This first part of our outdoor cannabis grower's guide put the lights on how to plan ahead starting with choosing between autoflower and photoperiod seeds. Growing autoflowering cannabis seeds outdoors is easy and it's a very good option for beginner growers. If you're new to marijuana growing, autoflower seeds are a great choice. These cannabis seeds don't require a rigorous light schedule, and they're more forgiving when it comes to temperature fluctuations and fungus control. They also grow…
Autoflower vs Feminised outdoor cannabis growing
As the new year starts, outdoor cannabis growers start looking at their calendar and planning the year ahead. The winter is a good time to prepare existing grow locations, dig over and improve the soil and perhaps look out for some new grow locations.
For most outdoor weed growers, planning will focus on a blend of autoflowering cannabis seeds complemented by some feminised outdoor cannabis seeds. Autoflower seeds grow from seed to harvest in around half the time of the feminised outdoor seeds, but may not have quite the same yields.
Exactly how your planning, timing and grow preparation is organised will depend on your latitude and outdoor conditions. Many outdoor cannabis growers will harvest an entire years worth of cannabis from just a few well grown outdoor weed seeds. If you select your cannabis seeds wisely and plan your grow carefully you too can plan to successfully harvest a years worth of cannabis from just a few plants.
Your plans will need to be adjusted according to the climate you are growing in and the length of your growing season. Growing cannabis outdoors isn’t difficult. Even if you are growing at harsh northern European latitudes, it’s still easy to grow cannabis outdoors with a little bit of upfront planning. Read on this first part of our outdoor grower’s guide to learn how to pick the right seeds and plan your grow accordingly.
Choosing the best outdoor cannabis seeds
The two main seed choices are autoflowering seeds and feminised outdoor cannabis seeds. In general, you can expect photoperiod feminised strains to grow outdoors over a 5-6 month time period.
With such a long growth cycle you can expect heavy harvests. Grow proven outdoor cannabis cup winning strains such as Frisian Dew and you can expect harvests of over a Kg per plant in good conditions. Dutch Passion have several cup winning outdoor strains in their collection. The full Dutch Outdoor seed collection is shown below. All the seeds will grow well outdoors in climates similar to that of The Netherlands.
One downside of growing feminised photoperiod outdoor strains is that you could lose the entire crop if the plants don’t finish before the bad winter weather arrives. That’s why many outdoor growers like to grow a few autoflower seeds as well. It’s extra insurance in case you get unlucky with bad end-of-season weather which can reduce photoperiod harvest quantities.
Autoflower seeds tend to grow from seed to harvest outdoors in around 100-110 days. That’s much faster than feminised photoperiod seeds. Many people that grow in the shortest of summers, e.g. Scandinavia strongly prefer the fast-growth characteristics of autoflower seeds. For some growers with tough climates, autoflower seeds are simply the only realistic way of getting an outdoor cannabis crop to finish in time. For many growers, autoflower seeds are a great way to complement feminised seeds.
Autoflower vs feminised seeds outdoor pros and cons
Autoflower seeds will often produce somewhat smaller harvests, yields of around 50-75 grams per plant are not unusual for the auto grower. In good conditions, harvesting a couple of hundred grams of dried bud from an auto is quite possible. Whereas a large feminised photoperiod outdoor strain could easily yield a Kg or more of dry bud in optimised conditions.
Autoflower plants will often remain around a metre in height and are convenient/easy to grow and hide outdoors. Strong growing outdoor strains such as Passion #1 can reach several metres tall. This may be perfect for a large private back garden but not suitable for those in more urban locations. There are times when the outdoor cannabis grower will want to grow an auto and other times when they have the time and space for a large photoperiod feminised plant.
The experienced outdoor grower will understand the occasionally contrasting benefits/features of autoflower seeds vs feminised seeds and will often use both cannabis seed types to maximise their chances of success. Remember quality levels from the best autoflower seeds are now definitely on the same level as those from the best feminised strains. This review about the THC levels of 25.9% seen on Dutch Passion, Auto Cinderella Jack may inspire you to try growing autoflower seeds!
