Tips For Growing Autoflowering Cannabis Outdoors
Growing autoflowering cannabis strains outdoors can be very rewarding. Here is everything you need to know about the process, so you can look forward to monster yields from compact plants!
Autoflowering cannabis strains are awesome. They grow fast and easy, and they fit pretty much everywhere because of their compact size. Although autoflowers are great for growing indoors, you can make the most of them with some love from Mother Nature outdoors.
Just a few years ago, many cultivators didn’t take autoflowers seriously. They saw them as something suited for beginners, as the first autoflowering varieties couldn’t really match the yield, aroma, and potency of photoperiod strains. But this has changed significantly in recent years. Modern autoflowers have great yields, and their buds are of a quality that rivals photoperiod strains. As such, it only makes sense that cultivators are growing these strains outdoors to make the most of their key features. Here are some benefits of outdoor-grown autos:
• Sunlight means better yields and fatter buds
• You can achieve several harvests in a single growing season
• You can grow them outdoors at any time of year (weather depending)
• They are less susceptible to pests due to faster growth
• They fit in tiny spaces on your balcony, terrace, or garden
• They are ideal for stealthy outdoor grows/guerrilla grows due to their small size
BEFORE YOU START — PLANNING YOUR OUTDOOR AUTO GROW
One of the advantages of autos is their fast growth. Some autoflowering strains can deliver their goods in an amazingly short 50–55 days from the moment you plant your seed. Although their very fast growth is normally an advantage, it also means that autos are less forgiving when it comes to certain mistakes, as you simply don’t have the time to correct things as you would with photoperiods. Likewise, if any major issues happen over their short lifetime, from diseases and overwatering to pests and whatnot, this will also greatly diminish your yield.
To avoid this, you want to carefully plan your autoflowering outdoor grow so your girls can reach their full potential in the short time they have. Before anything else, consider the viability of your location. What’s the climate like? Are you planning to plant your seeds directly in a garden bed or in containers? What type of nutrients will you use? Will your plants get enough sunlight? Will you be able to attend to your plants, or are you growing in a remote location where you can’t visit often?
For instance, if you happen to live in a colder, rainier climate, you may want to choose an autoflowering strain that doesn’t mind cooler temperatures and is also resistant to mould. Even these simple considerations can be enough to help you optimise your grow and avoid disaster.
WHEN TO PLANT YOUR AUTOFLOWERS OUTDOORS
Photoperiodic cannabis relies on natural daylight hours for its vegetative and flowering stages. You normally plant seeds in late spring where they will veg until late summer when the shorter daylight hours force them into flowering. By the end of summer/early fall, they will be ready for harvest.
The beauty of autoflowers is that they don’t rely on daylight cycles, which means you can plant and harvest autoflowers any time you want. If you live in a climate where there is no frost, such as in the Mediterranean, you can, in principle, grow autoflowers all year round.
Then again, cannabis, including autoflowers, grows best when it can get at least 10–12 hours of sufficient sunlight. As such, it is still best to plant seeds in spring, sometime from late April to early May in Europe, as the days are already longer, which will benefit your plants’ growth. You can then harvest in late July and start another crop in early August, which will be ready in October. If you happen to live in a warm climate with no frost, you can reap up to four harvests in one single year!
If you live further north, you may want to avoid the coldest and rainiest months of the year. In these climates, you can plant your autoflowers sometime in late spring when you know there is no danger of frost. The exact time depends on where you live, and could range from April to early June. The shorter summer in a colder climate is also a factor you need to think about. You shouldn’t sow too late either, as you want to avoid flowering your weed into the rainy season. If you live somewhere with a rainy fall, it can be good to plant in early June, so you can harvest late in August. This way, you can beat the bad weather and your buds won’t fall victim to mould.
Bottom line: The best time to plant will depend on the climate where you are growing. Ensure your plants can get plenty of sunlight, and make sure to avoid frost and extensive rain.
