When autoflowers were first introduced to the cannabis market, they weren’t taken too seriously by long-time growers and cultivators. While they’re a popular choice for beginners, and indoor grow spaces, growing autoflowers outdoors was fairly rare until recently. With advancements in autoflower seeds and autoflowering genetics, the variety is now quickly gaining a reputation as a viable and versatile growth option. More, and more cultivators, new and old, are turning to outdoor autoflower crops due to their ease, manageability, and increasingly quality yields.
What Are The Benefits of Growing Autoflowers Outdoors?
The main benefit of autoflower seeds is their automatic growing nature. This leads to shorter life spans, less maintenance, and the lack of photoperiod light cycles. But, what about taking your autoflowers outdoors? There’s a number of benefits to growing autoflowers outdoors, too. Here are the top benefits of growing autoflowers outdoors.
While autoflowering is great for certain factors, they do produce smaller yields than regular varieties. However, when growing outdoors your yields can be maximized when not restricted by limited growing space. The natural sunlight from outdoor environments is highly beneficial for the overall quantity of buds, and size.
Another benefit of growing indoors, is ideal for outdoor spaces too. Autoflowers’ smaller size means you can keep your crop hidden from the eye of neighbors or law enforcement. It also means that autoflowering plants take up less space, and can even be grown in areas like balconies or patios.
Because autoflowering seeds have ruderalis genetics that once grew wild, they are extremely hearty in nature. Since growing outdoors leaves your plants more prone to pests and molds versus growing indoors, this is a characteristic that proves advantageous. Overall, autoflowers are much more resistant to these common issues that can often negatively affect outdoor crops.
Lastly, autoflowers are popular with many growers because of their quick turnaround. As many varieties are ready to harvest in under 2 months. This means you can boost the number of pulls you have per season, or per year in warmer climates.
Are There Any Negatives?
Like anything, of course there are a few negatives to consider when deciding to grow autoflowers outdoors, or not. Luckily, they don’t outweigh the positives and are inline with the typical drawbacks that occur when growing any plant outside. For one, animals or other people might discover your grow. Certain critters can cause quite a bit of destruction, especially thieves. But most importantly, is the lack of control you’ll have over the environment outside. When growing outdoors, autoflowers or not, you’ll be up against the natural elements at times. Including wind, rain, high heats, or frost and cold in certain areas. If possible, use a greenhouse, polytunnel or have a tarp system ready to protect your plants when necessary.
When Should I Plant Autoflowers Outdoors?
One question that arises with growing any cannabis plant outdoors, is when should I plant? So when growing autoflowers outdoors, it’s just as important of a point. If you’re in a weather restricted area, where you only have so many months of preferred temperatures then you’ll want to time appropriately with the climate around you. For colder climates, you want to avoid periods of frost, so wait until at least May or later. Also, be aware of the rainiest months in your area and try to avoid them for planting whenever possible.
If you live in an area with ideal temps year-round, then the answer is simple. You can plant autoflowers outdoors, whenever you’re ready. Or, whatever timing works best for you and the maintenance of the plant. But keep in mind, even though autoflowers don’t need a period of darkness to flower like photoperiod plants, they do still need 10-12 hours of light to grow successfully. As long as you’re in the proper season where the sun shines for this length of time, you’re good to go.
How To Grow Autoflowers Outdoors
The first step to growing autoflowers outdoors is being prepared. Especially in light of the short life span that autoflowers have. Since there isn’t much time to adjust or change your techniques, be sure to have your plan set up prior to beginning your autoflowering plants outdoors. Here is a quick guide of steps and tips to follow as you set up to grow.
Choose a strain well-suited for your desires and environment
Depending on the autoflower’s genes, each variation will have its own growing traits and style. So choose a type that suits your climate or space. More importantly, is choosing a strain that you’ll want to enjoy when the fruits of your labor are ready to harvest. When selecting strains, make sure to check their estimated height, THC levels, and harvest time to ideally suit your needs.
Germinate the seed and choose your medium
Before you get your autoflowers outdoors, you’ll have to germinate your seed and choose the medium you’ll be growing in. A good soil mix and container can help your autoflowers flourish outdoors, even more so than normal. For the most part, autoflowering strains benefit from a well-aerated soil with an abundance of nutrients. Of course, this is only necessary when growing in a container. When growing directly in the ground’s soil, til the area first and add fresh compost or manure to supplement the plant’s health.
Choose your container
Because you’ll want to avoid transplanting autoflowers, it’s also best to begin them in the location where they’ll complete their growth. If your plan is to grow in a container, start with a pot that the autoflowering plants can complete its life-cycle in. As a guide, that’s typically a 5-6 gallon (20 litres) sized container.
Feeding and watering
Like any cannabis plant, you’ll want to avoid overwatering your autoflowers and underwatering, too. While that might seem tricky, there’s a simple trick you can follow. Simply lift your container to check the weight of the soil. If the container feels heavy, wait to water. If the container is light and easy to lift, it’s time to water. As for nutrients, consider dosing with ½ or ¾ the standard dose amount. Or, choose a slow release type of feed. Another tip is to follow a N-P-K ratio of 3-4-4.
Train and Harvest
The idea of training like LST, topping or fimming is to increase your plant’s exposure to light. All strains grow in their own shape and nature, so the type of technique you choose will depend on the genetics you choose. It’s best to implement some type of method to open up the plant within the first 4 weeks of life. This will increase the number of bud sites, and the quality or size of the flower. Choosing what time to harvest will normally be based on the strain’s typical lifespan but you can also check the coloring of trichomes to ensure you’re pulling the crop at its peak of freshness. While trichome maturity will also depend on genetic to genetic, typically when a plant is ready for harvest, the trichomes will turn from a milky white color to an amber shade. Ideally, you’ll want to harvest when the trichome is 20-30% amber, and not the full shade.
Autoflowering Cannabis Outdoors: A Growing Trend to Join
Overall, cannabis plants highly benefit from the sun’s natural energy and can thrive in outdoors settings. Growing autoflowers outdoors is no different. By following these simple steps and taking the necessary precautions, you can successfully maintain these low-maintenance plants, easily and discreetly. Not to mention, harvesting yields of your favorite strain before you know it.