The skilled outdoor grower has a good understanding of the challenges faced at that particular latitude. For some growers at mediterranean latitudes, many feminised strains are likely to finish before the winter weather arrives.
However, for growers at non-tropical, temperate latitudes, only selected fast feminised strains such as Frisian Dew or Think Fast will finish in time. For those growers at extreme latitudes, only autoflower seeds are likely to finish before the end of season bad weather arrives. Having a realistic expectation of what can be achieved at your particular grow location/latitude is one of the most important skills for any outdoor cannabis grower.
First time outdoor growing with autoflower seeds
If you have never grown cannabis outdoors before it can seem like a challenge. However, growing cannabis outdoors really is easy. It has been happening in nature for thousands of years without human intervention.
If it is your first outdoor cannabis grow then it may make sense to keep things as simple as possible and start with a few autoflower seeds. Not only will the plants be ready faster than with photoperiod feminised seeds, the plants will remain smaller. This makes them easier to hide, simplifying your first outdoor grow.
How to plan your outdoor cannabis grow the right way
Preparing your ground / soil carefully
Many serious outdoor growers start their planning well in advance. Often, the grow locations will have been used for several years and the grower has fully grasped the importance of preparing the ground/soil professionally.
A few months before the grow begins the grower may well choose to dig over the ground. This may be hard work, but it breaks up the soil and allows it to be oxygenated. This makes it easier for the plants to establish healthy root networks. If the soil quality is poor, manure/fertiliser can be added well in advance of the seedlings being planted.
Any unwanted bushes/wild plants can be removed from the area. So can any plants which would obstruct light to your grow location. Some pro-growers will plant brambles and other plants which will act as deep perimeter protection for the cannabis plants. Often, large outdoor rural cannabis grows are surrounded on all 4 sides by deliberately planted/managed ‘protection’ plants which keep away unwanted wild animals, dog walkers and people.
Some people grow on waste urban land. Other prefer the rural seclusion of the countryside, forests, river banks or field corners for their guerrilla growing activities. Dutch Passion also have a High Altitude seed collection. These strains were selectively bred at high altitudes in the Swiss Alps and are perfect for anyone facing the combined challenge of outdoor growing in high altitude mountainous regions.
Know your climate and frost risks well
Knowing when the last Spring frost is likely is an important date for any outdoor cannabis grower. Likewise, knowing when the first frost of fall/autumn is expected at your grow location is another important date for the outdoor grower. Many outdoor cannabis growers will germinate their seeds indoors.
This allows them to grow their seeds under optimised indoor conditions before the outdoor weather is good enough to use. By initially germinating and growing their ‘outdoor seeds’ indoors, the plants are protected from the worst of the early-season weather. Plants can be gradually acclimatised to outdoor conditions for a few hours each day until the plants are strong enough to be permanently placed outdoors. By starting your seeds/plants early indoors you increase the chances of producing a larger plant with subsequently heavier harvests.
The challenges of growing cannabis in borderline climates
Anyone that has grown cannabis at northern European Latitudes will understand the difficulties involved in trying to grow cannabis outdoors in marginal conditions.
Often, growers will germinate their cannabis seeds around mid-May and keep their cannabis seeds indoors until the weather has warmed up sufficiently. Seedlings are often planted outdoors in June. Autos are often ready to harvest in August. Photoperiod outdoor feminised strains will often be ready to harvest around October.
If the growing season is just a little bit too short/unpredictable to grow feminised strains then autoflower seeds are the best option.
Germinate seeds indoors in plenty of time
Many successful outdoor weed growers plan the grow season well in advance. Often, they are fully prepared with their preferred autoflower seeds and feminised outdoor seeds that were bought ahead of time. Some of the best prepared outdoor growers will have several years worth of seeds safely stored in their fridge/freezer so they are always prepared. Very often, the best prepared outdoor growers will spread their favourite seeds across several grow locations. This maximises the chances of a successful harvest if one of the grow locations is compromised/discovered.
