Autoflower cannabis plants versus photoperiod plants: so which ones are the best choice? The simple answer is: that depends. There’s plenty of growers who favour autoflowers, and there’s a group of die hard photoperiod weed plant fans, too. But which kind is best for you? It all depends on what you are aiming for. That’s why today, we dig deeper into the various types of plants and their specific characteristics. Let’s start at the beginning though. What are autoflowering plants? And what are photoperiod plants? And finally, which ones are your best choice for growing?
Growth And Flowering Phases
The life cycle of a weed plant can be roughly divided into two phases: growth and flowering. First, the plant gains size and strength in the growth phase. Once the cannabis plant is fully grown, it switches to flowering. At that point, the plant no longer spends energy on growing, directing its efforts to reproduction instead. Female plants do so by developing the flower buds in which the active cannabis compounds are concentrated. Both phases are critical for good harvests, but photoperiod plants go through these stages differently than autoflowering plants.
What Are Photoperiod Plants?
We’ll start out with photoperiod plants. Why? Well, because practically every plant in the world is a photoperiod plant. The main characteristic of photoperiod plants is their strong dependence on seasonal influences. The changing of the seasons triggers them to proceed from the growth phase to the flowering phase.
When you read the words photoperiod or photoperiodic, think of the number of daylight hours in a day. Our word ‘photo’ comes from the Greek word ‘Phos’, which means ‘light’. Photoperiod weed plants start to flower once the amount of daylight drops below 15 hours. They grow in the season when there’s more than 15 hours of daylight each day. Growing cannabis is not an exact science, so the exact amount of lighting will differ between strains. They switch from growth to flowering when the days get shorter. In the Northern Hemisphere (watch out Australians!), the longest day is on June 20 or 21, the summer solstice. The 15-hour limit is reached somewhere in the second half of summer, depending on location. That’s when photoperiod cannabis plants stop growing and start to flower.
Photoperiod Or Autoflower Weed For Indoors And Outdoors?
Now, obviously, a plant in a growing room has very little to do with outdoor daylight conditions. Photoperiod cannabis strains that flower indoors under standard 12/12 light and dark cycles do so because they are activated. Once you extend the dark periods, they’ll start flowering. Outside, most photoperiod strains will start flowering once daylight hours drop below 15. That means you should expect a longer flowering period. For indoor grows, a 12/12 light and dark ratio is just about perfect.
This is why most seed packages state flowering periods ranging from 8 to 12 weeks. Usually, heavy indica strains flower fastest, while sativa dominated strains are slowest and hybrids end up somewhere in between.
What Are Autoflowering Plants?
Autoflowering cannabis plants, like Blue Amnesia Autoflower or White Choco Autoflower for example, don’t care much about seasonal influences like hours of daylight. They are the rebels of the plant kingdom. In fact, their growth and flowering patterns are automatic, regardless of the number of daylight hours. This makes them very suitable for indoor growing, but they offer advantages for outdoor growers, too.
Autoflowers usually come from crossbreeds with cannabis ruderalis strains, because these strains are unaffected by seasonal influences in natural circumstances. The main advantage of autoflowering weed plants is a big plus for rookie growers. Since autoflowers enter their flowering phase automatically, there’s no need for being very strict in your lighting regime.
Photoperiod Cannabis Plant Traits
Originally, cannabis is an annual plant with a one-year life cycle. In general, planting weed seeds around April means you’ll enjoy the bounties of your harvest by autumn. This life cycle is governed by seasonal patterns. Photoperiod plants stay in their growth phase until the number of daylight hours drops below fifteen. In theory, that means you could prolong the growth phase almost indefinitely indoors, as long as you keep the hours of daylight above that limit.
This gives indoor growers some serious power. By controlling your lighting regime, you can determine when your plants proceed from growing to flowering.
Autoflower Cannabis Plant Traits
The advantage of autoflowers are the disadvantages of photoperiod plants, and vice versa. Autoflowering plants are actually quite simple. Sure, they need the right nutrition and care, including the right type of fertilizer. As long as you give them enough of that grower love, though, biology will do the rest. You can comfortably leave the entire growth and flowering process to your autoflowering weed seeds.
Generally speaking, autoflower seeds will enter the flowering stage after about five weeks of growth. There’s not much you can do to stop it, but then again, you don’t need to do much to make it happen, either. Compared to photoperiod plants, autoflowering seeds are difficult to control. Then again, they also require very little guidance to reach harvest conditions.
Choosing Between Autoflower And Photoperiod Cannabis Plants
So how do you decide whether to grow autoflower or photoperiod seeds? The main factor underpinning your choice should be your personal preferences and local growing conditions. It’s not as if one option is better than the other. It’s simply a different direction to take. The choice is yours.
If you want a lot of control over the growth process, to prolong growth for bigger harvests for instance, your best option is photoperiod seeds. Of course, that will require you to pay serious attention to your lighting regime. If you plan to grow outdoors, location matters as well. In that regard, growing in Northern Europe involves different challenges from growing in North Africa, for example.
Comfort Or Control?
If you prefer a bit of comfort and ease of growing, choosing autoflowering plants makes sense. These will direct their own growth as their genetics have programmed them to do. This will take a lot less effort and guidance from you as a grower.
Rest assured, though, that you’ve come to the right place at Amsterdam Genetics, no matter what type you choose. We have a whole range of exquisite autoflowers and photoperiod cannabis seeds waiting for you. If you’re still not sure which type best suits your personal situation, don’t hesitate to contact us. We like to think along, and we’re here to help you get the best possible growing results!
Disclaimer: Local laws and legislation on cannabis cultivation and germination of seeds vary between countries and states. Amsterdam Genetics products and information are exclusively intended for use in areas where such use is fully legal. Check your local rules; do not act in conflict with the law!