DIY Autoflowering Cannabis
Growing cannabis plants outside can be an exciting endeavor. Growing with autoflowering strains is different than using “sexed” seeds, and you need to know a few tricks. If you are a beginner, start here with our step-by-step guide for Seed to Weed.
If you are unfamiliar with autoflowering cannabis, then check out Autoflowering Seeds: 7 Things You Need to Know. You should also look at ILGM’s site for an extensive selection of autoflowering seeds.
Autoflowering seeds can grow within a short period (2-4 months), unlike the feminized seeds. These are good for growers who do not have much time to invest and yet, need fruitful outcomes. Since its lifetime is short, you need to put double effort into the resources, the moment you implant them. Warm regions have the benefit of more daylight and heat, which makes it suitable for cultivators to grow them outside, assuring abundant healthy crops. Also, it has a great resistance capacity that comes from its Ruderalis genus, a Siberian strain that can resist harsh weather and environmental conditions.
Consider the Climate
Growing cannabis highly depends on the region and its climatic conditions. As said earlier, auto-flowering grows best in a warm climate. These plants start flowering while in the vegetative state or after that, which generally takes 2 to 4 weeks. In Mediterranean areas, you can start growing them outside from March/April. It will allow you to get the yield by June/July so that you can start growing the next batch in August. So, you get the chance to grow autoflowering cannabis plants two times within a year. As for the Atlantic, Central, and Northern Europe, you can only grow it once, preferably from early June.
Pick the Seed
Once you have decided when to grow, the next step is to pick the seed. It’s easy to find and identify good quality auto-flowering seeds from seed banks in a local store or online. Remember that they are smaller in size in comparison to some other seeds. Choosing the seed will depend on the experience, ratio of THC and CBD, and the taste you want. There are CBD-rich strain seeds that are suitable for beginners. As for others who need strong psychoactive effects, OG Kush is one of the best strains with a potency of 19% THC. It can give you that euphoric effect with a distinct aroma.
Germination of these seeds is similar to feminized seeds. For outdoor growing, you will find several methods. Select the one that suits you.
Preparing the Soil and Feeding
To prepare the soil, you need to aerate it with a substrate. Autoflowering plants do not need a high amount of nutrients. Prepare a mixture yourself instead of purchasing from the market as those will contain too many nutrients. For the soil pH level, maintain the range from 6.2-6.5. For MaryJane Farmer’s best advice on nutrients, check out Best Nutrients and Fertilizers for Growing Cannabis
When feeding auto-flowering plants, you need to be careful of giving too much. Due to the smaller size and shorter vegetative period, they do not need extreme use of nutrients like nitrogen. You can use the nutrients after two weeks of sowing the plant. Going heavy on the feeding scale will damage the crops. Observe its necessity closely, if you see any nutrient deficiency, feed them on time.
Lighting the plants
The benefit of growing outdoors is you get natural sunlight, which is best for productive growth. Autoflowers are already suitable for outdoor growing and can grow well with 5 hours of sunlight every day. But for optimal growth and good harvest, you can use 18 hours of lighting per day and the remaining 6 hours of darkness, which is necessary for their metabolic processes. This is really only achievable in the artificial environment you create with LED Grow Lights and MaryJane has reviewed a bunch of lights for different needs and different budgets. Cannabis grown indoors is generally more valuable than outdoor-grown, partly because it is easier to control the lighting schedule (click here to see MaryJane’s lighting schedules) and thus control the amount of resin that develops. That said, auto-flowering plants typically don’t need to have much change in their lighting schedule for proper flowering.
While some growers consider giving 24/7 hour lighting can enhance their CO2 absorption for the photosynthesis process, MaryJane Farmer recommends against that extreme schedule. Experienced growers recommend that for outdoor growing to get the most sunlight, one should start cultivating in early spring. It may also depend on the strain you choose.
Training/Pruning the Cannabis Plants
Autoflowering cannabis plants respond well to training and pruning. The Low-Stress Training method is suitable for auto plants where you need to train the plants down, allowing them to grow upward. A slight bending of the stems will make them grow wide. Since you have a very short window of time, you can start the training process in their vegetative state. And when they start flowering do not top them. Once the flowering phase begins, you can prune the plants for up to a week.
Preventing Fungi and Pests
Autoflowering cannabis plants have a high resistance capacity in comparison to photoperiod plants. Also, they have a shorter life cycle that gives a lesser chance for the pests or fungi to attack. But even within that period, outdoor growing makes them vulnerable to these tiny threats that can ruin your harvest anytime. The difficulty is these are of all shapes and sizes and can harm your plants in various ways. To prevent your outdoor plants from suffering from diseases or pests, try the following:
Polyculture- A great way to prevent your outdoor cannabis plants from pests is companion planting. Grow different species of plants together, with cannabis that complement the living ecosystem.
Sterilize the soil- It can help reduce pests living in the soil. Use high temperatures like steam sterilization to remove these threats.
Neem oil- Some growers prefer using neem oil to protect the plants against pests. Spray the mixture of neem oil and water into the mister to prevent pests.
Harvesting at the Right Time
As they grow quickly, autoflowering plants do not develop a canopy. That makes you keep the lower buds on the plant. Here is our article on harvesting that explains some of the terms and things to look for.
Let these buds grow dense before harvesting. If 50% of your plant’s trichomes turn yellowish-brown in color, it indicates the time to harvest. Then prepare the next batch of autoflowering plants. If you can grow 2-3 series, you gain a lot of buds.
MaryJane Farmer’s Advice
There are several other considerations for growing autoflowering cannabis plants outdoors. Some indicate its downside, while others show its advantages. If you can follow the above steps correctly, growing them outside won’t disappoint you. If you are an outdoor grower, then make the most out of summer by using autoflowering seeds.
Check back often for reviews of the best products for enjoying marijuana to the maximum. Check out our home page for LED Grow Lights if you’re a grower. If you are new to growing, get our free Beginner’s Guide here. And if you have some great photos of your garden, pop them into the electric post office and send them to me: MaryJane@420Beginner.com.