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Northern Lights Auto Cannabis Strain Week-by-Week Guide

Our week-by-week guide for this incredibly resilient classic!
21 June 2022
15 min read
Northern Lights Auto Cannabis Strain Week-by-Week Guide

  • 1. History
  • 2. Specifications
  • 3. Week-by-week guide
  • 3. a. Week 1 - germination
  • 3. b. Week 2 - vegetative stage
  • 3. c. Week 3 - vegetative stage
  • 3. d. Week 4 - vegetative stage
  • 3. e. Week 5 - pre-flowering stage
  • 3. f. Week 6 - flowering stage
  • 3. g. Week 7 - flowering stage
  • 3. h. Week 8 - flowering stage
  • 3. i. Week 9 - harvesting
  • 4. How to properly trim, dry, and cure your northern lights auto harvest
  • 4. a. Trimming your harvest
  • 4. b. Drying your harvest
  • 4. c. Curing and burping your harvest
  • 5. What to expect?
  • 6. In conclusion

1. History 

As usual, the history behind Northern Lights is a bit of a mystery, although it’s known that the original Northern Lights was first bred by “The Indian” from a couple of Afghani landrace seeds he had available when living near Seattle, Washington. The story says this man known as “The Indian” had a total of 11 seeds which he named Northern Lights #1-11, the rumor was he was developing his own strains from true Afghani landraces and had a diary documenting the size, yield, and effect of each one of his plants.


Northern Lights: history

Northern Lights Auto courtesy of PharmaZ.

After they were ready to be harvested, he was left with 2 plants that were distinctly better than the others. In 1980, Nevil Schoenmaker discovered his work and was surprised by the quality of the plants so he took a couple of clones to The Netherlands and started experimenting on his own. Fast forward to 1985, Nevil released a unique variety of the Northern Lights which was quickly sought-after by lots of growers and gave birth to several famous strains like Super Silver Haze, Shiva Skunk, Hash Plant, and Jack Herer.

2. Specifications 

Our auto version of this incredibly resistant old-school strain is a must for all growers trying to grow famous classic strains. Northern Lights Auto is an exceptionally tough autoflower that requires very little maintenance while being able to withstand harsher climates with ease, this plant can grow up to 120cm and produce around 600gr/m2 in less than 65 days.


Northern Lights: specifications

Northern Lights Auto courtesy of MissJokerSmoker.

Thanks to the great genetics, you can easily grow this strain outdoors all year long and enjoy a nostalgic effect that old-timers will love. This strain provides a potent effect that will leave your whole face melting as soon as you take the first puff, you’ll feel your eyes getting heavy and a strong couch-lock effect on your whole body which comes along with a deep savory terpene profile that consists of spices, pepper, and a mild fruitiness.

3. Week-by-week guide

As you will see further into the grow cycle, this Northern Light Auto started a little bit on the smaller side apparently due to overwatering but after a couple of weeks she came through and ended up producing beautifully frosted flowers.

Grow Specifications

Light Fixture: LED
Light Cycle:18/6
Humidity: 40%-80% 
Temperature: 20-30°C
Grow Space: Indoor
Nutrients: Synthetic
PH level: 6.1-6.7
Seed to Harvest: 9 weeks


The grow specifications are the basic information on how the plants were cultivated. This grow guide serves as a written timeline to give you an idea of what to avoid and what to expect when growing this autoflower.

Week 1 - Germination

In this grow journal, our growers started by germinating a couple of Northern Lights Auto seeds in a paper towel, this isn’t the method we usually recommend, soaking the seeds allows the water to soften the shell, thus increasing the chances of germination.


Height: 1cm
pH: 6.0
Humidity: 70%
Temperature: 25°C
Watering: 100ml


In this growing cycle, as soon as the taproot (radicle) was around 3cm long, it was planted in a coco fiber and perlite mix, have in mind that both of these substrates are sterile so as soon as you see the first pair of true leaves, you’ll have to start feeding with a nutrient solution or your plant will start to show signs of deficiencies.