Autoflower seeds may not have quite the same yield potential as a feminised outdoor strain – which may have twice the amount of time to grow in. But auto seeds do offer a rapid life cycle which is ideally suited to growers with short growing seasons. For some outdoor cannabis growers with short seasons, autoflowering cannabis seeds are simply the only realistic option when it comes to outdoor growing.
By the time the last Spring frost has gone, the well prepared outdoor cannabis growers already have their seedlings growing strongly indoors, ready to be eventually planted out. This gives them a good head start and maximises the chances of an optimised grow season.
When pre-growing autoflowers indoors it is important to know that is not recommended to keep them longer than 2-2.5 weeks in small containers, between 0.25-1L of soil. With photoperiod plants this can be closer to 4 weeks, but bear in mind that these plants can get root-bound too. Autoflowers need to be transplanted to their eventual pot or the outdoor soil before they get root-bound. Staying too long in a small container will cause autoflowers to stay small and yield much less.
Growing autoflower seeds outdoors, several crops per season
With their fast growth cycle, many outdoor growers enjoy growing two or even three successive outdoor auto crops per year. Growers in sunny mediterranean climates should find it is possible to grow 3 successive outdoor autoflower seed crops. But even growers in northern Europe may be able to produce two successive outdoor auto crops each year. This Scandinavian outdoor grower from Denmark managed to get two outdoor auto crops in one season. Maybe you could do the same?
If you do decide to grow autoflower seeds outdoors then you are spoilt for choice. There have never been as many high quality auto strains available to choose from. If you are having difficulty deciding then check out this review may give you some inspiration.
Planting your outdoor cannabis plants in containers or the ground?
If you grow your cannabis seeds in containers you benefit from the fact that your plants can be moved if required. This could be useful for e.g. security purposes or if bad weather forces you to change plans. But growing your cannabis plants in containers means that they will need regular watering/feeding.
This could become inconvenient, for that reason many outdoor weed growers like to root their plants directly into the ground. If the ground contains good quality, moist and nutritious soil then you won’t need to worry too much about plant maintenance – mother nature will take care of much of the work. All you will need to do is water in the event of a drought and perhaps add some general purpose bloom nutrients as bloom progresses.
One other possibility is to use a completely organic nutrient line like Biotabs. These are slow release organic nutrients which contain all the helpful nutrients. These can be placed in the soil before the grow starts. This way your outdoor plants are sure to have the right nutritional value and minerals during their entire growth cycle.
Greenhouses, poly tunnels and black-out blinds
Using a polytunnel or greenhouse allows the outdoor cannabis grower to protect their plants from the worst of the early season and late season weather. For those lucky enough to have the chance to grow in greenhouses or poly tunnels that can mean larger harvests. Sharp frosts won’t damage your plants, especially if you have a greenhouse heater. Your plants will also be protected from heavy wind and rain storms.
Some greenhouses can be equipped with specialist blacks-out blinds. These allow the greenhouse grower to artificially introduce 12/12 light conditions earlier than would be possible with the natural sun cycle. This in turn can offer advantages, for example the chance to harvest the greenhouse cannabis crop much earlier than normal.
Think about protecting your outdoor cannabis plants
Protecting your precious cannabis plants is always a priority for the outdoor cannabis grower. Often, the outdoor grower may deliberately plant thorny brambles around their outdoor plot. This protects your cannabis plants from grazing predators e.g. deer, goats, rabbits. But it may also deter and prevent accidental human discovery of your plants by dog walkers, hikers etc.
Outdoor growers will often use generous quantities of slug/snail pellets to protect their plants. Some will also use ‘chicken wire’ metal fencing around their plants to provide added protection.
Many experienced outdoor cannabis growers have realised the importance of continually looking for new grow locations, just in case one of their grow locations is accidentally compromised.
Have a plan to dry and cure your outdoor cannabis harvest
Even though you are planning to grow outdoor cannabis, you may be forced to create a safe indoor drying area. This is something you need to consider as part of your plans. In it’s simplest form, you can buy a small ‘drying’ tent. You would need an extraction fan and a carbon filter in order to dry your crop safely. The process would take around 7-10 days, after which you can think about transferring the dried buds to glass jars for curing.
