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Are Autoflowering Strains Potent?

02 March 2023
The biggest misconception about autoflowers is that they are not potent. Read on to know how autoflowers are not only potent but are fast as well!
02 March 2023
20 min read
Are Autoflowering Strains Potent?

Read more
  • 1. The potency of autoflowers
  • 2. Modern autoflowers
  • 3. Purple punch auto
  • 4. Girl scout cookies auto
  • 5. Zkittlez auto
  • 6. Tips
  • 6. a. Ways to ensure the highest potency possible
  • 7. In conclusion

In the cannabis industry, photo strains were always given prominence. For quite a few years, photoperiod strains displayed their dominance and growers had no other choice other than purchasing them. It must have been horrible for growers and medical marijuana users since they were stuck with photoperiod strains forever. However, things changed as soon as autoflowers hit the scene.


Learn about the potency of Autoflowering Cannabis & why new Autos can compete with photoperiodic plants.

Auto-flowers or autoflowers – no matter how you call them – were introduced just a few years ago. When you get something new, you can expect a lot of restraint because, as humans, we are inclined to resist change. Pretty soon, there were many myths surrounding autoflowering strains including their potency. One of the first autoflowers to be introduced was the Lowryder, which was a cross of the Ruderalis and the Northern Lights. It was a good strain with many medical benefits including relieving stress and fatigue. However, it was far less potent than photoperiod strains.

But this didn’t decrease their value, at least in the eyes of breeders. You see, these plants possessed a unique trait that made them wildly attractive and an attribute that would make them the genetic foundation of many hybrids of the future: The autoflowering gene. As their name suggests, autoflowering plants flower automatically. Unlike their photoperiod cousins, they don’t rely on external seasonal sunlight cycles to go to flower. Instead, they start to churn out buds based on their genetic age. This means indoor growers don’t have to tamper with light cycles to get their plants to start blooming (that means one less job to do!). Early autoflowering cannabis also displayed other qualities that made them attractive for breeding projects, including their compact size, impressive hardiness, and resilience against pests and pathogens. 

1. The Potency of Autoflowers

Yes, the first autoflowering strain was less potent, but note that it was released more than 10 years ago, nowadays you can find autos that are as potent or even more than photoperiodic strains.

If you think about it, cell phones weren’t accepted as soon as they were released. Only the rich could afford it, and smartphones were unheard of. But today, you can’t live without smartphones. Technology has obviously advanced to great levels. Similarly, autoflowers weren’t potent when they first hit the streets, but man, things have changed now. Not only are autoflowers as potent as photo strains, but they have several more advantages to them. Of course, a grower who’s used to growing only photo strains will snub autoflowers because he’s used to growing only specific strains. 


Are autos potent?: what determines potency?

What determines potency?

So, it boils down to a matter of choice. But, how will you know what you love until you’ve tried it? I reckon that it’s best to experiment with several strains until you find something you love. For now, let’s take a look at some of the best autoflowering strains to see if they are really as potent as photoperiod strains. Autoflowers received a bad rep and were considered useless for a while.For one, the yields were small and even the potency was meh…until a few breeders decided to change the game. Today, most autoflowers not only produce splendid yields, but they are super potent as well. Heck, they finish their cycle in about 9 weeks. Really, what else can you ask for? The craze of growing autoflowers is catching up in the USA, and like the Europeans, Americans would love to grow potent autoflowering strains as well. Autoflowers had one more problem – they were tough to find. Only a select few breeders opted to experiment with such strains. But now, you can buy autoflowers almost anywhere.


Are autos potent?: trichomes

Trichomes produce and store cannabinoids and terpenes.

Also, autoflowers were very expensive when they were just introduced. But today, they are cheaper than photoperiod strains in most cases.  Another myth about autoflowers was that they were high in CBD while being low in THC. This misconception is so common that many people avoid growing autoflowers because they believe that the strains are not powerful. But, you couldn’t be more wrong. Yes, it’s true that strains that were released in the beginning had a high CBD and low THC content. But, that was only because of Ruderalis. Ruderalis – like Sativa and Indica – is a species of the Cannabis plant. Unlike the Indicas and Sativas, they were short. Originating from the central parts of Asia, Ruderalis received attention only because it had the potential to withstand cruel weather.

But the geographical origins of these subspecies catalyzed much more than hardiness. The autoflowering trait emerged as these wild-type specimens started to adapt to the short growing seasons further north. The genotypes of plants that were unable to reproduce and set seed before the first seasonal frosts simply didn’t make it. The fast-flowering varieties that survived started to develop genetic mutations that enabled them to flower free of the dictates of light cycles. They developed to put out buds based on their age instead. 

