difference between autoflowering and feminized seeds

The difference between feminized and autoflowering seeds

Growing weed doesn’t have to be difficult. Anyone can do it. But you do need some basic knowledge. For example, you need to know how to grow a cannabis plant and which seeds are most suitable for you. The most popular seeds among beginners and advanced growers are feminized cannabis seeds and autoflower seeds. But what is the difference between autoflowering and feminized seeds? And which seeds are right for you?

Choosing between feminized or autoflower seeds

Cannabis seeds come in a huge variety of varieties and grow into beautiful plants where the weed differs in taste and effect. However, apart from the harvest result, there are also big differences in the way of growing and yield. For example, you have fast growers that need little attention (autoflowers) and cannabis seeds that require more time and knowledge (feminized seeds). On the other hand, the latter delivers a higher yield. But what are the differences exactly and are there other differences?

Difference between feminized and autoflower seeds

To make it easy for you, we have included the differences between the two species in a table. This gives you a clear overview and allows you to make the right choice between feminized seeds and autoflower seeds.


Autoflower seeds

Feminized seeds

Small to medium

2 – 4 weeks after planting

When a light cycle of 12 / 12 is applied

Average time from seed to harvest

Medium to large

Small to medium

Medium to large

Feminized seeds

Feminized cannabis seeds are seeds specially grown to eliminate male chromosomes. In short, with feminized seeds you grow a female cannabis plant. Exactly what most growers want, because only the female cannabis plant provides smokable buds (weed!).

Taking light into account

When growing cannabis outdoors, the plant will start flowering as soon as it gets less sunlight. This is towards the end of summer and the transition to autumn. Indoor growers will have to mimic autumn by (gradually) adapting their light schedule to a 12/12 hour light schedule.

Although adjusting the light schedule is not complicated, it does require some knowledge and effort.

Advantages of feminized seeds

  • Feminized seeds develop female plants and produce smokable buds (cannabis).
  • Plants from feminized seeds produce weed with a higher THC and CBD value which makes the effect more intense and lasts longer compared to autoflowering seeds.
  • Feminized seeds are almost 100% hermaphroditic free.
  • Female plants grown with feminized seeds develop higher yields compared to autoflower plants.
  • Plants grown from feminized seeds produce fewer leaves compared to autoflowers.
  • Unlike autoflowers, female plants grown with feminized seeds are easier to prune.

Find your seeds:

Autoflower seeds

Beginners often choose autoflower seeds. The most important reason for this is, as the name suggests, that these plants grow automatically without too much attention. Despite the fact that autoflower seeds have many of the same characteristics as feminized seeds, there are clear differences.

No light scheme needed

Where feminized seeds start flowering as soon as they receive less sunlight (or artificial light), an autoflower flowers based on age. The grower does not have to adjust the light schedule or wait until autumn (applies to outdoor growing). Growing an autoflower is therefore much easier than growing a cannabis plant from feminized seeds.

Advantages of autoflowering seeds

  • Autoflowers bloom automatically and require little attention;
  • Just like feminized seeds, autoflower seeds develop female plants and deliver cannabis;
  • The cycle from seed to harvest is short, allowing growers to harvest 2 to 4 times a year;
  • Because autoflower strains are crossed with the ruderalis plant, the plant grows less tall and requires less maintenance;
  • You need less growing space;
  • Compared to female marijuana plants plants grown with feminized seeds, autoflowers are more resistant to temperature fluctuations, pests and fungi.

Find your seeds:

What’s better: feminized or autoflower seeds?

As you have read, both feminized seeds and autoflower seeds have their own advantages and disadvantages. Advanced and experienced growers choose feminized seeds more often because of their higher yield and quality.

Moreover, weed plants from feminized seeds are more flexible in growing. You can use cultivation techniques such as scrogging (Screen of Green) and topping. These techniques ensure a higher yield.

Beginners prefer autoflower seeds because it is easier and the seeds are less sensitive to external conditions (fungi, temperature fluctuations). After all, the plants grow by themselves so you hardly have to worry. Moreover, you can harvest faster and more often.

Are autoflowers less potent?

If you look at the difference in potency between the autoflower variant and the feminized variant of specific marijuana strains, you will notice that the autoflower is almost always less potent. If you compare an autoflower strain with a feminized variant of a different strain, the autoflower is certainly not always less strong.

