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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!

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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.

PESTS

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!

Growing automatic cannabis plants outdoors in Smartpots

Equipment, genetics and fertilisers employed

The following article details a grow report of autoflowering cannabis strains cultivated outdoors, mostly using Smart Pots. The purpose of this report is to examine their performance when used to grow autoflowering varieties and note their suitability to the particular demands of this type of cultivation. Smart Pots encourage a vigorous root development that in consequence tends to lead to bigger plants and more abundant harvests.

We grew two plants of each of 2 different varieties in order to be able to perform a comparative test. The idea was to cultivate one plant of each variety in Smart Pots of 18 litres, which would be the “main subjects,” and then two more, one of each variety, in a smart pot of 12 litres and a circular rigid white plastic pot of 11 litres. So, we will be able to make a comparison between the different automatic seeds we have grown and how they perform in the different containers.

Smoke of marijuana

Equipment used for the crop of automatic cannabis plants

  • 2x Smart Pot of 19.3L
  • 1x Smart Pot 11.6L
  • 1x rigid round plant white plastic pot 11L
  • Soil – Bio Bizz All Mix
  • Root stimulant – Canna Bio Rhizotonic
  • Plant stimulant – Naturcannabis
  • Growth fertiliser – Naturcannabis
  • Bloom fertiliser – Naturcannabis
  • Bloom booster – Atami B’cuzz Blossom Builder
  • 2x seeds of Royal Cheese Auto from Royal Queen Seeds
  • 2x seeds of Flash Babylon from Samsara Seeds

When growing automatic strains it’s not recommended to transplant, given their relatively short life-span and the resulting delay in development that this would cause. To avoid any stress on our plants and ensure a rapid growth, we are going to plant directly in the final pot. Once we have made the shopping list and bought all the necessary products, we are ready to begin growing.

Germination and growth period

Flash Babylon with 2 weeks of growth

The seeds were germinated during the last week of May to take advantage of the favourable spring weather and harvest an increased yield thanks to the high intensity of sunlight in June and July.

To germinate the seeds that will be planted in the smartpot of 18l we used the paper towel method, putting them between two dishes. The other two seeds were germinated directly in the pot, at 5mm depth. After a week, all of them had sprouted and began their development without problem. After a week of true growth we began a weekly application of Bio Rizhotonic, to facilitate the development of the root. After two weeks of growth the plants were nicely developed, showing some internodes and healthy foliage.

At this point, after the third week, and upon seeing that on the plants had started to flower, we began applying fertiliser. We will use the flowering nutrient from Naturcannabis, in conjunction with the plant stimulant of the same brand. When we observed that the plant had stopped growing upwards, we ceased application of the Bio Rhizotonic.

Flowering of automatic cannabis plants

In the first and second week of flowering we first observed how the first white stigmas were sprouting from the bud sites. These were most obvious at the top of the plant, but they were also growing little by little on the secondary branches, which at the same time were developing well and increasing in length, extending horizontally to occupy all possible space.

As we can see in the photos of Royal Cheese Auto, they have quite a compact, wide and stocky structure, with 3 or 4 good-sized secondary branches in the lower part of the plant. The Flash Babylon plants grow with a bit more space between the internodes, are taller and slender, with more branching.

Royal Cheese Automatic by Royal Queen Seeds

Flash Babylon by Samsara Seeds

From the third week onwards, the flowering kicked in with a vengeance, visibly thickening the buds, which sprout all over the plant.

The Royal Cheese from the Royal Queen Seeds Bank was fattening mainly in the central cola. The few secondary branches also began to develop two sets of flowers, at the halfway point and at the tip.

In the case of Flash Babylon, pairs of flowers began to appear along the internodes of the main stem, and the flexible secondary branches also started to show small sets of buds at the internodes, fairly subtle, but promising all the same.

Central tip of Flash Babylon

In an attempt to maximise the production weight (and to satisfy our curiosity – we can’t deny it!) we decided to try a PK-type production stimulant in the form of Atami Blossom Builder during the next 3-4 weeks, always keeping within the manufacturer’s maximum recommended dose. We continued applying the basic flowering nutrient and the growth stimulant 2-3 times a week, always monitoring the health and condition of the plants to avoid excesses or deficiencies.

