The choice of autoflowering vs feminized seeds is easy if you understand the difference between them in terms of yield and other features. There are important differences between regular, feminized (Photoperiod) and autoflower seeds. Curious to the differences and what to choose? Autoflower, feminized, and photoperiod (regular) are all options you may be confronted with when it comes time to buy cannabis seeds. Autoflowering promises predictable growth, with no need to fuss with light schedules. Feminized seeds promise no wasted space or time sexing out males. Photoperiod (or normal cannabis se
Autoflowering vs Feminized: What’s Best for a Casual Grower?
Learn all about the difference between autoflowering and feminized genetics to make an informed choice when shopping for cannabis seeds
When you go to a seed shop, the most conspicuous categories you see there are ‘autoflowering’ and ‘feminized’, so most growers face a difficult choice: autoflowering vs feminized. Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of each.
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Autoflowering vs Feminized Seeds
Let’s start with a disclaimer: it’s not really correct to contrapose these two. A seed can be both feminized and autoflowering, or have just one of these characteristics, or neither of them.
‘Feminized’ means that the seeds produce only female plants. ‘Autoflowering’ means that the seeds will automatically start to flower as soon as they are mature enough (let’s say in 2-4 weeks from sprouts).
What are auto feminised seeds then? Well, those that flower automatically + produce flowers that are always female (i.e. buds).
In contrast, the seeds that produce both male and female plants are called ‘regular’, and those that won’t start to flower until you change the light cycle for them are called ‘photoperiod’.
So, seed shops make the bulk of their sales with the following two:
- feminised auto seeds (mostly referred to as ‘autoflowering’)
- feminized photoperiod seeds (mostly referred to as ‘feminized’)
And these two are exactly what we are going to compare.
Advantages of ‘Feminized’ Seeds vs Auto Seeds
They Have More THC
When I myself started growing weed many years ago, I was ignoring autoflowering strains completely. At that time, they really weren’t good enough. Over the years, though, the situation has changed.
Today’s autoflowers routinely have around 20% THC. This is an unheard of level for most photoperiod varieties that I used to grow and considered ‘strong’. Still, if a breeder takes some exceptional genetics with say 25-28 percent of THC and makes an autoflowering version out of it, the THC content in the resulting auto flower is always lower. Compare, for example, such a legend as Gorilla Glue with an autoflowering Gorilla.
Autoflowering vs Feminized Yield Per M 2
Autoflowers have a shorter life cycle, so it’s only logical that they produce less buds in the same growspace. Again, some autos can be significantly more productive than some photoperiod strains, but, within the same genetic line, the auto version always yields less grams per m 2 than the photoperiod one.
The Difference in Yields Per Plant Can be Colossal
Photoperiod strains can be vegged for as long as it suits your needs. This allows you to grow your plants into real giants. It’s hardly practical indoors, but outdoors you can harvest as much as several pounds of dry bud from every ‘tree’. Growing fewer but bigger plants is also convenient when there are legal limits as to the number of plants you are allowed to grow.
They Leave More Room for Rookie Mistakes
Novice growers tend to make mistakes from day 1, so they run into trouble long before the flowering stage begins.
With a photoperiod variety, you can simply find a solution to your problem, take necessary measures, and wait till your plant is in good shape again. And only then you change your light schedule to 12/12 to induce flowering.
Autos, on the other hand, don’t wait till you correct your mistakes. Even if they are small and sickly, they are ‘on the clock’ and will start flowering despite their pathetic condition. The result — tiny plants and puny yields.
That being said, I have seen autoflowering strains that are a little more flexible than that. They start flowering when they reach a certain size and have a certain number of true leaves (let’s say 4 developed pairs of true leaves and the 5th one just forming). This can happen after 3 weeks from sprouts (when everything has gone well). Or, if the initial growth was very slow due to bad conditions, they can postpone the flowering till week 4 or even 5. Not all autos behave this way, but some do.
They Let You Take Clones and Keep Mothers
If you like a particular feminised plant and want to keep it for future use, simply take a clone, root it and keep it under 18 hours of light a day indefinitely. This plant will never flower, but will keep growing new leaves and side shoots which you can use for cuttings.
