Thumbnail for a blog about autoflowers vs photoperiods with cannabis growing indoors in the background

When deciding between autoflower and photoperiod cannabis, growers in legal climates must consider factors like grow time, yield potential, and cultivation complexity. Autoflower vs photoperiod plants offer different advantages: autoflowers provide streamlined growth cycles and resilience, appealing to beginners or those with limited space, while photoperiod plants require more attention to light management but reward with potential for larger harvests and strain flexibility. This article helps you weigh the pros, cons and the difference between autoflower vs photoperiod to help you determine which suits your growing conditions and goals best. Always remember to follow your local laws, Ali Bongo sells cannabis seeds for souvenir and collection purposes only; stay on the right side of the law. Be properly clued up on the law of cannabis seeds and their uses in the UK before purchasing any.

The Main Points

  • Photoperiod cannabis plants require precise light cycle management and offer flexibility for training and higher yields but are sensitive to light disturbances.
  • Autoflowering cannabis plants have simple cultivation needs with quick harvest cycles and are suitable for smaller spaces but yield less and offer limited growth control.
  • While photoperiod strains can produce larger yields, modern autoflowers can match the higher THC levels, bud quality and allow for multiple harvests annually, closing the gap in yield and potency.

Understanding Photoperiod Cannabis Plants

picture of photoperiod plants in a grow room under LED lightspicture of photoperiod plants in a grow room under LED lights
Photoperiod plants rely on a light schedule to kick them off into the flowering stage

Photoperiod cannabis plants, a type of photoperiod plant, are like the seasoned artists of the cannabis world, painting their masterpieces with a palette of light. They begin their flowering process only when the days get shorter, traditionally aligning with the gentle nudge of autumn outdoors or the careful orchestration of light cycles indoors. This meticulous dance with the sun (or artificial light if you grow indoors) is what sets photoperiod strains apart, demanding a grower’s attention to detail and patience.

But fear not, the fruits of labor with these strains can be abundant, offering a rich tapestry of flavors, aromas, and effects that have captivated connoisseurs for decades.

Usually when people refer to 'feminised seeds', they actual mean feminised photoperiod seeds. Autoflowering seeds do exist in regular packs, but they are very rare, at a guess, 98% of the autoflowering seeds available nowadays are feminised, meaning there are no males to root out of your grow, resulting in an easy time overall.

Light Cycle Management for Optimal Growth

Growers maximize the potential of photoperiod cannabis plants by mastering the art of light manipulation, carefully balancing darkness and illumination to coax these plants into bloom. The crescendo of this performance typically involves a 12/12 light schedule, a delicate balance that signals the plants to unfurl their floral offerings. Yet, some cannabis virtuosos have discovered that extending the light period to 14 hours can strike a chord with certain varieties, amplifying yields and cannabinoid concentrations.

Mastering light cycle management involves more than mere routine; it requires comprehension of each strain’s unique rhythms and adjusting accordingly to ensure a successful harvest.

Advantages of Growing Photoperiod Strains

The allure of growing photoperiod strains lies not just in their potential for generous yields but also in the creative control they afford the cultivator. With the power to extend the vegetative state, growers can nurture their plants into veritable trees, maximizing the canvas for bud sites and, consequently, the bounty of the harvest. This extended vegetative growth allows for a sculpting of sorts, where training techniques such as topping and pruning can be employed without rushing against the clock, as is the case with their autoflowering counterparts.

This flexibility appeals to those who enjoy adjusting and perfecting their garden, positioning photoperiod strains, including the photoperiod strain, as a preferred choice for cultivation enthusiasts.

Challenges with Photoperiod Varieties

Cultivating photoperiod cannabis plants is akin to walking a tightrope, where precision and vigilance are paramount. The slightest intrusion of light during the sacred dark periods can throw the plants into disarray, potentially reversing their progress and diminishing the anticipated harvest. This sensitivity to light leaks underscores the need for a controlled and sealed environment, especially for indoor growers who must play the role of the sun and moon.

While the demands of most photoperiod plants may seem daunting, they are not insurmountable. Equipped with the right setup and attention to detail, growers can overcome these challenges and successfully grow photoperiod plants, guiding them to a spectacular bloom.

Delving into Autoflowering Cannabis Plants

An Autoflowering plant in its vegetative state before flowering automatically.An Autoflowering plant in its vegetative state before flowering automatically.
An Autoflowering plant in its vegetative state before flowering automatically.

