So you’re not sure whether autoflowering seeds are right for your grow. Everyone’s setup is different, but here are a few pros and cons to help you grow the best weed possible. If you need a quick reminder as to what autoflowering cannabis is, be sure to check out What is Autoflowering Cannabis? A Fast Buds Primer - Part 1.
What are the advantages of autoflowering cannabis?
Flexible growing environment
Each day, regular “photoperiod” strains require precisely twelve hours of light and twelve of darkness to trigger and maintain the flowering stage until harvest. If this doesn’t happen, they can stop growing and live for years, never producing anything. Autoflowers, on the other hand, have a fixed lifespan, shorter than any photoperiod grow. They start flowering at three to four weeks and can go from germination to harvest in just nine weeks.
Since you don’t have to control the light cycle to induce flowering with autoflowers, you don’t have to grow cannabis in an expensive, light-proof box. There’s no need to drape black sheeting over a greenhouse or set light timers to alternate at midnight and midday. With autoflowers, even urban balcony grows fare well despite the high amount of night-time ambient light.
We call them Fast Buds for a reason! Traditional, photoperiod cannabis, can take four months or more to grow. Autoflowering marijuana, on the other hand, can be ready to harvest in as little as eight weeks, but more often nine to eleven. You can harvest four to six times a year as opposed to once or twice.
This ability to harvest more frequently is excellent for outdoor growers who can’t control the lighting their plants receive, but it can also be used by indoor growers to stagger their grows to ensure they’re harvesting once a month or more. Photoperiod plants occupying the same space or grow tent need to mature together. Because the light cycles for flowering and vegging plants are entirely different, developing plants can't share the same space as those nearing harvest. However, since autoflowering strains don’t need the light cycle to control flowering, it’s possible to house multiple plants at different stages of development in one area. If you germinate a new seed every month, by month three you can be harvesting every thirty days, or three weeks, or whatever schedule works for you.
Resilient to the environment
Cannabis is a notoriously picky plant, and small changes to the environment can make a big difference in the final product. Compared to photoperiod plants, autoflowers are more resilient against diseases and weather, thanks to the industrial hemp genes that evolved for survival in harsh Siberian climates, with short summers. If you live in a mild climate, autoflowers are perfect. G14 is a hardy strain from Fast Buds ideal for those who want a resilient plant to work with.
Cannabis plants are huge. Some sativas can reach four meters in height! That might be great for outdoor growers, but lots of people want to keep things indoors, perhaps away from prying eyes or hot grow tent lights.
The shortest Fast Buds strains are Rhino Ryder, Grapefruit, and Green Crack. These should always max out at less than one meter, though growers can use various techniques to constrain the vertical growth of other varieties.
We’ve come a long way, but not everyone can grow Cannabis freely in their garden or on their balcony... yet. Until that day comes, discreet growing will remain a priority for many. Short plants, like Fast Buds', that can grow rapidly in a closet or other private location are a godsend for cannabis enthusiasts who don’t want to draw attention to themselves.
What are the disadvantages?
Vulnerable to grower mistakes
Autoflowers may be resistant to various environmental stresses, but they are susceptible to human error. Many growers tie down, cut, or otherwise manipulate the branches of the growing plant to ensure proper size and make sure there are lots of places on the plant body for flowers to grow. Usually, autoflowers tolerate this treatment well. However, if an overeager grower takes these techniques too far, it will damage the plant and subject it to unnecessary stress. People manipulate photoperiod plants like this all the time; if they rough up their young cannabis plant in the process, it’s no big deal because it has months to recover. Since autoflowers come to harvest so quickly, they don’t have time to heal from overzealous poking, prodding, and pruning.
Wait, isn’t fast growing good thing? Well, it usually is, but this monstrous growth comes with one important caveat. The accelerated transition from vegetative to flowering stages means that stress caused to autoflowering plants in the first weeks (by intentionally bending, cutting or damaging stems to manipulate growth) can hamper their final production. For the same reason, transplanting autos from indoor to outdoor (or vice versa) is never recommended. It’s always best to keep autos in the same pot from day one.
For 99% of growers, stout plants are great. But not everyone grows for the same reasons. Some like to control everything to produce the most potent grow possible, others want to keep things discreet, but still, others want to raise marijuana plants worthy of an American state fair. If you’re looking to grow a massive, towering sativa twice the height of yourself, autoflowers might not be the choice for you.
After putting so much effort into a grow it’s easy to become attached to your plant. Or, maybe you found the perfect plant for you. In such cases, it’s possible to take a clipping from a photoperiod plant and grow a new one with 100% identical genetics. This is what industrial-scale growers often do, keeping a “clone mother” from which they take cuttings to grow into harvestable plants.
Cloning like this isn’t possible with autoflowering plants. However, Fast Buds’ awarding winning genetics and germination guarantee mean that you’ll always be able to grow the strain that’s right for you.
Is it right for you?
Thousands of growers choose autoflowering plants with these trade-offs in mind. Fast Buds' customers include privately minded closet growers, as well as commercial growers with massive outdoor operations. If autoflowering cannabis is the right choice for you, take a look at our catalog of strains and enjoy growing faster!