HOW TO GROW YOUR OUTDOOR AUTOFLOWERS
These days, you can find many great varieties of autoflowering cannabis seeds. Check out Royal AK Automatic, Amnesia Haze Automatic, Northern Light Automatic and the many other great autoflowers at Royal Queen Seeds. Once you find a strain you like—one that will grow well in your climate—you can get started with your outdoor grow.
1. GERMINATE YOUR AUTOFLOWERING SEEDS
You can germinate your autoflowering cannabis seeds just like you would photoperiod seeds. Some cultivators like to germinate using the “paper towel method” or by putting seeds into a glass of water. But you can also plant your seeds right into their final container. Know that re-potting autoflowering cannabis is not recommended, as the transfer from a smaller to a larger pot can slow its growth. Since the growing time of autos is already limited, you want to avoid this as it can lead to a decreased yield.
For best results germinating your autoflowering seeds, we recommend the Starter Kit Autoflowering. This kit comes with everything you need to give your cannabis plants the best possible start in life.
2. PREPARE YOUR PLANTING CONTAINER OR GROWING SPOT
If you are growing your autoflower in a container, make sure that you choose a big-enough pot. Although autoflowers can normally do well with smaller pots compared to some of the larger photoperiod ladies, you still don’t want to restrict their growth. A pot that holds 7–15 litres will do. Again, keep in mind that your chosen pot will also be your final pot.
If you don’t use a container and want to plant directly in soil instead, know that the outdoor soil at your chosen location may not be optimal. The natural soil will likely not have sufficient nutrients, and it may drain poorly and/or contain harmful microorganisms that adversely affect the growth of your plant. For these reasons, outdoor growers often first dig holes for their outdoor plants, which they fill with a suitable substrate before planting their seed.
3. WATERING AND NUTRIENTS FOR YOUR OUTDOOR AUTOFLOWERS
As autoflowers normally grow to a smaller size, they will not need as much water as a vigorous photoperiod sativa, but you still want to make sure that your outdoor auto has enough to drink. How much and how often you need to water will once again depend on your climate and the needs of your individual plant. Just like with any other type of cannabis grow, you want to avoid overwatering in particular, although underwatering isn’t ideal either.
As for nutrients, here too you will want to be careful with how much you administer. You can always start with ½ or ¾ doses of nutes to make sure you’re not overloading your plants. You can also consider slow-release nutrients. These can be ideal when you grow outdoors in a location that you can’t always visit. When you amend your substrate with slow-release nutrients, your plant will get everything it needs, and you won’t need to bother feeding it. All you need to do is water.
4. HARVESTING YOUR CROP
Some autoflowers can be ready in a short 50–60 days, but there are also those that take longer, up to 80 days. Just like with photoperiod strains, you’ll know that harvest time is close when the initially white pistils on the buds start turning brown. To really see when it’s time to harvest, you should examine the trichomes of your cannabis plant. Trichomes are tiny, mushroom-shaped outgrows on the buds and sugar leaves of your plant. During growth, trichomes are crystal-clear at first. Later in flowering, the trichomes turn a milky white colour, then around harvest time, they turn from white to amber. You can’t really see the trichomes with the unaided eye, so use a jeweller’s loupe to get a close look at them. Cultivators often harvest when a certain percentage of the tiny “bubble heads” of the trichomes turn amber. At this point, the leaves of your plant will normally have started to turn yellow.
When you’re ready to harvest, swiftly cut the branches with the buds off of your plant, and don’t waste a lot of time drawing unwanted attention. Once you’ve safely brought home your harvest, you can trim the buds further. Alternatively, you can hang the branches with buds still attached for drying.
COMMON PROBLEMS WHEN GROWING AUTOS OUTDOORS
Growing outdoors can come with its own potential problems. Unwanted discovery of your weed out in the wild is one of them, but there is also the risk of animals and insects taking a liking to your crops. Here’s what you can do about it.
Fortunately, autoflowering cannabis varieties are somewhat less prone to pests and insect infestations. In fact, some autoflowering varieties are bred to have a particularly strong resistance against mould and pests. Likewise, due to the short life cycle of autoflowers, insects often don’t have the time they need to become a serious problem. Otherwise, if you notice an insect infestation such as aphids or whiteflies, no need to go all synthetic about it: insecticidal soap and neem oil can deal with most common cannabis pests in a safe and natural way.
