How to grow autoflower seeds
Cannabis seeds seem to be available in limitless options and it can be confusing when you have to choose. Should you go with feminized seeds? What about autoflower seeds?
Growing autoflowers can significantly speed up harvest time while delivering an ample yield of marijuana. Here are some autoflower pros and cons along with some growing tips to help you decide if this type of seed is right for your cannabis garden.
Planting autoflower seeds can significantly speed up harvest time while delivering an ample yield of marijuana. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
What are autoflowers?
As the name implies, autoflowers automatically shift to the flowering period without intervention. Whereas the flowering of photoperiod plants is dependent on cycles of light and dark, autoflowers zip through this growth stage according to their age. Autoflowering cannabis seeds may mature in as little as seven or eight weeks from seed to harvest depending on the strain .
There are a staggering 200+ autoflowering strains on the market for you to peruse. Some popular strains include Cream Caramel Auto, Afghan Kush Ryder, and Autoflowering Blueberry.
How long does it take to grow autoflower?
The timing of autoflowering plants depends on their size and classification. On one end of the spectrum, there are dwarf varieties, which are short in stature and are often ready to harvest within 10 weeks. In contrast, there are super autos, which grow taller (more than 6 feet high in some cases) and may not mature for more than 100 days. But in all cases, the time frame for growing autoflowering cannabis is shorter than for photoperiod strains and represents one of the seeds’ most desirable distinctions.
Pros and cons of growing autoflowers
Autoflowering cannabis offers an array of benefits, including the highest possible yield in the shortest conceivable time.
Here are four of the top reasons to grow autoflowering cannabis:
- Fast: The transition between the vegetative growth phase and the flowering stage can happen in as few as seven weeks.
- Simple: One autoflowering plant can produce hundreds of seeds, simplifying the germination process and eliminating the need to purchase more seeds.
- Flexible: Autoflowering seeds flourish in a variety of climates and environments. Even cities make hospitable environments for autoflowering cannabis seeds because artificial lighting doesn’t negatively affect them.
- Prolific: Growing autoflowering plants outdoors can mean multiple harvests in one season, giving you plentiful weed to enjoy now or perhaps dry, cure, and store for future use.
The disadvantages of growing autoflowering cannabis are more debatable, with some people claiming the harvest is lower quality. Others are concerned with the quality of the seeds before harvest and the possibility of purchasing those that do not in fact autoflower. Finally, some dwarf strains may produce disappointing yields, sometimes as little as half an ounce per plant.
How much do autoflower plants yield?
Just as harvest timing depends on the size and classification of autoflower plants, so does the amount of cannabis they yield. Regular plants tend to yield between 10 and 50 grams per plant, while the next level up, the super auto, can produce yields between 100 and 200 grams per plant. The abundant yield of a super autoflower can be a double-edged sword if you are working within the confines of a small space. So, use small spaces for regular autos whose yields are more manageable, and reserve larger spaces for those impressive super autos.
Do autoflowers need nutrients?
Like any other living plant, autoflowers do require nutrients, but administering them is a delicate balance. Going overboard on fertilizer can have adverse effects on cannabis seeds, just as feeding the wrong kind of nutrients can. Be sure to choose a fertilizer specifically formulated for autoflowering strains and then micro-dose rather than pouring on liberally. Lightly fertilized soil is optimal for autoflowering seeds and as long as you’re nourishing the plants with supplements such as vitamin B, enzymes, and fungi.
In addition, autoflowers need at least 15 to 18 hours of sunlight or LED light each day to thrive.
How to grow autoflowering plants
Now that you know the basics of autoflowers, let’s explore each step in the growing process. The following guide covers a typical 10-week growth cycle and highlights milestones for each week.
Germination: This initial stage occurs within three days, sometimes as soon as 24 hours. Choose a light potting soil mix or blend your own with peat moss, compost, moistened perlite, and moistened vermiculture, along with nitrogen-rich tablets containing other essential nutrients — plus a dose of good fungi. The ideal planting environment for your cannabis seeds has 70 percent to 90 percent humidity and is 70 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
Pour the soil into pots and poke 15-millimeter holes in the soil. Plant a seed in each hole, cover with soil, and watch for a seedling to emerge in the next several days.
