Photo-Period vs. Autoflowering Cannabis Seeds: What's Good For Your Garden?

From establishing your ideal propagation set-up and ensuring suitable growing conditions to selecting the strains you’d like to experiment with, there is an abundance of variables to consider and choices to be made when it comes to growing cannabis at home.

As Amsterdam’s leading resource on all things marijuana, we’ve already provided a few expert insights and guides on growing cannabis seeds for recreational purposes. 

But one of the most impactful decisions that all novice growers need to make is whether they go with photo-period seeds or autoflowering seeds for their first batch. Just as we touched on in our key insights blog on successful cannabis growth, different types of cannabis seeds have different growth habits. Accommodating these different growth stages and what triggers them is vital for maximising your yield once your plants begin to flower.

So what’s the right seed type for you: photo-period or autoflowering? We’ll be answering just this question in greater detail below by diving deep into all the pros and cons that accompany each seed type.


What are Photo-Period Cannabis Seeds?

Photo-period cannabis plants are photoreceptive, meaning that they can sense fluctuations in their light conditions and grow in response to light availability. In other words, photo-period strains of cannabis are plants that have been specifically cultivated to grow in accordance with light cycles.


Pros of Photo-Period Cannabis Seeds

One of the key benefits of growing photo-period cannabis seeds is that growers can actually manipulate their plants to experience maximal growth at every stage of their growing journey, from their seedling stage, to their vegetative stage, and all the way through to their flowering stage – where you reap your biggest reward.

With the right lighting conditions and growing strategy, your photo-period cannabis plants are more likely to generate a higher yield than autoflowering cannabis seeds. This means a larger return on the upfront investment on your seeds.

So to recap, the key benefits of growing with photo-period cannabis seeds include:


  • More control over plant growth activity
  • Increased plant growth with optimal cultivation strategy
  • Increased yield once the cannabis plant reaches its flowering stage


Cons of Photo-Period Cannabis Seeds

Of course, as photo-period cannabis seeds do respond in accordance with fluctuations in light conditions, planting these seeds out in the open air or in your garden is not going to deliver an optimal yield. Virtually all growers agree that the best growing conditions for photo-period cannabis seeds are the immaculately controlled environment of propagation tents with LED lighting rigs. This can be costly to set up and as such, photo-period cannabis seeds may not be the best investment for total beginner growers.

Similarly, as photo-period cannabis plants will need to be cultivated in very controlled environments to ensure optimal light conditions for precisely triggering plant growth stages, it’s highly likely that your growing set-up won’t actually be outdoors but indoors. If you don’t have the floor space available for a decently sized propagation tent, then photo-period cannabis seeds may not be the best fit for you.


The cons of growing with photo-period cannabis seeds

  • May require costly equipment (propagation tents and LED lighting) for optimal growth
  • Can be more expensive to grow than autoflowering seeds
  • Will take up indoor space and as such, may not be ideal for inner city growers
  • Larger upfront investment and higher maintenance requirements may make them unsuitable for beginner growers

What are Autoflowering Cannabis Seeds?

Unlike photo-period seeds, the growth stages or maturation of autoflowering cannabis seeds isn’t dictated by fluctuations in light availability. Instead, these seeds can grow from seedlings to maturity and through to their flowering stage totally independently.

This means that your autoflowering seeds could feasibly be planted right in your garden or perhaps even cultivated comfortably on a windowsill.


Pros of Autoflowering Cannabis Seeds

As we already briefly touched upon, one of the biggest benefits of autoflowering cannabis seeds is that they’re very easy to grow, making them beginner-friendly. Autoflowering cannabis seeds can also be cultivated virtually anywhere – so long as your growing environment has plenty of sun and water, as all plants need. Even if you don’t have a garden and simply have a balcony that receives some sunlight during the day, your autoflowering cannabis plant should be able to do what it does best and shoot up fast.


The pros of growing with autoflowering cannabis seeds include:

  • More beginner-friendly than photo-period cannabis seeds
  • Can be grown both indoors and outdoors
  • Can be grown with less upfront investment in propagation equipment
  • Is generally low maintenance and easy to cultivate


Cons of Autoflowering Cannabis Seeds

As you may have already guessed, one of the more prominent disadvantages of growing autoflowering cannabis seeds is that growers have significantly less control over the quality of their yield once the plant reaches maturity and begins to produce flowers. If you’re after a higher yield and have the time and money to spend on a suitable photo-period set-up, then you may opt for photo-period seeds over autoflowering cannabis seeds.


It’s also important to keep in mind that autoflowering seeds that are planted in outdoor or exposed growing environments are vulnerable to pest infestation. So even though your autoflowering cannabis seeds may be more low maintenance than photo-period seeds, you’ll still need to consider how to keep your plants safe from external threats that could disrupt or deter their growth.


Some of the more notable cons of working with autoflowering cannabis seeds are:

  • Reduced yields in comparison to photo-period seeds
  • Less control over plant growth patterns
  • Can be susceptible to pest infestation or external disruptions if planted outside controlled environments


How to select the right cannabis seeds for your growing environment

With these pros and cons in mind, you should be able to easily select the right cannabis seeds for your home or garden. If you have the capital to spend and space to sacrifice on a controlled growing environment, then why not try giving photo-period plant propagation a go? And if you’re after a more streamlined, low-effort growing experience for your first batch, then learn the ropes by growing some autoflowering cannabis plants first.

We also strongly recommend that any cannabis fans who are looking to enter the world of home growing prepare themselves by reading up on the topic in more detail. Thankfully, our home growing news section is always updated with plenty of tips on buying cannabis seeds and even some recommendations on how to optimise your growing set-up.

So long as you keep studying and experimenting, you should be able to continue improving your cannabis plant propagation and perhaps even building your yield, whether you’re working with photo-period or autoflowering cannabis seeds. disclaimer: takes pride in featuring high quality articles to its readers, however does not assume liability for the claims and medical facts presented by the author. Please check with your doctor or medical practitioner, before consuming any products containing CBD, THC, herbs and Smart Products, or any other products recommended here. Make sure to always check for advised dosages, and please keep all THC and CBD products (including vapes, flowers, oils, concentrates or edibles) away from children, animals and any persons who may not desire to consume them. Make sure to clearly mark all products with warnings about the contents, and store all products in locked, child-proof containers, to avoid accidental ingestion. Please check your own country's laws regarding CBD and THC, and make sure shipping is allowed. content is always created in countries where cannabis products are legal, for medicinal and/or for recreational uses. Smokers Guide does not encourage the use of cannabis in countries where its consumption is illegal.