some indoor autoflowering cannabis plants

Growing techniques that you thought couldn’t be used with autoflowerings

By: Contributor Grow

autoflowering cannabis strains have gained popularity in recent years thanks to their short life cycle and ability to flower regardless of the photoperiod that they’re exposed to. But, despite these advantages, there are certain growing techniques that are considered inappropriate or ineffective for autoflowering plants. This article explores some of them and explains how, with the right experience, they can actually be applied to automatic strains to improve their quality and yielding capacity.

Since they stormed onto the growing scene earlier this century, autoflowering strains have come a long way. In the beginning, growers didn’t take them very seriously, but nowadays they’ve become a viable and highly beneficial way of growing cannabis. With so many unknowns surrounding autoflowering seeds, it is difficult to distinguish the facts from the myths. This is why we’ve put together a detailed guide on common growing misconceptions about this type of plants.

Due to the short life cycle of automatic strains, the use of these techniques hasn’t been traditionally recommended for them. The theory is that autoflowers don’t like to be stressed, as they need to pour all their energy into growing and flowering as quickly as possible. Therefore, it is best to spare them any unnecessary disturbance that may slow them down. However, with the right experience, many of these methods can actually be incredibly beneficial to them.

Can you take cuttings from autoflowering plants?

All cannabis plants can be reproduced by cuttings, and this includes autoflowering strains. But the process is quite technical and must be fully understood for any hope of success. The most important thing to understand is that the cuttings will be the same age as the mother plant when they are cloned; so, if your plant was flowering when the cuttings were taken, you’re unlikely to get much height or yield from them.

However, due to the fast-growing properties of autoflowering strains, there’s a small window of opportunity to take cuttings before the plants start to show their sex. Therefore, this is still possible, providing there’s no expectations of a huge yield, as achieving this is highly unlikely.

Nonetheless, cuttings can allow for faster and more efficient rotations in your grow, as they usually grow faster than seeds. Or you can use them to implement a growing technique to optimise your space, such as SOG (Sea of Green).

a grown plant
Autoflowering cutting at its peak. A great proof that this is possible.

Autos don’t need a 24-hour light cycle

We all know that autoflowerings are incredibly easy to grow since they don’t need a period of darkness to flower. But a common mistake is to think that they need 24 hours of light for optimum growth. In fact, this is a myth that puts many growers off, especially those looking to grow outdoors or to avoid high electricity bills.

Autoflowers can grow successfully with a full day of light, but in reality they only need more than 16 hours. Most strains grow well with some darkness, for example with a 16/8 cycle. Other varieties prefer more light, so they do better with 18/6. And others develop optimally with a 20/4 photoperiod. More light can translate into bigger yields, but certainly not for all strains; so you’ll have to find out which cycle works best for your plants.

Besides, the type of lighting you choose will depend on your goal and on what your plants can absorb. Sometimes you need a little bit of trial and error to find the best option. It should be noted that some producers grow their autoflowerings with a 24/0 cycle, whilst others think that plants can show signs of stress if they don’t have a period of darkness to rest.

In general, 18/6 and 20/4 are the most recommended photoperiods for an optimal balance between growth and energy efficiency. However, some growers like to experiment with 24/0 to maximise the vegetative growth, whilst others may even opt for 12/12 in specific situations (for instance, when autoflowerings are being grown in the same space as photo-dependent strains).

Autoflowerings can be transplanted?

Autoflowering plants can be moved from one pot to a larger one. Doubts may arise because inadequate transplanting can slow down the development of the plant for several days while it deals with transplant stress. The life cycle of autoflowers is only 75 days long, so any time spent recovering from shock could result in a reduction in yield.

So, although it’s best for rookies to grow these strains directly in their final pot where the flowering will take place, seasoned growers may choose to transplant autoflowerings 1 or even 2 weeks after germination. In any case, you need to act very carefully; and if you do so, transplanting shouldn’t have a major effect on your plant’s growth.

What’s more, starting with small pots lets growers maintain more precise control over the root area. Once the roots fill the whole space, plants can be moved to a larger pot using a careful technique to minimise stress, which also facilitates the control and change of substrate at different stages of growth to better meet the nutritional needs of the plants.

