Growing autoflowering cannabis strains outdoors is a great option for growers that do not dispose of available time to care for their grows. 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…
Growing Autoflowering Cannabis Outdoors
Autoflowering marijuana has become a consolidated lure over the past few years due to the possibility of obtaining various great quality grows throughout the season, a quality that pleases both expert and novice growers. Growing Autoflowering Cannabis outdoors is a great option because they are discrete in size, fast, easy to grow, resistant to cold and plagues, and produce productive yields with fantastic organoleptic properties.
First of all, an autoflowering marijuana plant flowers automatically. They don’t guide themselves by a concrete lighting plan for each of its growth and flowering phases. As amazing as it might seem, the suppression of photo-periods actually took place spontaneously as it first showed up in Ruderalis marijuana, which grows naturally in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
This genetic subspecies, after being bred with different sativa and indica strains, has resulted in countless marijuana hybrids that feature different flavors, aromas, appearances and flowering periods, as well as different cannabinoid contents, such as THC and CBD, that suit the needs of medicinal and recreational users. In this post we are going to address the advantages, inconveniences and the different ways of growing autoflowering cannabis outdoors with success. These types of plants feature psychoactive and organoleptic properties similar to those in feminized seeds.
Advantages of Growing Autoflowering Cannabis Outdoors
Autoflowering marijuana strains have a shorter life cycle than feminized cultivars. Contrary to these, auto cultivars’ full growth period lasts between 7-10 weeks, including growth and flowering periods; although, as it happens with feminized genetics, some varieties can take a week longer until buds are ripe enough.
Its short vegetative and generative periods make these types of plants the most appropriate ones for beginners and experienced growers that don’t have that much time to take care of their grow. With autoflowering strains, any grower can obtain amazing crops of mythical genetics such as Hindu Kush and Northern Lights fast and easy; while their feminized version could take up to four months.
When growing autoflowering strains outdoors, take into account that exposure to direct sunlight promotes larger and more abundant yields with bigger, denser and more resinous flowers. Its short cultivation period facilitates different crops in the one season.
Another advantage of autoflowering strains is that they can be grown at any time of the year; as long as the different climatic and meteorological aspects of growth areas are taken into account.
In Mediterranean areas it is possible to grow autoflowering cannabis strains during most of the season. This is due to the stable and particularly warm temperatures that this region offers during spring and summer. On the other hand, in northern areas it is best to avoid growing during the colder months as the ideal period goes from April to September; which is when days are longer in the northern hemisphere and autoflowering strains develop better if they obtain around 10 hours of daily sunlight.
It shall also be noted that these hybrids are greatly resistant to different types of insect plagues, such as aphids, white flies, red spiders or cochineals as well as mold. It is perfect for discrete grows in small gardens, terraces or balconies and for guerrilla crops.
Disadvantages of Growing Autoflowering Marijuana Outdoors
The main disadvantage of growing autoflowering cannabis outdoors in comparison to feminized versions is that their yield capacity is lower. Although their psychoactive activity has been enhanced; to this day, they generally feature less THC content, which means its effects are less powerful but more bearable.
However, they aren’t capable of generating clones because they inherit their age from the mother plant. Therefore, their growth and posterior flowering would be diminished and the yield would lack productivity.
Lastly, these plants shouldn’t be pruned or transplanted, unless it is performed by highly experienced growers. They don’t dispose of enough time to recover from the stress produced by such procedures.
How to Grow Autoflowering Cannabis Outdoors
- The first step is to germinate the seeds. Either by placing them in a cup of water or by wrapping them in a damp paper towel. Afterwards, plant them into their final flowerpot. Performing different transplants can impair seedling growth and reduce the amount and quality of the final yield.
- Regarding the recipient, outdoors, these plants can be grown in a flowerpot with substrate or straight into the ground. Pots must be at least 18 L. The substrate’s composition shall include black peats, hummus, perlite and guano, among others, in order to promote proper growth. Adequate PH and EC levels are very important. Use good quality fertilizers to the irrigation solution. Straight into the ground cultivation facilitates greater vegetative development; plants will need less upkeep and they will survive without needing too many basic cares or added treatment.
- While using fertilizers is beneficial, it is important not to exceed the recommended dosage as over-fertilization could diminish the yield. Slow-release fertilizers are more advisable as they promote plants’ feeding autonomy throughout their different life cycles.
- As these examples are smaller than their feminized version, they do not require large amounts of water. Watering varies according to the climatic conditions of the growth regions. It is very important to take notice of this in order to avoid water excesses or deficiencies.
- Once plants have the nutrients and mediums they need for the growth and flowering phases; it’s time to pay close attention and harvest the yield at the precise moment. In order to obtain best results, it is highly convenient to carefully observe trichomes coloring; they will show amber shades when buds are ready for harvest and their posterior drying and manicuring.
Differences Between Growing in Flower Pots or Straight into the Ground
Growing in flower pots offers the possibility to provide outdoor autoflowering marijuana plants with the most adequate substrate; as sometimes growers aren’t located in geographical regions prone to succeeding in these tasks. Using pre-fertilized substrates provides seeds the perfect doses of micro and macro essential nutrients and facilitates PH and EC monitoring.
It also enables the reallocation and protection of plants to confront plagues, small mammals’ attacks or meteorological phenomena like rains and storms. Overall, flowerpots offer greater growth control; which is very handy when to provide discretion in terraces or balconies.
However, when growing autoflowering cultivars in pots, the grower needs to be especially attentive to water supply; as rain watering is unreliable. Also make sure that plants receive appropriate fertilization. Keeping plants far away from dense areas puts them at risk of theft.
On the opposite side, growing straight into the ground is the most natural way possible to grow marijuana plants. Roots develop freely into the deep ground; promoting very large plants that take full advantage of microbial ground life and other available nutrients. It also needs less fertilizers, therefore, this type of growth method is less economically costly.
Of course, this method also has its disadvantages. Mother Nature is unpredictable. Strong wind, excessive humidity, frosts, hails, rains or storms can easily finish with months of hard work in no time. This is the reason why it is so important to know when is the best moment for starting a grow; taking into account the peculiarities of each region before proceeding with this task.
What Problems can take place when growing marijuana outdoors
Beyond frequent problems that can relate to any marijuana grow; which might be the result of fertilizer dose, substrate inadequacy, lack of daily sunlight or height control methods; growing outdoors has other additional drawbacks like plagues, animal attacks or possible thefts.
Autoflowering strains are less susceptible to insect plagues and mold. In order to protect the grow from animals or prying eyes; it is highly convenient to grow other aromatic plants around them. In the case of guerrilla grows, it is best to choose hard to reach areas.
After explaining the peculiarities, characteristics, advantages and disadvantages of autoflowering seeds; it is clear that they are the perfect solution for experienced growers that don’t have too much time available; but also for growers that are only starting off in this noble botanic art.
Thanks to the ongoing investigation, stabilization, and genetic hybridization carried out by most seeds’ banks, finding mythical strains among autoflowering versions is easier than ever. They offer productive, organoleptic and psychoactive properties nearly as good as their feminized versions.
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.