It really doesn't matter the medium you want to grow in (soil, hydroponics, or coco), this strain will perform well as long as you take good care, feed it well and provide good growing conditions.


Northern Lights: week 1

Photo courtesy of Johnnyronco1 and Luv2Grow2.

Even though the seed has already germinated, it can take a couple of days for the seedling to come out of the medium but after it’s come out and you see the small rounded leaves, you have officially started your growing cycle.

“So I germinate my seeds in a paper towel soaked in water between two plates, I put it on top of my cable box because it’s just perfectly warm. 24 hrs later the seed has popped open and is ready for planting. I just make a hole with a pen and then drop the popped seed in. I cover the seed with some soil and then water it a bit more.” - Johnnyronco

Remember that seedlings are extremely fragile so you should keep the right conditions; A temperature of around 23°C, and a relative humidity ranging from 60-70% is ideal if you want your baby plants to survive, if you can’t maintain these conditions you should place a plastic dome over them to keep a high humidity and protect them from the cold or strong wind.

Week 2 - Vegetative stage 

The second week from seed marks the beginning of the vegetative stage, at this point, your plants should already have developed the first to third pair of true leaves and they’re ready to be fed with a light nutrient dose.


Height: 6cm
Humidity: 65%
Temperature: 23°C
Watering: 200ml


We recommend always starting in the final pot but if you started in a solo cup or a similar container, now is the time for transplanting. Remember that transplanting can be quite stressful for autos so you have to do it very carefully so you don’t stunt their growth, and even though you do it properly, it may still take a couple of days for your plant to adapt and continue growing normally.

Also, make sure to adjust and maintain a proper environment for your plants to grow in, at this stage the temperature should be kept around 18- 20°C and the relative humidity as close to 60% as possible to ensure your plant’s survival.


Northern Lights: week 2

Photo courtesy of PEAKYPLANTERS.

Depending on the type of medium, there are several ways to feed your plants, in this case, the growers used synthetic bottled nutrients with proper caution to not overfeed the seedlings, which can cause nute burn and in the worst cases, kill your plant. This stage is also when you want to start with the LST, it doesn't matter if you're doing SoG, Scrog, or tying the branches, when your plant has 3-4 pairs of leaves you can carefully start your plant training, if your plant hasn't developed at least 3 pairs of leaves, it doesn't hurt to wait a couple of days more.

Week 3 - Vegetative stage

By the third week from seed, your plant should already have established its roots and should have developed at least 4 nodes so if you didn't start training before, now is a good time to start; It doesn’t matter if you want to top or tie down the branches, as long as you see at least 3 pairs of leaves, you are ready to go.


Height: 10cm
pH: 6.0
Humidity: 65%
Temperature: 25°C
Watering: 300ml


Have in mind that plan training can stress your plants so if you’re going to do it, make sure you maintain good conditions, the stress from any kind of plant training with stress from bad conditions can really affect your plant’s growth.

In the vegetative stage, your plants need more nitrogen than phosphorus and potassium, although they still need them but in smaller amounts, so try to feed the macronutrients at a ratio of 3-1-2, this means your plant will get more nitrogen but will still be getting the other nutrients she needs to grow.


Northern Lights: week 3

Photo courtesy of ElChicoDelaWeed.

Also, depending on the medium, you will have to provide the micronutrients your plants need, in this case, the grower had to mix calmag in the nutrient solution, this happens because coco fiber and perlite are sterile and unlike soil, they don’t contain the micronutrients a cannabis plant needs.