Autoflowering cannabis plants break traditional cultivation norms by freeing themselves from the constraints of light cycles, making them the outliers in the cultivation world. Their genetic lineage traces back to cannabis ruderalis, a hardy species from the northern latitudes known for its natural ability to flower automatically. Unlike their photoperiod siblings that wait for the sun’s cue to bloom, autoflowers heed an internal clock that propels them from seed to harvest in a fraction of the time. This unique characteristic makes autoflowering plants, specifically autoflowering cannabis strains, an appealing option for many growers who appreciate the benefits of the cannabis plant.

This remarkable trait not only simplifies the grower’s task but also opens up new possibilities for cultivation, especially in regions where the sun is a fickle ally.

The Autoflowering Genetics Evolution

The evolution of autoflowering genetics is a testament to the ingenuity of breeders who have harnessed the hardiness of ruderalis and endowed it with the desirable traits of its indica and sativa relatives. Once overlooked due to their modest potency and yield, modern autoflowers boast:

  • THC levels that rival the most revered photoperiod strains
  • Faster growth and flowering times
  • Compact size, making them ideal for small spaces
  • Ability to flower under any light cycle, making them suitable for outdoor and indoor cultivation

Thanks to advancements in selective breeding, autoflowers have become a popular choice among growers.

The result is a new breed of autoflowers that offer not only simplicity and efficiency, but also a quality previously exclusive to photoperiod plants. This genetic revolution has not only changed the game for growers but has also expanded the horizons for consumers seeking a diverse range of effects and flavors.

Perks of Autoflowering Strains for Growers

Autoflowering strains provide a myriad of benefits, making them particularly attractive to a diverse group of growers. Some of the benefits include:

  • Rapid growth cycle, with plants ready for harvest in as little as 8-10 weeks from germination
  • No need to change light cycles, as autoflowering strains automatically transition from the vegetative stage to the flowering stage
  • Suitable for outdoor growers in regions with short growing seasons, as multiple harvests within a single year are possible
  • Compact size, making them ideal for growers with limited space
  • Resilient and easy to grow, making them suitable for beginners

These benefits make autoflowering strains a popular choice among growers.

Moreover, the diminutive stature of autoflowers, a byproduct of their ruderalis heritage, makes them ideal candidates for cultivation in confined spaces or for those seeking a more discreet growing operation.

Limitations of Autoflowering Cannabis

While autoflowering strains offer numerous advantages, they are not without their limitations. Some of these limitations include:

  • Lower yields compared to photoperiod strains due to their compact size
  • Limited ability to correct mistakes or manipulate growth due to their predetermined lifecycle
  • Difficulty in cloning autoflowers, as clones will share the same biological clock as their mother plant, leading to underwhelming results.

Despite these constraints, autoflowers remain a popular choice for many, particularly those new to cultivation or seeking a more straightforward growing experience.

Comparative Analysis: Autoflower vs Photoperiod

grow room showing hundreds of cannabis plants growing under a purple hue lighting.grow room showing hundreds of cannabis plants growing under a purple hue lighting.
Many choose to grow photoperiod plants indoors because they can easily manually switch the light schedule to kick in the flowering stage without waiting for the shorter days.

When comparing autoflowering and photoperiod cannabis plants, the differences are stark, akin to comparing night and day. The primary divergence lies in their flowering triggers, with photoperiod plants relying on a reduction in daylight hours and autoflowers transitioning based on age. The implications of this fundamental distinction are far-reaching, influencing everything from cultivation strategies to the spatial requirements of the grow area.

While yield photoperiod plants can be coaxed into lavish yields with the right conditions, autoflowers offer a quick and resilient alternative that can level the playing field with multiple harvests throughout the year.

Vegetative Stage and Plant Size

The vegetative stage sets the tone for the eventual yield, with photoperiod plants benefiting from an extended period of growth that allows them to reach impressive sizes. This longer vegetative phase offers growers the opportunity to mold their plants through various training techniques, leading to a more robust and bountiful canopy.

Autoflowers, on the other hand, have a genetically pre-programmed vegetative span that is typically shorter, resulting in a smaller overall stature. While this may limit their individual yield potential, the compact nature of autoflowers makes them well-suited for cultivation in areas where space is at a premium or discretion is desired.

Flowering Stage and Harvest Time

The flowering stage is where the magic happens, and in this regard, autoflowers shine with their ability to begin flowering spontaneously, irrespective of the light schedule. Their rapid march towards maturity means that growers can expect a harvest in a mere 8-12 weeks from seed, a timeframe that is significantly shorter than that of photoperiod strains when plants start flowering.

This swift turnaround is particularly advantageous for those looking to maximize the number of harvests within a given period or for cultivators in regions with unpredictable climates that may not accommodate the longer flowering times required by photoperiod plants.

