How To Grow Autoflowering Cannabis Outdoors

Find out all you need to know about growing autoflowering Cannabis outdoors, and all the important things to consider.
Author Sean Prana
20 March 2020
14 min read
How To Grow Autoflowering Cannabis Outdoors

Contents:

If you reside in a location where growing weed is legal, you’re in luck. Not everyone can grow cannabis especially outdoors, but if you do get this opportunity use it! With a little knowledge, you can produce loads of buds.

And, if you’re here to understand a bit more about how to grow autoflowering plants outside, read on and you’ll know everything there is to know. 

Growing cannabis outdoors can be tricky for those who suffer from bad climates. No matter if it’s too hot or cold if the weather is harsh your cannabis plants will not develop properly. This doesn’t mean that it’s impossible but there are a couple of things to have in mind when planning your next grow cycle. Things like sunlight, temperature, and humidity will influence how your plant performs and depending on when you live, it is better to start with strains that can withstand hotter or colder climates.

1. The Light Cycle

It is important to understand the life cycle of an autoflowering marijuana plant, and how they differ from normal photoperiodic cultivars. As the name suggests these strains will begin to flower automatically, thanks to cross-breeding with their Ruderalis heritage.

Originally found in Siberia, the dwarf-sized, low potency Ruderalis had the ability to grow in a vegetative stage and then flower automatically independent of the light cycle outdoors. An incredible trait that would later be crossed into stable poly hybrids taken from photoperiod strains. 

Autoflowering Cannabis is now at the most advanced point in this evolution, with an enormous variety of automatics that have identical traits to their predecessors. 

 

Light Cycle24/018/612/12
Hours of Light241812
Hours of Darkness0612
ProsDoesn't require a timer and can  result in best yieldsAllows plants to rest, good buds and saves electricity up to 25%Saves electricity up to 50%
ConsCan get expensiveRequires a timerUnderdeveloped and aery buds

 

Once you understand that it’s possible to plant automatics outdoors at any time of the year, you can begin to customize the frequency of growth cycles based on the climate you live in, although you need to have in mind that outdoors, the light cycle depends on the season you’re in and can differ from one to another, resulting in more or less plant growth and consequently better (or worse) yields.

For example, California gets an average of 14:30hs of sunlight in the summer and around 9:40hs in the winter, so you should plan your grow cycle according to where you live in. 

2. What Should I Consider Before Planting?

Outdoor vs Indoor

This is a dilemma that growers encounter before starting to grow their own weed, both of the methods have their pros and cons. To make this decision, you will have to take a couple of things into consideration: temperature, smell, and most important of all, cost.

Cost is the most important because you will need to spend quite a bit of money to buy a good light fixture, exhaust fan, filter and grow tent. Even though it seems like a lot, this will allow you to control every aspect of the growing environment

It will also allow you to eliminate odor and be more discreet because unless you allow a person in, no one will be able to see your growing operation.

 

 ProsCons
Indoors

 - Complete control over the environment;

 - Grow at any time of the year.

 - Higher start-up cost;

 - Bugs and pests can easily spread to plants around them.

Outdoors

 - The least expensive way to grow plants;

 - Sunlight will allow the plants to their full potential.

 - You can’t control the environment;

 - Plants are exposed to bad weather, bugs, and pest.

 

When growing outdoors you won’t have to spend much other than with pots and nutrients, but you should remember that when growing outdoors you won’t be able to control the climate and you can suffer from extremely cold or hot climates and this will affect your plants' growth. Another disadvantage is that your plants will be visible and the odor can be a problem if you live in a place where cannabis is not legal.

Make sure you have enough space for your plant when growing indoors, by providing enough spacing in your grow tent you prevent problems you may have further into the grow cycle, like the light not reaching deep enough, taller plants overshadowing the smaller ones and not enough airflow.