Theoretically, you can take clones from autoflowers, too, but you can’t stop them from flowering, no matter how many light hours you give them. So the only way to propagate your favorite autoflowering genetics is to force the plant to self-pollinate and produce seeds.
You Can Re-Veg Them
To reveg means to revert your plant back to growth after harvest.
A harvested plant is hardly more than a stump with a branch or two and some leaves. But you can turn this pathetic remnant into a full-fledged plant. It can then give you a second harvest or be turned into a mother plant and a constant source of clones.
Obviously, autos can’t be revegged.
They Let You Save on Electricity During the Flowering Stage
Feminized plants spend their 8-10+ weeks of flowering under a 12/12 regime, meaning you burn electricity for only 12 hours a day. The saving can be especially significant if your electrical company offers night rates. For autoflowers, the standard light/dark cycle is at least 18/6 (more hours, more money).
Advantages of Autoflowering vs Feminized Seeds
You Can Grow Them Outdoors in Practically Any Climate
I happen to live in a region with very harsh weather, so I know this firsthand. I started with feminized photoperiod strains and only chose those that were early finishers and tolerant of cold and even frost. Nevertheless, it was always a lottery. Some of those ‘quick’ feminized seeds didn’t even start to flower before the first snowfall. Others didn’t reach full maturity.
Later, I would grow from clones using genetics that had proven to really finish early, but even they didn’t perform equally well every year. It all depended on the weather in the crucial 3-4 weeks in late September – early October.
After I tried an autoflowering strain for the first time, I’ve never bothered to grow a photoperiod variety outdoors ever again. Except maybe as an experiment. As an auto grower, you have an opportunity to choose the warmest, sunniest 2-3 months of the year to complete the whole cycle—from seed to harvest—and count on your buds becoming fully mature.
You Can Have Two or More Consecutive Harvests Per Season Outdoors
It all depends on your climate. If the growing season (with no frosts) in your region is 150 days long, you can easily have two back-to-back auto grows. It’s sometimes very convenient to have several smaller harvests than one large one per season.
One reason is that trimming is a very time consuming procedure. Also it’s nice to have some fresh buds to smoke in the middle of summer, while you’re waiting for the bulk of the harvest that which be mature in fall.
With Autos, You Don’t Worry About Light Pollution
If you grow photoperiod marijuana outdoors, nights during the flowering stage should be dark. Weed plants don’t mind the moon and stars, but react badly to city lights. Indoors, you must make sure that your grow space is completely sealed off and doesn’t allow light leaks. With auto flowers, you don’t have these issues.
You Can Have Both the Vegging and the Flowering Plants in One Grow Room
For photoperiod feminized varieties, you must dedicate two separate rooms. In one, lights will be on for 18 hours a day (the veg room), in the other — for 12 hours a day (the flowering room). This is something that not every amateur grower can afford. As for autos, you can keep several generations, each at a different stage of maturity, under 18/6.
Autoflowering vs Feminized Size
Autos tend to be much smaller. This is very convenient for tight spaces and micro grows, or if you want your secret garden to be inconspicuous.
Autos Finish Faster
Theoretically, you can find a photoperiod strain that grows very fast in veg and has a very short flowering period. So, by inducing the flowering early, you can make it finish in 10-11 weeks from seeds. But this is what an average auto can do without any hassle, and some are much faster than that. So, if you want to end that T-break of yours a.s.a.p., choose autoflowering cannabis.
Now you have a sort of a checklist that will help you decide if you’ll be better off growing feminized seeds or autoflowering. We’ve also written a separate post comparing feminized seeds vs regular. Be sure to read it, too!
Guide to the Differences Between Autoflower, Feminized (photoperiod) and Regular Seeds
When planning to buy weed seeds, you will notice three specific categories. They are autoflower, feminized (photoperiod), and regular seeds. Each one is different in terms of cultivation and yield size, and some are more popular than others. It is necessary to get familiar with each type to determine which one is best for you.
The difference between autoflowering and feminized seeds
As the name suggests, autoflower seeds are designed to bloom automatically. Meanwhile, feminized seeds only have the genetics to become female plants and flower after receiving more than 12 hours a day of darkness.
Both types will produce a quality yield, but they each have notable characteristics.
