If you’re new to growing, you may not know what an ‘autoflower’ is yet and that’s okay. I’m here to teach you all about autoflowering cannabis or autoflowers. An autoflower or autoflowering variety of cannabis is a type of plant that doesn’t require a change in the light cycle to trigger the flowering process. This means that regardless of how much light they get each day, they will automatically start flowering (hence, auto-flower). They are especially useful for running different stages of plants in the same tent with a consistent light schedule.
Modern autoflowers are created by crossing a photoperiod strain with the cannabis ruderalis strain. Cannabis ruderalis was the result of extreme northern climates with low levels of sunlight. The plants evolved to be able to survive and reproduce despite the extreme climate and very little sunlight. After cannabis ruderalis entered the cannabis community, some breeders got to work and created the first widely known Autoflower, the Lowrider plant. The first autoflower genetics were less than desirable. They had low yields, small sized plants, mid level THC and didn’t taste very good. Luckily, some breeders didn’t give up on autoflowers and kept breeding to achieve better THC levels, terpene profiles and higher yields. Now, in 2022, autoflowers have comparable taste, quality and yields to photoperiod plants (although yields are still less, it takes approximately half the time).
Many believe that autoflowers aren’t worth the hassle. I think that autoflowers are a great tool for the indoor grower because of how fast you get to harvest. You can take a plant from seed to harvest in approximately 90 days. Although, you do get less than you can from a photoperiod plant, it takes half the time. So let’s discuss the difference between autoflower and photoperiod plants.
Key Differences Between Photoperiod & Autoflowering Cannabis
- Can control when they begin flowering by switching to a 12/12 light schedule
- More resilient to different types of plant training – Lollipopping, manifolding, topping, FIMing, LST
- More stable genetics compared to autoflowers
- Generally bigger plant size
- Bigger yields as a result of bigger plants
- Longer life from seed to harvest (AT LEAST 84 days for most strains)
- Can be cloned (can have many plants from ONE seed)
- Automatically goes into flower regardless of light schedule
- Doesn’t always respond well to topping, FIMing, lollipopping or manifolding due to shorter life cycle (although it is possible)
- Responds well to LST Less stable genetics due to being bred with cannabis ruderalis for its automatic flowering abilities
- Generally smaller in size, though some strains can get pretty large
- Smaller yields in comparison to photoperiods
- Shorter life from seed to harvest (45-90 days for most strains)
- Not recommended for cloning; meaning new seeds for EVERY grow
You Know What Works Best for Your Needs
Ultimately, you know what type of cannabis you want to grow. Which one works best with your growing and consumption needs. But, I believe that autoflowers are definitely worth a try.