During the 4th and 5th week, the flowers continued developing. The automatic plants from Royal Queen Seeds, took the lead and began to show great buds, especially on the main stem. The buds show a high leaf-to-calyx ratio, and will require a bit of work to trim them, but judging by the aromas it releases, the effort will be well worth it.

With the Samsara Flash Babylon, the flowers also enlarged considerably. Evidently these genetics tend towards a vertical growth, as they continued to stretch during some time after the start of the flowering phase. The flowers began to develop slowly but well, spreading throughout the plant. The structure of these plants is similar to the shape of a Christmas tree, a really nice appearance for a cannabis plant.

Royal Cheese Auto in full bloom

Flash Babylon with christmas tree structure

During the 6th week, things got serious! All the plants are already covered with a surprising amount of shiny and fat resin heads. This is particularly evident on both the Royal Cheese Auto, as well as in one of the two Flash Babylon plants (The two seeds gave two phenotypes, differing slightly both in branching structure and production of the buds). The second Flash Babylon phenotype also presents a high concentration of resin, but we will have to wait a little longer to see it in its full splendour.

Central tip of the slower Flash Babylon plant

Final stages of the autoflowering grow

This was the last week of applying nutrients, since as far as possible, we aimed to achieve the best, cleanest taste, in order to highlight the most aromatic traits of each strain. Without flushing the roots with excessive watering, we began to irrigate with water only, ensuring that the plants feed from and use up their own food reserves stored within the leaves and the buds.

At the beginning of the 7th week, the buds started to ripen and began to look very nearly ready, developing and getting fatter and denser every day. It’s good moment to start looking at the development of the trichomes, using a magnifying glass of 60x at least. On closer examination, the flowers of the Royal Cheese were as hard as rocks, with thick and very solid buds, completely covered with resin droplets. The color of the flowers was pale green, and with an unusual silvery-grey tone from the heavy concentration of calyxes, they really did look amazing!

On the other hand, the Flash Babylon’s buds are not far behind; the one grown in the Smart Pot of 18L has developed some rounded and dense flowers, fully covered with resin. The other one has produced more loose and airy buds, but in great quantity, filling all the internodes of the plant, and spreading through all the branches. With the aid of the magnifying glass we could see they were producing more resin, developing large amounts of relatively slender trichomes.

Flash Babylon in full bloom

We were able to observe that, little by little, the reserves of the soil had become depleted. The plants start their flushing phase, extracting the nutrients from the reserves of the leaves. As this process happened, we watched the foliage gradually turn yellow and then brown until, at the point of harvest, the soil was exhausted of nutrients. It’s important during this last phase to avoid a lack of water and not force the plants too much.

Around the end of the 7th week and at the beginning of week 8, this effect was staring to become obvious in the Royal Cheese, as you can see in the photo below. We could also see that the bud development was greater using the rigid pot of 11L in comparison with the Smart Pot of the same size. This was due to water-logged soil occurred caused by one day of unusually bad weather, followed by continual high-moisture conditions. This excess of water led to a lockout in the rootzone, stopping the plant from assimilating the correct levels of nutrients and thus preventing full development of the buds, as we can see in the photos.

Royal Cheese Auto full of buds

While passing from week 8 to 9, the plants look very good, almost all the leaves had turned yellow and the flowers were looking tight and beautiful. As we looked closer at the resin, we saw that the trichome heads were milky and their stalks were bent slightly, indicating that they were almost finished ripening. We weren’t yet seeing any amber trichomes, but we could see that almost the half of the stigmas had become orange. We were on the brink of harvest!

Royal Cheese Auto ready for harvest

At the beginning of the 9th week trichome stalks were curved and some of the resin heads began to show amber shades, indicating that it was the right time to cut the plants. At this point we harvested the Royal Cheese Auto, while the Flash Babylons needed one week more to be fully ready.

In this article we will show you the diaries of two automatic cannabis strains from Royal Queen Seeds and Samsara Seeds, to test the utility of the Sm ]]>