Whats the Difference Between Autoflower and Feminized Seeds

The debate surrounding autoflower seeds vs feminized seeds is ever-evolving. As the cannabis cultivation industry matures, understanding the distinctions between these two types of seeds becomes paramount. This article dives deep into their differences, similarities, pros, cons, and the ideal situations for each, offering insights for both novice and seasoned growers.

What is the Main Difference Between Autoflower and Feminized Seeds?

The main difference between autoflower seeds and feminized seeds is that autoflower seeds transition to the flowering stage based on their age, regardless of the light cycle, due to their Cannabis ruderalis genetics. In contrast, feminized seeds require specific light cycles to initiate their flowering stage, relying on a shift from longer daylight hours to longer nighttime hours to begin producing buds.

What are Autoflower Seeds and Feminized Seeds?

Autoflower Seeds: These are cannabis seeds that are bred to automatically switch from the vegetative growth stage to the flowering stage as they age, irrespective of the light cycle. This trait is inherited from the Cannabis ruderalis species, which grow in regions with long days and short nights. As a result, they flower based on age, not on changes in light/dark cycles.

Feminized Seeds: These are cannabis seeds that are specifically bred to eliminate male chromosomes, thus ensuring that every plant grown from such a seed will be female. This is advantageous for growers because female plants produce the bud which contains the highest concentration of THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids, whereas male plants do not produce usable bud and can actually harm the yield of female plants if they pollinate them.

Key Differences Between Autoflower Seeds and Feminized Seeds

  1. Origin of Traits: Autoflower seeds inherit their auto-flowering trait from Cannabis ruderalis species, while feminized seeds are bred to enhance and ensure female characteristics.
  2. Flowering Triggers: Autoflower seeds begin flowering based on age, regardless of the light cycle. In contrast, feminized seeds (unless they are also autoflowering) will typically only flower when exposed to specific light cycles.
  3. Growth Duration: Autoflowering plants typically have a shorter life cycle, often maturing in as little as 8-10 weeks from seed, whereas feminized (photoperiod) plants might take longer depending on the light cycle provided.
  4. Yield: Autoflower seeds often produce a smaller yield than their feminized counterparts due to their shorter growth cycle.
  5. Maintenance: Autoflowering plants are generally considered easier to grow, especially for beginners, since growers don’t need to adjust light cycles to induce flowering.
  6. Plant Size: Autoflowering plants are typically smaller and more compact, which can be beneficial for space-constrained grow areas.
  7. Lighting Requirements: Autoflower seeds do not require a change in light cycle to flower, while feminized seeds typically need a 12/12 light cycle to initiate flowering.
  8. THC Content: Generally, autoflowering strains might have a slightly lower THC content than some high-THC feminized strains. However, the gap has narrowed with advanced breeding techniques.
  9. CBD Content: Some autoflowering strains have been bred to produce high CBD content, making them suitable for medicinal users who do not want the psychoactive effects of THC.

Key Similarities Between Autoflower Seeds and Feminized Seeds

  1. Female Plants: Both autoflower and feminized seeds are designed to produce female plants which produce usable bud.
  2. Cannabinoid Production: Both types of seeds can produce plants with significant levels of cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD.
  3. Cultivation: Both seeds can be cultivated indoors or outdoors, depending on the specific strain and environmental conditions.
  4. Genetic Manipulation: Both types of seeds are the result of specific breeding practices to induce certain desirable characteristics in the plants.
  5. Susceptibility to Stress: Both autoflower and feminized plants can be sensitive to environmental stresses, though this can vary by strain.
  6. Harvestable Bud: Both types of plants produce bud that can be harvested, dried, cured, and consumed.

Pros of Autoflower Seeds Over Feminized Seeds

  1. Growth Cycle Speed: Autoflower seeds typically have a faster growth cycle, maturing in as little as 8-10 weeks. This allows for more harvests in a given time frame compared to feminized seeds.
  2. Ease of Cultivation: Due to their auto-flowering trait, these plants can be simpler for beginners since they don’t require a change in light cycles to induce flowering.
  3. Compact Size: The smaller stature of autoflowering plants is ideal for growers with limited space or those who prefer a more discreet cultivation setup.
  4. Resilience: Autoflower strains, with their Cannabis ruderalis genetics, often exhibit robustness and can be more resistant to pests and harsh environmental conditions.
  5. Continuous Harvest: Growers can stagger planting autoflower seeds to achieve a continuous harvest throughout the year without worrying about changing light cycles.
  6. Versatility in Lighting: Autoflowering plants don’t require a strict light schedule, making them versatile for various lighting setups or outdoor environments where light hours can’t be controlled.
  7. Diverse Strain Options: With advancements in breeding, there’s now a wide variety of autoflowering strains available, catering to various tastes and medicinal needs.