Many new growers wonder: What is the difference between feminized and autoflowering seeds? Let’s explain it in a simple way. Check it out!

Feminized Seeds vs Regular vs Autoflower:
What is the difference?

By Caroline | May 4th, 2020

After offering to deal with MSB’s support desk for a weekend while the breeders drowned their sorrows over the canceled Spannabis convention, I discovered two things:

1) I have stellar customer service rep skills 😉
2) there is still a lot of confusion and misconception regarding the difference between regular, feminized and autoflowering seeds.

Such a shame since knowledge about specific growing characteristics offers a huge advantage. So, I have taken it upon me to enlighten you on this important piece of information!

Covering the basics

Before we get into the distinction between feminized seeds vs regular and autoflowering, we need to understand the fundamental differences between the sexes. Now since marijuana seeds are an 18+ product I am going to make a bold assumption that you are all well aware of the so-called ” birds and the bees” but just humor me on this one 😉

Cannabis plants can be either male, female, or hermaphroditic.

Male plants, during the flowering stage, develop pollen sacks or, more commonly called ” balls”.

Female plants develop pre-flowers or pistils, which catch the pollen to create seeds. From there on it’s all relatively straight forward. The male pollen pollinates the female flower, which produces seeds.

Hermaphroditic plants, a nightmare for growers, contain both pollen sacks and pistils. When a marijuana plant experiences stress (think the severe temperature fluctuations or sudden changes in lighting) their survival instinct kicks in. Under such conditions, the plant sees no possibility of fertilization anytime soon after which it resorts to a phenomenon called dichogamy.

Dichogamy, as they call sequential hermaphroditism in botany, means that the female plant starts to produce pollen sacks for self-pollination to ensure the survival of its genes. There have been occasions of males developing pistols, but this is very rare.

The following image shows the difference between the sexes very clearly.

What are feminized seeds?

Feminized seeds have come a long way since the early stages of feminizing. What it comes down to is that feminized seeds do not contain any male chromosomes. This ensures that every plant that comes from a feminized seed will produce female flowers.

You get feminized cannabis seeds when the pollen you use to fertilize a female plant comes from a female plant. So, you cross the genes of two female plants, ensuring that the offspring will only be female. To get this feminine pollen, you will need to get your feminized cannabis plant to produce male flowers. There are two methods for this:

  1. Treating the female cannabis plant with colloidal silver (also called silver water)
  2. By intentionally causing the plant stress

When using colloidal silver, the likelihood of the seeds becoming hermaphroditic is minimal. This is because the female that produced the pollen barely has any genetic predispositions to become a hermaphrodite.

By providing the female plants with trace amounts of colloidal silver, the silver ion inhibits the ethylene production needed by the plant to produce female flowers. This forces the female plant to produce male pollen sacs. This pollen subsequentially fertilizes the female plants that will, in turn, produce feminized seeds.

When should you choose feminized seeds?

Unless a grower is breeding marijuana strains, the grower has no need for male plants. They just take up space and if their presence is undetected, they may pollinate female flowers, creating seeded buds.

Most growers prefer using feminized seeds because they are 100% female.

Also, there’s no hassle of meticulously verifying the sex of the plant during the flowering period. You plant the seeds, you nurture the plant, you receive nice and juicy buds.

So, if you are looking for guaranteed females and have no intention to create new seeds or clones, feminized seeds are for you. No more sexing and therewith making better use of your growing space without the agony of hoping and praying for females, and simply germinating only the number of seeds you need. Easy as pie, right?

  • Easier preparation, germinate the exact number of seeds you need
  • Saves time, resources and work
  • No need for sexing
  • Subsequent generations will possibly have latent intersex tendencies (turn into hermaphrodites)

What are regular seeds?

Unlike popular misconception, there is no such thing as male marijuana seeds. While we do create feminized seeds, there appears to be very little interest in “masculinized” seeds. Seeds with a 50/50 chance of turning either male or female are called regular seeds.

When a male cannabis plant fertilizes a female cannabis plant, the calyxes of the females will produce regular seeds. Exactly like they do in nature without human intervention.

The great thing about regular seeds is that you occasionally need a male to pollinate your female plants and you can also collect the seeds for future use.

On the downside, it is necessary to germinate twice as many plants, so that after removing the males, there are enough females left to properly fill out your growing space and therewith guarantee the desired yield.

