Autoflower vs Regular Plants in Hydroponics

Autoflower vs Regular Plants in Hydroponics

Hydroponics systems are fantastic for growing plants of all sorts, with cannabis of course being at the forefront. Hydroponics generally allows for faster growth times, bigger yields, and greater control over nutrient levels.

However, what you must also consider when growing cannabis hydroponically is whether you want autoflowering or regular photoperiod plants. Both have their distinct advantages for growers, so let’s take a look at both.

What is an Autoflowering Plant?

An autoflowering plant, specifically with cannabis, is a special type of plant that automatically transitions from the vegetative stage to the flowering stage on its own.

This is unlike regular photoperiod cannabis plants, which switch from the veg to the flowering stage according to the amount of light they get, which is based on seasons.

With autoflowering plants, they spend between four and six weeks in their vegetative stage, and then switch into the flowering stage without the grower having to do anything at all, whether switching the lighting schedule or otherwise, as you can imagine, this is quite convenient for several reasons.

See How Growee Can Save You Time By Automating Your Plants Feeding


Water pH – Automated pH Up and Down Control

Nutrients Mixing – Automated Nutrient Dosing with Target EC / PPM Control.

Control From Anywhere – WiFi Connection and mobile App

The Evolution of Autoflowering Cannabis

The Evolution of Autoflowering Cannabis

Autoflowering cannabis comes from the tough Cannabis ruderalis found in cold regions of Russia and central Asia, identified in 1924. The breakthrough came with the Lowryder strain, blending ruderalis with a Mexican sativa for the first popular autoflower. 

Early versions were not very potent, but their unique ability to flower without changing light conditions intrigued breeders. By mixing ruderalis with high-THC strains, they created stronger autoflowers quickly. 

Breeding cannabis involves selecting parent plants with desirable traits, like high THC or resilience, and cross-pollinating them. The aim is to combine the best qualities of both parents in the offspring. This process, often repeated over generations, refines and stabilizes these traits, leading to new, improved cannabis strains

Breeding these plants was tricky because mixing them with regular cannabis often didn’t produce autoflowers at first. But through careful selection, breeders have now made autoflowers that are both robust and potent, offering an easy-growing option for many.

The Benefits of Autoflowering Cannabis

Autoflowering cannabis plants are beneficial for many reasons, and what it comes down to is that they help make life a whole lot easier.

Fast Harvests

Perhaps the biggest benefit that you get by using autoflowering cannabis seeds is that it only takes between 8 and 10 weeks for them to be ready, from seed to harvest.

This is much faster than with regular photoperiod cannabis plants, which in some cases can take up to twice as long, if not even longer.

Only taking 8 or 10 weeks to get to harvest means that you can go through more growth cycles every year, ultimately resulting in a faster turnaround and higher yields over a longer period.

The Convenience Factor

As far as convenience is concerned, autoflowering cannabis plants makes life very easy for the grower.

With photoperiod plants, you need to keep track of how long the plant has been in the veg stage, then you need to switch the lighting cycle from 24/0 or 18/6 to 12/12, making sure that your plants get 12 hours of light and 12 hours of dark every day, following the same schedule consistently.

This involves a lot of tracking, measuring, and you need timers too. It’s just not convenient. However, with auto-flowering cannabis plants, because they switch into the flowering stage on their own, you don’t have to do any of this, and you don’t need any special equipment either.

Great Yields

Going back to our first point, auto flowering cannabis plants do produce good yields. However, this isn’t necessarily the case if we are talking about a single plant and a single growth cycle.

One of the slight downsides of autoflowering cannabis plants is that they produce lower yields per plant than photoperiod plants.

However, because they only take about half as long to get from seed to harvest, it effectively means that you can grow twice as many plants in the same space per year. Therefore, you should still get good yields from auto-flowering plants.

Space Efficient

The other big benefit of autoflowering plants is that they require less space than photoperiod plants, about half as much.

Expect autoflowering cannabis plants to require two to three square feet of space per plant, whereas you can expect a photoperiod plant to require anywhere from four to six square feet of space.

This makes autoflowering plants ideal for tight spaces, and it’s just another thing that helps boost your overall yield.

What is an Autoflowering Plant?

Autoflower LST (Low Stress Training)

Low Stress Training (LST) is a technique used in cultivating cannabis, including autoflowering strains, to improve yield without causing significant stress to the plants. 

It involves gently bending and tying down the plant’s branches to encourage horizontal growth rather than vertical. This method increases light exposure and airflow to lower branches, promoting more even canopy development and potentially leading to a higher number of bud sites. 

LST is particularly useful for autoflowering cannabis because it does not rely on changing the light cycle to induce flowering, allowing growers to maximize the plant’s exposure to light throughout its growth cycle without disrupting its natural flowering process.

What Are Regular Photoperiod Seeds?

Photoperiod or regular cannabis seeds are those that switch from the vegetative stage to the flowering stage based on the amount of light they get. As long as they get plenty of light, over 18 hours per day, regular plants will stay in their vegetative stage.

It is a change in lighting that causes a regular plan to switch from the vegetative stage to the flowering stage. This is why you need to switch from a 24/0 or 18/6 to a 12/12 light cycle.