Many outdoor growers forget about plans to dry/cure their harvested buds until it’s too late. When you plan your outdoor cannabis grow, think carefully about the process from start to finish. This means carefully planning everything from buying your cannabis seeds to planning the harvest/drying.
Outdoor cannabis grow checklist
For many experienced outdoor cannabis growers, planning and preparing for a successful grow comes naturally. For the rest of us, it helps to have a checklist of the most important aspects of the grow. Timings will vary from one grower to another. An outdoor grower in Spain will be busier early in the season than an outdoor grower in Scandinavia.
Choose the right mix of autoflowering seeds and feminised seeds for your needs and climate.
Enjoy outdoor cannabis growing!
Once you have mastered the art of planning a successful outdoor grow you will truly enjoy it!
Be patient, it can take a year or two to fully understand the type of climate you have and how best to exploit it with autoflower seeds and feminised outdoor seeds. But once you have established yourself with a few good outdoor grow locations you will love the process of growing your own outdoor weed.
You will have very few costs to worry about and will enjoy the chance to get outdoors and enjoy growing your plants. Many outdoor growers feel that outdoor grown weed has an extra ‘kick’ and flavour which is hard to match from indoor grown cannabis. One thing which is indisputable are the low costs required to grow outdoor cannabis. Your main expense will be the cost of a couple of packs of good quality outdoor cannabis seeds.
Remember there are no special secrets to growing cannabis successfully outdoors. You just need to know about your growing season and which cannabis types will be able to grow successfully outdoors.
Choosing the right cannabis seeds is the most important first decision. Most climates allow a sunny/warm 3-month period which would allow autoflower seeds to be grown.
If you are lucky you will also be able to grow some feminised outdoor cannabis seeds which have a slightly longer life cycle. Choose your cannabis seeds wisely from a proven supplier and enjoy outdoor cannabis cultivation!
5 Comments . Leave new
Very informative articles and easy to relate to well done Dutch Passion I was impressed
Do you recommend auftoflow plants in SE Asia? Here is all the time 12/12
You could grow autoflowers but you don’t have a lot of light for the plants so they will not grow optimally. Best would be to go for a feminised sativa in your areau!
What about a grow outdoors in Michigan….Auto or photo or maybe a little of both?
They should both do fine in the climate of Michigan With autoflowers you can assure yourself of a quick round with less chance of bad weather.
How To Grow Autoflowering Cannabis Seeds Outdoors
Find out all you need to know about growing autoflowering Cannabis outdoors, and all the important things to consider.
- 1. What should i consider before planting?
- 1. a. Indoor vs outdoor
- 1. b. Climate region and your location
- 1. c. Mold and pests
- 1. d. Protecting your plants outdoors
- 1. e. Tips for beginners
- 2. Optimal conditions
- 2. a. Light cycle and best time to start
- 2. b. Temperature
- 2. c. Humidity
- 2. d. Spacing
- 2. e. Best nutrients
- 2. f. Genetics
- 3. Step-by-step guide on growing autoflowering cannabis outdoors
- 3. a. Step 1: germination
- 3. b. Step 2: seedling
- 3. c. Step 3: the vegetative stage
- 3. d. Step 4: the flowering stage
- 3. e. Stage 5: harvest
- 4. Drying, trimming, and curing your outdoor auto harvest
- 4. a. Drying your buds
- 4. b. Trimming your buds
- 4. c. Curing your buds
- 5. In conclusion
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 Consider 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 summer1 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.
When planting in the ground it’s essential to protect your plants against gophers and moles with a wire cage.
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 darkness
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.
The ideal conditions for a plant to develop to it’s maximum are at least 18hs of light, 60% relative humidity and a temperature between 18-25°C.
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 1m 2 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.
I grew this with other fast buds strains. I’m very happy how they all grew. I use soil, 19L pots on a 20/4 light cycle. They love it.
This more demanding and larger yielding variety will flourish under the constant sunny climate.
Automatics can really help a grower who experiences colder climates, you should grow Indica-dominant hybrids because their Indica heritage makes them more resistant to cold and a high level.