Strawberry Haze Auto

With 15% THC and moderate CBD levels, the effect might seem contained but it’s quite the opposite. The uplifting sativa high is extraordinary, stimulating the laughter muscles like no other autoflowering variety, and creating images and ideas that would never enter your head on a typical day. It’s perfect for sharing with friends who want to travel together to a sweet strawberry field of every colour imaginable.

Autoflowerings can also be pruned

In the cultivation of autoflowering plants, there’s plenty of room for controversial debate. High stress training (HST) techniques, such as Super Cropping, Topping, or Fimming, are often the subject of this debate; and because of the high risk of harm and stress that’s involved with them, they’re usually avoided.

However, some growers still choose to go for it to obtain larger buds, by cutting the apical stem to create a bushier and shorter shrub, which in turn maximises the number of colas that the plant produces. On the contrary, other growers claim that this type of training is too stressful for the plants, leading to a recovery time that slows down their growth and decreases their yielding capacity.

Since both parties are (technically) right, this answer again depends on genetics. For indica strains that still develop a suitable space for light exposure, it would be best to avoid methods like Topping. With autoflowering sativa seeds, however, this type of pruning could be useful to open up the space in order to achieve optimal light coverage. Having said that, this situation requires some skill – otherwise, autoflowerings may not have enough time to recover, which could negatively affect the harvest.

topping done to an autoflowering plant
Topping done to an autoflowering plant. Who said it wasn’t possible?

Autoflowerings can be trained using low stress training techniques (LST)

Autoflowerings can also produce great yields with the implementation of low stress training techniques (LST) to avoid unnecessary complications. This consists of gently guiding your plant to encourage lateral growth, resulting in a uniform canopy and greater exposure to light for all branches, leading to more substantial yields per plant. For example, this concept can be applied to optimised cultivation methods like SCROG, which involves placing a mesh over the plants to train the branches so that they grow horizontally through it.

Time is crucial with LST. The best thing for autoflowerings is to start around the third week of growth. That’s when plants already have a well-established root system and can withstand gentle handling. But the plants must be monitored periodically and the LST suspended when they stop growing vertically: this is a sign that they’re focusing their energy on bud production.

Autoflowerings can be defoliated?

In addition to the HST/LST techniques mentioned above, there are other low stress training methods that, although traditionally considered to be inappropriate for autoflowers, can be successfully implemented by experienced growers to improve results.

For example, Lollipopping involves removing the lower branches that receive less light to redirect the energy to the higher more productive parts. The right time to apply this technique is early in the flowering phase, to ensure that the plant has enough time to recover and redirect all its energy.

On the other hand, defoliation involves the selective removal of leaves to improve light penetration and air circulation, which also helps to reduce moisture in the canopy, decreasing the risk of fungal diseases. In this case, it is best to remove only the leaves that really block the light, and to do it gradually to avoid stressing the plant too much.

Advanced nutrition techniques can be used?

Advanced nutrition plans are also considered highly risky for autoflowers due to their fast cycle and susceptibility to nutrient stress. However, with careful control, advanced feeding techniques can be implemented. For instance, by increasing CO2 levels to accelerate growth and boost the yielding potential. Or by using organic nutrients, which can improve the quality of the soil and the health of the plants in the long term. Synthetic nutrients can also provide more accurate control and faster results, but require more careful management to prevent over-fertilisation.

three autoflowering genetics
Three autoflowering genetics in organic cultivation to which different training techniques have been applied.


As with cannabis in general, there’s a certain stigma surrounding autoflowering seeds, due partly to previous assessments of lower quality strains that still persist today. But with the advances in genetic lineage and improved reproduction, autoflowers have gradually gained a great reputation among experienced and novice growers alike.

There are many advanced techniques that can be applied to autoflowering cannabis strains to improve their yielding capacity and quality. Although these practices are traditionally considered inappropriate due to the plants’ short life cycle and high susceptibility to stress, they can certainly be successfully implemented with the right knowledge and expertise.

By challenging established standards and experimenting with different cultivation methods, growers can discover new ways to maximise the potential of their autoflowering plants, thereby obtaining more abundant and better quality crops.

Kannabia Seeds Company sells to its customers a product collection, a souvenir. We cannot and we shall not give growing advice since our product is not intended for this purpose.

Kannabia accept no responsibility for any illegal use made by third parties of information published. The cultivation of cannabis for personal consumption is an activity subject to legal restrictions that vary from state to state. We recommend consultation of the legislation in force in your country of residence to avoid participation in any illegal activity.