Autoflowering varieties of Cannabis are becoming more popular in the U.S. In Europe, the demand for autos is as high as photoperiod strains, and with the advancements in breeding programmes, many autoflowering varieties tick all the boxes. Below are top tips to follow when growing automatics and what to consider to achieve the best yields and plants possible.
The First Three Weeks
Despite automatics nature to grow independent of any set photoperiod, there will be a three week period where the plants grow in a vegetative state. Similar to flowering a cannabis seed immediately under 12/12, there would still be a period where the plants produced only vegetative growth.
A good tip here is to make sure that you give the plants the best start possible. This should mean providing the best organic growing medium, a larged sized felt pot to allow the roots to expand and for the plant to grow bigger, making sure the root zone temperatures are not too cold or hot, and finally provide plenty of light.
Just because growers have so much success outdoors with automatic strains, does not mean the same top shelf quality cannot be achieved indoors. Autoflowering strains grown inside can achieve perfection, as long as they are given plenty of nutrients and the environmental conditions are right.
A great tip here is to make some extra space in your vegging rooms, where your plants are growing under an 18/6 light cycle. This is plenty of light for an auto to achieve its full potential, and the benefits are you can harvest autos, as your vegging plants are growing.
Felt Pots and Air Pruning
There is nothing worse when a plant grows root bound, meaning that the tap root has no where else to go. This happens when roots are encouraged to grow downwards and towards the base of most typical pots. This problem can be easily solved by air pruning which will enhance your root system when the plants are young significantly.
Our tip here is to make your own air pruned pots by drilling small holes around the sides. Once the roots grow outwards and come into contact with the air, then the pruning process will occur. Alternately using felt or a similar fabric will allow pots to breath and for air to pass through. Remember plenty of air around the root zone will encourage faster growth, as well as keep bad bacteria at bay.
Stealth and Safety
As easy and tempting as it can be to plant 50 automatic strains in one outdoor patch, you should consider the security aspect. This should apply to both aroma and what can be seen by neighbours, passers by or helicopters. Disguising your small sized autos is easily done and will take away some of the panic when helicopters do pass over.
A great tip is to blend your outdoor crop with companion plants. These can range from Mint, Sunflowers, Basil, Beans, Garlic chilli peppers and a variety of tomato plants. The benefit of using these easy to buy plants, is camouflage and they also have insect killing capabilities.
Planting In a Large Pot
The first three weeks is very important in order to finish with a plant that will be around 90cm in height, with a prolific yield. Automatics should not be transplanted once they are established, so it is a good idea to start them off in a large sized pot, which they will remain inside until they are harvested.
Our top tip here is to use a fabric pot that is at least 25 litres, and to fill it with an organic blend of growing medium, that the plant will enjoy for the remainder of its life cycle. Growing outdoors with organics is the best way to grow, and the larger the pot, the more life it will hold. A mixture of coco, worm castings, compost and fed with aerated teas will produce amazing tasting flowers.
Perpetual Outdoor Harvests
If you are fortunate enough to live in a tropical climate, or atleast have a South facing garden then it is possible to grow for most of the year. The only times where certain automatics may struggle is during the Winter months, however from March onwards it is possible to grow every 2 months constantly until Winter time.
A top tip here is to build a private polytunnel where you are able to harvest perpetually every 2-3 months, depending on which variety you have chosen to grow. Some very fast flowering automatics can take as little as 8-10 weeks, meaning there will always be an abundant harvest every quarter of the year.
The range of diversity that exists amongst autos is staggering, and now growers have the option to choose CBD dominant automatics. This is excellent for those who grow and extract for medicinal use, and can rely on an indoor or outdoor CBD rich crop all year around.
A great tip is to find a CBD dominant genetic that works for you in your outdoor space. This means to see how resistant and versatile the plants are, and overall how well they adapt to your location. Some varieties will perform better than others in certain conditions outdoors, so it is a good idea to grow out and test multiple cultivars at once to narrow it down to a winner.
Polytunnels Are Brilliant
One of the best ways to grow discreetly and the best thing is how simple it is to build a polytunnel. The materials can be sourced from bamboo, rubber water pipe and plastic sheeting. Furthermore, you can customise the size to fit your outdoor patch or terrace space.
Our tip here is to build a polytunnel over an existing organic bed. Or you can simply make a bed and then place the tunnel over. It will be difficult for any one to really see inside, and if you can blend your crop with companion plants, then it will look like a normal greenhouse.
The Advantages Of Growing Automatics
Automatics as the name suggests means that they will grow regardless of the outside light cycle. Photoperiod strains require a 12 darkness period in order to induce flowering. Automatics can be grown with excellent results outdoors with as little as 9 hours light.
- Due to the small to medium sized stature, autoflowering strains can be discreetly grown outdoors on a small balcony, upstairs terrace, in a polytunnel or mixed in with other plants. Camouflaging autos is far easier than a 6ft outdoors plant, especially with the aid of companion plants.
- The choice of strains that are available in femenised form is very diverse. The ability to choose an autoflowering replica of an existing photoperiod strain is easy, as well as CBD hybrids and classic old school strains. It seems more seed banks are producing automatic lines, and some newer seed banks specialising in only the production of automatics.
- You can easily plant automatics in a large pot and leave in a vegging room, where the light cycle remains on 18/6. It may be you have a flowering room, however the advantages of harvesting an auto flowering plant is always a bonus
- The quality of the flowers that automatics produce is extremely high, and a blind fold test would prove difficult between an automatic variety and a photoperiod. As more growers are enjoying the easability and accountability of autoflowering strains, the level of quality will only increase.