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Differences between autoflowering and photoperiod strains

Autoflowering vs. Photoperiod Cannabis

If you’ve ever wondered what makes autoflowering plants different than photoperiod strains, you’re not alone. Below, we tackle the pros and cons of growing each and share advice on how to maximize potential yield.


According to Nebula Haze and Sirius Fourside at, a wild cannabis strain named ‘Ruderalis’ is ancestor to the autoflowering strains we use today. Ruderalis was reportedly discovered in Russia, which suffers long winters and short summers. The plant’s ability to survive in these conditions is what makes autoflowering plants ideal for novice or hobby growers.

Autoflowering plants don’t rely on the sun to start producing flowers. Instead, these strains mature in two to three months and begin to produce flowers within a few weeks of planting.

Sounds great, right? Unfortunately, the ancestral roots of autoflowering strains have been known to produce plants with lower THC levels. They also tend to grow smaller than photoperiod strains and produce smaller flowers.

Diligent breeding has helped improve the quality of these plants significantly, but if you don’t know exactly what you’re buying, the outcome is usually a mixed bag: some grow tall; some have high THC levels. Genetics are important, so read up on an autoflowering strain to make sure it fits your needs and equipment.


Photoperiod plants do rely on the sun to tell them when to start flowering. In this case, plants have to be sown in the spring and harvested before winter. Shorter days stimulate the plant to flower, and to maximize yield, it may require deprivation techniques to achieve adequate daily darkness, typically 12 hours or more.

For both indoor and outdoor grows, photoperiod strains are ideal when used in combination with light-deprivation techniques. More specifically, photoperiod plants can be induced to flower nearly year-round, so long as temperature and light exposure are carefully controlled.

Growers can grow up to three harvests a year this way, and it’s made a lot easier with light-deprivation products specifically designed for photoperiod plants. BOLD light-deprivation tarp by Americover is dual-colored and string-reinforced: the white exterior offers UV protection and temperature control, and the black interior delivers total darkness — no pinholes and no light leaks.

If you grow outdoors, using BOLD to cover and uncover plants daily can be challenging, especially when short on help. Fortunately, the BOLD EZarm allows a single person to cover and uncover a greenhouse in minutes. The proprietary design won’t bend or break, and it’s specially designed to secure BOLD light-dep tarps.

With the BOLD EZarm and a BOLD light-dep tarp, growers can increase yield using photoperiod strains with informed application of light-dep techniques. If you have a question about one of our light-dep products, our Americover experts are available Monday – Friday, 6am – 6:30pm PST. Give us a call at 833.261.6501.