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The Ultimate Guide to Growing Autoflowers


Autoflowering cannabis strains have gained immense popularity among growers for their ease of cultivation and fast growth. Unlike photoperiod strains, autoflowers do not rely on light cycles for flowering, making them an excellent choice for outdoor cultivation. In this article, we will explore the step-by-step process of growing autoflowers outdoors, ensuring a successful and rewarding experience.

Selecting the Right Autoflower Strain

Choosing the right autoflowering strain is a critical step in ensuring a successful outdoor grow. Here’s a more detailed look at how to make the right choice:

  1. Climate Compatibility: Different strains thrive in different climates. Some are more suited to colder regions, while others prefer warmth and humidity. Research the specific needs of each strain to find one that matches your local climate.
  2. Resistance to Pests and Diseases: Look for strains known for their robust genetics that can withstand common pests and diseases in your area.
  3. Growth Speed: Depending on your growing season and preferences, you may want a strain that grows more quickly or slowly.
  4. Yield and Potency: Consider the expected yield and potency of the strain. Some autoflowers are bred to produce higher yields or more potent buds.
  5. Flavor and Aroma: Personal preferences for flavor and aroma should also guide your selection.

What Are the Best Autoflower Strains for Outdoor Grow?

Here are some examples of autoflowering cannabis strains that are particularly well-suited for outdoor cultivation:

  • Northern Lights Auto: This strain is renowned for its resilience and ability to thrive in colder climates. Its rapid growth and impressive yield make it a favorite among outdoor growers. The strong genetics provide resistance to common pests and diseases.
  • White Widow Auto: A classic strain, White Widow Auto is favored for its resistance to pests and its ability to grow in various climates. Its balanced effects and robust growth make it a reliable choice for outdoor cultivation.
  • Blueberry Auto: Blueberry Auto is a versatile strain that can adapt to variable weather conditions. Its hardiness, coupled with a sweet and fruity flavor, has made it a favorite among growers. It’s particularly suitable for regions with fluctuating temperatures.
  • Amnesia Haze Auto: Known for its high resistance to pests and mold, Amnesia Haze Auto is a superb choice for warmer and more humid climates. Its energetic and uplifting effects are matched by its robust nature, making it a popular outdoor strain.
  • Critical Auto: Critical Auto is known for its high yield and robust nature. It’s a strain that can withstand challenging outdoor conditions, making it suitable for growers looking for both quantity and quality in their harvest.
  • Lemon Haze Auto: This strain is appreciated for its citrusy aroma and taste, along with its ability to flourish in various outdoor conditions. Its relatively short flowering time and resistance to mildew make it a practical choice for outdoor cultivation.
  • Gorilla Glue Auto: With its strong genetics and ability to thrive in different climates, Gorilla Glue Auto is a versatile choice for outdoor cultivation. Its sticky resin and potent effects are complemented by its adaptability and resilience.

Preparing for Planting

Begin the process by germinating your autoflower seeds. You can use the paper towel method or sow them directly into small pots with a light growing medium. Once the seedlings have developed, transplant them into larger containers, ensuring enough space for the roots to grow. Be gentle during the transplanting process to avoid damaging the delicate roots. Properly timed transplantation will help your plants adapt and flourish in their outdoor environment.

Outdoor Autoflower Cultivation Techniques and Tips

Climate, Weather, and Location

Picking the ideal spot outdoors is crucial for the success of your autoflower garden. Select a spot that receives ample sunlight throughout the day, preferably a southern-facing area. Here are some things to consider before choosing the location of your garden:

  1. Climate Analysis: Know the average temperatures, humidity levels, and weather patterns in your area. This information will guide your strain selection and protection measures. Autoflowers are adaptable but typically thrive in temperatures between 20-28°C (68-82°F) with relative humidity around 40-50% during growth and 30-40% during flowering. They need 14-18 hours of sunlight daily, and protection from extreme weather conditions may be necessary.
  2. Weather Monitoring: Keep an eye on weather forecasts to prepare for sudden changes that might affect your plants, such as frost, heatwaves, or storms. Align growth cycles with milder weather.
  3. Location Selection: Choose a spot that receives ample sunlight but is also sheltered from high winds. Consider the angle of the sun throughout the day and the season.
  4. Windbreaks: If your location is prone to strong winds, consider installing windbreaks like fences or rows of trees to protect the plants.
  5. Protection Measures: Use frost blankets, greenhouses, or cloches to protect against extreme weather.
  6. Water Source: Ensure easy access to a clean water source for irrigation.