Week 4 - Vegetative stage

During week 4 of the vegetative growth, you will see the flowering sites starting to turn light green, this means the pre-flowering stage is coming, by now, you will clearly see the difference in size overnight when your plants are fully growing, you’ll see up to 2 pairs of leaves fully developed per day, this is a sign that your plant is thriving


Height: 20cm
pH: 6.5
Humidity: 60%
Temperature: 25°C
Watering: 400ml


Throughout the next couple of days, you’ll see your plant absorbing more and more water but don’t worry, it’s completely normal, just have in mind that as soon as you see the first white hairs you will have to start gradually transitioning from grow to bloom nutrients.


Northern Lights: week 4

Photo courtesy of Jd19711 and PEAKYPLANTERS2.

Also, if you are tying down the branches, make sure you are reaching the desired shape or size because when your plant enters the pre-flowering stage, you’ll have to remove the ties to avoid stressing your plant. 

Week 5 - Pre-flowering stage

On the fifth week, your plants are officially in the pre-flowering stage, even though it may take a couple of days, you will see the stigmas (white hairs) appearing on all of the flowering sites that were turning light green a couple of days ago, that is, if you are growing feminized seeds, if not, your plant may grow pollen sacs, meaning it’s a male plant.


Height: 30cm
pH: 6.3
Humidity: 65%
Temperature: 24°C
Watering: 600ml


Remember that our Northern Lights is an autoflower so there's no need to change the light cycle, this type of cannabis grows from start to finish under the same light cycle, you can choose to grow under an 18/6, 20/4, or 24/0 light cycle, depending on what suits you better.

When your plants have entered the pre-flowering stage you’ll have to slowly start feeding bloom nutrients, if you’re growing organically, it’s better to start adding bloom nutrients the week before because organic nutrients are released slowly with each watering, so it’s essential your plant gets what she needs (more phosphorus and potassium) as soon as she starts producing stigmas.


One of our growers showing his work in progress with Northern Lights Auto.

The minerals needed during flowering should be used in a 1-2-3 ratio, and if you’re growing in a sterile medium such as coco fiber or clay pellets, you will also have to provide the micronutrients like calcium and magnesium, if you do not, the leaves will start to get brown spots. 

“Flowers start to appear... I added a low dose of PK nutrients...I’m afraid to add some extra nutes because the coco has been supercharged at the beginning of the grow and the plants still didn’t show any deficiencies so I’m watering with the flood method in order to don’t leave any stuck salts around the roots from the previous watering. Also, the first watering from the 6th week will be just with CalMag and flooding ( 5 l each plant ) to help to clean the coco.” - serinboy

Also, have in mind that the environment can affect the processes your plants need to grow so make sure you’re checking and adjusting the environment, at this stage, the humidity should be around 55% while keeping the temperatures in between 18-25°C.

Week 6 - Flowering stage

If everything goes like it should, your plants will be officially in the flowering stage in week 6 from seed, you will see the buds fattening exponentially, and with flowering comes the trichomes which are responsible for storing the cannabinoids and terpenes so your plant will start to smell, so make sure you have a carbon filter installed, or, if you're growing outdoors, a good idea is to have aromatic plants around to help mask the smell.


Height: 55cm
pH: 6.2
Humidity: 60%
Temperature: 24°C


By now, you should already be feeding at least half the dose of blooming nutrients and slightly increasing the dose with every watering, always paying attention to signs of deficiencies that your plant will surely show if you overfeed.

Providing the right nutrients will allow your plants to grow properly, when a cannabis plant starts flowering it will stretch quite a lot (depending on the genetics), this is called the "flowering stretch" and some plants may even double their size but as you may see further into the grow cycle, this Northern Lights didn't stretch much due to a bit of overwatering and also due to its genetics because most Indica-dominant strains usually stay shorter.


Northern Lights: week 6

Photo courtesy of serinboy1, SAC872, and Dreamer4203.