Just an easy to grow, solid packed buds. A heavy feeder and can be a bit prone to light burn at the end but otherwise perfection!
She is very resistant and will be ready to chop, even after any heavy rain or cold spots.
3. Step-By-Step Guide On Growing Autoflowering Cannabis Outdoors
Growing autoflowering cannabis outdoors can be really simple, by following these steps which represent the timeline of a cannabis plant’s growth you can successfully grow your own medicine.
Step 1: Germination
Before planting your seeds, you will need to germinate them, this is the first step to a successful harvest. There are a couple of ways to germinate seeds, you can germinate them directly in the soil, in paper towels, or submerge them in a glass of water.
We recommend submerging them in water for around 12 hrs before planting or transferring them to paper towels. Remember the seed shell needs to be damp so it’s easier for the seedling to grow out of it.
You should also have in mind that leaving the seeds in water for too long will drown them, so you should keep them for a maximum of 24hrs if they’re too old, but 12hrs is all you need for good seeds.
How Deep To Plant Your Seed?
After germinating your seed, you’re gonna have to plant it in the medium. You should be extremely careful with this process because the radicle is super fragile. To avoid damaging it, you have to make a small hole with your finger up to the first line of your index finger or around 2-3cm with a pen. That is deep enough for your seedling to grow relatively fast, also make sure you don’t press the soil on top, just throw a little bit of dirt so it’s not too compact and the seedling doesn’t struggle to come out.
Planting In Pots or The Ground?
Once you germinate your seeds, you will need to decide to grow in pots or directly into the ground. Sometimes it is more logistical to use pots because they can be moved around if you need to, however, if you want to spend less and can find a good spot for your plants, you can definitely plant them in your backyard, for example. Be careful when planting in the ground, gophers and moles are hard to spot because they live underground and they can eat your plants, if you see holes in the ground you should avoid that place. These animals feed on the roots and fibers of the plant and will make your plant disappear overnight.
If you’re growing in pots you should go for a mix of mediums, such as coco coir, perlite, and soil. This will allow your plants to grow more easily, with more oxygenation in the roots, and will help drain the water when watering.
- Pots can be moved around to follow the sun.
- Small plants can be easily camouflaged.
- Planting in the ground (in fertile soil) saves you from having to buy soil and nutrients.
- Organic nutrients are packed with beneficial microorganisms.
Step 2: Seedling
Around 10 days after your seeds have germinated and you placed them in your medium of choice, the seedling will start to emerge from the soil. If you want to make sure your seedlings are safe, you can keep them indoors and transfer them outdoors after you see the first true leaves.
Cannabis seedlings don’t need that much light so they can grow under a CFL light, remember that if you keep your plants under LED or light bulbs, they can get stressed when transferred outside, so you should transfer them as soon as you see the first pair of true leaves fully developed to avoid this. At this stage, the cotyledons have run out of nutrients so your plant will start to need sunlight and nutrients to develop properly.
Step 3: The vegetative stage
When your plant has developed the first pair of true leaves, it is officially in the vegetative stage and this is when you should start watering with nutrients, starting with a low dose and gradually increasing.
At this stage, you should give plants more nitrogen (N) and potassium (K), these are the macronutrients a plant needs to thrive, you should also decide on your location and which part of the garden or terrace receives the most sun.
Placing your plant in the direction where the sun rises is the best option, meaning that when the sun sets, the plants will receive the final amount of sunlight each day ensuring the most direct sunlight possible. To be 100% sure, you can easily look up on the internet in which direction the sun rises, for example, East in Manaus 2 and Northeast in Sydney 3 .
How often to feed?
The watering schedule will depend on the genetics and the environment, there’s no way to say exactly how many times and how much water your plant needs. The best way is to water again when the soil is approximately 65% dry or by lifting the pot, if it’s heavy then it probably still has water in it, if it’s light it probably is dry and needs watering.
For How Long Plants Grow?
