As autoflowering strains are becoming extremely popular in Europe and the U.S, it seems for growers are trying their hand with great success using autoflowering genetics. Below are top tips when it comes to growing autos outdoors, and what to consider in order to achieve the best crop possible, all year around.
By Stoney Tark
This is one of the most important factors and will determine how much direct sunlight your plants recieve. During different times of the year depending on the season, balconies, terraces and private back gardens will be exposed to more sunlight, for longer or shorter times.
Our top tip here is to locate south using a compass, and plant here. South facing will entitle you to sunlight, at least until the sun begins to set. If you are lucky enough where you can plant facing South, and receive full sun from the morning until the evening then you will produce excellent results all year.
The Size of Pot
The theory that the bigger the pot then the bigger the plants, certainly holds true when it comes to autoflowering genetics. You must also consider that for the first 3 weeks, the root system is being developed and in return, the vegetative growth forms. Our top tip here is to work with a pot size that is around 20 litres. This is the ideal size for autos to produce a well-established, prolific root zone without having wasted space, and growing medium.
Generally autoflowering Cannabis that has been grown in a large container will usually finish around 120cm tall, however genetics can often play a key role in the final plant height.
Polytunnels and greenhouses
Sometimes dealing with the elements can be challenging, especially when it comes to growing cannabis outdoors. Heavy rain, strong winds and cold temperatures can really pull the handbrake on a flowering plant. Our top tip here is to build a polytunnel or greenhouse, that will become the new home for your autoflowering plants. There are many benefits to building your own outdoor tunnel for the plants, ranging from privacy, protection from the rain and wind to a low cost set up that can stand the course of time if built properly.
Grow for resistance
If you are not able to build a polytunnel using PVC pipe, and polystyrene plastic sheet or cannot afford a small glass greenhouse, however have a small balcony, or sunny roof terrace. Our top tip here is to pick the best autoflowering strains that suit your environment. For example it would be best to grow low profile varieties, that are kept out of sight from onlooking neighbours, and are easy to camouflage using other plants. Another reason is you need a fast, mould and mildew resistant strain that will be ready to harvest before the rain season kicks in.
Plant the entire year
One of the very best things about growing autoflowering cannabis outdoors, is how versatile and responsive they are to all the seasons. Of course the best time of the year to squeeze out multiple harvests would be from March until September. Our top tip here is to push your annual harvest to 5 per year by growing from January until December. Those blessed with hot weather such as South Europe or South America, can produce incredible results with the right strain.
What about nutrients?
When growing photo tropical strains that rely on a vegetative phase of 18/6 and flowering period of 12/12, we generally increase the P-K uptake once the flowering phase has begun feeding accordingly with a nutrient chart, bearing in mind a flushing period is required to force the plants to use up all their nutrient supply, as well as improve the overall flavour and experience of the flower.
Our top tip here is to not overfeed your plants, as this will be reflected in the way the flower burns, tastes and the colour and consistency of the ash. It is better to grow with an N-P-K ratio that is 3-4-4 and allow the beneficial bacteria and fungi to do the rest for the plants.
Stealth and Camouflage
For those who can grow autoflowering strains outdoors from their apartment's balcony, rooftop or garden, keeping everything quiet and as discreet as possible is essential. To avoid repercussions from neighbours, or passing helicopters, it is a good idea to stealth your outdoor grow site. Our tip here is to use companion plants to grow alongside your autos, and to help them blend in with the other colours of the plants.
If you don't want to use real plants in fear of insects, then you can buy plastic flowers and insert them around your pots. These can be purchased cheaply, are water proof and will last a long time before needing to replace.
Train your plants
In the same way we are encouraged to get hands on with our plants, by influencing their shape and growth structure with our hands. Not only can training enhance the amount of light the plants receive, it can also increase the overall yields. Our top tip here is to open your plants up when between the first 4 weeks, to promote a wide and bushy top canopy.
Once your autoflowering cannabis plants are firmly flowering, you will notice the difference in the number of flowering sites exposed to the sun, as well as the overall size and quality of the finished flower.
Nature's little helpers
Microscopic microorganisms can be found in soil cultures that have coexisted with the earth for thousands of years. Like anything in life, there are good and bad versions, however the ones who work side by side with cannabis plants are called aerobic bacteria. Our top tip here is to introduce beneficial to your growing medium, allowing them to form a symbiotic relationship with the roots. In return the microbes will feed the plants allowing them to gain weight and incredible flavours as they flower. As long as there is food for the microbes, there will always be food for the plants.