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Autoflowering Vs. Feminized Seeds: What’s the Difference?

If you’re curious about cannabis seeds — particularly autoflower vs. feminized — then you’ve come to the right place.

Here at Honest Marijuana, we’ve been growing everyone’s favorite plant for a loooong time, and we’ve pretty much done and seen it all. As a result, we have a unique perspective on what it takes to nurture both autoflowering and feminized seeds to maturity.

In this article, then, we’ll tell you everything you need to know to understand the difference between autoflower vs. feminized seeds.

Autoflower Vs. Feminized: The Definitions

Autoflowering Seeds

To start our deep dive into autoflower vs. feminized seeds, let’s take a step back and look at two important variables: photoperiod-dependent plants and cannabis ruderalis. Doing so will help you understand autoflowering seeds better.

Photoperiod-Dependent Seeds

Photoperiod-dependent seeds produce plants whose flowering point is determined by the length of time they’re exposed to light.

This really isn’t anything new — they’re your classic indica, sativa, and hybrid strains with names even the newest of noobs is probably familiar with (like Blue Dream, Sour Diesel, and Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies).

You may have been cultivating or using flowers from these plants for years. Now, you just know a bit more about how they grow: They flower in response to the amount of light they get.

With the basics of regular seeds in mind, we’d like to introduce you to the cannabis strain that made autoflowering seeds possible: cannabis ruderalis.

Cannabis Ruderalis

Cannabis ruderalis is a relative of the indicas and sativas that you can find on the shelf at your local dispensary. But three things set it apart from those more common species:

Ruderalis is considered feral, which means that it grows in the wild without human care
Ruderalis has a very low THC count
Ruderalis will flower at a certain number of days regardless of the amount of light it gets

Cannabis growers of yore noticed this last attribute and thought it would be great to cross ruderalis with domesticated strains to produce seeds with the best properties of both worlds (i.e., higher THC count and photoperiod-independence).

That’s where autoflowering seeds come in.

Autoflowering seeds do not rely on the ratio of light to dark hours (the photoperiod) to switch from vegetative growth to flowering growth. Instead, their switch depends on age (i.e., number of days).

What that means for the average grower is that, with autoflowering seeds and strains, they don’t have to worry about varying the amount of light the plants get like they do with photoperiodic seeds.

So, while this variable does sound like the perfect solution to an age-old problem, it does come with a tradeoff.

The mix of genetics that produced autoflowering seeds (e.g., cannabis ruderalis and photoperiodic strains) did improve THC count, but the potency is still nowhere near that of the regular indicas and sativas.

Feminized Seeds

Understanding the difference between autoflower vs. feminized seeds starts with understanding the difference between male and female seeds.

Normal cannabis seeds have a 50% chance of producing a male plant and a 50% chance of producing a female plant. That’s just the way that plant biology works.

The thing is, there’s no way to tell just by looking at them which sex of plant any given seed will produce.

Why is that a problem for ganja growers? Three reasons:

Male plants don’t produce flowers (the part of the plant that contains most of the cannabinoids)
Male plants pollinate female plants in their vicinity (resulting in fewer and smaller buds containing more seeds)
Male preflowers develop first and fast

So, a male plant growing in the midst of several female plants can drastically reduce — and ruin — the number of buds those female plants will produce. That’s the absolute opposite of what growers want.

That’s also why it’s so important to get rid of male plants as soon as possible.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a way to ensure that the seed you plant will produce a female plant rather than a male plant? There is: feminized seeds!

Feminized cannabis seeds are engineered to contain only the female genes (XX). As a result, they will only and always grow into a female plant.

This is good news for growers because it increases the odds of getting a female plant from 50% to around 99.9%. We’ll take those odds!

When you plant feminized seeds, it’s pretty much a sure thing that the result will be a female plant with seedless buds.

And, really, that’s the holy grail of ganja growers everywhere.


Autoflowering seeds do not rely on the ratio of light to dark hours (the photoperiod) to switch from vegetative growth to flowering growth. Instead, their switch depends on age (i.e., number of days).