Plant a seed in each hole, cover with soil, and watch for a seedling to emerge in the next several days. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Photosynthesis: Add more nutrients to your late-stage seedlings. Since you are growing autoflowers and not regular seeds, use only half the usual dose indicated on the package.
Vegetation: Change up the environmental conditions with low-stress training. Reduce the humidity to 50 percent, lower the temperature to 68 degrees, and feed twice per week.
The plants should be about six inches tall at this point.
During the vegetation stage, the plants should be about six inches tall at this point. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Late Vegetation: In this second vegetative phase, drop the humidity to 45 percent and keep the temperature stable at around 68 degrees. Water with half a liter every day and keep feeding twice weekly.
You may see some tiny pre-flowers crop up at this time.
Flowering: Sticky, resinous buds will make their first appearance during week five, giving you a preview of the bounty to come. Keep the humidity consistent at 45 percent but increase the temperature to about 71 degrees. Increase the water to a full liter each day and add supplement tablets twice a week. Look for those containing phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
The plants should be at least a foot tall now.
During the flowering stage, sticky, resinous buds will make their first appearance during week five. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Late Flowering: Don’t be surprised to see a flower forming in every bud after two weeks into the flowering stage. Drop the humidity to 40 percent and reduce the temperature back to 68 degrees. Water with 1.5 liters and feed the plants three times a week.
After this week, you’re in the home stretch of raising autoflowering plants to maturity.
Maintenance: It’s crucial to stop harmful intruders such as mold and spider mites, so check your cannabis plants daily and keep the humidity low at 40 percent. Maintain the watering and feeding schedule established in week six.
Your patience and care will pay off soon — harvest time is in the near future.
Weeks 8 and 9
Defoliation: Stop feeding the plants. Instead, flush them with a flood of water and then defoliate with a pair of shears . Defoliation helps the plants absorb more light while limiting the risk of damaging mold.
At the end of this two-week period, the eagerly anticipated harvest time will begin.
Harvest: Milky white trichomes and red-brown pistils on the buds indicate they are ready for harvest. Drying and curing comes next, then you can finally sit back and enjoy the sweet fruits of your labor.
Milky white trichomes and red-brown pistils on the buds indicate they are ready for harvest. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Where to buy weed seeds online in the US
To save weed growers the hassle of finding and navigating a trustworthy seed source, we played secret shopper at some of the weed internet’s most recommended cannabis seed banks, evaluating menus and pricing, verifying breeder relationships, stress-testing services, and placing orders.
Read on for our explainer on seed banks, and further below you’ll see our reviews of five trustworthy cannabis seed banks that we recommend for your next seed purchase. And proceed with confidence, knowing that Leafly has no monetized relationships with any of the reviewed retailers.
What is a seed bank?
The term “seed bank” refers to companies who preserve cannabis genetics in seed form and sell those seeds to homegrowers and commercial growers. Their seeds can be common strains as well as heritage, rare, and clone-only genetics.
In their infancy, decades ago, cannabis seed banks primarily operated in the Netherlands because of the country’s lax view of cannabis, and never in the US. Many produced the seeds they sold. Some still do.
Buyers paid cash, which was usually stuffed into birthday cards or folded inside backpage order forms and snail-mailed over the ocean. Things didn’t always pan out, but the risks were worth it to get weed strains made popular in Amsterdam’s bustling coffeeshop scene.
Today, that’s all changed. US seed sellers far outweigh old-timey European ones, are reliable, and stock an enormously influential pool of American breeders, largely eclipsing overseas efforts.
While the days of cash in envelopes are mostly behind us—supplanted by credit card and cryptocurrency transactions—buying seeds still isn’t straightforward.
Is it legal to buy weed seeds online?
