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Are Autoflowers Worth it?

19 January 2023
If you're confused about autoflowers, here are a few reasons that tell you why they are worth it.
19 January 2023
17 min read
Are Autoflowers Worth it?

Contents:
Read more
  • 1. Pros of autoflowers
  • 1. a. Helps in stealth grows
  • 1. b. Grows fast
  • 1. c. Harvest perpetually
  • 1. d. No need to change photoperiod
  • 1. e. Allows you to use maximum space
  • 2. Disadvantages of autoflowers
  • 2. a. Yield
  • 2. b. Cloning doesn’t work
  • 3. In conclusion

Many people grow cannabis because they are passionate about it, but there comes a time when you have to consider whether it’s worth all the effort. Autoflowers have become famous over the years, but some wonder if autoflowers are worth it. If you’re one of those, this article will help you understand the advantages of autoflowers If you’re absolutely unaware of autoflowers, just know that it’s a species of cannabis that doesn’t rely on seasons to grow and flower. They flower automatically once they grow for a specific period of time. Meaning they flower based on the age of the plant, rather than waiting for seasonal changes. Hence the name “Auto”. They are fast, and yield good amounts of cannabis – something you need to consider even if you’re a commercial grower. But, first off, before deciding if something is worth the effort, you need to understand the advantages and disadvantages.

This will help you figure things out and make a decision. Note that this comparison is between photoperiod or regular cannabis plants and autoflowers. Thus, if you’re already growing traditional cannabis varieties now, this comparison will help you understand if you can start growing autos as well. A lot goes into growing a healthy and productive cannabis plant. You need to make sure you meet the water, light, and nutritional requirements of your plants. If you grow indoors, you also need to invest in a grow tent to fit your space, lights that are powerful enough to raise healthy plants, and ventilation equipment that facilitates fresh air exchange and removes smelly terpene molecules from the air. On top of this, you need to put in many hours of physical work, from monitoring your plant's hydration status, the pH levels of your growing medium, and any signs of pests and disease. This requires that you spend time around your plants daily. Without an automated system, you’ll have to find someone to take care of your plants if you want to go away for a while. So, with all of this in mind, is growing autoflowering cannabis plants really worth it? 

1. Pros of autoflowers

Helps in stealth grows

Autos are small and compact. Not all of them, but some of them are truly small. For instance, you can easily grow a strain like Mimosa Cake Auto in your closet if you train it well. Most autos grow up to 4-5 feet, which is pretty manageable in small grow rooms. If you grow them outside, however, they grow a lot more. But, they are still small compared to other types of cannabis plants, which make them perfect for those looking to grow stealthily.

It won’t come as a surprise to hear that cannabis remains prohibited in many countries around the world. Although some nations have spearheaded legalization and have implemented relaxed cultivation laws, others remain far behind. Smaller autoflowering cultivars are attractive to growers in these areas because they help them to keep their horticultural hobby concealed—both indoors and outdoors. 


Indoor cultivation offers more secrecy in general. Growers can take genetically small autoflowering varieties and cultivate them in small grow tents or equipped cupboards. In the interest of stealth, some growers even go to the extremes of raising autos in converted buckets and computer towers equipped with lights and fans to minimize the chances of getting caught green-handed. 

Indoor growers can also take various steps to manage the size of their plants. Training techniques such as low-stress training involve tying the tips of plants to the rim of a container. This causes the side branches to shoot up and develop a flatter and more uniform canopy, creating a shorter and more compact plant. Container size also plays a large part in the size of a cannabis plant. Smaller containers result in a smaller root system, which leads to smaller plants above the soil. Selecting a container size as small as 5L will produce a small plant perfect for growers who value stealth above all else. Of course, this will reduce yields, but will drastically reduce the chances of you getting caught in high stake situations. 

While indoor growing helps to contain smells, many outdoor cultivators are taking advantage of guerrilla growing—the strategy of growing weed in outdoor spaces such as forest edges and meadows. Autoflowering varieties are perfect for this approach. Their small stature helps them blend in with the undergrowth and evade exploring eyes and their hardy genetics enable them to endure the elements. This quality also makes them ideal for growers with sizable gardens. Sure, they’ll still smell quite obvious, but they blend in perfectly with other plants in a polyculture. Plus, grow them alongside other aromatic species such as basil and tomatoes and you’ll cover the smell of their terpenes to a degree. But you don’t have to set up a guerilla grow in the middle of nowhere to cultivate autoflowering cannabis varieties in a stealthy way.

Many growers find success by growing cannabis in their back gardens by incorporating them into a landscape of other plants. Growing them in polytunnels can help to conceal them from any nosey onlookers. You can go one step further by camouflaging them amongst many different species of herbs and vegetables. Throw in a dense living mulch, such as red clover, and your plants will blend in perfectly. Not only does this strategy help to disguise your prized cannabis plants, but you’ll get to harvest an array of edible plants throughout the growing season. It’s truly a win-win situation! 