Depending on the strain you choose to cultivate, the amount of time it needs to completely mature may be different. Even though all autoflowering cannabis plants are hybrids, some of them have Sativa heritage and others Indica, so their size and how long they grow varies. For example, strains with Indica heritage can take around 8 weeks to mature whereas strains with Sativa heritage can take up to 11 weeks.
How Big Plants Get?
How tall a plant grows depends on their heritage. This is because Sativa’s usually stretch and grow less leaves than Indicas, which grow short and bushy.
So the size will depend on their genetics. For example, a Sativa dominant strain can grow up to 150cm while an Indica dominant hybrid will range from 80-100cm.
When growing Cannabis outdoors, it is a good idea to plan ahead in terms of plant training. This will normally be done in the early stages and will benefit the plants greatly once flowering commences. Low stress training is a very simple technique that has many benefits and can be performed in different methods and several ways, the most known technique being the Tie-down method.
Plant training techniques should be started when your autoflower has around 3-5 pairs of leaves and should be stopped right before the pre-flowering stage or when you have achieved the structure and size you were aiming for. In this timelapse video, our grower shows you a combination of high stress and low stress plant training methods, although you shouldn’t HST unless you have a bit of experience.
As you can see, Green 75 spaced out the branches and cut off the excess foliage so the buds have more space and light to develop, this also encourages the plant to develop more bud sites, allows more airflow in the buds and the light to reach deeper, resulting in better developed and fatter buds.
When plant training autoflowers it is not always recommended to use high stress training techniques (HST) if you’re not experienced, this is why we recommend using low stress training (LST) techniques like the one shown above.
Step 4: The flowering stage
After a couple of weeks in the vegetative stage, your plant will start to show white hairs (pistils), this is a sign that your plant is ready to start producing flowers, at this stage you should start feeding flowering nutrients.
Your plant needs lower amounts of nitrogen (N) and higher amounts of phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) to properly develop flowers, if you don’t provide phosphorus and potassium the buds will develop airy and light, it is crucial to feed your plant properly if you want fat dense buds.
How to make buds bigger?
There isn’t an exact way to make the buds bigger, buds develop big and dense when they grow with a combination of a good environment and good nutrients, this is why you should plan your grow cycle a couple of weeks before germinating your seeds.
There can be huge differences in the quantity and quality of flowers between a plant grown in cold with fewer hours of sunlight and a plant grown in better conditions with more sunlight.
Supporting autoflowering cannabis outdoors
Cannabis plants outdoors usually don’t have a limit to stop growing and unless you limit their size by planting them in smaller pots, they can grow huge.
Despite huge plants not always being a bad thing, the buds will also grow big and dense, and sometimes the branches won’t be strong enough to hold them and snap, this is why you need to add support. There are several ways to provide support to your plants, you can do this with bamboo stakes, a trellis net, or tomato wire cages.
When do plants start to smell?
Autoflowers usually start smelling around week 4-6, when they’re in the pre-flowering stage, this happens because when your plant starts developing flowers it will also produce trichomes which contain terpenes and are responsible for the smell.
This is when you should install your carbon filter or any other method to eliminate the typical cannabis smell, remember this is just a guideline and some cannabis plants can start to smell as early as the 3 week of plant growth.
How much plants yield?
How much plant yields will depend on the genetics, although despite the size, Indicas can yield more than Sativas or vice-versa. Usually, the amount they yield will depend on the growing conditions, you can harvest up to 200g from a single plant or as low as 40g. It solely depends on how you take care of your plants and their genetic characteristics like the density of the buds and the amount of bud sites.
Bamboo stakes are the most common way to support branches because they’re cheap and effective although they cannot be used for long because they are exposed to rain so they can rot and spread powdery mildew to your plants.
A trellis net can be used not only to support the buds but also to control the size of your plants, although it’s a bit harder because you will need to build the structure (metal or bamboo stakes around the plant) to secure the net too.
Depending on how you use a trellis net it can provide support and also control the height of your plants.
A trellis net can be used both horizontally on top of your plants (like in Scrog) or vertically around the plants (like a tomato cage), both ways will work great and it’s just a matter of preference, if you want to control height you can place it on top but if you don’t need to, just place it around to support the branches.