“Major development this week... All the plants are in flower.” - Dreamer 420

As you may know, autos have a limited time to completely mature so even if the manufacturer provided a feeding schedule, you have to adjust the amount to what your plants really need. Remember that if your plant had signs of deficiencies during the vegetative stage, like brown or yellow spots, it could be easily be fixed but now that you're in the flowering stage it's vital you do everything properly because it can not only affect yields but also if left untreated for long, end up affecting the buds so keep an eye on them, ideally, check the leaves thoroughly at least once a day, especially a day after having watered with the nutrient solution.

Week 7 - Flowering stage

The seventh week marks the second half of the flowering stage, this is the last week that you’ll be feeding your plants because, in order to make the terpenes really stand out, you should flush at least 2 weeks before harvesting.


Height: 65cm
pH: 6.5
Humidity: 55%
Temperature: 24°C
Watering: 800ml


You may see some of the white hairs starting to wilt and turn brown but don’t worry, that’s completely normal, your plant still needs a couple of weeks to fatten up and mature. By now, your plants should be reeking of a strong smell that can be hard to eliminate so make sure you take the proper actions to not risk it.


Northern Lights: week 7

Photo courtesy of Dreamer420.

It’s also essential that you check your plants every day, any kind of pest infestation could easily ruin your entire harvest so make sure you keep good conditions, as always, the temperature should be in between 18-25°C but the humidity should be around 55%, this will ensure that pests don’t attack your plants.

Week 8 - Flowering stage

Week 8 is when your buds will be kinda dense and properly formed, if you have not performed any training maybe the lower buds are not receiving proper light so you may want to defoliate slightly if you don't want aery buds.


Height: 75cm
pH: 6.3
Humidity: 40%
Temperature: 20°C
Watering: 900ml


Also, you should start flushing, at this stage, your plant won’t grow much more but the buds still need time to ripen, you will see an abundance of trichomes all over the flowers and surrounding leaves, and the smell should be amazing.


Northern Lights: week 8

Photo courtesy of PharmaZ.

By flushing, you’re removing the excess nutrients that make your buds taste harsh and also improve the smell and flavor so if possible, use filtered water or at least leave water in a bucket under the sun for around 48hs to evaporate all of the chlorine in it to avoid stressing your plants.

Week 9 - Harvesting

Week 9 marks the last week of your growing cycle, by now you should have an idea of how potent and resinous your buds will be when they’re ready for consumption, by the end of this week you’ll be harvesting your plant so make sure you continue flushing until the end.


Height: 70cm
pH: 6.2
Humidity: 60%
Temperature: 24°C
Watering: 1000ml


Around 2-3 weeks before harvesting, let the soil dry out, these couple of days is the time you have to prepare and make sure your drying room is good to go, as soon as you harvest your plants they’ll have to be hung upside down in the drying room so get everything ready.

“The smell on this is gorgeous...Don’t know how to describe the smell, just something else, I also cannot believe how dense and short it is, buds are apple-sized in a strawberry shape.” - BigDaddyK

Also, if the leaves started to turn yellow, don’t worry, yellow leaves are normal during the flushing process, now if the leaves are yellowing through the growing cycle then it’s definitely a problem.


Northern Lights: week 9

Photo courtesy of Mr_Weeds_Autos1, ElChicoDelaWeed2, and BigDaddyK3.

After you’ve got everything ready, it’s now time to trim and dry, take your time, it can be exhausting to trim properly but once you’ve cured your buds and they’re looking beautiful, you’ll see it’s definitely worth it.

4. How to Properly Trim, Dry, and Cure Your Northern Lights Auto Harvest

After harvesting your cannabis crop, proper trimming, drying, curing, and burping is very important processes that play a big role in the final quality of the buds. When done correctly, all of these processes will preserve and enhance the flavors and aromas while at the same time eliminating the harshness caused by chlorophyll.

Trimming Your Harvest

Trimming cannabis consists of removing the little sugar leaves on the cannabis buds, and it’s an important part of a cannabis grow cycle because it will not only help prevent mold but also improve the bag appeal, and overall smoking experience (aka grinding, rolling, and enjoying the flowers). The trimming process can be done before or after drying, this means there are two ways of trimming; Trimming your harvest before drying your plants (aka wet trimming) or when drying your harvest (aka dry trimming).