Mimosa Cake Auto
4 out of 5
When I grow autoflowers I prefer to harvest them after about 70 days but this one took 12 weeks. Otherwise I enjoyed growing it.
Kucinskas.
Verified customer
Reviewed 31 July 2022
 

This is because Autoflowers are of the Ruderalis species that’s pretty small compared to Sativa and Indica species. Genetically, they aren’t as big. However, breeders have been able to pollinate Ruderalis with Sativa and Indica species to produce the autos we see today. The result is that although the plants are smaller, they perform pretty well. Breeders have achieved this because all varieties of cannabis fall under the same umbrella of Cannabis sativa L. Although they possess morphological differences in terms of height and leaf shape, they all stem from the same genetic origins, which makes it possible to interbreed them. Ultimately, there are all subspecies of the exact same plant. 

Grows fast

Autoflowers are as rapid as you can expect. Most autos complete their entire cycle including vegetative and flowering stage in a matter of 10-11 weeks. It simply cannot get faster than this. Many growers love growing cannabis plants, but not many have the patience to wait for plants that take about 5 months or 20 weeks to harvest buds. If you’re one of those growers, autos are tailored for you.

 

Are autoflowers worth it? grow fast

Autoflowers can grow from seed to harvest in as little as 8 weeks!
 

But why do autoflowering cannabis plants display such superior speed compared to their photoperiod counterparts? Well, it all boils down to natural selection and genetic mutations. Cannabis originally emerged in Central Asia before natural dispersion sent it across the planet. Some populations ended up in northern regions such as Siberia. Here, the short growing season made it hard for plants to reproduce and set seed before the first frosts. Naturally, those with longer growing times were eliminated from the gene pool and those with quick growing cycles flourished.

Eventually, these populations developed the trait of flowering based on age instead of seasonal light cues. Instead of waiting for the shorter days of autumn to begin flowering, the original autos began flowering according to an internal genetic clock that enabled these populations to adapt to harsh conditions. They also developed different morphological features that led to botanists grouping them into the subspecies Cannabis ruderalis. Eventually, breeders crossed these varieties with photoperiod cultivars that have the combined traits of rapid growth and attractive yields and cannabinoid profiles. 

Harvest perpetually

The biggest disadvantage of growing regular cannabis cultivars is that you can only expect to harvest twice a year. Even with a lot of planning and execution, you cannot harvest more than twice because they depend completely on the photoperiod to grow and flower. Of course, you can change lights if you’re growing indoors but you can only collect your bounty about twice every year.

However, autos don’t have that disadvantage. Since they can be harvested in a mere 11-12 weeks or 3 months, one of the great advantages of autoflowers is that you can harvest perpetually. Another fact is that you can’t include other plants in your grow space if you’re growing regular cannabis plants. Why? Well, it’s because once the plants reach their flowering stage, other smaller plants that are still in their vegetative stage cannot be placed in the same space under the same lights.

But, there’s no such restriction with autoflowers. You can place all plants no matter what age they are in the same grow room and reap maximum benefits. This also gives you a chance to harvest as many buds as possible without having to think about lighting, plant growth cycle, etc.

No need to change photoperiod

This one is amongst the biggest advantages of autoflowers. Photoperiod plants require a lot of maintenance. They grow in the vegetative stage for an indefinite period as long as they receive at least 18 hours of sunlight. However, as soon as you switch the light cycle and they receive only about 12 hours, they begin to flower.

 

Are autoflowers worth it? light cycle

Autoflowers grow from seed to harvest under any light cycle.
 

If you’re growing outdoors, you need to plant seeds and plan everything according to seasonal changes. But, if it’s indoors, you need to change the lighting. If you somehow fail in doing that, the plants don’t grow properly. Even if there’s a light leak, you’ll face the same issues.

However, autos grow according to their age. As soon as the plant reaches a particular age, the plants begin to flower. And, there’s no need to interfere because they do fine on their own. Whether you provide 24 or 12 hours of light, the plants will perform the same. Of course, they grow more if there’s more light, but there won’t be a difference in their life cycle. You can grow autos under:

  • 12/12
  • 18/6
  • 20/4

But obviously, the more you give, the more you get so it’s not recommended to grow under 12/12 unless needed. It might not seem like much of a big deal when growing indoors, but not having to worry about changing the photoperiod makes autos much easier to grow and less intimidating for beginner growers. Novices don’t have to worry about planning the best time to switch the light cycle and light leaks that can force their plans to reveg. Instead, they get to enjoy a streamlined and relatively hands-off process. 

