Introduction to Autoflowers
Autoflower cannabis plants represent a remarkable innovation in home gardening. Unlike traditional photoperiod strains, autoflowers transition from the vegetative stage to the flowering stage automatically with age, not relying on specific light cycles. This unique feature, coupled with their resilience and speedy growth cycle, makes autoflowers an ideal choice for both novice and experienced growers. This guide will take you through the life cycle of autoflower cannabis, providing a week-by-week breakdown to help you nurture your plants for optimum yield.
It can be harvested from seeds in about 10 to 12 weeks (depending on the variety).. Whether you are a beginner or an advanced grower, you can grow these varieties for fun and very easily.
- The Life Cycle of Autoflowers
- What is the optimal light schedule for autoflowering strains and seeds?
- Week 1: autoflowering cannabis and early growth stages
- Germination and early growth stages
- Week 2: Late growth stage
- Week 3: First half of growth period
- Week 4: The Second Half of the Growing Season
- Week 5: The beginning of the flowering period
- Week 6: When to worry about the smell
- Week 7: Regular checks are important.
- Week 8: Flushing and Defoliate
- Week 9: The Finish Line Approaches
- Autoflower life cycle, Week 10: Harvest
- highest yielding autoflower strains
The Life Cycle of Autoflowers
Auto seeds have a very short life cycle when compared to photoperiod strains. It generally takes around eight weeks to grow autoflower marijuana from seed to harvest, although some varieties can be ready in as little as six and some as long as 12 weeks.
During the vegetative growth cycle, they will grow rapidly, doubling or even tripling in size each week. This is when they will produce the most leaves and stems. By the end of the vegetative stage, they will be around 60–90% of their final size.
The flowering stage is when the plants will begin to grow buds. Buds are the plant’s female flowers and contain high levels of THC (the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis). Buds will continue to grow and mature until they are ready to harvest.
The final stage is the ripening stage. This is when the buds will reach their peak THC levels and be ready to harvest. You can dry and cure your buds to enjoy them at their best!
Growing autoflower seeds usually take from seed to harvest in 8 to 10 weeks. However, there is no fixed autoflower timeline as some varieties can take up to 12 weeks to fully mature. Auto varieties grow fast and are compact in height, so they are recommended for beginners who want to harvest first and those who do not have much space for cultivation.
It is also resistant to pathogens and pests, making it suitable for outdoor cultivation. However, the yield of auto varieties is inferior to that of feminized varieties grown to their maximum.
Optimal Light Schedule for Autoflowering Cannabis
Before diving into the weekly guide, it’s crucial to understand the optimal light schedule for autoflowers. Unlike regular cannabis strains, autoflowers don’t require changes in light duration to trigger flowering. The recommended light schedule is 18 hours on and 6 hours off, which maximizes growth without overworking the plants. However, they can also sustain a 24-hour light cycle, especially during the early growth stages, to accelerate development.
Week 1: autoflowering cannabis and early growth stages
Germination and Early Growth Stages
- Tip: Maintain soil moisture at a moderate level to encourage germination. Avoid overwatering to prevent root rot.
- Troubleshooting: If seeds don’t sprout, check the soil temperature; it should be consistently around 70°F (21°C).
autoflower week-by-week guide Week One: The Seedling Stage
The first stage of the cannabis plant’s life is the seedling stage. Seedlings are small and fragile, with just a pair of leaves each. At this stage, they are not yet capable of producing flowers.
During the first week of growing autoflowers, your plants will do very little but produce their first set of leaves (called “cotyledons”). They will also develop a small root system to help them absorb water and nutrients from the soil.
At the end of the week, your autoflowering cannabis seedlings should look something like this 1-week-old autoflower:
Germination and early growth stages
Germination usually takes 1-3 days. (Slow individuals may take a week or more) The seeds are activated to send the roots to the soil and the shoots to the surface. (Slow individuals may take a week or more to germinate.) To start the process, you need to prepare a proper soil mix.
Autoflowers do not require as many nutrients as the day-long varieties and prefer light and airy soil, so prepare the soil with the proper nutrients.
Once the seeds have germinated, make a 10-15 mm hole in the soil. Seeds are sown directly to avoid the stress of replanting later. Transplanting shocks the plant, and autoflowers grow so fast that they find it difficult to recover once they have been subjected to stress.
Place the seeds in the holes and lightly cover them with soil. Seedlings will come out in the next few days.
Week 2: Late growth stage
- Tip: Begin light training techniques like bending to encourage bushier growth.
- Common Mistake: Avoid transplanting autoflowers as they have a short life cycle and might not recover from the stress.
During the vegetative stage, your cannabis autoflowers will be busy developing a solid root system and growing taller. The plants will need 18–24 hours of light per day. If you are using artificial lights, you can give them a little break at night by turning them off for 6–8 hours, which will help them “rest” and produce more vigorous growth.
It would help if you also started thinking about whether or not you want to train your plants during this stage. Training involves manipulating the plant’s growth so that it produces more buds. Some standard training techniques include topping, bending, and Supercropping. If you decide to train your plants, make sure you do it early in the vegetative stage before they get too big.