Tomato Wire Cages
Tomato wire cages work the same as placing a trellis net around your plants, they will support the branches from every side but won’t control the height.
Tomato cages can also be used as a structure to tie-down the branches to and are fairly cheap, although you will have to cut it open to remove your plants so they aren’t reusable.
Stage 5: Harvest
When to harvest?
The best time to harvest your cannabis plants depend on the type of effect you wish to achieve, there are three types of high that you can achieve by looking at the trichomes. You shouldn’t harvest when the trichomes are clear because they have not developed enough and the potency will be reduced.
You should harvest your plant when around 40% of the trichomes are amber, this is when trichomes are at their peak potency.
When the trichomes are cloudy, you will have a balanced mix of cerebral and corporal effects, this is when you should harvest your plants if you want to experience all the potency a plant can offer. If you want to experience the complete effect a plant has to offer, you should harvest when around 30-50% of the trichomes are amber. If you harvest when the majority of the trichomes are amber, you will have a more corporal effect because the trichomes have ripened a bit too much.
There’s no correct time to harvest, as long as you harvest to get the effect you wish you’ll be satisfied with the result.
- Check if the buds are dense, swollen, and hard to squeeze. Even if you have exceeded the advised harvest date, it is better to wait until your flowers are as dense and resinous as possible.
- Using a lupe, examine the state of the trichome. Once most of the trichomes are a cloudy white and a bit amber is the best time to cut and hang. dominant autoflower hybrids may take longer than Indica dominant, so be prepared to give your plants an extra week or two if they need it.
4. Drying, Trimming, and Curing Your Outdoor Auto Harvest
So, you have finally seen the crop go all the way from seed to harvest. What a feeling, right? The levels of excitement surrounding the thoughts of at long last being able to smoke those gorgeous, juicy nugs that you have grown yourself are at an all-time high. But hold up just a minute (or actually, a little longer than a minute). We are sorry to be the bearers of bad news, but you are still a little way off from being able to consume the fruits of your labor. Sure, you could go down the hillbilly route and chuck some buds in your oven at the lowest temp possible and dry some of those bad boys out, but that would only be doing you, your hard work, and the plant itself a disservice.
Cultivating and harvesting a crop is really only half of the work. To get the very best out of the buds they need to be properly and carefully dried, trimmed, and then cured. Let’s have an in-depth look at exactly the steps that need to be taken to see the best results in terms of terpene maturation and smoke quality.
Drying Your Buds
Drying cannabis is not rocket science, and is a pretty easy task to complete as long as you have the correct setup. So, what’s the correct setup? Well, that really depends on how much weed you are trying to dry. If you are reading this guide then there is a good chance that you are a novice grower, so we are going to stick to a small-scale operation here. The very first decision you will need to make is whether you are going to wet or dry trim. There are pros and cons attached to both styles of trimming, but for the vast majority of growers, we suggest going for dry trimming. Wet trimming is when you remove most of the unwanted plant material as soon as you harvest, and before the drying period begins. Dry trimming involves leaving the majority of the sugar leaves attached to the buds while you let the plant dry. It is fine to remove the larger fan leaves, but for the most part, you can just break the plant down and hang it for drying.
The only time we really suggest wet trimming is if you live in an area where the temperature and relative humidity is quite high and you are unable to bring them under your control. For the rest of this guide we will assume you are going to dry time your harvest. Using a large cardboard box as the drying area is one of the most common solutions for novice growers. We suggest using twine to create a bunch of horizontal hanging lines throughout the box and hanging the buds or branches directly from these lines. You can also use your grow tent to dry the weed, but that takes the tent itself out of action for a couple of weeks. Another common solution is a herb drying rack.