Weed seeds can be considered a cannabis product just like flower, edibles, concentrates, and vape carts, and their legality depends on which state you live in. People living in some states with adult-use legalization can buy seeds within their own state, but seeds can’t cross state lines. People living in states with medical marijuana legalization may only be able to buy seeds if they have a medical card.
Some companies and growers argue that since seeds contain little, if any, THC that they can be considered “hemp” under the 2018 Farm Bill and thus exempt from federal drug laws. However, that theory has not been tested in court, and you might not be able to protect yourself with that argument. The Controlled Substances Act considers seeds as cannabis, and seeds are only considered “hemp” if they come from a hemp plant.
Cannabis seeds are often sold for “novelty” or “souvenir” purposes, but it is illegal for cannabis seeds to cross state lines or to bring them into the US from another country. US Customs or state officials will seize any cannabis seeds they find in packages or on a person.
Additionally, homegrow laws differ by locality. Check your state and local laws before purchasing or germinating seeds.
How do I know where to buy quality weed seeds?
Seed banks don’t build trust like e-commerce sites typically do. Websites often look outdated, even a little unprofessional. Reputable sites can lack standard e-commerce elements like product descriptions or photographs, or even integrated credit card processing.
On the other hand, some seed bank startups have investment capital and can present a familiar e-commerce consumer experience. Ferrying shoppers through sales funnels into modernized websites, these companies usually sell their own seed lines rather than genetics from known, established breeders.
While there’s nothing wrong with breeders who sell seeds this way, there’s no guarantee that the strains they sell bear any resemblance to their namesake genetics without independent community verification of their products, via growers or third-party seed banks. We think of this as similar to the CBD market, where convincing branding doesn’t necessarily describe an effective product.
So to know where to buy quality cannabis seeds, consumers must vet seed sellers the same way growers have since the dawn of digital communities: by trading information on cannabis cultivation forums, where growers both experienced and new can discuss what they’re currently running in their gardens, as well as where they sourced their seeds.
Read on for five of the most trustworthy sources to buy cannabis seeds in the US in 2022.
Neptune Seed Bank
Extensive selection, wide price range, average perks
- Established: 2015
- Location: Los Angeles, California
- Customer service options: email, snail mail
- Perks: Points program, occasional discounts and sales, seed freebies
- Seeds: Envy Genetics’ MelonBlow (Melonade x BlowPops Bx1), 10 regular seeds
- Total cost: $103.50 (List price: $100; discount: 10%, coupon code “thanks10,” reducing price to $90; shipping fee: Flat Rate USPS, $10; CC processing fee: $3.50)
- Freebies: Pack of GrapeBlow seeds from breeder
- Bought on: Feb 1, 2022; Shipped: Feb 2; Received: Feb 6
- Payment options: Credit/debit, MESH, Bitcoin, Ethereum, cash by mail, e-check
About Neptune Seed Bank
Self-described as the most comprehensive stockist of cannabis genetics in the United States, Neptune Seed Bank has what you want or something very similar.
It would take us days to gush over all the breeders on tap at Neptune. And while their prices aren’t always the most competitive, the insane volume of exotic strains makes them a unique resource that shouldn’t be forgotten. Especially for those times when retailers offering more aggressive discounts sell out of that cross you’re after.
Ultra-hyped Kush Mints crosses by Seed Junky Genetics go for between $250-550, sharing price points with far-reaching influencers like Jungle Boys and Gage Green Group, whose “Last Chance” seeds top Neptune’s menu at $800 per ten pack.
Also present are long-established figures Top Dawg Seeds, Cannarado Genetics, and Dungeons Vault Genetics (formerly of Granddaddy Purple Genetics), plus emerging players posed to carry forward the flame, including Wolfpack Selections, Lit Farms, and Wyeast Farms. Additional highlights encompass recent hitmakers like Thug Pug Genetics, known for Peanut Butter Breath, and Capulator, known for MAC1.
With so many options available to Neptune’s shoppers, it can be difficult to narrow the choices simply by browsing. It’s a good problem to have.