Autoflowering vs Feminized (photoperiod)
|Cultivation||Easy||Easy to moderate|
|Plant height||Small to medium||Medium to tall|
|Start flowering||2-4 weeks after planting||When receiving 12/12 light and darkness|
|Average time – seed to harvest||10-16 weeks||12-24 weeks|
|Yield||Low – medium||Medium – high|
Are Autoflower Seeds Less Potent?
Overall, plants from autoflower weed seeds are not less potent than feminized seeds. Originally, autoflower seeds came from the Ruderalis plant. The species of cannabis generally has lower levels of THC, making it less vigorous. So, many growers consider autoflower seeds to be less potent than feminized ones.
Nowadays, it is not always the case. More and more cannabis Ruderalis plants are getting crossbred to create hybrid strains. As a result, you can find autoflower seeds with high amounts of THC. While some strains are still less potent than many feminized seeds, an autoflower plant can still produce a quality harvest.
The difference between feminized and regular seeds
As mentioned before, feminized cannabis seeds are the result of agronomic techniques to get rid of the chance for a male plant. On the other hand, regular seeds are completely natural. They are not genetically engineered and have no chemicals. Regular seeds will produce male and female plants in a crop.
Feminized and regular seeds can be somewhat similar, but they also have different characteristics. Growers usually look at the differences to determine which one is right for them. Traits can include yield size, cultivation, and ability to make new seeds.
Feminized seeds vs regular
|Cultivation||Easy – moderate||Moderate|
|Suitable for cannabis pollen||No||Yes|
|Suitable for cloning||Yes||Yes|
|Yield||Medium – high||Medium|
Are feminized seeds less potent?
Some growers believe that feminized marijuana seeds are more potent. Others think that regular seeds win in this department. Overall, there do not seem to be many differences in potency. Some feminized strains can produce higher levels of THC. However, regular seeds can be more potent, especially when talking about hybrid weed seeds.
If a feminized seed is less effective than a regular one, it could be due to lower-quality genes. A less vigorous regular cannabis plant may also be the result of bad parent genetics. Growers still creating the most potent regular and feminized seeds.
What to choose: Regular, Feminized or Autoflower seeds?
Plenty of growers enjoy autoflower and feminized weed seeds for convenience. Others prefer regular strains for potential new versions or because it is natural. The best one may depend on what you would like from it. Several factors could influence which type you choose. For example, you might want buds with a specific flavor or aroma.
The benefits of an autoflower strain are its shorter lifecycle and more resilient genetics. However, autoflower seeds can have a smaller yield size, and they do not create quality clones. Feminized strains are easier to prune, but this type cannot produce interesting hybrids on their own.
One benefit of regular seeds is that they can result in healthy clones. The downside is that they can be unpredictable. Your yield can get smaller if you cull male plants from the crop. Choosing the best seed type also can depend on the person growing it.
Feminized seeds are great for beginners and growers who have some experience. After all, the cultivation difficulty is on a moderate level. If a person is new to growing cannabis seeds, they do not need to worry about separating males and females. However, growers have to be more mindful of the lighting schedule since the flowering stage is dependent on cycles.
Autoflower weed seeds are a good option for people who are new to the cannabis scene. Cultivation is simple, and the flowering stage depends on age. You do not need to pay as much attention as you would to other types of seeds.
Regular cannabis seeds are likely going to be used by growers who have a more skilled hand. The flowering stage also depends on a light cycle, so you would need to be mindful of how much light and darkness the plant gets. You have to keep an eye on the sex of the plant if you want to prevent unwanted pollination.
Autoflower vs. Feminized vs Regular (Photoperiod): A Easy to Understand Guide
Autoflower, feminized, and photoperiod (regular) are all options you may be confronted with when it comes time to buy cannabis seeds. Autoflowering promises predictable growth, with no need to fuss with light schedules. Feminized seeds promise no wasted space or time sexing out males. Photoperiod (or normal cannabis seeds) are needed for breeding, experimenting and guaranteed rigorous growth.
But is this too much technical cultivation lingo too soon? Every grower has an opinion about what type of seed is best, but it always comes down to growth expectations, space restrictions, and personal opinion.
Here are the basic details on autoflower versus feminized versus old-fashioned, unadulterated normal cannabis seeds. By the end, you’ll have the information you need to make an informed decision.
