil aerated? It’s very simple; you need 10 L of substrate comprised of 1/3 coconut fibre and 2/3 ready-made peat moss or substrate, which you can find in any grow shop. If your crop is for therapeutic purposes, try to use an organic cultivation method.
Like any other plant watering cannabis is necessary because water is the lifeblood of the plant and all the nutrients dissolve in water so then your plant can absorb them. Remaining (unused) water is evaporated through the leafs in the photosynthesis process and that evaporation is how these plats keep themselves cool even in the hottest of summers.
Each growth stage of the plants life requires a different approach to watering. In the vegetative and flowering phases you need to supply a lot of water as these plants will use up quite a bit of this stuff. In the germination and seedling phase you need to add a little bit of water with a hand myster or pour it directly around the plant. A cup of water should be enough and for the first days even a cup will be too much. As for the timing, you need to check the soil humidity with a soil humidity meter or by just checking it with fingers. If it is dry then it is time to water. In the vegetative and flowering stages you will typically need to water once every two days but it all depends on the temperature and pot size.
A good way to know how much and when to water is this: if the pot feels light then water it until there is a little runoff water at the bottom of the pot, then let your plant grow and use up all that water till your pot feels light again. Over Watering and under watering can do some damage to your plants and in extreme cases you can irreversibly damage your crop. Signs of under watering are wilting and weak stems but overwatering can express it as a yellowing of leaf tips and it is the most common autoflower growers’ mistake.
Similar to regular marijuana plants, you can decide one of two lighting options:
- One choice is to expose your plants to 24 hours of light per day
- The other is to allow them some rest every day, and give them 18hours of light, and sixhours of darkness. It all depends on your personal preferences, as well as the strain that you are growing.
One specific go-to example is to use 120-watt LED lights for the first few weeks of growth, and keep it going for 21 hours each day. In this case, the light should be set up between 70 and 80 centimeters away from the plants. Once you have potted the older plants, you can convert to larger LED lights, and a schedule of 18 hours of light, and 6 hours of darkness.
Temperature is another crucial part of cannabis life cycle as these small plants have adapted to grow in specific conditions that are present in the environment. Automatic plants grow best in temperatures that range from 24 C to 30 C but some variations to both sides won’t affect them as much. Autoflowers by their definition are tough and in the spring and autumn the temperatures can get pretty cold so these plants have an increased temperature resistance and they can grow in almost any conditions where the temperature doesn’t get below the 10 C mark. If it does, then they start to greatly diminish yields and even die. Inside growers will most likely be faced with too hot temperatures and they will need to install more powerful fans for the hot air to be exhausted faster. Basically the temperatures can be lowered by increasing the exhaust fan power or by changing the light source from HID to CFL or in the best case to the LED one. There are also solutions where growers introduce glass directly below the bulbs and seal that part off and install different exhaust systems for both parts of the grow room, but in this case they are losing some light power and you will need to evaluate, how the grow room is coping with temperature before knowing your best solution.
70 to 80 days after sowing the seeds, you can harvest your buds at last. First of all, we recommend that you stop watering the plant five days before the harvest so that the soil is dry. You’ll know that the buds are ready because the colour of the resin trichomes will start to change from white to amber and, in particular, because the plant’s leaves start to turn yellow. Autoflowering marijuana plants are like a clock and once their ten weeks of life are up they start to decline. We recommend that you cut the plant on a dry day to avoid humidity in the buds. The plant can be cut in branches, which you then hang in a well-ventilated, dark place.
Later, you will have to do the trimming, which consists of trimming off the small leaves of the bud so they have a better appearance and so that they develop complex aromas during the curing process, preventing our dear weed from tasting of vegetable matter.
Curing your autoflower marijuana buds helps them turn into the delicious product that every grower desires. If you cure them poorly, then your efforts will not pay off in great taste. Curing should be done inside an airtight container. This is so the moisture can spread throughout evenly, and move from the middle of the bud, where it is originally held.
During the process, open the container several times per day for a few days straight. Eventually, you should only open it once a day or longer, until the buds are thoroughly cured, several weeks or months later. Once they have finished curing, the buds should not have much moisture left at all. A tiny amount of moisture is still good for smoking, though. Extra dry buds actually make the smoke more unpleasant. Store the marijuana inside a sealed container, such as a plastic bag or glass jar. Smoke it within several months, to one year. After a year, it is unlikely that the product will be as pleasant for smoking. Keep it in a dark, cool location. Freezing it can keep it fresh longer.