Best time to start

The best time to start growing photoperiodic cannabis depends on the amount of light you get, but with autoflowers, things are different. Because they grow fast and don’t depend on light to start flowering, you can grow them outside whenever you want. Of course, the temperature may have an influence on the result but you most likely will have beautiful flowers after every harvest.

Your Location

This is where your autoflowering plants will stay for their duration, and will normally be a part of your back garden, roof terrace, sunny balcony, or even a homemade polytunnel greenhouse. 

 

 

How To Grow Autoflowering Cannabis Outdoors: Location

When choosing the best location for your autoflowering plants make sure they're facing South.
 

Depending on where you live, you can grow your plants in a way similar to guerilla growing. This consists of growing your cannabis plants camouflaged with other plants. This way of growing is used by outdoor growers to try and make their growing operation more discreet, the natural smell of aromatic plants is a good way to mask the cannabis smell and can help you avoid nosey neighbors.

Grow Tips:

  • This should be a private area that is easy to access.
  • South facing will ensure maximum hours of sunlight each day.
  • Polytunnels work incredibly well at a low set up cost.

The Ideal Temperature 

Due to the tough resilient nature that autos possess, it is easily possible to harvest buds during the coldest time of the year with the shortest daylight hours, as well as during the hottest and longest days. It is this incredible ability to adapt to any climates from harsh and cold to lovely and hot that allow for any grower to achieve an abundant harvest.

Of course, there is an optimal climate that all plants would prefer in an ideal world, yet the flexibility a grower is blessed with when using autoflowering cultivars is far greater than photoperiodic plants and can be planted all year long.  

Hot Climates – If you are lucky enough to live in a part of the world that receives tropical weather, then you are able to grow any type of autoflowering cultivar with excellent results. Sativa dominant hybrids will work very well, they are more demanding and larger yielding varieties and will flourish under the constant sunny climate. 

Orange Sherbet Auto
Orange Sherbet Auto
Genes
Mostly Sativa
Genetics
Orange Sherbet Auto
Flowering
9-10 weeks
Harvest
500-650gr/m2
Height
110-150cm
THC
up to 24%
CBD
Very low
Autoflowering
Yes
Buy seeds from 13,00 €
 

Colder Climates – Automatics can really help a grower who experiences shorter Summers, and a quick turn around on cold winters. Fast flowering varieties will work best, however, it is better to work with an indica dominant, resistant autoflowering strain, that will be ready to chop, prior to any heavy rain or cold spots.

Growing in Winter

In winter, plants tend to slow down their rate of growth, so you will usually use fewer nutrients. Also have in mind that in the winter the humidity levels are lower, so you’ll want to water sporadically so your plant has time to absorb the nutrients. Remember, if the temperature is below 4 Celsius, water can freeze the roots, so it’s better to feed your plant when the temperatures are higher.

Growing in Summer

If you’re growing in the summer you will need to adjust watering and the number of nutrients. This is because higher temperatures tend to accelerate the plant’s processes, so you will have to adjust feeding to your plant's necessities. Also, have in mind that in summer there is an increase in humidity levels so it is good to perform LST techniques to keep good airflow in between the buds and branches and avoid fungus or bugs.

Purple Lemonade
Purple Lemonade
Genes
70% Indica / 30% Sativa
Genetics
Purple Lemonade
Flowering
9-10 weeks
Harvest
XL
Height
70-110cm
THC
Up to 22%
CBD
Low
Autoflowering
Yes
Buy seeds from 13,00 €
 

A great candidate for LST. She can grow as tall as 70-110 cm in height and will take 9-10 weeks from seed to harvest.

Grow Tips:

  • Automatics can take very cold weather as well as intense heat.
  • It is possible to plant from early Spring until late winter with great results.
  • Some cultivars are better suited than others for certain microclimates.
  • Autoflowers are very resistant to mold, mildew, and wind resistance. 
  • Avoid planting seeds if your garden is showing signs of frost.