Feminized seeds only contain the female genes (XX) and will only and always (to within a 99.9% certainty) grow into a female plant.

Autoflower Vs. Feminized: The Differences

1) Autoflowering Seeds Can Be Male Or Female

The main difference between autoflower vs. feminized seeds is that the autoflowering seeds can produce either male or female plants.

That makes autoflowering seeds more akin to regular seeds in that there’s a 50% chance the seed you plant will produce a male plant and a 50% chance that it will produce a female plant.

And there’s no way to tell which is which other than to plant them and wait for them to sprout.

If you choose to plant autoflowering seeds, keep a sharp eye out for male plants and cull them from the herd as soon as possible.

If you get rid of the male plants before they are able to pollinate the females, you won’t have to worry that the female plants will get pollinated and produce seed — which reduces the number and potency of their flowers (a less-than-desirable result).

2) Autoflowering Seeds Produce Smaller Harvests

Although the size of plants grown from autoflowering seeds makes them great for growing in tight spaces, their shortness of stature means they produce smaller harvests.

That may not sound like a bad thing. But, if you want to get as many consumable buds off of each plant, you’d be better off with regular seeds or feminized seeds.

These varieties grow much larger than autoflowering plants and, therefore, have more room to grow lots and lots of flowers.

3) Feminized Seeds Have Higher Potency

Because they lack the cannabis ruderalis genes, plants grown from feminized seeds have a much higher potency than the autoflowering variety.

During the flowering stage, plants grown from feminized seeds direct their energy away from the stems and leaves and into the flowers.

This extra available metabolic energy — that otherwise would have gone into producing seeds — also contributes to an increase in cannabinoid, terpene, and flavonoid production.

More THC means a heavier psychedelic experience. More CBD means a more potent medicinal experience. And more terpenes and flavonoids mean a better tasting, better smelling final product.

4) Feminized Seeds Take Longer To Reach Maturity

Depending on the type of cannabis you plant and the environmental conditions in which it’s grown, autoflowering plants reach maturity after 75 days (2.5 months)

Plants grown from feminized seeds, on the other hand, can take anywhere from 120 days to 240 days (4-8 months) to reach maturity.

Autoflower Vs. Feminized: Quality Matters

Wherever you fall on the autoflower vs. feminized choice, it all comes down to two important variables:

The quality of the strain from which those seeds came
Whether or not the plant that produces the bud you smoke was grown organically

Why are these important?

Because low-quality plants — called mids and regs by those in the know — will produce a low-quality final product. That low-quality final product will diminish any psychoactive or medicinal effects you experience.

When you’re growing your own weed with an eye toward cooking up a batch of edibles, rolling a J, or packing a bowl, always use autoflower or feminized seeds from the highest-quality plants you can get your hands on.

The seeds can be from any strain you choose, as long as they came from a healthy, well-producing parent.

If you don’t abide by this rule of thumb and opt, instead, for whatever seeds you can get your hands on, the end result may leave you dissatisfied and downhearted.

Then, there’s the matter of whether or not the bud was grown organically.

Again, it doesn’t matter if you choose autoflower vs. feminized. A large portion of the final experience comes down to how the plant was treated while it was growing.

With a high-quality, organic strain, like those grown at Honest Marijuana, you’ll need less bud to experience the effects you’re after — a little high-quality ganja goes a long way — and you’ll be protecting yourself against harmful fertilizers, heavy metals, and pesticides.

Remember all cannabis products come from the cannabis plant in one way or another.

If the grower used chemicals to treat the plant, traces of those chemicals may remain in whatever product you take.

You can avoid this issue entirely and experience cannabis the way it was meant to be with the best products on the planet from Honest Marijuana.

If you live in Colorado, find some Honest Marijuana and discover what the purest marijuana experience on the plant feels like (Hint: It’s like nothing you’ve ever felt before).

For more information on all things cannabis and to check out our 100% all-natural marijuana products, visit today.

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