ANIMALS TAKING A LIKING TO YOUR CROP
If you grow outdoors, chances are your crops may also attract the attention of animals such as birds, cats, or deer. If you grow somewhere where cannabis-loving critters are roaming about, you may want to protect your plants with cages made from chicken wire or bamboo stakes.
DISCOVERY OF YOUR CROP BY OTHER PEOPLE
Your precious plantation may also be at risk if someone discovers it. Someone may snatch your plants or you may get in trouble for growing. The smaller size of autoflowers already helps reduce the risk of accidental discovery. To further reduce the risk, choose a remote growing spot some distance away from paths and other public places, where it’s unlikely that someone would come around. With autoflowering varieties that are low in odour, you can further mitigate the risk for discovery. When you plant your weed together with companion plants such as herbs, flowers, or vegetables, you not only camouflage your grow and keep it hidden, but also prevent pests from taking hold while improving the surrounding soil.
With these tips, you can look forward to a bountiful harvest from your autoflowering cannabis outdoors.
Growing autoflowering cannabis outdoors has many advantages. Click here to check out this guide, which tells you everything you need to know about the process!
How To Grow Autoflowering Cannabis Outdoors
If you reside in a location where growing weed is legal, you’re in luck. Not everyone can grow cannabis especially outdoors, but if you do get this opportunity use it! With a little knowledge, you can produce loads of buds.
And, if you’re here to understand a bit more about how to grow autoflowering plants outside , read on and you’ll know everything there is to know.
Growing autos outdoors is easy because they don’t depend on light to flower. You can grow them almost all year round, by just providing good nutrients and protecting them from pests and rain. Remember that the yield will depend on the light cycle so it’s better to plan ahead.
1. What should i conside before planting?
Indoor vs outdoor
This is a huge question growers have before starting to grow their own weed because both of them have their pros and cons. To make this decision, you will have to have a couple of things in consideration: environment , smell and most important of all: cost .
Cost is the most important because you will need to spend quite a bit of money to buy a good light fixture, exhaust fan, filter and grow tent, even though it seems like a lot, this will allow you to control every aspect of the growing environment, will allow you to eliminate odor and be more discreet because unless you allow a person in, no one will be able to see your growing operation.
When growing outdoors you won’t have to spend much other than with pots and nutrients, but you should remember that when growing outdoors you won’t be able to control the climate and you can suffer from extremely cold or hot climates and this will affect your plants growth.
Another disadvantage is that your plants will be visible and the odor can be a problem if you live in a place where cannabis is not legal.
Climate region and your location
If you’re starting to grow cannabis just now, you probably are wondering When to plant? Well, this will depend on the expected weather and all the things that come with it.
There are 6 climate regions in the world, in each one of them the temperature, humidity, and sunlight vary so you should plan according to your environment.
The tropical climate can be found along the equator region, in cities like Brasília (brazil), Miami (United States) and Biak (Indonesia), and is characterized by a high temperature and high humidity with an average temperature of 18°C all year long.
The subtropical climate is characterized by hot, humid summers and cool, mild winters and is usually located near the coasts like São Paulo (Brazil), Orlando (United States), and Hong Kong (China). This type of climate can be found in all the continents with a high average of 24-27°C and lows from 10-16°C with moderate humidity.
Cold climates (Subarctic and arctic climate)
Cold climates occur in cities like Anchorage (Alaska), Sumedang (Indonesia) and Moosonee (Canada), in these climate regions the humidity is fairly low, the climate is extremely harsh, with an average of -10°C in winter and not exceeding 26°C in summer.
Temperate climates can be found in cities like Sydney (Australia), Buenos Aires (Argentina), and Atlanta (United States), it has moderate relative humidity, with an average low of 10°C during 6 months of the year and an average high of around 22°C .