To properly dry cannabis you need to be able to control the drying environment unless you are lucky enough to live in the perfect environmental conditions. In terms of temps, we are looking for it to sit in the range of 60 – 70°F (15 – 22°C). For relative humidity, a range of 55 – 65% is perfect. This should result in a slow drying time of between 10 to 14 days. Any faster and you run the risk of destroying the terpene profile, any slower and you could be looking at mold issues. To get this right you may need to use some kit, depending on your current environmental conditions. An AC may be handy if it’s way too hot, as may a dehumidifier (or a humidifier for that matter). You could also use some fans or even a small electric heater. It all depends on your set up really. Just remember that a hygrometer is your best friend, and will give you all the info needed to be successful in drying your harvest.
Trimming Your Buds
Dry trimming weed isn’t a hard job, but boy oh boy can it be a super tedious one – especially if you have a bunch of buds to deal with. To make life as easy as possible do not use any old pair of scissors. Trimming scissors are going to make the process much quicker and easier. And make sure you grab a decent trim tray like the OG Trim Bin. Trim trays do a great job of grabbing all of the fallen trichomes that would otherwise be lost.
When trimming, the golden rule is to never shave the buds. You want to use the tips of the scissors to dig into the flowers and snip the stems of the sugar leaves while leaving the calyxes and pistils undisturbed. Now that the drying and trimming are done it must be finally time to smoke, yeah? Hell nope! Look, at this stage, the buds will be fine to smoke – but if you really want to get the best out of them, you need to let them cure.
Curing Your Buds
It is best to think of the curing process in the same way as aging wine or whiskey. Without it, the product will not be at its peak. Thankfully it doesn’t take nearly as long as aging alcohol, but it does still require a little bit of patience. How long does it take for the curing process to finish?
Well, that really all depends on the environmental conditions, the strain, and how dense the buds are. The answer is also dependent on who you ask, but for the majority of strains, a curing period of 2 to 4 weeks should be fine. That being said, some strains can take up to 6 months to properly mature, so even if you think the process is finished it’s best to leave them in their curing containers. For the curing process to be successful you need to provide the right conditions, which isn’t too hard as long as you have the right equipment and space.
First up, you are going to need to grab some air-tight containers. Most people choose glass jars, but honestly, anything that is re-sealable will do. One golden rule to keep in mind is to not overfill the containers. Try to keep them less than 75% full so the buds have some room to breathe.
Store the jars in a cool, dark area, and if possible get a separate hygrometer for each jar. These come with probes that can be placed inside the jar with the main body outside. In terms of temps, you should be looking to keep it around 70°F (22°C) with a relative humidity level of 60-65%.
These jars are going to need to be burped twice a day for the first 10 days or so, and then twice a week for the rest of the curing period. Don’t be alarmed if the buds seem to become a little moister in the first 3 days, this is just the remaining internal moisture leaking out. What should alarm you is if you smell anything close to ammonia when you burp them, as this is a tell-tale sign of mold. If this happens then quickly empty the jar and place the buds back in the drying area for a day or two and pray that the mold disappears. Once a month has passed, the buds should be more than ready to finally smoke!
5. In conclusion
So if you were wondering how to grow skunk outdoors or any other strain of your preference, now you know everything you need. Despite seeming hard, inexperienced growers can successfully grow autoflowering strains easily, as long as you provide light, water, and nutrients you will be able to grow your own weed in less than 10 weeks. If you are interested in our genetics or have grown them outdoors before, leave us a comment below!
This guide has been updated for the 2021 outdoor cannabis growing season.
A Complete Guide to Growing Autoflowers Outdoors (When to Plant, How Often to Water, & How Much They Yield)
This article was co-authored by wikiHow staff writer, Hannah Madden. Hannah Madden is a writer, editor, and artist currently living in Portland, Oregon. In 2018, she graduated from Portland State University with a B.S. in Environmental Studies. Hannah enjoys writing articles about conservation, sustainability, and eco-friendly products. When she isn’t writing, you can find Hannah working on hand embroidery projects and listening to music.
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If you’re new to marijuana growing, autoflower seeds are a great choice. These cannabis seeds don’t require a rigorous light schedule, and they’re more forgiving when it comes to temperature fluctuations and fungus control. They also grow much faster than typical cannabis seeds, so you can get a full yield in just 8 to 12 weeks! We’ve answered your questions about autoflowering seeds so you can pick the right strain for you.