How to germinate

Before planting your seeds, you will need to germinate them, this is the first step to a successful harvest. There are a couple of ways to germinate seeds, you can germinate them directly in the soil, in paper towels or submerge them in a glass of water.

We recommend submerging them in water for around 12hrs before planting or transferring them to paper towels. Remember the seed shell needs to be damp so it’s easier for the seedling to grow out of it.

 

Germinating seeds in a glass of water

Grab a glass cup, fill it half with water, place the glass in a very dark place and soak seeds.
 

You should also have in mind that leaving the seeds in water for too long will drown them, so you should keep them for a maximum of 24hs if they’re too old, but 12hs is all you need for good seeds.

How Deep To Plant Your Seed?

After germinating your seed, you would have to plant it in soil. You should be extremely careful with this process because the radicle is super fragile. To avoid damaging it, you have to make a small hole with your finger up to the first line of your index finger or around 1-2cm with a pen.

That is deep enough for your seedling to grow relatively fast, also make sure you don't press the soil on top, just throw a little bit of dirt so it’s not too compact and the seedling doesn’t struggle to grow.

Planting In Pots or The Ground?

Once you germinate your seedlings and place them into their final homes, you will need to decide to grow in pots, or if you have a soil bed to use. Sometimes it is more logistical and practical to use 10 liter-sized pots that can be moved around if needs be, however, a well-kept living soil bed will produce the best results.

If you’re growing in pots you should go for a mix of mediums, such as coco coir, perlite, and soil. This will allow your plants to grow more easily, with more oxygenation in the roots, and will help water drainage when watering.

 

Planting In Pots or The Ground: Mix tips for your soil

Different medium mixes when growing your autoflowers organically.
 

Grow Tips:

  • Pots can be moved around to follow the sun. 
  • Small plants can be easily camouflaged.
  • Planting in the ground can limit the exposure the plants receive.
  • A soil bed saves investment from a new organic set up.
  • Living soil is packed with beneficial microorganisms.
  • Felt pots allow for roots to be pruned and prevent root-bound plants.

How Big Plants Get

How tall a plant grows depends on its heritage. This is because Sativas usually stretch and grow fewer leaves than Indicas, which grow short and bushy. So the size will depend on their genetics.

A Sativa dominant autoflowering strain can grow up to 150cm while an Indica dominant hybrid will grow up to 100-110cm.

If you chose to plant your plants in pots remember that pot size is a very important aspect for your autoflowering plant’s size and determines the limit to where she can grow.

 

How big do autoflowering plants get

Decide in advance based on your growing space what size works to your advantage.
 

We strongly recommend following the breeder’s information, usually, they give an approximate height and you can work from that.

How Long Plants Grow

Depending on the strain you choose to cultivate, the amount of time it needs to completely mature may be different. Even though all autoflowering marijuana plants are hybrids, some of them have Sativa heritage and others Indica, so their size and how long they grow varies.

For example, strains with Indica heritage can take around 8 weeks to mature whereas strains with Sativa heritage can take up to 11 weeks. 

How Much Plants Yield

How much a plant yields will also depend on the genetics, although despite the size, Indicas can yield more than Sativas or vice-versa. Usually, the amount they yield will depend on the growing conditions. You can harvest up to 200g from a single plant or as low as 40g. It solely depends on how you take care of your plants and their genetic characteristics like the density of the buds and the number of bud sites.

Tips For Beginners

If you’ve never grown cannabis before, there are a couple of things you need to have in mind. Depending on the city you live in, you have to be sure your growing space is discreet, this means not only the plants shouldn’t be visible but also neighbors shouldn’t be able to smell the plants.

This not only applies to the plants themself but also the light. Usually grow light fixtures are super bright and can be seen from far away if you don’t make sure there are no light leaks.

Masking the smell outdoors can be a little bit tricky because you don’t have a way to eliminate the smell.

 

How To Grow Autoflowering Cannabis Outdoors: Guerilla grow

Cannabis blending in with the vegetation around.
 