Pros and Cons of Wet Trimming


  • Can potentially prevent mold;
  • Flowers dry faster;
  • Dry more flowers in less space.


  • Dry sugar leaves can stick to the flowers;
  • Harvest can potentially dry too quick, leading to loss of flavor and smell;

Pros and Cons of Dry Trimming


  • Can help maintain correct humidity in low-humidity environments;
  • Flowers dry slower which helps maintain the complete flavor and smell.


  • Can result in moldy flowers in high-humidity environments;
  • Dried sugar leaves can stick on trichomes, making it tougher to remove.

Drying Your Harvest

The next step is to dry your harvest, remember that this plays a huge role in the final quality as doing it too slowly can cause the flowers to get mold, and doing it too fast can cause terpenes to evaporate, which makes flowers taste like hay. After 10 weeks or more of taking care of your crop, you definitely don’t want to ruin it now so read along to learn more.

Hang Plants Upside Down

Hanging the plants upside down is the preferred method of drying for most growers, including commercial growers. As the name suggests, this consists of hanging the whole plant upside down for seven to sixteen days. This will take a bit longer than cutting each branch or bud individually but helps preserve flavors and smell, so always hang whole plants when possible.

Drying Racks

Drying racks are flat surfaces stacked on each other, this means that you can dry much more in the same space you would hang whole plants. Drying your harvest on drying racks usually takes anywhere from four to seven days but it’s not recommended unless it’s the only option because flowers may dry too fast and end up losing flavor and potency.

Curing and Burping Your Harvest

Now that your flowers are properly trimmed and died, it’s time to cure and burp the buds. In order to properly cure the flowers you will need:

  • Airtight glass jars;
  • A small hygrometer.

So to start the curing process all you have to do is place your flowers in the glass jar, making sure you don’t compact or press them too tight and seal the jar. During this process, the moisture will travel from the center of the buds outside it’s necessary to burp the jars. During the first week of curing you will need to open the jar (aka burp) once or twice a day anywhere from 30 minutes up to a couple of hours. This will help get rid of the excess moisture. After the first week of burping, continue to burp the jars but only once every three to four days and after this, you can do it once every couple of weeks, just keep in mind that this will depend on the environment and density of the flowers. 

After 2-3 weeks of curing your buds are ready for consumption but remember that you should smell the flowers every day as it’s fairly easy for flowers to get moldy during curing, so if your flowers smell like ammonia it could be an indication that mold is starting to form. If this happens, take the lid off for a couple of days to remove the excess moisture and continue burping as usual.

5. What to expect?

After the drying and curing process, you’ll be left with beautifully frosted flowers, you can expect a peppery, spicy, and mild fruity terpene profile that makes for a potent Indica effect.


Northern Lights: terpene profile

Main terpenes found in Northern Lights.

This savory combination results in an almost 100% Indica couch-lock effect with a light cerebral high, great for relaxing or having a good night of sleep.


One of our growers showing off his harvest.

After trying it for the first time, the grow reports shows that there really aren’t any negative effects other than a strong couch-lock effect, and having dry eyes and mouth, other than that, they’ve said that it’s a powerful nighttime smoke that will elevate your mood while leaving you deeply relaxed.

6. In conclusion

Northern Lights Auto is a truly classic Indica strain that everyone should try, it’s powerful effect is a great way to unwind after a long day of work and can be consumed by medicinal users that will reap their rewards in just 9 weeks. If you're planning on growing Northern Lights Cannabis and have any doubts or have grown it before, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section below.

External References:

  1. Cannabis indica. - Nash, Eugene & Wilbrand, Rainer. (2015). 
  2. Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica versus “Sativa” and “Indica”. - McPartland, John. (2017). 
21 June 2022