At the end of week two, your plants should be 30-60cm tall with strong roots. The leaves should be a deep green color, and the stems should be thick and sturdy.
Now your seedlings have appeared, and the process of photosynthesis has begun.
The 250W LED light provides enough power to drive indoor growth.
(Wattage depends on cultivation scale)
This setting allows you to grow one large plant per square meter.
However, with less stressful training, you can grow four plants under this power.
LEDs are energy efficient, generate less heat, and allow the user to switch the light spectrum.
Switch the lights to the blue setting during the vegetative stage and set a timer to match the selected light schedule.
Week 3: First half of growth period
- Tip: Start introducing a balanced nutrient mix, but be cautious with the quantity to avoid nutrient burn.
- Troubleshooting: Yellowing of lower leaves may indicate a nutrient deficiency; adjust your feeding schedule accordingly.
During the third week of life, the plant will undergo several changes. The roots will continue to grow and expand, and new leaves will sprout. At this point in the Pre-Flowering stage, the plant will begin to produce flowers (or “buds”), but these flowers will not be visible to the naked eye. You may notice that the leaves of your plant begin to change color or shape during this stage as the plant prepares for flowering.
The third week consists of less stressful training and optimal maintenance. At this point, the autoflower plant enters the growing phase (nutrition stage). You will notice the formation of new fan leaves. In the third week, we will target the following environmental factors. 50% RH 20 ° C temperature
At this point, the height of the plant is about 15 cm. Rearrange the lights so that they hang about 1m from the tip of the canopy.
This enables optimal growth without endangering photo stress.
When growing indoors, apply LST (Low-Stress Training) at three weeks to increase bud productivity. Tie a soft wire in the middle of the main stem, gently bend it parallel to the ground, and attach the other end of the wire to the edge of the pot to secure it. This flattens the top of the plant and exposes the sprout location to the light source.
Week 4: The Second Half of the Growing Season
- Tip: Ensure adequate spacing between plants to prevent mold and mildew as the foliage becomes denser.
- Troubleshooting: If growth seems stunted, check for proper air circulation and light distribution.
At this point, your autoflower strain should be healthy and thriving! If you have taken care of it well, it will produce new leaves and stems rapidly. The Flowering cycle begins when your autoflower starts to produce flowers.
This is the most critical stage of the growth process. During the flowering stage, your autoflower will produce most of its trichomes (the tiny, sticky hairs containing the plant’s cannabinoids).
During this stage, your autoflower will need more light than during the vegetative stage. If you are growing indoors, you must provide at least 18 hours of light per day. If you are growing outdoors, your autoflower will need as much sunlight as possible.
During the first few weeks of the flowering stage, your autoflower will continue to grow taller. Once the plant has reached its maximum height, it will begin to put all its energy into producing flowers. This process can take anywhere from 6-8 weeks, depending on the variety of autoflower you are growing.
During the fourth week, the plant approaches the beginning of the flowering period. This week consists of some minor training adjustments and preparations for flowering. We aim for the following environmental conditions for optimal growth.
45% RH at 20 ° C temperature 70 cm from the top of the plants. 0.5 liters of water per 24 hours
Signs of flowering: You may notice that some pre-flowers are formed in the plant’s nodes. As the flowering period is approaching, training should be completed so that you are not stressing your plant during flowering.
Week 5: The beginning of the flowering period
- Tip: Switch your light spectrum to favor the red end, which supports flowering.
- Troubleshooting: If buds aren’t forming, ensure your nutrient mix is low in nitrogen but higher in phosphorus and potassium.
From week five onwards, your autoflower will be ripening her buds. During the ripening stage, the buds will grow and swell as they mature, and the leaves will begin to turn yellow and die back. This is normal! Don’t worry; your plant is just redirecting all her energy into her buds.
This is the point at which you will want to start flushing your medium (if you haven’t already) to get rid of any excess nutrients that might affect the taste of your final product. Read our guide on flushing for more information on how to do this.
The life cycle of auto flower usually takes around 8-10 weeks, but this can vary depending on the strain. Keep an eye on your buds and wait until they are ready, usually when around 60-70% of the white pistils have turned dark brown or red. When in doubt, it’s better to err on the side of caution and take them a little early than risk over-mature, harsh-tasting buds.
You will begin to see a small bag of hair on the node. These gradually turn into sticky, resinous shoots.
This week we will continue to adjust the growing conditions and adjust the lighting. At this point, the height of the plant is about 30 cm. If you are growing indoors, aim for the following parameters: 45% RH, 23 °C temperature, 65 cm from the top of the plant, and 1 liter of water per 24 hours.
Change the LED light setting from blue to red. This light spectrum facilitates germination and aids plant growth in the early stages of flowering. Fertilizer changes to a nutritional recipe during this period. The demand for phosphorus, potassium, calcium, and magnesium is high, and the need for nitrogen is low.
Week 6: Managing Odor and Aroma
- Tip: Consider using carbon filters if growing indoors to manage the strong odor.
- Troubleshooting: A sharp, unpleasant odor may indicate mold or mildew; inspect your plants carefully.