It’s the changing of the seasons, and specifically the decrease in the hours of light that a cannabis plant gets in a day, that signals it to start flowering, as a means of reproduction and self-preservation.

Benefits of Regular Seeds

Just like autoflowering plants, regular plants do also have some distinct advantages worth mentioning.


One of the benefits of using regular seeds is that they feature more diversity. Cannabis seeds are by nature photoperiod, and this means that the vast majority of cannabis seeds out there are photoperiod. 

The genetic diversity available with regular plants is much higher than with autoflowering seeds. With photoperiod plants, there are thousands of strains to choose from, whereas while there are still many types of autoflower, the genetic pool is much smaller.

Even Bigger Yields

The fact of the matter is that photoperiod cannabis plants, because they spend so much longer in both the vegetative and flowering cycles, and because they get much bigger, also produce much higher yields per plant. 

A single photoperiod cannabis plant could produce anywhere between two and four times as much as an autoflower.

Full Control

What some growers like about photoperiod plants is that they allow for full control. You get to decide how long to leave the plant in the veg stage and you get to choose when to switch to flowering. 

This type of control allows you to maximize yields, along with other benefits. This is a big benefit that you just don’t get with autoflowers.

Autoflower vs Regular Seeds in Hydroponics: Which is Better?

If you are wondering whether you should get regular photoperiod plants or autoflowers for a hydroponic setup, there are a few important factors to consider.

Experience Level

If you’re a beginner who is just learning about hydroponics, going with an autoflower is best, because it allows you to learn the intricacies of growing plants hydroponically without having to worry about light cycles. If you’re more experienced however, and you know what you’re doing as far as light cycles are concerned, then photoperiod might be best.

Nutrient Control and Maintenance

In hydroponics, the grower can control the water pH and nutrient levels, especially if you have the right equipment. This makes hydroponics ideal for photoperiod plants, as they require great deals of nutrients that need to be precisely measured and controlled for the best results.

Autoflowers require fewer nutrients than regular plants, but they’re also suitable for hydroponic growth. Whether a plant requires many nutrients or not, hydroponics always makes it easy to monitor and accurately disperse nutrients among your plants.

General maintenance must also be considered. Hydroponics systems do require a good deal of maintenance, as do regular cannabis plants. Therefore, if you want to cut down on maintenance needs and the overall work required, auto-flowering plants are best.

Spatial Constraints

If you’re setting up a hydroponic system at home, chances are that you have limited space. Autoflowering cannabis plants require far less space and they get to harvest in about half the time as regular plants.

Therefore, if you don’t have much room to spare, auto flowering plants are the best option, as regular plants require about twice as much space and twice the time to harvest.

Yield Potential

The other consideration is the yield potential, which can depend on a variety of factors. For instance, regular plants produce much more than auto flowering plants, but they also require more space and take twice as long to harvest.

That said, if you have more than enough space to spare, you’ll be able to produce much higher yields with regular plants when compared to auto flowering plants. There is of course a certain trade-off to consider here.

The Benefits of Autoflowering Cannabis

Conclusion – Maximize Your Harvest with Growee Systems Whether You Choose Autoflowers or Regular

If you want to maximize your harvest, whether you’re using autoflowering or regular plants, using the Growee Pro Combo is recommended. This is a state-of-the-art system that allows you to closely monitor and easily adjust pH, EC, and nutrient levels in the water. It takes all of the hard work out of growing cannabis hydroponically.


Autoflower plants automatically switch to the flowering stage after a certain amount of time. Regular plants require a light change for this switch to occur.

Autoflower seeds were created by crossing cannabis ruderalis plants with cannabis indica and sativa plants. Cannabis ruderalis plants have the ability to switch from the veg stage to flowering without any outside influence, such as changing light or seasons. This property was combined with regular indica and sativa plants to create autoflower seeds. 

The disadvantage with autoflowers is the lack of control you have over the growth cycle. They automatically switch from vegetative to flowering after a specified time period, thus now allowing you to decide how long to leave the plants in their veg state for, which ends up limiting the size of the plant and the overall yield. 

Autoflowers are great if you have limited space and need a fast harvest, but regular plants are best for genetic diversity and overall yields.

Due to not having to deal with light cycles, autoflowers are ideal for beginners.

Yes, autoflowers use less nutrients than photoperiod plants.

Autoflower plants are generally much smaller than regular plants, and if you notice that they switch into the flowering stage on their own, then you have an autoflower. 

Do you want more free time?

Hey, We are Growee. We would like to help you save time and get the best results with our smart hydroponics controllers

About Growee

Our goal at Growee is to simplify and smarten urban farming. Our product line is tailored for small-scale growers, and we’re proud to support home growers and commercial growers in over 30 countries worldwide.

The company was founded by a group of engineers and hydroponics enthusiasts and has gained recognition for its innovative technology, including several awards from the Israeli Innovation Authority.

Small-scale growers face the time-consuming task of manual water monitoring and adjustment. Growee’s automated hydroponics system simplifies this process, enhancing efficiency and increasing hydroponic yield

Table of Contents

Your Cart