Cons of Autoflower Seeds Compared to Feminized Seeds

  1. Yield Size: Autoflowering plants generally produce a smaller yield compared to feminized photoperiod plants due to their shorter life cycle.
  2. Limited Training Techniques: Due to their rapid growth cycle, autoflowering plants offer a shorter window for training techniques like pruning or topping.
  3. Potency Variations: Historically, autoflowering strains might have lower THC content than feminized strains. However, this gap is narrowing with newer strains.
  4. Less Cloning Potential: Autoflower plants are not ideal for cloning. Since they flower based on age, clones taken from autoflowering plants will also flower at the same time as the mother, regardless of size.
  5. Higher Cost: Autoflower seeds can sometimes be more expensive than their feminized counterparts.
  6. Narrow Window for Error: Due to their short life cycle, mistakes in their care can impact the yield more significantly than with feminized seeds, as there’s less time for the plant to recover.
  7. Limited Growth Control: Since autoflowering plants begin flowering based on age, growers have limited control over when the plant enters the flowering stage.

Pros of Feminized Seeds Over Autoflower Seeds

  1. Higher Yields: Feminized seeds generally produce plants with larger yields compared to autoflowering varieties, given the extended growth period.
  2. Potency Potential: Many feminized strains have been bred for high THC or CBD levels, potentially offering stronger effects or more significant medicinal benefits than some autoflowering strains.
  3. Growth Control: With feminized seeds, growers have more control over the vegetative and flowering phases by manipulating light cycles, allowing for growth techniques that can increase yield.
  4. Flexibility with Training: The extended vegetative phase of feminized plants provides a broader window for growers to employ training techniques like topping, pruning, and trellising.
  5. Cloning Opportunities: Feminized plants offer a consistent genetic makeup, making them ideal candidates for cloning. Growers can replicate successful plants more easily than with autoflower strains.
  6. Cost-Effective: On a per-seed basis, feminized seeds can be less expensive than autoflower seeds, offering more cost-effective cultivation for some growers.
  7. Varied Strain Selection: While autoflowering strains are diverse, the range of feminized strains available in the market is vast, catering to various tastes, effects, and medicinal needs.

Cons of Feminized Seeds Compared to Autoflower Seeds

  1. Extended Growth Cycle: Feminized seeds have a longer growth cycle than autoflower seeds, requiring more time before harvest and potentially tying up grow space.
  2. Light Dependency: Feminized plants require precise light cycles to switch from the vegetative to flowering stage. This necessitates careful lighting adjustments and might not be ideal for some outdoor growers.
  3. Size Constraints: Due to their potential for larger growth, feminized plants might not be suitable for growers with limited space.
  4. Maintenance Level: The longer vegetative phase and light cycle dependency can mean more hands-on time and careful monitoring for the grower.
  5. Risk of Male Plants: Although rare, stressed feminized plants can sometimes exhibit hermaphroditic traits, potentially leading to seeding in the bud.
  6. Pests and Diseases: The longer growth cycle might expose feminized plants to pests and diseases for an extended period compared to autoflowering plants.
  7. Less Resilient: Compared to autoflower seeds, which have Cannabis ruderalis genetics, feminized seeds might be less hardy in the face of adverse environmental conditions.

Situations When Autoflower Seeds are Better Than Feminized Seeds

  1. Limited Growing Duration: If a grower has a restricted timeframe to cultivate and harvest, autoflowering seeds, with their rapid growth cycle, are the preferred choice.
  2. Space Constraints: For cultivators with limited space or those seeking discretion, autoflowering plants’ compact size makes them more appropriate.
  3. Beginner Growers: Due to their ease of growth and less dependency on light schedules, autoflower seeds might be more suitable for those new to cultivation.
  4. Multiple Harvests: For growers in regions with long growing seasons, autoflower seeds allow multiple harvests in a year, maximizing yield potential.
  5. Unpredictable Light Conditions: In areas where light conditions are inconsistent or hard to control, autoflowering seeds, which are not light-dependent for flowering, can thrive.
  6. Resilience Needed: If growing in conditions that might have adverse environmental factors, the robustness of autoflowering strains can be a significant advantage.
  7. Medicinal Urgency: For patients who need a rapid turnaround for medicinal cannabis, autoflowering seeds can provide a quicker harvest.