I ended up searching for Melonade crosses, a delectable combo of Lemon Tree and Watermelon Zkittlez that’s been stuck in my head since experiencing it in rosin form in 2019. I found a surprising array of options, including versions by Crane City Cannabis, Lit Farms, Midwest Best/Grandiflora, and some budget friendly options from Envy Genetics.
I went for Envy’s MelonBlow (Melonade x BlowPops BX1), which carried a sticker price of $100 and came with a free pack of GrapeBlow seeds as provided by the breeder. A 10% discount offset the shipping fee, and after processing fees, I spent $103.50 all-in.
It should be noted that Luscious Genetics, a competing seed seller reviewed below, had the very same pack of seeds and additional, site-specific freebies for $65. Discounts are common, so it’s a good idea to poke around for the best price before locking in a purchase.
Customer service experience
During checkout, I was prompted to upload a photo of my ID if I wanted to use a credit card. The next day, because my current address is different from the one on my ID, I was also asked to email a photo of my physical credit card.
While Neptune says this baby gate for fraudsters is intended to “protect our customers and the business,” the security measure creates an unintentional honeypot—a cache of sensitive data that is, simply by virtue of its existence, vulnerable to nefarious digital actors or even disgruntled employees.
The good news is, Neptune doesn’t check IDs for Bitcoin/crypto or MESH transactions, so if you’re willing to take a few extra minutes to transfer funds around and pay additional fees, you can forgo the ID.
From a customer service perspective, the exchange to confirm my identity was painless and only added a day to the shipping turnaround. And I was impressed with Neptune’s speedy customer service response times. Shoppers can expect an actual human with little, if any, delays, which can go a long way to building trust and converting one-timers to loyalists.
Trusted breeders, great closeout deals
- Established: 2018
- Location: Eugene, Oregon
- Customer service options: email, Instagram
- Perks: VIP services via Patreon membership
- Seeds: Lucky Dog Genetics’ Sweet Chem (Zkittlez x Chemdog D f4), 13 regular seeds
- Total cost: $105.58 (List price: $160; discount: $70 discount for a $90 sticker price; shipping fee: First Class USPS, $10; CC processing fee: $5.58 via MESH)
- Freebies: none
- Bought on: Jan 31, 2022; Shipped: Feb 4; Received: Feb 5
- Payment options: MESH (credit card access with fees), Bitcoin (exchange fees may apply), cash by mail
About Speakeasy Seedbank
Speakeasy seed bank feels like a refreshing reset from the trend-chaser set. They offer a strong selection of heritage breeders like Mean Gean From Mendocino’s Freeborn Selections, Professor P’s Relic Seeds, and SkunkVA’s Lucky Dog Seed Co.—prioritizing the preservation and improvement of modern weed’s building block strains.
Speakeasy feels like a counterpoint to the current high demand for new and exotic mashups of hyped flavors—and, unstabilized seed lines. While there’s nothing wrong with backing up a clone library or exploring the potential of a promising male, it’s not the same as a breeding program that targets specific desirable traits.
This isn’t to say that Speakeasy’s menu shuns contemporary trends or excludes the undisputable hybrid vigor of F1 genetics—more that it places faith in proven breeders to filter worthwhile flavors from one-hit wonders.
Surfing Speakeasy’s menu, there was a lot to consider and add to my want list. Enticed by so many promising strains—namely, Bodhi Seeds’ newer 88G13HP releases, Crickets & Cicada’s Black Domina crosses, and Relic’s G13 Haze selections—I let Speakeasy’s Closeout Deals narrow my search.
I was impressed to see markdowns on both sought-after breeders and desirable strains, never getting the sense that Speakeasy is merely off-loading slow-moving stock. Select examples by Relic Seeds were available at a deep discount, as were numerous other packs that most growers would be happy to add to their vault.
I pulled the trigger on Lucky Dog’s Sweet Chem: $160 retail, marked down to $90. On other sites, $160 was the standing price, so I have no regrets.
Between meaningful curation that exhibits a strong understanding of modern weed’s origins as well as some unique deals, Speakeasy won a place on this list.