2.  Modern Autoflowers

Now, Ruderalis had many advantages. Not only could it grow in any given condition, but it was sturdy as well. It didn’t take a lot of time to flower either. In other words, they were “autoflowering”, which meant that began flowering irrespective of the light they received. They were small and discreet with an automatic growing period that was certainly better than photoperiod strains. They didn’t even need a lot of care because these sturdy buggers did fine on their own.  But, the only problem was that Ruderalis didn’t boast of high THC. Growers quickly decided to ditch the plant. When the first Lowryder was introduced, their worst fears came true because they lacked potency. However, Ruderalis had one more advantage.


Are autos potent?: average potency

Cannabis average potency throughout the years.

It had the capacity to breed with other varieties and become a stronger version of itself. Knowledgeable breeders understood this. They realized that they could breed Ruderalis with other strains to come up with something that was not only high in THC but fast as well. Today, Ruderalis strains are cross-bred with many Indica and Sativa strains to create strains that can literally knock your pants off. Autoflowers contain the best of both worlds and you can get to harvest it fast with a higher potency. Simply put, you can now have your cake and eat it too! So, you might be wondering, are autoflowers potent? Let’s take a look at a few strains that are high in THC and are as potent as photoperiod strains.

3. Purple Punch Auto

Unless you’ve been living in a closet, you’ve heard of the Purple Punch which is one of the most potent autoflowering strains. This strain became extremely popular because of its delicious aroma, beautiful colors, and potency.  Just the name was enough to make a grower curious. And, when they realized that it was named Purple Punch because it grew purple and produced a lot of trichomes which meant it offered a potent effect, so it created a craze amongst growers.

Most importantly, Purple Punch had the potential to slam your body and brains with THC that extended up from 19 to 23 percent! That’s an enormous number, considering that you can get it even if you grow it at home. This is why this strain became famous, and it made growers go crazy for one reason – THC.


Are autos potent?: purple punch auto

Beautifully potent Purple Punch Auto by JohnnyBlaze.

The Purple Punch at Fastbuds is an autoflowering strain that was crossed with exclusively selected genetics. It has a flowering time of just 9 weeks from seed to harvest, meaning that you can finish the entire grow cycle in just 2 months and 1 week. Now, compare that with the photoperiod Purple Punch which takes about 5 months to finish. And, what about the THC, you ask?

Well, we have good news for you because our stunning Purple Punch can produce about 24 percent! On top of that, the plant will be covered with so many trichomes that you’ll hate yourself for harvesting it. As an Indica-dominant strain, the Purple Punch fires up your imagination and the entire experience is cerebral and uplifting with a very relaxing corporal effect.

So, what’s the secret behind Purple Punch’s unique aesthetics? Well, it all boils down to secondary metabolites. Unlike primary metabolites, these chemicals aren’t involved in growth and reproduction. However, they play many important roles and help to protect plants against predation, for example. The purple hues in these buds look the way they do because of high concentrations of anthocyanins. The genotype of Purple Punch means these plants are genetically wired to produce more of these purple pigments. However, other factors, such as pH and temperature, also play a role in anthocyanin expression. Due to genetic variability in a batch of seeds, some phenotypes will produce more anthocyanins—and therefore appear much more purple—than others. 

Purple Punch Auto
4 out of 5
I rolled 3 joints for testing, tried them all, one each night, never finished more than a half joint because this shit’s strong
Verified customer
Reviewed 13 October 2022

Some people may argue that this strain gives you more of an Indica effect because it glues you to your couch. But, the mystery surrounding this strain is what makes it more appealing. One thing is for sure – you’ll feel happier than ever. It has a CBD content of <1%, but the high levels of THC make it perfect to create extracts. Comparing the harvest time, ease to grow and THC levels, the autoflowering monster is a no-brainer. Honestly, it doesn’t get easier than this.

4. Girl Scout Cookies Auto

Classified as a mixed hybrid strain, the Girl Scout Cookies (GSC) has gained immense popularity over the years. Derived from OG Kush and Durban Poison, this strain is certainly a knockout with the effects leaning more towards the Indica. When creating a new polyhybrid, strain selection plays an important role. Both parent varieties will hand down a mixture of their key traits to the progeny. Therefore, breeders need to select two parents that both possess valuable traits. In the case of GSC Auto, she descends from two legendary cultivars that are loaded with cannabinoids and terpenes and that produce fruitful yields; this breeding project was a recipe for success from the start. 