Wedding Glue Auto
5 out of 5
Easy grow and she wants to live calmag poisoned her and two others I was on to it quick she is super sticky starting week 9 time of photo
Desaulniers.
Verified customer
Reviewed 18 April 2022

Allows you to use maximum space

Since autos are compact, you can cram several plants in one room. Don’t overdo it, though. If you plan properly, you’ll be able to use all the space you have to its maximum capacity. This also improves the chances of producing greater yields with a much smaller space at the same time. Many growers choose to grow autoflowering cannabis strains because they live in city apartments or small houses. Naturally, these abodes don’t come with a lot of space. Thankfully, you can easily grow autos in small closets or even cupboards. Growers can also use particular techniques when growing multiple plants in a small space. Methods such as ScrOGing create a unified canopy using several different plants to produce fantastic yields.

2. Disadvantages of autoflowers

Yield

Since autoflowers are smaller compared to regular cannabis strains, they don’t produce as much as them. However, the fact is that you can grow two autoflowering strains in the space required to grow one regular photoperiod plant. If you compare the yields, they will end up more or less the same. Thus, you can’t really treat this as a disadvantage. But, if you compare the yield of a single autoflowering plant with that of a photoperiod strain, the yield is slightly less. Again, this all boils down to genetics. The ruderalis genes within modern autoflowering hybrids limit their size. This trait comes in very handy when it comes to growing in small spaces. However, small plants mostly produce less yield compared to towering giants. Although autoflowering strains do produce fewer buds by dry weight compared to massive sativa-dominant specimens, things are improving. Breeders have created modern strains that produce much more than their recent ancestors. This is likely to improve even further in the near future.

Cloning doesn’t work

Commercial growers don’t bother purchasing seeds because they keep cloning the strains they love. Cloning plants is a horticultural technique that offers several key benefits. Taking cuttings helps to bypass the time it takes for seeds to germinate and enter the vegetative phase of the growing cycle. On top of this, they produce an identical genetic copy of the mother plant. When a grower finds a plant with all of the desirable traits that they are looking for, cloning allows them to reproduce this specimen indefinitely. While environmental factors can produce some fluctuations in how they grow, overall they’ll grow to the same height and size and produce very similar phytochemical profiles. 

They dedicate two grow room setups to do this and place the cloned plants in one room while the mother plants are allowed to continue growing in another grow room. This is possible if you’re a commercial grower. Plus, you need to have space. But, it can be difficult for small-time growers.

 

Are autoflowers worth it? cloning

Even though you can clone autos, clones won't yield much more than 2-3 grams.
 

Coming to cloning autoflowers, it is indeed possible to clone them. However, the fact is that the resulting plants end up as tiny plants and don’t yield much. But, why does this happen? Well, it’s because autos grow and flower based on their age. So, if you clone a mother plant at, say, day 30, and produce small plants, the smaller plants or offspring will also be the same age as the mother plant. Since the offspring don’t have time to grow, they end up looking scrawny. Not that you can’t clone autos – you can, but it’s not worth your time.

Strawberry Banana Auto
5 out of 5
And for me it’s the yields as I am a medical patient and consume a lot. I also appreciate that there’s not much tolerance build-up.
Pizzitola.
Verified customer
Reviewed 26 November 2022
 

To overcome this problem, most commercial growers pollinate two different or similar autoflowering strains to produce seeds. By doing this, you can save time and money. Cloning photoperiod plants is indeed a great idea but you will lose time while doing it. Instead, you can quickly grow and harvest autoflowers in the same period of time.

So, are autoflowers really worth it? What do you think? Apart from the disadvantage that cloning doesn’t produce much yields, they are as good and even better than photoperiod strains in many aspects. The most important factor is that you save time while growing autoflowers. And, if you go by the adage “time is money” you’ll definitely find that autoflowers are certainly worth it!

3. In Conclusion

So, are autoflowers really worth it? What do you think? Apart from the disadvantage that cloning doesn’t produce much yields, they are as good and even better than photoperiod strains in many aspects. The most important factor is that you save time while growing autoflowers. And, if you go by the adage “time is money” you’ll definitely find that autoflowers are certainly worth it!

Autoflowers can definitely give you an advantage, especially if you want to grow top-shelf weed faster while using less space, less water, less light, and less nutrients. Autoflowers can save you around 30% time per grow cycle, making it possible to have up to 4 grow cycles per year. But always keep in mind that in order to be able to benefit from all of this you need to start with high-quality and resilient genetics. By using the best auto genetics you will avoid any possible issues and get the following benefits:

 

Advantages of Autoflowering Strains
Seed to harvest in as little as 8 weeks Same yields in less space
Perpetual harvests in 1 single grow tent Save water and nutrients
No need to change the light cycle to trigger flowering Autos can grow perfectly in harsher climates

 

So if you want to grow top-shelf autoflowers make sure to look for reputable seed banks with client reviews that can vouch for the genetics. Fast Buds offers a catalog with more than 50 different autoflowering strains that provide indoor, outdoor, and greenhouse growers what they need to get excellent weed in no time! If you’re a beginner and need help with your first auto grow cycle, feel free to contact our support team and we’ll be more than happy to support and guide you from purchase to harvest.


If you’ve grown autoflowers before, feel free to share your experience with fellow growers by leaving a comment in the comment section below!