Oregon Elite Seeds
Expertly curated selection, reliably fast shipping, frequent discounts
- Established: 2015
- Location: Eugene, Oregon
- Customer service options: phone, email, text
- Perks: Points program, frequent site-wide discounts and sales, seed freebies, subscription-based perks for regulars
- Seeds: ONI Seed Co.’s Hattrick (TKT x CPT) x Tropicana Cookies, 12 regular seeds
- Total cost: $110.78 (List price: $150; discount: -35%; shipping fee: $8, First Class USPS; CC processing fee: $5.28)
- Freebies: sticker, keychain, lanyard
- Bought on: Jan 31, 2022; Shipped: Feb 1; Received: Feb 3
- Payment options: On-site credit card processing (for a 5% fee), cash by mail, and local pickup
About Oregon Elite Seeds
Oregon Elite Seeds offers a wide seed selection spanning heritage, new school, and hype breeders, plus frequent site-wide discounts and regular sales.
For example, OES had a 35%-off sale when I shopped, applying to breeders like Oni Seed Co., Bloom Seed Co., and Obsol33t Genetics, plus dozens more.
OES’ selection is large, and there isn’t much missing. Breeders that aren’t represented are usually too expensive for most people, or their seed lines have proven to be unremarkable. This is extremely useful curation, narrowing choices expertly and serving as a barometer for upcoming trends.
Shipping times were exceptionally quick in my experience—but I live less than a 2-hour drive from OES’s headquarters in Eugene, Oregon, and customer experiences will vary.
I’ve shopped OES at least a half dozen times in as many years and have always been pleased with the experience, and their frequent sales are some of the most attractive in the business.
This time around, I found myself drawn toward a fresh-faced breeder, Wolfpack Selections—enticed by a buy one/get one offer and a series of hyped flavors crossed with Cheetah Piss.
Unfortunately, when it came time to cash in the 35% discount, the shopping cart choked and wouldn’t apply the coupon to the Wolfpack gear. When I contacted customer service about the issue, they couldn’t be reached over email or phone.
Eventually, I discovered that the coupon code could be applied to Oni Seed Co.’s Hattrick—a strain I’ve eyed for some time. Later, OES updated the sale language to exclude new drops, but not before I’d played a semi-frustrating guessing game to find applicable merchandise.
That said, once I did place an order, it was in my hands within days.
Customer service experience
Email response times vary and customer support can, at times, feel understaffed. I sent OES an email asking for clarification about the aforementioned 35% discount and received a form response more than 24 hours later.
A message directed me to a terms page and recommended calling for a faster response. I called twice during stated business hours and got a machine both times.
Eventually, I bought a second-choice item that worked with the 35% discount code, but I was hesitant to forgo breeder-specific freebies until the sale’s terms were updated on their site. Things would’ve gone smoother had customer support made itself available by either email or phone, or if limitations on the sale were spelled out from the beginning.
Best-in-class sales, generous freebies, and unique make-an-offer pricing
- Established: 2018
- Location: Missouri
- Customer service options: email, phone
- Perks: Loyalty points, sitewide freebies, small promotional gifts, like koozies
- Seeds: Surfr Seeds’ Surround Sound (Jet Fuel Gelato x Redneck Wedding), 15 regular seeds
- Total cost: $90.40 (List price: $100; discount: -15% for $85 before the cart; shipping Fee: First Class USPS, $5.40; free First-Class USPS on orders over $150; CC processing fee: None via WAAVE)
- Freebies: Surfr Seeds’ (Citrus Farmer x Cherry Pie), 15 regular seeds; Cars N Coal Seed Co.’s Dancer x SS Afghan 1, 4 regular seeds
- Bought on: Jan 31, 2022; Shipped: Feb 1; Received: Feb 5
- Payment options: WAAVE Credit Card Processing, Cash App, Venmo, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, cash/money order
About Luscious Genetics
Luscious Genetics is an online retailer that curates a solid and often-discounted collection of respected breeders.
While the selection can feel slightly limited in scope next to some of the bigger banks, breeders trend toward new school but proven members of the community, like Envy Genetics, Thug Pug Genetics, and the venerable yet under-the-radar Surfr Seeds.
