what is auto flowering?
Put simply, auto flowering is when the plant flowers automatically, after a certain period of time, as opposed to a trigger, such as shift in the light cycle as in indica and sativa strains (also known as photoperiod strains).
where did auto flowering originate?
Auto flowering first originated in the Cannabis ruderalis strain, discovered in Russia in the early 1940’s. We do not often use this strain on its own, due to the very low TCH levels (which is what gives you that ‘high’). Cannabis ruderalis is a wild cannabis type, grown in cooler and harsher climates, such as Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia. In these climates, seasons are often short, with long cold winters.
In order for the plant to flower, before the change to the cold weather season, it adapted to flower automatically, to guarantee breeding and therefore, creating the auto flower gene. Ruderalis plants grow pretty small and only reach a height of around 2 feet and will start flowering after around 3 to 4 weeks. Ruderalis is the foundation of all auto flowering strains, which are usually a mix of the ruderalis strain with an indica or sativa type.
why auto flowering?
Auto flowering is a great option for beginner cannabis growers as they are generally easier to maintain, grow smaller and will not overwhelm you with a huge yield. It is also a good option for those short on space. As they are smaller, they require less equipment and fertilizer, etc, so could save you money. For those wanting to give marijuana growing a try but do not want to fork out on indoor grow kits and everything else, you may want to give auto flowering a go first. The plants are also quite hardy so should do pretty well growing in most spots, indoors or outdoors.
benefits of auto flowering
You don’t need to worry about light schedules
You will still need to provide your plant lots of light (at least 5 hours of direct sunlight daily) and a warm climate of over 15 degrees Celsius, for two to three months. You will not need to worry about light cycles as the plant flowers automatically.
They are fast growers
Auto flowering strains tend to be ready to harvest in 2 to 3 months, much faster than growing indica or sativa strains alone. This means you can harvest the buds much quicker and get many cycles throughout the year.
They grow small
For those tight on space, this could be an excellent reason to try growing auto flowering plants. They take up much less room than photoperiod strains and can be grown both indoors and outdoors. This could be great for those wishing to grow cannabis in a more ‘discreet’ way, opposed to a tall plant growing in their backyard.
They will generally grow between 1 and 4 feet, although this will depend on the stain you pick also. There are auto flowering strains that will be taller or smaller, so make sure you read the labels before you buy your seeds.
It can be good for medical purposes
The auto flower type is mix between sativa or indica and cannabis ruderalis. Ruderalis is known to contain high levels of CBD (a cannabinoid known for helping with medical ailments). This means that many of the auto flowering type of cannabis will also contain a higher level of CBD, a good choice for those suffering from medical issues such as chronic pain and anxiety.
They can be easier to grow
Auto flower plants are generally recommended to beginner growers and expert growers alike. They are said to be pretty easy to maintain, even for those with little experience. However, you do need to take good care of the plants, particularly in the beginning, before the plant starts to flower.
Less fertilizer needed
Auto flowers are very hardy plants and can survive in harsher climates. Although auto flowering varieties still love nutrients, they will require less than sativa or indica varieties, and could therefore save you money.
disadvantages of auto flowering
There are some negative of auto flowering. They cannot be cloned, meaning you cannot take a snippet of one plant and use it to create another plant. They also produce smaller yields (which may be a positive for a causal user). For those wanting a large crop or more of a challenge then perhaps try growing a sativa or indica strain. If growing indoors, you will have to spend more money on lighting (usually 12 hours on, 12 hours off).
Also, although it is definitely a bonus that auto flowers mature quickly, this can also mean you have little time to put any mistakes right. This can lead to your plant not producing high quality buds. However, if this is the case, the short life cycle means you will of course be able to try again with another plant, and it wont take long to hopefully see some better results.