Pest Prevention

autoflower cannabis plant leaf infested with tiny aphids and spider mites on their leaves

Preventing pests is a proactive approach that proves to be more successful than handling an infestation. By implementing preventive measures such as regular cleaning, proper sanitation, sealing entry points, and using pest-resistant materials, the chances of pests gaining access and causing problems can be significantly reduced. This not only saves time, money, and resources but also promotes a healthier and more comfortable living or working environment. To do this, consider the following:

  1. Regular Inspection: Check plants frequently for signs of pests, focusing on the undersides of leaves and stems.
  2. Natural Predators: Encourage or introduce beneficial insects like ladybugs that prey on common pests.
  3. Companion Planting: Plant herbs or flowers that naturally repel pests near your cannabis plants.
  4. Hygiene: Keep the growing area clean and free from debris where pests might breed.
  5. Organic Sprays: Utilize organic sprays like neem oil as a preventive measure.
  6. Barriers: Physical barriers like row covers can keep larger pests away.

Soil Preparation

The right soil is the foundation of a healthy plant:

  1. Soil Testing: Test the soil for pH and nutrient levels to understand what adjustments may be needed.
  2. Soil Composition: Create a mix that provides good drainage, aeration, and nutrient content. A blend of perlite, peat moss, and compost is often ideal.
  3. pH Adjustment: If needed, adjust the soil’s pH using lime or sulfur to reach the optimal range of 6.0 to 7.0.
  4. Nutrient Planning: Plan a nutrient schedule that aligns with the plant’s growth stages. Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K) are the primary nutrients essential for their overall health. In the vegetative stage, cannabis plants thrive with increased levels of Nitrogen, promoting lush foliage growth. As they transition into the flowering stage, a higher concentration of Phosphorus and Potassium is necessary to support the development of robust buds. Use balanced NPK fertilizer and consider bloom boosters during flowering
  5. Water Retention: Ensure the soil retains moisture without becoming waterlogged.
  6. Organic Additives: Enhance soil with worm castings, bat guano, or compost.

Maximizing Yields

Providing the right care is essential for healthy plant development. Water your autoflowers regularly, but avoid overwatering to prevent root rot. Depending on the strain and soil quality, you may need to supplement nutrients during the growth cycle. Additionally, training techniques such as LST can help improve yields by encouraging lateral growth and light exposure. To get the most out of your autoflowering plants, consider these strategies:

  1. Pot Size Selection: Choose pots that provide enough space for root growth without causing waterlogging.
  2. Low-Stress Training (LST): Gently bend and tie branches to expose more bud sites to sunlight, increasing yield potential.
  3. Nutrient Management: Provide the right balance of nutrients, especially during the flowering stage, without over-fertilizing.
  4. Light Optimization: Ensure plants receive optimal sunlight or consider supplemental lighting if needed.
  5. Watering Schedule: Maintain a consistent watering schedule that keeps the soil moist but not soggy.
  6. Harvest Timing: Harvest at the right time to maximize yield and potency. Monitor trichomes and follow strain-specific guidelines.

To optimize your outdoor autoflower cultivation, continuously monitor and adjust environmental factors such as temperature, humidity, and nutrient levels. Keeping a grow journal can help you track your progress and learn from previous experiences. Avoid common mistakes such as overfeeding, improper training, and insufficient light exposure. With practice and attention to detail, you can maximize yields and achieve potent, flavorful buds.

Harvesting and Curing

Knowing the right time to harvest is critical for achieving the desired potency and flavor. Trichome color and pistil maturity are reliable indicators of readiness. After harvesting, carefully trim the buds and begin the curing process. Proper curing enhances the taste and smoothness of the final product. Place the trimmed buds in airtight containers, burping them regularly to release excess moisture.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Growing Autoflowers Outdoors

a farmer tending to the outdoor autoflower cannabis plants with care

Advantages:

1. Quick Growth Cycle

  • Multiple Harvests: The rapid growth cycle of autoflowers allows for several harvests within a single growing season. This can be particularly beneficial for commercial growers or hobbyists looking to maximize their output.
  • Shorter Wait Time: For those eager to see the fruits of their labor, autoflowers provide a quicker turnaround from planting to harvest.

2. Ease of Cultivation

  • Less Monitoring: Unlike photoperiod strains, autoflowers don’t require specific light cycles to flower. This reduces the need for constant monitoring and adjustments.
  • Beginner-Friendly: The automatic transition from vegetative to flowering stage makes autoflowers a great choice for beginners.

3. Compact Size

  • Space Efficiency: Their smaller stature means they can be grown in limited spaces, such as balconies or small gardens.
  • Discreet Growing: For those looking to maintain privacy in their cultivation, the compact size of autoflowers is a significant advantage.

4. Strong Genetics

  • Resilience: Many autoflowers are bred with robust genetics, making them more resistant to common garden pests and diseases.
  • Weather Adaptation: Their strong genetics often allow them to adapt to varying weather conditions, providing a level of flexibility in outdoor growing.

5. Environmental Benefits

  • Utilization of Natural Resources: Outdoor growing leverages natural sunlight and environmental conditions, reducing the need for artificial lighting and climate control systems.
  • Reduction in Electricity Consumption: Unlike indoor setups that require significant electrical energy, outdoor cultivation minimizes energy usage, contributing to overall sustainability.
  • Eco-Friendly Choice: By minimizing the carbon footprint associated with indoor growing, cultivating autoflowers outdoors aligns with environmentally conscious practices and becomes a more sustainable option.