Situations When Feminized Seeds are Better Than Autoflower Seeds

  1. Maximized Yields: When the goal is to achieve the highest possible yield from a single plant, feminized seeds, with their longer growth cycle, are the better choice.
  2. Strain Specificity: If a grower is seeking a particular strain with specific THC or CBD levels or other characteristics, the vast range of feminized strains provides more options.
  3. Plant Training: Growers who want to utilize advanced plant training techniques to increase yield or manage plant shape will find the longer vegetative phase of feminized plants beneficial.
  4. Cloning: For cultivators interested in cloning their best-performing plants for consistent results, feminized plants are more suitable due to their stable genetics.
  5. Cost Considerations: For those who are budget-conscious, feminized seeds might offer more cost-effective cultivation on a per-seed basis.
  6. Control Over Flowering: In situations where growers want control over the flowering phase, based on environmental factors or cultivation strategies, feminized seeds are preferable.
  7. Large Grow Spaces: For those with ample cultivation space and no constraints regarding plant size, feminized plants can be allowed to grow to their full potential.


How do autoflower seeds naturally begin their flowering phase?
Autoflower seeds begin their flowering phase based on age rather than changes in the light cycle, thanks to their Cannabis ruderalis genetics.

What environmental conditions are most suitable for feminized seeds?
Feminized seeds thrive in stable conditions with controlled light cycles. They benefit from consistent temperatures, adequate humidity, and protection from stressors that might cause them to develop hermaphroditic traits.

Can you use both autoflower and feminized seeds in the same growing space?
While it’s technically possible, it’s not recommended due to differing light requirements. Autoflowers do not require a shift in light to begin flowering, whereas feminized seeds do.

Are there significant cost differences in cultivating autoflower vs. feminized seeds?
While the initial cost of autoflower seeds might be higher in some cases, the overall cultivation costs can vary based on factors like grow duration, energy consumption (due to lighting needs), and potential yield.

Which type of seed is more resistant to pests and diseases?
Autoflower seeds, with their quicker growth cycle, might have a reduced exposure window to pests and diseases. However, resistance also depends on the specific strain and environmental conditions.

Can autoflower plants produce seeds for future cultivation?
Yes, like all cannabis plants, autoflowers can produce seeds if they are pollinated. However, the seeds would inherit the autoflowering trait, leading to a new generation of autoflower plants.

Autoflower and Feminized Seeds Summary

In the world of cannabis cultivation, the choice between autoflower seeds and feminized seeds can greatly influence the outcome of the harvest. While autoflower seeds offer quick growth and adaptability, feminized seeds provide potential for larger yields and greater strain specificity. Ultimately, understanding the nuances of autoflower seeds vs feminized seeds is crucial for making informed cultivation decisions tailored to individual needs and conditions.

Feature/AspectAutoflower SeedsFeminized Seeds
Growth Cycle SpeedFaster growth cycle, maturing in 8-10 weeksLonger growth cycle, dependent on light conditions
YieldsTypically smallerGenerally larger
Growth ControlFlowering based on age; limited controlControlled by light cycles; more control over vegetative and flowering phases
Potency PotentialHistorically might have lower THC; newer strains narrowing the gapOften bred for high THC or CBD levels
Cloning PotentialLimited; clones flower at the same age as motherHigh; stable genetics suitable for cloning
Light DependencyVersatile; not dependent on strict light schedulesRequires precise light cycles to switch phases
Training & TechniquesLimited window due to rapid growth cycleExtended vegetative phase allows for more training techniques
Resilience & SizeCompact and robust, good for limited spaces and adverse conditionsCan grow larger; might be less hardy in some conditions
CostSometimes more expensiveOften less expensive on a per-seed basis
Key Differences– Faster life cycle
– Smaller yield
– Resilient to pests/environmental conditions
– Need for strict light schedules
– Larger yield
– Suitable for cloning
Key Similarities– Both can produce high-quality cannabis flowers
– Both are cultivated for specific growth traits
– Both can be cultivated indoors/outdoors
– Both have diverse strains available
Pros Over the Other– Faster growth cycle
– Easier cultivation for beginners
– Continuous harvest possibilities
– Higher potential yields
– Greater control over growth phases
– Wider range of strains available
Cons Compared to the Other– Smaller yield
– Limited training window
– Longer growth cycle
– Greater dependency on light conditions
– Potentially less resilient to some factors
Ideal Situations– Limited grow duration
– Unpredictable light conditions
– Space constraints
– Maximizing yields
– Desire for specific strains
– Utilizing advanced plant training techniques
Autoflower and Feminized Seeds Summary

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