It is well documented that the autoflowering seeds are a kind of miracle performer, producing plants which flower regardless of the hours of light that they receive thanks to the ruderalis genes. This poses the inevitable question of how early can you grow autoflowering seeds outside?
For novice cannabis growers it seems like a logical question. After all, if growing information for an autoflowering variety informs the grower that the ruderalis will flower regardless of light, then it would appear to suggest that you could plant a cannabis autoflowering seed in the ground any time of the year and it would perform. This is sometimes a subject of confusion, especially when combined with the knowledge that the cannabis ruderalis plant is naturally found in inhospitable habitats (from Central Europe and Asia, right up to the Arctic circle).
Growing autoflowering seeds – how early can you plant them outside?
Plant an auto seed at any time of the year and with enough warmth and light it will germinate and grow. However, how robust that growth will be is a different matter and most window sill experiments end up looking like a rather sick bonsai weed plant !
To grow autoflowering seeds in soil outside, Paradise Seeds recommends planting them from mid – end of May in more northern regions ( above 45° N.L.) although it is possible to plant them a little earlier in Mediterranean regions. The main risk to young cannabis plants at this time of the year is fluctuations in temperature, especially those unexpected Spring frosts, which can cause stress to plants and stunt growth.
To plant them out any earlier is a risk, for the reason already mentioned, although possibilities are more plentiful further south (below 45°) if there is sufficient attention to protection. Fortunately, contemporary weather forecasts are pretty accurate which means that the outdoor grower can predict if there will be a frost coming and take measures. Using pots is advised for those experimenting with early planting as these can be brought inside if harsh weather conditions arise.
Start autoflowering seeds under LED for an early planting
For outdoor growers in northern regions, there is always the possibility of starting the plants under lights (a cheap LED unit for example), in mid March and then moving them outside as the weather improves. There is an element of hit or miss about this as the power of the sun is still quite weak, but as climate conditions shift, April can now be unseasonably warm. There are many gardeners of traditional crops who are now experimenting with planting outside traditional grow season dates for this reason. While the process of planting auto seeds outside has obstacles to success, take that gamble and get it right and the outdoor grower could be rewarded with a bonus early harvest!
How Much Ruderalis content is in Autoflowering Seeds?
The miracles of modern cannabis breeding have produced an assortment of weed strains which can not only survive in the difficult growing conditions outdoor weed growers face in more northern regions of Europe, Asia and North America, but also thrive! This is because the breeding process has selected qualities, such as mold resistance, to equip these plants for growing in environments where rain and inconsistent sunshine are constant features.
Cannabis auto strains have been a welcome addition to cannabis seed ranges, and offer a perfect choice for such conditions – the absence of photoperiodism (and 60 -70 day seed – harvest time) means outdoor weed growers can maximize those short summer months. Nevertheless, as advanced as cannabis breeding techniques are, the prospect of a weed plant that can defy nature and grow year round in wet, cold and low light conditions is something we will have to wait for!
Guide to best results with auto seeds
While the genetic make-up of autoflowering seeds includes ruderalis genes, the percentage is very low (approximately 10%, compared to 90% distributed between indica and sativa genes). Native cannabis ruderalis plants which grow wild produce buds, but with few of the attributes cannabis consumers are looking for such as an appealing taste and potency of effect. Therefore, although auto strains such as Pandora, Auto Wappa or Auto Kong 4 have inherited the automatic ticking clock of a ruderalis (as well as a disregard for light patterns), it is the other genetic components which provide the aesthetics such as smell, taste and desirable effect.
Part of the fun of growing cannabis for home growers is to experiment as they gain more experience. For best results with auto seeds we suggest sticking to the script and plant out in May, but if you try a test project and plant out earlier whatever happens it will be a valuable learning experience!