The lifecycle of an autoflowering cannabis plant generally consists of four main stages: germination, vegetative growth, flowering, and harvest. Unlike photoperiod cannabis plants, autoflowering varieties automatically transition from one stage to another based on their age, rather than relying on changes in light cycles.
1. Germination: This stage begins when a seed is planted and exposed to moisture and warmth. The seed absorbs water, causing it to crack open and initiate the growth of a taproot. Within a few days, the seedling emerges from the soil.
2. Vegetative Growth: After the seedling emerges, it enters the vegetative stage. During this phase, the plant focuses on developing its foliage, branch structure, and root system. The plant rapidly grows in size, and it is advised to provide it with enough light, nutrients, and a suitable growing environment to support healthy growth.
3. Flowering: Once the plant reaches a certain age (usually around 3-4 weeks), it begins to transition into the flowering stage. Autoflowering cannabis plants automatically start flowering regardless of the light cycle, typically after a predetermined number of weeks. This stage is characterized by the development of flowering sites, which will eventually produce buds. It is essential to adjust the nutrient ratio during this stage, shifting from higher nitrogen levels to higher phosphorus and potassium levels to support bud formation.
4. Harvest: The flowering stage lasts for several weeks, varying depending on the specific cultivar. Once the buds have fully developed and matured, it is time for harvest. This usually involves cutting down the plant, trimming off the leaves, and drying the buds under controlled conditions. Proper curing techniques are often employed to enhance the final quality and flavor of the harvested cannabis.
It is important to note that this lifecycle can vary slightly depending on the specific genetics and environmental conditions. Autoflowering cannabis plants typically have a shorter total lifecycle than photoperiod strains, ranging from 8 to 12 weeks from seed to harvest.