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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.

Table of Contents

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.

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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!

Feminized Vs Regular seeds pros and cons

Feminized marijuana seeds have gradually displaced regular seeds as favorites in many countries. This is because these types of seeds offer certain advantages over normal or standard seeds. In this article we will take a look at the differences between them, why some are better for certain situations, and how to know which one to choose, do you feel like it? Well, let’s go see them…

⚠️ What is the difference between regular and feminized cannabis seeds?

At first glance one cannot appreciate the characteristics that differ between lifelong seeds, and the modern feminized ones. They are identical on the outside, it would be impossible to recognize if the plant comes from a regular or feminized seed.

However, in their genome they do have a big difference, and that is that feminized seeds only contain female chromosomes (XX). This is so because to create 100% female seeds it is necessary to pollinate a female with another female, that is, (XX) x (XX).

Regular seeds come from the crossing between a female (XX) and a male (XY) so their genetic information contains both sexes, and they will show one or the other depending on several factors.

The only difference is that from a feminized seed only female specimens should come out, while from a regular seed both female and male or even intersex or hermaphrodite can come out.

Hermaphrodite feminized seeds can also be found, but this is due to a bad choice of parents in the breeding of the variety, therefore, can we say that feminized seeds are good?

Many people ask us if they will have as much flavor as the others, or if they will come out strong, they even doubt if feminized seeds are less powerful, the answer is that they are completely equal to the normal ones, so if they do not come out good it is because of the production process or because of a bad selection of the parents.

image where you can see a seed of a regular variety compared to a feminized one*

Are feminized seeds better than regular ones?

It depends on what you mean by better. For growers looking for practicality and simplicity feminized seeds can be better, because they allow you to germinate just the right amount of plants you need at any particular time. With regular ones it is necessary to put approximately twice as many plants, so that when removing the males there are enough females to fill well the entire cultivation space.

With feminized varieties you can make better use of the growing space, as well as saving on substrate and products such as fertilisers, insecticides, etc. You also avoid the problem that can happen if at a given moment you forget to remove a male, or you don’t notice.

The most puritanical growers say that regular seeds contain more hybrid vigor than feminized ones. It really doesn’t have much to do, hybrid vigour is achieved by mixing 2 different breeds, and it is greater the further they are from each other. The same goes for feminized ones, whoever doesn’t believe me should cultivate a Moby Dick from Dinafem and think whether it is vigorous or not. From our point of view this is because some feminized strains on the market are S1, i.e. produced by the self-pollination of a cutting. Feminized seeds S1 may lose vigor due to inbreeding, but this also happens with regular seeds, you can see it in some landraces for example.

This is Moby Dick’s prizes list, its trophy room needs an extension to accommodate them all…

Features
Type: Feminized
Bank: Dinafem Seeds
Genetic: Haze X White Widow
Phenotype: Hybrid Sativa / Indica
Harvest outdoor H.N: Mid October
Harvest outdoor H.S: Mid-April
Indoor production: 650 gr per m2
Outdoor production: 1500 gr/plant
Flowering period indoor: 60-70 days
THC: 17-22% – CBD: 0.01-0.2

The great majority of feminized genetics on the market come from elite clones that have been extensively tested as smoking weed. This is a great advantage, as it is easier to guess the features your offspring may inherit.

To know the breeding quality of a male cannabis plant there is only one way, to check the level of its offspring. On the other hand, when you cross 2 mother plants that you have already used to smoke you already know their qualities both in the crop and in the final product, so when you make feminized seeds it is easier to guess the result of the crossing.

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Many people think that regular strains are better for creating seeds, or that feminized strains are not good for breeding, we have found that this is not the case, when a plant is sexually pure female it doesn’t matter if it comes from regular or feminized seeds.

The difference between regular and feminized cannabis seeds – Which should you grow?

With the general hype surrounding the relatively recent developments of feminized and autoflowering seeds, you’d be forgiven for maybe thinking that regular cannabis seeds are somehow less exciting. You’d also be wrong. Regular seeds contain endless possibilities for growers to experiment with.

In the beginning of Sensi Seeds, and therefore the European cannabis seed industry, a seed was a seed. Now, we use the name ‘regular cannabis seeds’ to distinguish the originals from feminized cannabis seeds and autoflowering cannabis seeds. Both of these types are relatively recent developments when you consider that cannabis has been cultivated by humans for thousands of years.

Regular cannabis seeds are produced when a male cannabis plant pollinates a female cannabis plant. Male pollen is released from ripe pollen sacs and blown by the wind (or carried by the careful hand of a breeder) until it finds the receptive stigmas in female flowers. Pollination results in hundreds, if not thousands, more regular cannabis seeds which will all in turn produce either male or female cannabis plants.