Yield and Potency Considerations

When it comes to yield and potency, the contest between autoflowering and photoperiod cannabis plants is closer than one might expect. Photoperiod strains are renowned for their hefty yields, and some photoperiod plants produce, or are capable of producing up to 600-700 grams per square meter under optimal conditions. Autoflowers, while generally yielding less due to their shorter stature and growth cycle, can still produce a respectable 450-550 grams per square meter, once again under optimal conditions.

However, the rapid life cycle of autoflowers allows for the potential of multiple harvests in a year, which can cumulatively rival or even surpass the annual yield of photoperiod plants. In terms of potency, modern autoflowers have closed the gap, with some strains boasting THC levels as high as 27%, demonstrating that size doesn’t always dictate strength.

Cultivation Tips for Both Photoperiod and Autoflowering Cannabis

6 stages of a cannabis seeds' life6 stages of a cannabis seeds' life
It all starts with the seed; always make sure you select high quality feminised seeds to get off on the right foot.

Whether you’re nurturing autoflowering or photoperiod cannabis plants, certain cultivation principles hold true across the board. Maximizing your greenhouse yield starts with the basics:

  • Selecting high-quality, feminized seeds to ensure a garden brimming with productive plants.
  • Pruning is essential for maintaining an even canopy and directing energy towards growth.
  • Training techniques like Low Stress Training (LST) can significantly boost yields by optimizing light exposure and encouraging a more distributed growth pattern.

Managing your environment, particularly the Vapor Pressure Deficit (VPD), is key to promoting plant health and maximizing yield potential. With automation making strides in the cultivation world, leveraging technology to control environmental conditions can streamline the growing process and yield impressive results.

Enhancing Yields with Training Techniques

Training techniques are invaluable tools for growers aiming to coax the maximum potential out of their plants. Some popular training techniques include:

  • Low Stress Training (LST): involves gently bending and securing branches to improve light penetration and encourage a bushier growth habit, which can substantially enhance yield.
  • Screen of Green (ScrOG): takes the concept of LST a step further by using a screen to create an even canopy, allowing for uniform bud development and optimal light distribution.
  • Supercropping: a technique where branches are carefully manipulated to create new growth points, can lead to increased yield potential without the need for cutting or significant plant stress.

These techniques can help growers achieve higher yields and healthier plants.

Employing these methods can make a tangible difference in the productivity of both autoflowering and photoperiod cannabis plants, leading to a more fruitful harvest.

Choosing the Right Strain for Your Environment

Selecting the right strain is as much about personal taste and desired effects as it is about environmental compatibility. Indoor growers with limited space may find feminized seeds particularly advantageous, as they can cultivate a smaller number of plants while still achieving high yields due to the absence of male plants. The terpene profile of a strain should also be a consideration, as it determines the aroma and flavor of the final product.

For those facing less-than-ideal growing conditions outdoors, choosing strains with robust genetics that can withstand environmental stresses is crucial for a successful harvest. Luckily, the vast majority of cannabis seeds are versatile enough to thrive in both indoor and outdoor settings, providing flexibility for growers regardless of their preferred cultivation method. Some popular strains that are known for their resilience and adaptability include:

  • Northern Lights
  • Blue Dream
  • White Widow
  • Sour Diesel
  • OG Kush

By selecting these strains, you can increase your chances of a successful harvest, even in challenging outdoor conditions.

Expert Advice: Selecting Seeds for Your Grow

Feminised seeds left to right by Bongo Seeds; Auto Orange Haze, Pink Runtz, MAC, Apple & Banana, Mimosa x Wedding Cake AutoFeminised seeds left to right by Bongo Seeds; Auto Orange Haze, Pink Runtz, MAC, Apple & Banana, Mimosa x Wedding Cake Auto
Feminised left to right by Bongo Seeds; Auto Orange Haze, Pink Runtz, MAC, Apple & Banana, Mimosa x Wedding Cake Auto

Navigating the sea of cannabis genetics can be daunting, but a few expert tips can steer you towards the right seeds for your cultivation journey. Quality seeds lay the foundation for a successful grow, paving the way for robust plants capable of impressive yields and high market value. Growers should weigh their environment, expertise, and goals when deciding between photoperiod and autoflowering seeds, each offering distinct advantages and challenges.

For beginners or those favoring simplicity, autoflowering seeds may be ideal due to their low-maintenance nature and quick growth cycle. Conversely, growers aiming for larger harvests may gravitate towards photoperiod strains, known for their higher yield potential.