Disadvantages:

1. Smaller Yields

  • Less Produce: Generally, autoflowers produce smaller yields compared to traditional photoperiod strains. This might not be suitable for those looking to maximize production.
  • Trade-off for Speed: The quicker growth cycle often comes at the expense of yield, as the plants have less time to develop.

2. Limited Recovery Time

  • Mistake Sensitivity: The rapid growth of autoflowers means that there’s less time to correct mistakes or recover from stress, such as over-watering or nutrient imbalances.
  • Expert Care Needed: While they are often easier to grow, mistakes can be more costly with autoflowers, requiring careful attention, especially for novice growers.

3. Limited Control

  • Automatic Flowering: Some growers prefer to have control over the transition to the flowering stage, which is not possible with autoflowers.
  • Less Customization: The automatic nature of autoflowers means less opportunity for growers to influence or customize the growth process.

4. Weather Sensitivity

  • Outdoor Challenges: Despite their resilience, outdoor conditions such as sudden temperature changes, storms, or extreme weather can have a significant impact on autoflowers.
  • Protection Measures Needed: Growers may need to invest in protective measures like greenhouses or frost blankets to mitigate weather-related risks.

Comparing Indoor and Outdoor Cultivation

While indoor cultivation offers precise control over environmental factors such as temperature, humidity, and light, allowing for potentially higher yields and quality. It also provides a year-round growing opportunity, irrespective of seasonal changes.

Outdoor cultivation, on the other hand, leverages natural sunlight and environmental conditions, often resulting in a more natural flavor profile and lower operational costs. On the downside, it may expose the plants to unpredictable weather and pests.

In the end, the choice between indoor and outdoor cultivation depends on the grower’s goals, resources, and preferences, each method offering distinct advantages and challenges that cater to different cultivation philosophies and needs.

Legal Considerations

Before starting any cannabis cultivation, you first need to research and understand the local laws and regulations concerning cannabis cultivation in your area. While some places allow personal cultivation for recreational or medicinal purposes, others may have strict restrictions. Adhering to the law ensures a worry-free growing experience.

Community and Online Resources

Engaging with fellow growers can be beneficial for sharing knowledge and troubleshooting issues. Online cannabis-growing communities and forums offer a wealth of information and insights. Participating in these communities can help you stay updated with the latest trends and techniques in cannabis cultivation.

Addressing Common Misconceptions

There are various misconceptions surrounding autoflower cultivation that can deter potential growers. One common belief is that autoflowers are inherently low in THC and therefore less potent. However, many modern autoflower strains offer high THC levels and exceptional effects, with potency depending on genetics, care, and cultivation methods.

Another misconception is that autoflowers produce smaller individual yields. While this may be true to some extent, their rapid growth cycle allows for multiple harvests in a single season, potentially compensating for the smaller yields.

Contrary to the belief that they lack diversity in flavor profiles, autoflowers can exhibit a wide range of flavors and aromas. Plus, their ease of cultivation, requiring less attention to light cycles, makes them suitable for both novice and experienced growers.

Conclusion

Growing autoflowers outdoors is a rewarding and accessible journey for both beginners and experienced cannabis enthusiasts. With the right strain selection, location, care, and a bit of patience, you can produce high-quality buds with distinct flavors

FAQs about Outdoor Autoflowers

How fast do autoflowers grow outside?

Autoflowers generally reach harvest within 10-11 weeks from germination. Their rapid growth cycle is one of their defining characteristics.

Can I move a cannabis plant from inside to outside?

Yes, you can move an autoflower from inside to outside, but it must be done gradually to avoid shocking the plant. A gradual transition helps the plant acclimate to the new outdoor conditions.

What are the best pots for outdoor autoflowers?

Large smart pots made from breathable fabric are often recommended. These pots allow the roots to air-prune, promoting healthy root development, and provide excellent drainage and temperature control, making them optimal for outdoor grows.

How much do autoflowers grown outdoors yield?

The yield of outdoor autoflowers can vary widely depending on the strain, care, and environmental conditions. On average, outdoor yields can range from 50-250g per plant.

Do autoflowers grown outdoors also need nutrients?

Yes, autoflowers require a balanced diet of macro and micronutrients, but often in lower quantities than photoperiod plants. Proper nutrient management is essential for healthy growth and development.

What is the easiest autoflower strain for outdoors?

Strains like Northern Lights Auto and Blueberry Auto are recommended due to their robust nature and adaptability to various outdoor conditions.

How tall do autoflower plants get when grown outdoors?

Most autoflowers reach a height of 60-150cm outdoors. The height can vary with strain and environmental factors, with some remaining quite compact and others growing taller.

Dr. Jen Chalmers
Dr. Jen Chalmers
Dr. Jen Chalmers is an accomplished writer and cannabis enthusiast. With a Ph.D. in Botany and years of experience as a researcher, she brings a scientific perspective to her captivating articles on cannabis news, recipes, and the fascinating world of psychedelics.

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