GSC is a pleasure to grow simply because she fills your grow room with delectable aromas that are sometimes sweet and sometimes minty. As the name suggests, it can even remind you of your mother’s cookies that you stole as a child.


Are autos potent?: girl scout cookies auto

Frosty Girl Scout Cookies Auto.

Most people report that photoperiod GSC strains aren’t very easy to grow. It requires a bit more maintenance compared to autoflowering strains. Undoubtedly, GSC is an extraordinary strain with THC levels that extend from 17 to 28 percent THC. And that’s perhaps why dispensaries often announce that they are empty because it’s one of the fastest-selling strains due to being super potent.

Girl Scout Cookies Auto
5 out of 5
there was a lot of back and forth but the guys stayed patient and polite throughout. helped a beginner like me resolve a lot of issues.
Verified customer
Reviewed 21 December 2022

Coming to autoflowers, Fastbuds GSC is a very potent autoflower strain and it's pretty easy to maintain. She delivers about 22% THC which’s perfect for even medical marijuana users. In fact, GSC is the best strain to make extracts since the strain can be used to help with a variety of medical conditions including Asthma, Glaucoma, headaches, and chronic pain.

5. Zkittlez Auto

Zkittlez is one of the very few strains that give you an entire palate of delicious flavors. Known as the strain that “lets you taste the rainbow”, this strain is a joy to grow. She bursts with so many colors that you’ll simply stop keeping count. To be honest, this strain tastes like a scrumptious dessert after a heavy meal. The THC levels are high at about 15 percent, but some dispensaries report that it could go up to 28 percent. The original Zkittlez strain had THC that went up to 15 percent.


Are autos potent?: zkittlez auto

Beautiful colors on Zkittlez Auto by Shinsimilla.

At Fastbuds, we created a unique strain of the Zkittlez that shot over the original Zkittlez’s THC and is amongst the most potent autoflowering strains 2022. It’s astounding but you’ll be pleased to know that the Zkittlez auto can produce up to 22 percent THC. But, even for autoflowers, the plant can grow a little too big, so watch out if you have small Grow Rooms. Zkittlez auto is an Indica-dominant strain; however, she won’t restrict you from performing any tasks. Truth be told, this strain turns you into a thinker as you wonder about the realities of life.

Zkittlez Auto
5 out of 5
Just an easy to grow, solid packed buds. A heavy feeder and can be a bit prone to light burn at the end but otherwise perfection!
Verified customer
Reviewed 21 November 2020

She’s a good strain to smoke even if you’re a medical marijuana user. Whether you want to make edibles or concentrates, Zkittlez won’t disappoint you. At the end of it, you need to grow several strains to finally choose the one that suits you the best. Autoflowers are competing with photoperiod strains in every manner, but with such THC levels in even autoflowering strains, the choice has now become very easy. If you're a fan of her flavors, you have her terpene profile to thank. During the flowering phase, the glandular trichomes on her buds work hard to pump out a viscous resin packed with these aromatic hydrocarbons. This strain manufactures a diversity of these molecules that converge to create sugary, fruity, and sweet tastes that make it hard to put joints and blunts down. 

6. Tips

All of this doesn’t mean that autos are better than photos or that photos are better than autos, each one of them has its own characteristics that work better in some scenarios and may not be the best in others, giving you several options for your growing space; For example, if you have a small grow space you may be able to fit 2-3 autoflowers but just one regular plant, if you already know which plant you want to grow you may be okay with growing just one big plant but if you want to try a couple of different strains, growing 2-3 autoflowers may be better for you, so when looking for the next strain to grow, make sure you know the following things:

  • Yields;
  • How long it takes from seed to harvest;
  • Size;

And CBD or THC percentage, depending on what you’re looking for. These things will help you choose the strain based on your preference and grow setup; Also, autoflowers make it possible to grow outdoors all year long while photos don’t but on the other side, photos grow bigger and may yield more depending on how much you let them grow; Having said that, the first autoflowers indeed were smaller, yielded less and were not as potent but the modern autoflowers available nowadays offer pretty much the same as photoperiodic strains (except for the obvious differences such as the autoflowering trait).

There we go, a full rundown on all the best auto-flowering strains, and the history behind why they once had a fair bit of stigma surrounding them. These days, autos can certainly match it with the best of them.

