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Autoflower vs. Photoperiod medicinal plants: Which is Best to Grow and Why?

Autoflower vs. Photoperiod medicinal plants: Which is Best to Grow and Why?

When it comes to cultivating medicinal plants, growers face a crucial decision: Should they choose autoflowering or photoperiod strains? Each type has its distinct characteristics, benefits, and challenges. Understanding these differences can help cultivators make an informed choice that aligns with their goals, experience level, and growing conditions. This article explores the key aspects of both autoflowering and photoperiod medicinal plants to determine which might be the best option for your cultivation needs.

Understanding Autoflowering Cannabis

Autoflowering medicinal plants, as the name suggests, automatically transition from the vegetative stage to the flowering stage based on age rather than light cycle changes. Typically, these plants start flowering within 2-4 weeks after germination and are ready for harvest in about 8-12 weeks.

Advantages of Autoflowering medicinal plants:

  1. Fast Growth Cycle: One of the most significant benefits of autoflowers is their rapid growth cycle. This allows for multiple harvests in a single growing season, making them ideal for growers seeking quick turnover.

  2. Compact Size: Autoflowering strains tend to be smaller and more compact, which is perfect for indoor growing or limited space environments. Their size makes them less conspicuous, beneficial for those needing discretion.

  3. Ease of Growth: Autoflowers are generally easier to grow, making them suitable for beginners. They are less sensitive to light schedule mistakes, reducing the complexity of the growing process.

  4. Hardiness: Many autoflowering strains are bred to be more resilient to pests, diseases, and adverse weather conditions, making them robust options for outdoor growing.

Disadvantages of Autoflowering medicinal plants:

  1. Lower Yields: Typically, autoflowers produce lower yields compared to photoperiod strains. Their smaller size and shorter life cycle contribute to this reduced output.

  2. Less Control Over Vegetative Stage: Growers have limited control over the length of the vegetative stage, which can impact the final size and yield of the plant.

  3. THC Content: While advancements have been made, some autoflowering strains may still have lower THC levels compared to their photoperiod counterparts.

Understanding Photoperiod medicinal plants

Photoperiod medicinal plants require specific light cycles to transition from the vegetative to the flowering stage. Typically, they need around 18-24 hours of light per day during the vegetative stage and 12 hours of uninterrupted darkness to trigger flowering.

Advantages of Photoperiod medicinal plants :

  1. Higher Yields: Photoperiod plants generally produce higher yields due to their larger size and longer growth cycle, which allows for more bud development.

  2. Control Over Growth Stages: Growers have the flexibility to control the length of the vegetative stage, enabling them to influence the plant's size and structure. This can be particularly beneficial for training techniques like topping, scrogging, and LST (low-stress training).

  3. Potency: Photoperiod strains often have higher THC content, offering a more potent final product. Breeders also tend to develop more diverse and potent photoperiod varieties.

  4. Genetic Diversity: Photoperiod plants have a wider genetic diversity, providing a broader selection of strains with varying flavors, aromas, and effects.

Disadvantages of Photoperiod medicinal plants :

  1. Longer Growth Cycle: The extended growth cycle of photoperiod plants means a longer time to harvest, which can be a drawback for those looking for quicker returns.

  2. Sensitivity to Light Cycles: Photoperiod plants are highly sensitive to light schedule disruptions. Any light leaks during the dark period can stress the plants and potentially cause issues like hermaphroditism.

  3. Size Management: Photoperiod plants can grow quite large, requiring more space and potentially more advanced training techniques to manage their size and shape.

Which is Best to Grow?

Choosing between autoflowering and photoperiod medicinal plants depends on various factors, including the grower's experience level, growing environment, and specific goals.

For Beginners:

Autoflowers are generally recommended for novice growers due to their simplicity and resilience. The reduced sensitivity to light cycles and shorter growth period make them less demanding and more forgiving.

For Small Spaces:

If space is limited, autoflowers are ideal. Their compact size and quicker harvest times suit indoor setups and small outdoor gardens. They also work well for those who need discretion in their cultivation.

For Maximum Yield and Potency:

Experienced growers with ample space and time may prefer photoperiod strains. The ability to manipulate the vegetative stage allows for larger plants and potentially higher yields. Photoperiod strains are also often favored for their superior potency and diverse genetic profiles.

For Rapid Turnover:

Growers seeking multiple harvests in a single season should consider autoflowers. Their quick growth cycle allows for rapid turnover, making it possible to achieve several harvests per year.

For Diverse Strain Selection:

Those interested in exploring a wide range of flavors, aromas, and effects will find photoperiod strains appealing. The extensive genetic diversity provides more options for specialized breeding and unique strain development.


Both autoflowering and photoperiod medicinal plants offer unique advantages and challenges. Autoflowers are perfect for beginners, those with limited space, and growers looking for a quick turnaround. Photoperiod plants, on the other hand, are ideal for those seeking higher yields, greater potency, and more control over the growing process. By understanding the specific needs and benefits of each type, cultivators can make an informed decision that aligns with their cultivation goals and environmental conditions.


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