Additionally, Luscious runs a proprietary breeding program under the name TrichomeBros. This ensures that fresh, exciting freebies are always included with every purchase, even when partnering breeders opt out of participating in site-wide incentive programs.
With easy site navigation, no-fee credit card services, best-in-class deals, and remarkably competitive freebies, Luscious was a pleasure to shop.
Despite a number of enticing menu items, Surfr Seeds won my Luscious bucks with their cross of Jet Fuel Gelato x Redneck Wedding, dubbed Surround Sound.
The reasons were:
- Surfr created my fav strain of the 2020/2021 season, Grandpa’s Gun Chest, sharing Surround Sound’s Redneck Wedding parentage
- Luscious’ automatic 15% markdown, slashing the per-pack price from $100 to $85
- The promise of a second, full mystery pack of Surfr freebies with purchase of the first, which turned out to be a Citrus Farmer x Cherry Pie cross
- An additional site-wide sampler pack of freebies by Cars N Coal Seed Co.
That comes to more than 30 seeds for the price of 15. Very nice!
Meanwhile, Luscious continues to make a customer-first impression with a feature I haven’t seen elsewhere: the ability to “Make An Offer” on all listed products, similar to eBay.
Considering how often seeds are discounted and the frequency at which retailers offer sales, a Make An Offer option would be a welcomed industry-wide trend. It would be a huge improvement compared to the norm, that is, waiting for a sale only to find that a select item is sold out.
Seeds Here Now
Connoisseur quality, extensive selection, and community dedication
- Established: 2014
- Location: Medford, Oregon
- Customer service options: email, phone
- Perks: Reward points, giveaways, seed freebies
- Seeds: Heroes of the Farm’s Jazz x Space Queen, 13 regular seeds
- Total cost: $98.76 (List price: $88; discount: -10% sitewide via code Spin10, but code did not work; shipping fee: First Class USPS, $9.98; CC processing fee: none)
- Freebies: none
- Bought on: Jan 31, 2022; Received: Jan 7
- Payment options: Credit/debit card payments, cash, check, money order, bitcoin (BTC), litecoin (LTE), bitcoin cash (BCH), and dogecoin (DOGE)
About Seeds Here Now
Seeds Here Now isn’t always the cheapest option, but their selection vies for the most comprehensive, and they’ve proven themselves reliable for many years. While some seed banks gravitate toward hype stock and others toward heritage and heirloom, Seeds Here Now has a bit of both.
The common thread throughout SHN’s menu is connoisseur quality. With a strong eye for promising genetics, the seed bank is also an asset to the community—giving back through an emergency fund designed to help breeders and growers in need.
At the time of writing, they were selling and auctioning seeds from numerous luminary breeders to raise money for Virginia-based breeder Duke Diamond, purveyor of Dominion Seed Company, who was recently released from prison and is getting back on his feet.
We were impressed with both the quantity and quality of exclusive seeds unavailable elsewhere.
One such rarity from the Duke Diamond benefit collection was a release by Heroes of the Farm that combines two terpinolene-dominant, Haze-leaning strains: Jazz and Space Queen. The opportunity to grow some heritage, previously unreleased Pacific Northwest flavors while also supporting a breeder from my home state of Virginia was an easy choice to make.
SHN offers sitewide freebies under a tiered structure for purchases of $150 or more. My purchase was less than that so I didn’t get any bonus seeds, just some stickers.
Navigating the site was as easy as it gets, as is the payment process. Yet when it came time to checkout, a 10%-off discount code offered to customers who opt into SHN’s mailing list didn’t work. I suspect this glitch has to do with fine print regarding the purchase of fundraiser-specific stock, but I’m more than happy to pay full price considering the proceeds go to Duke Diamond’s fund. But it would’ve been nice to know ahead of checkout that the coupon code couldn’t be applied to the item in my cart.
That said, this small issue—especially compared to buggier sites—won’t deter me from shopping with SHN again if they have something I can’t find elsewhere for cheaper.