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The Differences in Growing Sativa, Indica and Hybrid Strains

Growing Posted Dec 13 2019

There are major differences when it comes to growing distinct strains of cannabis. Sativa, indica and hybrid strains all have different geographical origins, genetics, shapes, sizes and all have varying cultivation times. Yields between strains can vary widely and the end results differ in look, taste, smell and effect. Before embarking on the great ganja growing experience, it is essential to procure quality seeds and to know the characteristics of sativa and indica plants - including the sativa vs. indica high - in order to successfully grow each type of strain and produce buds with the characteristics that you want to enjoy.

What's the difference between Indica and Sativa?

The indica and sativa differentiation is something that continues to be debated - nearly all cannabis strains are actually some type of hybrid at this point - but most agree that it goes something like this: Sativa plants are generally understood to produce flowers that provide a stimulating, energizing and cerebral mind high. They are good for daytime activities and social situations. Indicas are usually more mellow and better for mellow, laid-back activities. An indica high is usually very relaxing and is often used as a sleep-aid for many cannabis enthusiasts.

Growing Sativa Strains

Sativa strains are genetically based in equatorial regions and thrive in zones that have hot summers and relatively mild winters. These growing conditions result in plants that are very tall and take a long time to flower. If you are growing sativas indoors, be sure to have enough space in your grow house as some plants can surge to over 10 feet! Because of their height and the way that sativa plants grow, they generally yield a bit less that indicas or hybrids, but patient and engaged growers will be rewarded with a plant that provides a unique and energizing high.

Benefits of Growing Sativa

  • Sativas require less food and fertilizer to grow into healthy and productive plants.
  • Fewer feedings are necessary.
  • The high associated with sativas is clear-headed, motivational and ideal for daytime use.
  • Sativas have been successfully used to treat depression and ADHD disorders.
  • Although the flowering period can be longer than that for indicas, the vegetative phase is shorter.

Techniques to Use When Growing Sativa

Sativa plants enjoy high levels of light and heat but do not handle cold temperatures particularly well. Humidity in the growing area should be kept above 50% and below 70%. Start the plants off with intense light that will emulate the native equatorial growing conditions and maximize the chlorophyll content. Sativas can be sensitive to nutrients, so special care should be taken to monitor nitrogen toxicity. Nutrient burn is common with sativas and can present even at what would be considered normal nutrient levels. Start off with low levels of nitrogen and go from there. As the time for harvest nears, decrease the light the sativa plants receive to about eight hours per day. This will allow the oils and terpenes to develop prominently in the plant

Traits Associated With Sativa Plants

  • Very rapid growth.
  • Tall and thin plants with long and skinny light green leaves.
  • Buds are long, thin and airy as opposed to the dense buds of indicas.
  • Large gaps and spacing between sets of leaves with plenty of side branching.

Growing Indica Strains

Indicas originated in regions of Asia with a relatively harsh climate and often mature quicker and have a shorter flowering stage than sativas. Yields tend to be high and the plants themselves are short, sturdy and strong. They are genetically programmed to handle fluctuating environments and do well in indoor and outdoor grow scenarios.

Benefits of Growing Indica

  • Indicas are relatively easy to grow because they can thrive in various environments and conditions.
  • Indica plants are short and stocky and can be grown in small spaces like grow boxes.
  • The short flowering cycle can provide more harvests per year.
  • The high associated with indicas is relaxing and excellent for those with chronic pain, muscle spasms, insomnia and anxiety.

Techniques to Use When Growing Indica

Due to their origins in regions like Afghanistan, India and China where water is scarce, indica strains develop sticky, resinous buds that are susceptible to mold. Humidity levels should be kept lower (around 40% to 50%) than for sativas and it is critical to provide the growing space with regular ventilation. Lighting can be adjusted from around 18 hours of light per day to 12 hours on and 12 hours off when the indica plants are ready to flower.

Traits Associated With Indica

  • Short and stocky and plants with broad dark green flowers.
  • Buds are tight and filled with sticky terpenes.
  • High yields.
  • Heavy resin concentrations.

Growing Hybrid Strains

Cannabis growers often prefer hybrids because they are able to merge the desired traits of sativa strains with the durability and high yields of indica plants. Hybrid strains can produce mellow and sedative effects like an indica but also tap into the quick growth cycle of a sativa. Hybrid strains very often lean a certain way; they can be sativa-dominant or indica-dominant. Be sure to get the strain specifics prior to embarking on a hybrid grow. Flowering time can vary drastically, as can the psychoactive effects.

Benefits of Growing Hybrid Strains

  • Hybrids are less likely to attract mold and rot and are more resistant to pests.
  • Strains can be chosen with particular THC and CBD ratios that provide tailored effects for recreational or medical use.
  • Growers can choose strains that their growing space can accommodate.
  • Psychoactive properties can be a blend - not just energizing and invigorating and not just relaxing and calming.

Techniques to Use When Growing Hybrids

Since hybrids are combinations or variations of sativas and indicas, a middle-of-the-road approach can be taken when growing hybrid strains. They can withstand cold elements but should not be exposed to extreme cold for long periods. Likewise, keep heat and humidity in check and stick to the basics. Be sure to have a well-ventilated space and routinely check for mold and nutrient burn.

Traits Associated With Hybrids

  • Sativa-dominant strains will lean toward traits associated with sativas. Indica-dominant strains will lean toward traits associated with indicas.
  • Hybrids are typically bred to produce the most favorable traits of their particular parent strains.
  • Each hybrid strain has different levels of THC and CBD, depending on the characteristics of the parent strains.

Are you growing marijuana? What strains do you prefer? Have you had particular success with either indicas or sativas? What is your growing set-up like? Share your situation and opinions for growing different strains in the comment section below.

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