Growing cannabis at home has become a growing hobby with state laws allowing a small number of plants to be grown per household. In California, we’re allowed to grow up to 6 plants for personal consumption, and it’s advised for everyone to research the legal limits in your state and county before growing at home. Northern Lights is hailed as one of the 2 original hitter quitters back in the days, and it has always been a favorite among the cannabis community. As a grandmother to most of today’s strains that contain Indica, it has a sweet aroma that will have you comfortably couch locked or sleeping like a baby. Northern Lights is also known to be easy to grow, but there are some caveats to keep in mind.
Northern Lights is a pure Indica with THC levels between 20-30%. It has a sweet and earthy taste that reminisces on old school kind bud. The appearance of the buds are dense fluffy look with plenty of orange hairs. It will feel and smell dry with minimal stickiness. You may see hints of purple in the buds, and the body high is second to none. You should expect a gentle euphoric high that calms you down, and is ideal for managing stress, anxiety, and muscle tension. Some swear by it as a pain reliever. Warning: it will make you extremely hungry, and the dry mouth can be overwhelming.
Autoflowers are cannabis genes mixed with Cannabis Ruderalis to make the plant operate on a time base instead of the amount of light it is receiving. Unlike Cannabis Indica or Sativa, Ruderalis will grow, flower, and die on a predictably tight schedule. When growing Autoflower, my suggestion is to create a calendar for when to expect the different stages to ensure your nutrient and watering plan is set. This isn’t necessary, but it helps to put control in your hands rather than reacting to the plant’s phases as they go. Usually, Autoflower plants will begin flowering stage after exactly 4 weeks of vegetative phase. Due to the aggressive nature of transitioning through phases, I believe it’s less forgiving for issues like plant stress, nutrition burn, or over/under watering.
The best characteristic of Autoflowers is that the light schedule does not require being 12/12. This means you can optimize the light on the plants for 18/6 to 24/0 for maximum yield per square foot.
How to begin
I got my Northern Lights Autoflower seeds from Growers Choice. It shipped within a week, and I was able to start the process within 2 weeks of payment. To germinate the seed, it’s advised to start by putting the seeds in a cup of water for 18-24 hours, and “tap” down the ones that are floating after several hours. Pour the water over a paper towel on a plate, and cover the seeds with another paper towel (or flap over). Keep the paper towel(s) damp, and the root tip of the sprout will show within 7 days. In my experience, the tap root showed within 1 day so keep an eye on it twice a day.
The infant plant is very gentle, and will not be safe to put in soil or nutrient rich environments yet. Using a peat pellet or 2″ rockwool square, the tap root can grow for a week with minimal attention. Make sure to soak the pellets or rockwool for at least 30 minutes in water before you use them. Carefully put the sprout into the saturated pellet or rockwool square tap root down, and cover the top of the hole. You may now put it in the final grow medium as it will take time for the roots to grow out towards the nutrient rich environment.
Since Autoflowers are on a tight schedule, it’s advices to have at least a 3 gallon pot with plenty of drainage holes filled at least 90% as the final grow medium. This will be the plant’s home for 12-14 weeks, and the plant will not respond well to stressful activity such as transplanting or any root damage.
Watering & Nutrient Schedule
Less is better. Watering your plant should be based on how dry the soil is. You do not want to overwater your plant because the roots need to get oxygen to thrive. Start with a cup of water every other day. Ideally, the PH of the water should be 6 – 6.8, and you should use a PH meter. I got lucky with my tap water at 6.5, and I just left the water out for an hour before pouring into the pots. As the plant grows, you want to add more water. Once you’re giving more than 3 cups of water, you’ll want to start watering the plants every other day.
For nutrients, there will be two types you’ll need: Growth, and Bloom. Based on the instructions on the packaging, my advice is to do less than the suggested amount. It will not harm your plant if you provide less nutrients, but it will stunt and damage the plant if you give too much. If it says 3 teaspoons, give it 2. Particularly with Autoflowers since it’s going to do what it needs to based on its own schedule, nutrient burn will significantly impact the final yield due to losing a week or more of growth.
After 4 weeks, you should be giving each plant at least a gallon of water every other day, and nutrients once or twice a week. At this point, you should feel the weight of the pot when it’s full of water to gauge when watering will be needed. You should always add enough water so there’s at least 1/2 gallon of runoff to ensure you’re flushing out a bit of the excess nutrients every time. This will reduce the amount of flushing you’ll need to do later, and help maintain a healthy PH in your soil.
Happy growing, and let me know if you have any questions I can answer!