Autoflowering Strains 101
Autoflowering strains of cannabis have genetics that guarantees flowering on a predictable schedule. Regular photoperiod plants need changes in the day/night light schedule to trigger a transition from vegetative into flower. Autoflower, as the name suggests, will launch into flower at the appointed time, no matter what.
A typical auto-flowering strain will be ready to harvest between 60 to 90 days after germination. Conventional photoperiod varieties take a minimum of 90 days but can run upwards of six or seven months, depending on the environment and cultivator preference.
Why are auto-flowering varieties different? They contain ruderalis genetics. This is a third landrace strain, like indica and a sativa. Thanks to comprehensive cannabis breeding programs, most established and popular strains are available in regular and auto-flowering varieties.
Autoflowering is useful for pumping out several harvests in the same time it would take to grow a single conventional variety. They also grow smaller (perfect for small indoor spaces) and are more predictable in growth rate and pattern. As a bonus, you will be able to sex your plants within roughly 21 days and maintain the same light schedule (18:6) for the entire operation.
According to experienced cultivators, it can be nice to grow a few auto-flowering varieties while you veg out the main regular strains. The small size also works well for Sea of Green cultivation.
The problem with autoflower strains? Compared with their regular counterparts, their harvests are smaller, including bud size and quantity. Many people also feel that even the cannabinoid and terpene profiles are not as good as the normal varieties.
Feminized Seeds 101
Feminized seeds are preselected female seeds. They are photoperiod, not autoflowering, which means you’ll use changes in light to trigger the flowering.
The benefit of spending the extra money on feminized seeds is that there is little to no risk of wasting time on sexing males. According to some reports, regular seeds run the risk of producing a male approximately a third of the time.
For small-scale indoor operations, or those legally capped at a strict number of plants, feminized seeds make a lot of sense. Why waste time and resources raising a male when you can start with already-feminized seeds?
Feminized seeds are a human-made creation. Breeders and seed sellers use colloidal silver or other chemicals to inhibit ethylene production in a female plant before it goes to seed. Ethylene is a hormone produced during flower by cannabis plants. The treated plants result in almost 100 percent female seeds.
Feminized seeds are specialized and are therefore more expensive to produce and, for the consumer, more expensive to buy. But, many growers prefer feminized seeds because they make growing that much smoother.
Still, even feminized seeds come with a risk. The chemical retardation of ethylene production also increases the risk of developing a hermaphrodite plant, which can appear far later than a male. As per one forum post, “The way I look at feminized seeds, simply put they are hermaphrodites in disguise. Yes, you are more likely to produce females yet they still carry the herm gene.”
Regular (Photoperiod) Seeds 101
Regular seeds produced the way nature intended them are photoperiod. They will need transitions in light schedule and will grow both male and female plants. Female cannabis plants produce seeds when exposed to pollen produced by male plants. It’s the birds and the bees, cannabis edition.
There is a long-standing tradition among growers to value the vigour, variety, and purity offered by regular seeds. There are notable differences in the quantity between auto-flowering strains and their regular counterparts, but what about regular and feminized differences?
These differences may be more lore than reality. To be sure, using synthetic chemicals or colloidal silver to produce feminized seeds can pose risks to both the plant and the people, but there are methods of executing this safely these days.
To date, there is no real evidence (scientific or cultivator case study) that indicates feminized seeds show any less vigour, yield or resin production than the regular seeds.
Regular seeds are much cheaper than feminized. Many growers, who have space, may want to take the birds and the bees into their own hands to maintain genetics or breed new experiments. Having male plants around, when done correctly, is a valuable endeavour.
What is Best for Cultivators: Autoflower, Feminized or Regular?
What convinces a cultivator to grow auto-flower versus regular, or feminized versus regular? Often it comes down to cultivation experience, the primary goal for the harvest, and time or space constraints.
Small indoor spaces, growing one round at a time, may want to stick with autoflower strains. Larger operations looking to sell their harvests but need to stick to a specific plant count may choose feminized. Finally, those who love a traditional approach and are blessed with lots of space will likely stick with regular photoperiod seeds.
As always, there are as many opinions on the matter as there are people growing weed.