You can guerilla grow on your balcony using lots of aromatic plants that will help to camouflage your cannabis plants, it’s not a guarantee that the smell won’t bother your neighbors.

Even though you can train your plants, the best way to avoid this is to grow Indica dominant, they tend to grow shorter and compact, so you don’t need to train them (if you don’t want or know how to).

If you wish to grow a specific strain that grows tall, you should grow them in smaller pots or train them so they can’t be seen by people walking by or from other balconies.

3. Training Autoflowering Cannabis Outdoors

When growing Cannabis outdoors, it is a good idea to plan ahead in terms of plant training and adding support. This will normally be done in the early stages and will benefit the plants greatly once flowering commences.

 

5 steps for training your autoflowering cannabis plant

Top tips on how to improve your Cannabis outdoor grow.
 

Grow tips:

  • Use bamboo canes and place them around the edge of the pots. This will help support the heavy yielding side branches.
  • Adding a screen can really open up the canopy and ensure each grow tip has a designated space that receives intense lighting.
  • Tying down your plants is an excellent way to enhance the growth structure and encourage the lower branches to grow upwards with the main crown shoots.
  • Avoid topping your autos and fimming, as these techniques may restrict the final height and cause plants to finish small and squat.
  • It is better to apply L.S.T.this increases the spacing between the branches, allowing the lower buds to receive more light and consequently growing more and yielding more.

Low stress training is a very simple technique that has many benefits and can be performed multiple times if necessary.

In this video, you will learn how to manipulate the shape of your canopy with lst and how to turn your autoflower into a monster:

 

4. Step-By-Step Guide For Growing Autoflowers Outdoors

STEP 1

Decide on your location and which part of the garden or terrace receives the most sun. South-facing location is the best option, meaning that when the sun sets, the plants will receive the final amount of sunlight each day ensuring the most direct sunlight possible.

STEP 2

If working with plastic or felt pots, fill them with an organic medium consisting of complete living soil. This can be store-bought and can be supplemented with compost to allow a water-only feeding schedule. We recommend a pot size that is 10-12 liters. 

STEP 3

There are many ways to germinate your autoflowering seeds. You can germinate them starting off in a cup of room temperature water, or in between two pieces of moist toilet paper, covered with a saucer in darkness. Once they sprout after a 24-72 hour period they are now ready to transplant into their new homes.

 

Step-By-Step Guide On How To Grow Autoflowering Cannabis Outdoors

Step-by-step guide on how to grow Autoflowering plants outdoors.
 

STEP 4

On the basis your plants are receiving direct sunlight, the only thing you really need to do now is water, and maintain your plants. Autoflowering cultivars literally grow themselves and do not require much hands-on work. You should only need to water your plants when the growing medium is dry and needs resaturating.

STEP 5

Even if the breeder gives you a timeline, prepare to harvest your plants according to what you see in the flowering period. Some cultivars will finish quicker than others, however, once the buds are fully formed and showing signs of maturity, you can now successfully harvest your plants.

5. The Harvest Window

This refers to the point when your Cannabis plants are fully ripe and mature and can be safely cut down. There are a few different traits to look for before chopping your ladies down.

Grow Tips:

  • Check if the buds are dense, swollen, and hard to squeeze. Even if you have exceeded the advised harvest date, it is better to wait until your flowers are as dense and resinous as possible. 
  • Using a lupe, examine the state of the trichome. Once most of the trichomes are a cloudy white and a bit amber is the best time to cut and hang.
  • Sativa dominant autoflower hybrids may be more demanding than Indica dominant, so be prepared to give your plants an extra week or two if they need.

6. In Conclusion

One of the unique selling points about autoflowering Cannabis is the fact they are so versatile and can adapt to all climates. Perfect for beginner growers and anyone who enjoys seasonal harvests with very little maintenance.

The popularity of autoflowering hybrids is only rapidly increasing and with the advancement in breeding, growers are able to produce some top-grade harvests without any compromise in quality.

 

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