But potency is only 50% genetics. The way that you grow your autoflowers also has a huge effect on the final potency of the strain. If you think for one second that you are going to be growing 28% THC bangers in your closet, under cheap fluor grow lights then think again my friend. Sure, you can grow decent stuff in small spaces under CFL globes, but to reach the lofty heights that genetics offer, you're going to need a much more extensive setup. Let's take a look at how to ensure you squeeze out every last drop of resin from those beans you just chucked in to germinate.

Ways to Ensure the Highest Potency Possible

Lighting is Key

As mentioned above, you are going to need to be investing in some serious lighting if you want to see your autoflowers reach their full potential. The best way to ensure the highest possible potency is with a full-spectrum LED setup or with an HID rig.

But honestly, in the last 5 years, LED options have 100% taken over HID bulbs. They have dropped in price by more than half (although the initial outlay cost for a great LED panel is still slightly more than HID lights), but that extra cost is soon recouped through the massive energy savings, and how much easier it is to keep the growing area in the correct temp range.

If Potency is What You're Aiming for, Use Hydroponics

It is anything but a secret that the most potent weed is grown in hydroponic setups. Sure, you can still get good results in soil/coco and yes, you can even find some pre-mixed autoflowering soils which will do a great job. But if potency is the name of your game, then start looking into hydroponic cultivation methods, as organic weed just can not stand up to the power of hydro bud.

That's not to say organically grown weed is worse than hydro bud. Potency isn't the only thing that makes a bud great. If anything, the terpene profile and the aroma and flavor that the terpenes bring are just as (if not more) important to the overall enjoyment of a particular smoking session. While hydroponic cultivation offers the fastest growth rates and the highest potency, it will never offer the same richness and complexity of flavor and smell that organically grown cannabis does.

Nutrients and Additives Are Your Friends

Nutrients are essential for growing healthy and potent auto-flowering plants, as well as for ensuring that you get the highest yields possible. A good quality, easy-to-use nutrient line is all you really need for growing auto-flowers. However, if you insist on going that extra mile and ensuring maximum potency, then look to adding some additives to your nutrient regimen. There are a huge variety of products available, ranging from cal-mag supplements to silica and B-vitamin additives. Again, these won't be necessary for a successful autoflowering grow, but they can definitely give you the edge over your competition if you are in it to win it.

Maintain the Best Possible Environmental Conditions for the Entire Grow

One of the hardest things that we face as cannabis cultivators is to keep the grow room environment conditions stable for the entire grow. Autoflowers are less sensitive to light and temperature fluctuations than photoperiod strains, but that doesn't mean that you can be sloppy with your environmental controls. During the seedling stage, you want temps of between 21 and 26 degrees Celsius, as well as a relative humidity of between 60 and 70%. Plants stay in the seedling stage until the first set of true weed leaves is out and the next node is developing. At this stage, the vegetative growth period, you want to keep the temps at around 20 - 25 degrees Celcius and drop the humidity down to around 50 to 60%.

This is because the plant is now in its growth spurt, and it needs all the oxygen it can get. this stage can last anywhere from 3 to 5 weeks for autos, it just depends on the strain. When it comes to flowering, you want to start reducing the humidity as the flowers really start to develop. This is when you also want to drop the temps a bit, to around 19 - 24 degrees Celcius. This will be the last stage of your auto-flower grow, and it's important to reduce any chance of mold developing in those buds you have worked so very hard to grow. Then there's airflow. Air exchange is super important for potency, as it not only helps keep the air fresh and full of oxygen, but it will also help to again avoid mold in those buds.

Keeping a good rate of airflow in and out of the tent, and around the canopy will ensure that your plants are getting the optimum oxygen and CO2 levels, as well as helping to prevent any mold issues you might have otherwise encountered. If you have all of your environmental controls fully dialed in and under control, you can look at using supplemental CO2. This will not only help to increase your yields and potency, but it can also reduce the time it takes for your plants to finish their grow cycle.

7. In Conclusion

As you may know by now, autoflowering cannabis strains are becoming more and more potent and as time goes by, breeders are coming up with new ways to improve autos even further. What used to be just a novelty is now gaining a lot of space in the market and are now being offered by the biggest seed banks all over the world, this means that not only growers but also commercial growers are starting to venture into the world of autoflowers and they’re benefiting not only due to the high quality but also due to the fast flowering characteristics, always looking for the most potent autoflower strain available. So what you should base your choice on is where and how you’ll be growing and not potent autoflowering strains or yields, once you know your grow space limitations, you can go ahead and choose either one of them based on what suits you better or what will work better in your specific conditions.


If you have ever grown and tried any of the potent autoflowering strains mentioned, feel free to share your experience in the comment section below!