At this time of year, cannabis grows in each bud location. You will notice that training is beginning to work as the uniform canopy produces a consistent spread of uniform-sized shoots. In the 6th week, reduce the humidity a little to minimize the risk of mold. Aim for these parameters: 40% RH 24 °C temperature, 45 cm from the top of the plant, 1.5 liters of water per 24 hours.
Note the strange banana-like structure is protruding from the bud. This indicates that your plant is hermaphroditic and is about to pollinate itself. Remove these from the growing space to prevent their pollination by nearby plants. Thankfully, hermaphrodites are rare, but they are still worth looking for.
Week 7: Regular Checks and Maintenance
- Tip: Conduct thorough checks for pests and signs of nutrient deficiencies.
- Troubleshooting: Spotted or curled leaves can indicate pest infestations; treat immediately with appropriate organic pesticides.
The goal for the 7th week is maintenance. Focus your time and energy on balancing the glow room.
Be especially careful when humidity is too high, as it can cause mold problems. Perform regular checks with a magnifying glass to look for pests such as thrips and spider mites. Continue to check for signs of leaf nutrient deficiency (maybe due to pH problems) and aim to maintain the following conditions: 40% RH 24 ° C temperature 45 cm from the top of the plant, 1.5 liters of water per 24 hours.
Week 8: Flushing and Defoliation
- Tip: Start flushing out nutrients to ensure a clean taste of the buds. Gradually reduce watering to stress the plant into maturing.
- Troubleshooting: If leaves are discolored or falling off excessively, it may indicate over-flushing.
At this point, the buds look thick and resinous. Most autoflowers are ready to be harvested. If the plants look late, don’t worry!
Treat as if it is still 7 weeks and continue after the buds are larger. 8th-week environmental conditions 40% RH
25 °C temperature 45 cm from the plant top, 1.5 liters of water per 24 hours.
You need to start washing the plants at the beginning of the 8th week. First of all, stop feeding the plants at this stage. Fill the soil with as much water as possible and wait for it to empty. Repeat this process several times over the next two weeks.
Flushing removes excess nutrients and gives your sprouts a smooth taste. Now reach for your trimmer and start defoliation.
This method works very well with low-stress training to further improve yield. Cut a small fan leaf from the bottom of the crop and a shabby leaf near the top of the canopy. This helps increase exposure to light and further reduces the risk of mold.
Week 9: The Finish Line Approaches
- Tip: Monitor trichome color change for harvesting; milky white or amber trichomes indicate maturity.
- Troubleshooting: Delayed flowering can sometimes occur; extend your light schedule if necessary.
A little more! !! Your hard work and dedication will soon be rewarded with juicy resin sprouts.
However, before this epic moment, some jobs still tend to occur. Efforts should be made to balance these environmental factors to avoid final intrusions and other issues. 40% RH
25 °C temperature 45 cm from the plant’s top, using 1.5 liters of water per 24 hours. The leaves begin to discolor and may even fall.
Don’t worry about this. This means that you have successfully washed away your plants.
Week 10: Harvest
- Tip: Harvest in stages if the top buds mature faster than the lower ones.
- Troubleshooting: Overripe trichomes (too amber) can result in a more sedative effect; harvest earlier if you prefer a lighter effect.
All in all, autoflowers are pretty easy to grow, and you just need to be aware of a few key things, and you should be fine. Autoflowers are a great way to get into cannabis cultivation and can produce some great results. Just remember to start with a small grow area, give them lots of light, and don’t let the soil dry out.
Ready to enjoy the fruits of your labor? Many autoflowers will be available for harvest in the 10th week! When most of the trichomes are milky white, and the pistil has a reddish-brown hue, you know that the buds are ready to be cut off. If you find some of the buds are ripe, and others are not, try harvesting them in stages.
You will notice that the buds near the top of the canopy finish first. Even if you train your plant, some buds will sit closer to the light more naturally than others. Also, don’t worry if the plants appear late or advanced at this point in the timeline.
After harvesting the buds, start the drying and hardening process to secure storage space for delicious top shelves.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1: Can I grow autoflowers outdoors? A1: Yes, autoflowers are well-suited for outdoor cultivation, allowing for multiple harvests in a single season due to their fast growth cycle.
Q2: How do I know when to harvest my autoflower plant? A2: Autoflowers are typically ready for harvest 8-10 weeks after germination. The best indicator is the color of trichomes and pistils; harvest when most trichomes are milky white, and the pistils have turned reddish-brown.
Q3: Do autoflowers require special nutrients? A3: Autoflowers need a balanced nutrient mix, with a shift from nitrogen-heavy to phosphorus and potassium-rich formulations as they enter the flowering stage.
Q4: Can I train my autoflower plants? A4: Yes, but use gentle techniques like Low-Stress Training (LST). Avoid high-stress methods like topping as autoflowers have a limited time to recover from stress.
Q5: What are the common issues with autoflowers? A5: Common issues include nutrient burn from overfeeding, stunted growth due to insufficient light, and susceptibility to pests and mold if not properly maintained.
highest yielding autoflower strains
5. OG Kush Auto
8. Cheese Auto
Read more: Autoflowers 10 ways to increase yield