Can you see the difference between regular and feminized cannabis seeds?

Feminized cannabis seeds look exactly the same as regular cannabis seeds, whether male or female. But inside their modest brown husks there’s a crucial difference. Feminized cannabis seeds lack male chromosomes, whereas regular cannabis seeds contain the full complement of genetics that enable them to be either male or female.

This is also why feminized seeds must always be referred to by that name – they aren’t truly female, and therefore cannot be sold as such. Watch out for seeds described as ‘100% female’, as this is nothing more than a marketing ploy!

The main advantage for growers who choose feminized cannabis seeds is that they don’t have to identify or remove male plants which would cause pollination. Unless the gardener desires more seeds, rather than buds, this is an essential part of the cultivation process.

Automatic, or autoflowering, cannabis seeds are even easier. Not only are they feminized, they do not rely on a change in lighting cycles to trigger flowering. So what are the advantages of regular cannabis seeds?

Related post

The Difference Between Craft and Commercial Cannabis, And Why You Need to Know

What are regular cannabis seeds used for?

There are two main purposes for regular cannabis seeds, aside from the usual and most common one of simply growing buds.

  1. The first is breeding. Selective crossings of one cultivar with another has been taking place since the earliest days of agriculture, with all types of plant life. Sometimes this is to maximise the yield of whatever crop the plant produces which is desired by the people growing it; sometimes it’s just for fun and experimentation.

Whatever the intention of the breeding is, it’s best to begin with all the genetic material in order to give the new cross the best possible chance of success, rather than missing the chromosomes that are absent in feminized cannabis seeds.

  1. The second use for regular cannabis seeds is the one that was, before the advent of feminized seeds, most commonly used to produce crops of uniform cannabis plants without any males among them. This technique is called cloning. Just as with breeding, it’s best done with plants that have their full set of chromosomes, and all the robust qualities that go with that.

From a crop grown from regular cannabis seeds, the best female plants are selected to become ‘mothers’ – so called because with loving care, they can produce potentially hundreds of ‘children’ over the space of several years. The clones that are taken from these mother plants are tiny replicas down to the last scrap of genetic material – including their female sex.

Why do Sensi Seeds still produce regular cannabis seeds?

There are many seedbanks which only carry feminized cannabis seeds. This has become more common as seedbanks themselves have become more common. With the growing awareness (pun intended) of the advantages of feminized seeds, the question of why Sensi Seeds still carries regular cannabis seeds is quite a reasonable one!

The overall answer is simple, and one which anyone familiar with Sensi Seeds will probably have heard before: we want to bring the joy of cannabis to as many people as possible. That’s not limited to simply selling seeds.

We’re confident in our genetics, we’re confident in our service, and we’re confident in our customers. That means giving everyone the broadest range of options possible. This could be taking the simplest route to a crop of buds, which for most people is automatic seeds. But it could be experimenting with creating a unique cross of their very own, using our genetics as the building blocks.

We have quite often been asked if it’s possible to do all the things that can be done with regular cannabis seeds using feminized seeds.

The short answer is, you can try. There’s no reason you shouldn’t attempt to breed, or create a mother plant, using feminized cannabis seeds. However, it’s our firm belief that these practices are more likely to succeed using plants grown from regular cannabis seeds.

Related post

What is the difference between indica and sativa?

Tell us what you think

Have you experimented with regular cannabis seeds? Do you think feminized cannabis seeds are a boon to the grower? Would you be sad to see regular cannabis seeds leave our selection, or do you think they are a thing of the past? Let us know in the comments!

Laws and regulations regarding cannabis cultivation differ from country to country. Sensi Seeds therefore strongly advises you to check your local laws and regulations. Do not act in conflict with the law.

Comments

32 thoughts on “The difference between regular and feminized cannabis seeds – Which should you grow?”

Hello,
I’m a newbie at this – and I’m growing a few different plants.
I am having a blast with all of this fun stuff –
I didn’t know anything about seeds females/ males or feminized and auto flowering until this year.
But I am really enjoying this adventure.
I really like and appreciate your posts and blog for learning new things about all of the different seeds and processing/ cultivation. You have given me some good info and great explanations on the differences between regular and all other seeds – which is definitely good info for a newbie thank you

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Thanks for your comment and your feedback.

I’m so pleased you are finding the blog educational, and having a blast learning!

Please check out the following articles which I think you may find of use, and I hope you continue to enjoy the blog!

