Choosing Cannabis Products

The Different Types of Cannabis Seeds

Want to learn more about the differences between the different categories of cannabis seeds? Here’s what you need to know before you sow and grow.

The OCS Guide to Cannabis Seeds

Great news for green thumbs — Ontarians age 19 and over are legally allowed to grow up to four cannabis plants per home (not per person) for personal use. Budding gardeners should know that the OCS and Authorized Retail Stores are the only legal retailers of cannabis seeds in the province. Seeds typically come in packs of four, five or 10, and current regulations allow for the purchase of up to 30 seeds at one time.

Before you get growing, here’s a look at the different categories of seeds to choose from (feminized, regular and autoflowering), considerations for germination and planting, and which one will work best for you.


Seed categories — a comparison

While any kind of seed can produce female plants bursting with buds, there are a few considerations that will help you decide which of the varieties is best for you; in particular, your gardening experience and the amount of time and money you want to invest. Here’s how all three compare.


These are the most popular category among OCS consumers. They’ve been bred to produce only female plants — which is often the goal, because only female plants produce flowers. Determining a cannabis plant’s sex can typically only happen after three to four weeks of growing, so if you’re unsure of your plant identification skills or don’t want to waste time or effort, feminized seeds are for you.

Feminized seeds are produced by forcing female plants to produce pollen and self-pollinate. This is done by stressing the plants with intense heat or light, underwatering or spraying the flowers with colloidal silver (a solution that contains particles of silver). Because the pollen is technically from female plants, all the offspring of their seeds should be female. One caution: Because the plants have self-pollinated, only one set of genes is present, so you won’t want to use the plants you grow for breeding purposes.

Feminized seeds are also called photoperiod because they flower when their daily light exposure reduces, either naturally through the transition from summer to fall or by growers turning off the lights after six to 12 hours instead of 16 to 18. If this sounds like too much trouble, you may want to choose autoflowering seeds.

Feminized seeds are best for beginner growers.

6 to 8 months
At 8 to 12 weeks, dependent on reducing light exposure
Produce only female plants, removing need to identify males
More expensive than other categories
Resulting plants are not ideal for breeding




Regular seeds are just what they sound like — standard seeds that have been produced by crossing male and female plants. There’s a 50% chance of them growing into females, so they’re the best choice if you’d like to experiment with pollinating plants yourself or selective breeding. Regular seeds are also the most wallet-friendly option.

Just like the feminized variety, regular seeds are photoperiod, so their transition to flowering depends on the reduction of light. When planted outside, regular seeds will grow according to the annual cycle of your growing region.

Regular seeds are best for experienced growers and those who want to experiment.

6 to 8 months
At 8 to 12 weeks, dependent on reducing light exposure
Less expensive than other categories
Require identifying and removing male plants
Only 50% chance of producing female plants




These are a great choice if you want to take some of the work out of growing — they’ll automatically flower after about 10 weeks of germination, regardless of their light conditions.

Autoflowering seeds come from plants crossed with strains of Cannabis Ruderalis, the third cannabis class alongside indica and sativa. Because Cannabis Ruderalis originates from close to the north and south poles, it has the special ability to complete its growing cycle no matter how much light it gets. When crossed with plants that typically grow closer to the equator, it passes on this ability.

Because autoflowering seeds aren’t dependent on the reduction of light to flower, they require less equipment than other varieties when grown indoors. They also produce smaller plants that are ideal for indoors and flower quickly, with a total lifecycle of about three months (unlike the annual cycle of regular and feminized seeds), allowing for multiple harvests per year.

There are drawbacks, however. Autoflowering plants are known for being less potent, and their small height means they don’t produce large yields. You’ll also have to sort through your young plants to determine which ones are female.

Autoflowering seeds are best for beginner growers and those in a hurry.

About 3 months
Within 10 weeks of germination, regardless of light exposure
Shorter height is ideal for indoor growing
Shorter growing lifecycle
Require less equipment to grow indoors
Plants may be less potent
Yields may be smaller
More expensive than other categories
Require identifying and removing male plants


Do seeds expire?

The answer to how long seeds stay good in the package depends on many variables, especially how they’re stored. Keep seeds in an airtight container, such as a Mason jar, in a cool, dark, dry place. There’s no consensus among the experts, but seeds will generally last for at least one year — even up to five years.


Growing from seed

All cannabis can be successfully grown indoors, but all types can also be sown directly into an outdoor garden, even if you live in a cool, wet climate. Seedlings are delicate, however, so you’ll want to germinate seeds indoors and then transplant them outside.

If you plan on growing cannabis plants outdoors, you’ll want to purchase seeds in early spring, so you’ll be prepared to germinate them around the end of April and plant them outside between mid-May and mid-June, depending on your hardiness zone and the weather conditions that year.

Want to learn more about homegrown bud? Check out our beginner-friendly guide on how to grow cannabis.

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