When should you choose regular seeds?

Many professional growers prefer to grow regular seeds for several reasons. First, females deriving from regular seeds are better qualified to function as mother plants for cloning. Some consider the quality of the buds to be better from regular seeds, although this is widely debated.

Secondly, when growers wish to create strong crosses or amazing hybrids, they can prefer to use an actual male to pollinate a female, rather than using “feminized” pollen for seed production.

Third, if you are considering taking your cultivation hobby to the next level and breed your own seeds, you will need males to get those from.

  • You can create new seeds
  • Males to pollinate your female plants
  • They are the originals, for many their genetics are purer
  • Some growers do not desire males

What are autoflowering seeds?

Autoflowering seeds or ruderalis, originate from the wilderness of the colder regions of the world, usually above 50 degrees north of the equator (in countries such as Russia and China).

The main feature of the Ruderalis family is its’ self-flowering ability. This means that they do not rely on photosynthesis for their development.

Almost all flowering plants receive a signal to reproduce once seasonal changes in its surroundings occur by the number of hours of daylight.

The ability to start flowering based on changes within the life cycle of the plant rather than the environment is how it earned the name autoflowering.

Autoflowering varieties generally remain quite small and grow rapidly. They produce very small leaves and only a few side branches.

They go through a life cycle, from the seed to the production of new seed, in just 10 weeks (although 12 to 14 weeks is more common).

Why should you choose autoflowering seeds?

There are many advantages to growing autoflowering plants. One of them is that they are incredibly low maintenance. This feature makes them very attractive for novice growers since the growers do not have to adjust the light cycle to induce the flowering phase.

Another perk is the rapid flowering cycle that allows the grower to achieve multiple harvests in the span of one season outdoors.

This is especially great if you have limited time or want to enjoy your weed as soon as possible. The plants grow dense and small which means you can still obtain a successful harvest with good quality bud, even when growing in a small tent or cupboard closet.

On the downside, a shorter flowering cycle also means a smaller yield. And they are less suitable for cloning. This because the cutting follows the same genetic timeline as the mother and enters the flowering period, regardless of size and development. With autoflowering strains, this usually results in small and underdeveloped plants that produce a minimum yield.

  • Low maintenance
  • Multiple harvests per season due to short cycle
  • Suitable for limited spaces
  • Lower yield
  • Not suitable for cloning

What are autoflowering feminized seeds?

Autoflowering feminized seeds are fast-growing guaranteed feminized seeds.

This means you will have all-female plants with the bonus of an autoflowering cycle. Very low maintenance and what I would advise for every novice grower that considers trying their hand at cultivation for the first time.

As previously mentioned, autoflowering plants or Cannabis Ruderalis starts flowering when it reaches a certain stage of maturity, around the time it produces its fifth to the seventh pair of leaves, which usually happens after about seven weeks of growing.

But the main selling of autoflowering feminized seeds is that it takes as little as 12 weeks from germination to the time you can roll your homegrown joint!

So, what’s the difference between feminized seeds vs regular vs autoflowering?

Let’s recap. Regular seeds come from a male and female plant. The pollen from the male fertilizes the female, which in turn produces seeds. We call these seeds regular seeds because they arise the “regular” natural way.

Feminized seeds, come from a female and another female plant. One exposes one of the females to stressful conditions to create pollen, which will fertilize the other female. It is the flowers of the cannabis plant that we use for their cannabinoid content. This makes the female plant desired by most growers. Many growers opt for feminized cannabis seeds to minimize the risk of getting a male plant.

Autoflowering seeds can be found in both regular and feminized and will start to flower without depending on photosynthesis. This results in a rapid flowering cycle. With autoflowering seeds, you will be smoking your homegrown weed in as little as 12 weeks from germination.

Feminized Seeds vs Regular & Autoflowering, are you ready to choose your strain?

Now that we got to the bottom of this once and for all, you have all the knowledge to make a well-informed decision on which type works best for your situation.

I wish you the best of luck with your choice and don’t forget to let me know how this worked out!


Educated by one of the best breeders in the Netherlands, I chose to combine my passion for writing with the fascinating world of cannabis cultivation. What are the best strains for which occasion, what are the effects, and how to use responsibly? Let me take you on a journey.

Confused about Feminized Seeds vs Regular and Autoflower? This article will help you pick the best seeds!