Dry climates (arid and semi-arid climate)
Dry climates can be found in cities like Lampedusa (Italy), Reno (United States) and Jaipur (India), it is characterized by really low humidity, with extremely low temperatures at night, reaching -10°C and extremely cold hot during the day, around 45°C .
Depending on where you live, you will have to plan ahead, knowing the expected temperature, humidity, and amount of sunlight your plants will receive can make a huge difference in yield.
For example, California gets an average of 14:30hrs of sunlight in the summer 1 and around 9:40hs in the winter, so you should plan your growing cycle according to where you live.
Mold and pests
When growing outdoors it can be fairly easy to get bugs and pests.
Your plants are directly exposed to the environments so you should be careful with rain , high humidity, and temperature , the right combination of these elements can attract bugs or mold to your cannabis plants and because you can’t control the environment, it can be quite hard to deal with it.
Protecting your plants outdoors
Cannabis plants must be protected from harsh weather and predators, depending on where you’re growing your plant can be attacked by bugs or even bigger animals like dogs, cats, or rodents this is why it’s better to have a wire fence around them if needed.
The fence needs to be underground and above ground around your plant and the roots, despite seeming too much it is essential because animals like gophers and moles live underground, they look for roots to feed on and can eat a whole plant overnight.
It’s also a good idea to build a simple structure to help protect your plants from snow and rain, this structure can be built with wooden stakes and a plastic sheet and will ensure your plants don’t freeze or get mold.
There’s no need to spend too much to protect your plants, a wire fence is fairly cheap and if you want to make a hoop-house it can be easily made with a plastic sheet and plastic tubes, if you want a sturdier one you can build a metal or wood but the structure will be basically the same.
Tips For Beginners
If you’ve never grown cannabis before, there are a couple of things you need to have in mind. Depending on the city you live in, you have to be sure your growing space is discreet, this means not only the plants shouldn’t be visible but also neighbors shouldn’t be able to smell the plants.
This not only applies to the plants themself but also the light. Usually grow light fixtures are super bright and can be seen from far away if you don’t make sure there are no light leaks.
Masking the smell outdoors can be a little bit tricky because you don’t have a way to eliminate the smell.
You can guerilla grow on your balcony using lots of aromatic plants that will help to camouflage your cannabis plants, it’s not a guarantee that the smell won’t bother your neighbors.
Even though you can train your plants, the best way to avoid this is to grow Indica dominant, they tend to grow shorter and compact, so you don’t need to train them (if you don’t want or know how to).
If you wish to grow a specific strain that grows tall, you should grow them in smaller pots or train them so they can’t be seen by people walking by or from other balconies.
You can also build a structure similar to a hoop house around your plants, by covering them with a plastic sheet you can keep the rain off, reduce light like most outdoor growers do with the light deprivation technique, and have more stealth cannabis grow.
2. Optimal conditions
Light cycle and best time to start
It is important to understand the life cycle of an autoflowering Cannabis plant, and how they differ from normal photoperiodic cultivars. As the name suggests these strains will begin to flower automatically thanks to their Ruderalis heritage .
Originally found in Siberia, the dwarf-sized, low potency Ruderalis had the ability to grow in a vegetative stage and then flower automatically independent of the light cycle. An incredible trait that autoflowering cannabis strains carry nowadays.
|Hours of light||18||12|
|Hours of darkness||6||12|
|Pros||Allows plants to rest and develop good buds||Easier to plan ahead, available almost all year long|
|Cons||Not available all year long||Underdeveloped and aery buds|
Once you understand that it’s possible to plant automatics outdoors at any time of the year, you can begin to plan your growing cycles based on the temperature , humidity, and sunlight where you live, although you need to have in mind that outdoors, the light cycle depends on the season you’re in and can differ from one place to another, resulting in more or less plant growth and consequently better (or worse) yields.
The best time to start growing photoperiodic cannabis depends on the amount of light you get, but with autoflowers, things are different. Because they grow fast and don’t depend on light to start flowering, you can grow them outside whenever you want. Of course, the temperature may have an influence on the result but you most likely will have beautiful flowers after every harvest.