With best wishes,

Good day hooter heads from around the world from Australia,due to the economic climate from covd & most govt recognising the money in pot,we won’t have to go to such length,s sneaking about like outcasts,the med uses for this versatile plant have saved the day,the war on drugs is a hoax,if it wasn’t the hard drug crops Afghan, Thailand opium would of been eradicated,like south America,s coke industry..I think govt,big corp are scammers.

I like feminized seeds but I have used regular seeds and they both grow just as well and have the same potency. Some people like feminized over regular seeds but it doesn’t make a difference except that you might get a male instead of a female but you can use that male to get hundreds more seeds and cross breed them with other plants and get different types of plants. Thank You.

For breeding for the rare Cannabinoids you really need to use selfing like is used for feminized seed production. I speak from experience being the very first to commercialize using STS, I did not make and sell feminized seeds I bred varieties that had a single Cannabinoid, for each of the less common Cannabinoids, like CBC, CBG, THCV, CBDV, CBCV, CBGV each in very high amounts and with close to zero other Cannabinoids. This can not be done with regular seed breeding. And male genes as found in regular seeds do not produce better plants for growing or breeding, I think maybe you do not understand plant genetics for Cannabis which is a Dioecious obligate outcrosser.

Why no mention of hermaphroditism? That is not only How you breed then but ultimately also the biggest flaw and why producing fems is really polluting the gene pool.

Hermaphroditism should be a recissive gene, but your breeding requires it to be a dominant trait. It’s like finding people with dodgy heart conditions or baldness (typical recessive traits that can skip generations) breeding them so everyone goes bald and has a bad heart.

But hey the market wants what the market so u gotta sell what people buy.

This article is intended for our readers who are new to cannabis seeds and, as the title says, focuses on the difference in results rather than the difference in the techniques that produce the seeds. In previous decades, creating feminized seeds was indeed reliant on finding lines with pronounced hermaphroditic tendencies, but thanks to improvements in breeding technology this is no longer the case.

With best wishes,

Improvements? like what? using silverfiosulphate instead of gibberalic acid?

Im not familiar with this “new” technique that does not require one parent to be hermaphrodite….I read arjens blog but that explains even less.

what exactly is this new technique? how does one create fem seeds without hermies?

FYI selecting strains more resistant to hermie, that require excessive amounts of stress to turn, is not new.

No. the disparition of regular seeds would be a disaster and I don’t understand the Auto flowering for me it’s a non sense, it is my personal opinion.

Fear not, we have no intention of removing regular seeds from our catalogue; they are the backbone of our gene library! Regarding our autoflowering strains, they are of great benefit to people who have limited resources in terms of time, energy, experience, and / or space, for whom cultivating regular or even feminized seeds would be out of reach.

With best wishes,

why dont you sell seeds in Canada.

Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, legal restrictions on exporting cannabis seeds mean that they cannot be sent to Canada; we wish it wasn’t so, but it is!

With best wishes,

I believe regular seeds Are The seeds. Feminidad and autoflowering Are productos Or decides to Get Buds.
My blessings to tour effort and hope one Day I Will ser My seed baño with My full range Of seeds. We need The cannacopea.

I to agree with the good parts of regular seeds. Also your buds are generally bigger too. Once you have a selection of females it’s time to CLONE!! More fun !
Then one more fun thing is to develop your own breed! Cross your favorite.
I’m just sad you don’t sell to the U.S.. If you change your mind if like to show you some of my cross breeding. And to acquire more seed stocks. Having fun is most important.

Thank you for your comment We wish that our seeds could be sent to the US, but legal restrictions prevent this – as soon as this situation changes, our policies will change too! In the meantime, I hope that you continue to enjoy the blog.

With best wishes,

Long Live Regular Photo Period Seeds.

Did I catch a recommendation to use only reg seeds for a Mother? Please explain. Ive been growing out a FPOG Mother from fem seeds. Will she clone out ok?

Thanks Y’all. 1LUV

Unfortunately, legal restrictions mean we can’t answer grow related questions or give grow advice on this blog. However, we do have the Sensi Seeds Forum where you can ask questions and share your experiences with a thriving community of cannabis and gardening enthusiasts, so please don’t hesitate to join the community!

With best wishes,

I can’t comment as I’m new to all this but just wanted to say I’m really enjoying reading the e mails that come through to me to help me learn in my journey so they aren’t a waste off time, keep them coming ❤️

Thanks for your comment, I hope you continue to enjoy the newsletter emails and the blog! If you haven’t yet discovered the Sensi Seeds Forum , you can visit it to ask questions and share your experiences with a thriving community of cannabis and gardening enthusiasts, so please don’t hesitate to join the community!