Whether you're going for photoperiods or autoflowers we urge you to check out the Bongo Seeds range of high quality seeds. With a massive range of strains including classics and the innovative US strains, our own range of seeds has been hand-selected and the variety meticulously chosen based on user feedback. Before we launched Bongo Seeds we used to offer these seeds as part of our free seed promotion, but when customers were getting in contact to express their surpise at their rigour and strength, some even mentioning they prefered them to the seeds they paid for, we knew we had to make these quality genetics available for all at a very affordable price.

We've also got you covered on worldwide shipping, or, if you live in the UK shipping is completely free of charge!

Have specific needs and need the right seed? Go straight to our Cannabis Seed Finder and easily discover your winning seeds.

Feminised Seeds vs Regular Seeds

In the cannabis cultivation cosmos, feminised seeds are shining stars, providing a galaxy of only female plants, which are the universe’s gift of consumable flowers. These seeds are crafted by manipulating the genetics of female plants, creating a near-perfect assurance of female-only offspring and eliminating the laborious task of identifying and removing male plants. The result is a harmonious garden where each plant contributes to the yield, offering growers consistency in cannabinoid profiles and terpene expressions that regular seeds cannot match.

Regular seeds, containing both male and female seeds, offer a different kind of adventure, allowing breeders the chance to explore genetics and create their own strains, but they demand a more hands-on approach and a keen eye for plant sexing.

Autoflowering Seeds: Quick Cycles and Easy Maintenance

Autoflowering seeds are the embodiment of efficiency in the cannabis world. As timekeepers of their own destiny, these plants flower automatically after a set period, usually within 3-4 weeks of planting, independent of light cycles. This characteristic makes them a breeze to grow, especially for beginners or those with tight schedules who can’t commit to the meticulous light management required by photoperiod strains.

Autoflowers’ self-reliance results in a simplified cultivation process without compromising the harvest’s quality or potency. As a result, autoflowering seeds have become a popular choice in the cannabis community, offering a practical solution for those looking to streamline their grow operation while still enjoying a bountiful yield.

The Legal Landscape of Cannabis Seeds in the UK

Navigating the legal landscape of cannabis seeds in the UK can be as complex as cultivating the plants themselves. While the seeds can be legally bought, sold, and owned, germinating and growing them crosses into the realm of illegality. It’s a peculiar paradox that has shaped the way businesses like Ali Bongo Cannabis Seeds operate for over two decades, providing a diverse range of seeds while advocating for responsible, legal use by selling them as collection items only.

The company enhances the customer experience by offering free shipping within the UK and including bonus seeds with every order, sweetening the deal for enthusiasts who collect seeds as souvenirs or genetic preservation. With the capability to ship orders worldwide, Ali Bongo Cannabis Seeds caters to a global clientele, ensuring that the passion for cannabis genetics transcends borders.


As our journey through the verdant world of cannabis cultivation comes to a close, it’s clear that both autoflowering and photoperiod cannabis plants have their place in the garden of any grower. Photoperiod strains demand patience and precision, rewarding growers with larger yields and the ability to sculpt their growth through extended vegetative periods and training techniques. Autoflowers, with their hardy ruderalis genetics, offer a more straightforward path to harvest, boasting rapid growth cycles and resilience. The choice between them hinges on personal cultivation goals, space, and the desire for either a hands-on or hands-off approach.

Ultimately, whether you’re drawn to the artistry of photoperiod cultivation or the simplicity of autoflowering growth, the key to a successful harvest lies in understanding the unique needs and advantages of each type. With careful selection of seeds and mindful cultivation practices, growers can achieve bountiful yields and high-quality cannabis, regardless of the strain type they choose. So, may your gardens flourish, and may the fruits of your labor be as potent as they are plentiful.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are cannabis seeds legal in the UK?

Yes, cannabis seeds are legal in the UK for sale and possession, but it's still illegal to grow cannabis plants.

What is the advantage of using feminised cannabis seeds?

Using feminised cannabis seeds is advantageous because they produce nearly 100% female plants, ensuring every plant contributes to the yield and offers more consistency in terms of growth patterns and cannabinoid profiles. This can result in a more efficient and predictable growing process.

What is the difference between Feminised and Regular seeds?

The main difference between feminized and regular seeds is that the former produces only female plants, while the latter contains both male and female plants, requiring the removal of males to prevent pollination. This means less hassle for growers with feminized seeds.

How long does it take for autoflowering cannabis plants to flower?

Autoflowering cannabis plants usually start flowering after 3-4 weeks and can be harvested in 8-12 weeks from seed, no matter the light exposure. So, you can expect them to flower pretty quickly.

Can autoflowering seeds produce potent cannabis?

Yes, modern autoflowering seeds can produce potent cannabis with high THC levels, comparable to photoperiod strains.