Due to the tough resilient nature that autoflowering Cannabis possesses, depending on the strain, it is easily possible to harvest buds during the coldest time of the year with the shortest daylight hours, as well as during the hottest and longest days.
It is this incredible ability to adapt to any climates from harsh and cold to lovely and hot that allow for any grower to achieve a harvest all year long, although there is an optimal environment that all plants prefer, even though autos can withstand harsher climates, the best temperature to grow auto cannabis plants is from 18-25 °C , with a 60% relative humidity and preferably 18 hours of light per day.
Growing in summer
If you’re growing in hotter climates you will need to adjust watering and the amount of nutrients. This is because higher temperatures tend to accelerate the plant’s processes, so you will have to adjust feeding to your plant’s necessities. Also, have in mind that in summer there is an increase in humidity levels so it is good to perform LST techniques to keep good airflow in between the buds and branches and avoid fungus or bugs.
Growing in winter
In colder climates plants tend to slow down their rate of growth, so you will usually use less nutrients . Also have in mind that in the winter the humidity levels are lower, so you’ll want to water sporadically so your plant has time to absorb the nutrients . Have in mind that if the temperature is below 4°C , water can freeze the roots, so it’s better to feed your plant when the temperatures are higher.
- Some automatics can take very cold weather as well as intense heat.
- It is possible to plant from early Spring until late winter with great results.
- Autoflowering Cannabis is very resistant to mold, mildew, and wind.
- Avoid planting seeds if your garden is showing signs of frost.
The humidity levels are super important for a cannabis plant, if the humidity is too high or too low the plant will have a hard time “breathing”, so it’s crucial you know what humidity levels to expect for each stage of plant growth before cultivating.
In the seedling stage, your plants will develop better in 60% relative humidity because baby plants don’t like a drier environment and actually need the extra moisture to develop properly in the first weeks of life.
You have to gradually decrease the humidity from 60% down to 50% in the vegetative stage, this is because at this stage plants have already started photosynthesizing and need that relative humidity level to be able to do it properly.
Once your plant has entered the pre-flowering stage, you will have to gradually decrease the humidity level to around 40-45% , the buds are full of water so this will prevent them from molding and will result in a healthier plant.
Because cannabis plants will grow and develop a lot of branches, it’s necessary to leave space between them, if you don’t know how much space you should leave between the plants you need to think about the size they will have.
For example, in 1m2 you can fit around 10 small plants, 6 medium plants, and 3 big plants or have around 30-45cm in between small plants, 50-60cm between medium plants, and 65-100cm between big plants, although autoflowering plants usually don’t grow too much so if you leave around 40cm in between you should be fine.
By providing enough spacing between plants you prevent problems you may have further into the growth cycle, like the light not reaching deep enough, taller plants overshadowing the smaller ones, and other issues like the lack of airflow.
Depending on what you can find (or want to use) there are two options for feeding your plants: organic or synthetic nutrients, both of them will work just fine but each one has its pros and cons.
Organic nutrients can be harder to use for new growers but can result in a better tasting, better smelling flowers and will be harder to burn your plants while synthetic nutrients are super easy to use, you just have to follow the instructions on the package and maybe adjust the dose with some plants, but it’s fairly easy, just have in mind that synthetic nutrients can burn your plants easily so you need to feed with care, paying attention to the signs your plant gives you.
Either way, as long as you provide an NPK ratio of 2-1-3 in the vegetative stage and 1-3-2 in the flowering stage, your plant will grow great.
A big issue when growing autoflowering strains is the genetics, even if you do everything perfectly you can still be disappointed with the quality and amount of flowers your plant produces, that is because you need good genetics to have a good harvest.
Depending on where you live, a certain type of strain will have a better result than another.
If you live in a part of the world that has hotter weather, you are able to grow any type of autoflowering strain but it is recommended to grow Sativa-dominant hybrids.
This way you’ll make the most out of every seed because Sativas usually grow taller and with more flowering sites, resulting in a bigger yield.
Growing autos outdoors is easy and it's a very good option for beginner growers, especially if you want to get good quality buds since the first harvest.