Differences in Growing Sativa, Indica, and Hybrid Cannabis

Whether you are going to the dispensary for the first time or are interested in growing cannabis at home, you need to learn about a particular strain’s genetics. There are significant differences between strains, so your plant of choice could be a bad option for your garden. Then, there is the small matter of the effects of a specific marijuana strain.

For example, indica strains are preferred for night-time use. In general, they invoke ‘couch lock’ and have a sedative and relaxing effect. Sativa strains are often a better choice if you need to stay alert during the day. They seem to provide an uplifting, cerebral effect and a boost in energy. Hybrids are a mixture of the two but tend to lean heavily in an indica or sativa direction.

There are a few things you have to consider when growing each one, and we outline them below. If you are in a rush, here is a quick table to help you see the common traits of each option at a glance.




Grows short & bushy

Grows tall & skinny

A combination of indica & sativa

Dark green, broad leaves

Light green, thin leaves

Fast flowering time depending on genetics

Dense buds

Airy buds

Typically resistant to mold and pests

Fast flowering time

Lengthy flowering time

Excellent yields in general

Copes well with changes in temperature

Prefers high humidity & temperature

Susceptible to pests and mold growth

Generally resistant to mold

Growing Indica Cannabis Strains

If you are considering an indica plant, please note that they tend to grow short and bushy. They offer a combination of high yields and short flowering time (as little as eight weeks), which means indica strains are generally popular among growers. With a much shorter flowering stage to worry about, indicas mature and finish growing faster than their sativa counterparts.

It is important to note that indica plants originally came from the Asian highlands. They were able to grow and thrive in a harsh environment, and it isn’t hard to recreate these growing conditions at home. Indica plants grow short, sturdy, and robust, even in fluctuating environments. Their squat shape makes them ideal for indoor growing, small spaces, and growing boxes.

The main reason why they flower so quickly is that they are desperate to reproduce rapidly before winter arrives. As a result, you can grow indicas outdoors in climates where fall turns into winter quickly. If you grow indoors, the short cycle can result in more harvests per annum if you’re prepared to put in the work.

Here are some quick tips to help you grow indica plants successfully:

Picking the Right Strain

Resist the temptation to use a pure indica. A strongly indica-dominant hybrid is a better option for new growers because it allows for a few mistakes. Hybrids are also less likely to rot and are more pest-resistant.

Lighting Schedule

Adjusting the light schedule during the vegetative phase can control the size of indicas. Once you believe the plants are getting too big for the grow room, change to a 12/12 lighting schedule and force them into flowering. Although they can stretch during this phase, their maximum size has already been defined.


You shouldn’t need to subject your indica plants to training because they grow bushy and short. If you must, use Low-Stress Training techniques (LST) or super cropping to ensure they achieve the shape of your choosing.

Protection from Mold

As indica strains come from dry and cool regions with a scarcity of water, they have robust, resinous buds that are susceptible to mold. You can protect your plants from this fate by ensuring good airflow and ventilation. We also recommend keeping humidity between 40% and 50% during flowering and below 40% in the final two weeks before harvest.

Most growers choose indicas to help with conditions such as muscle spasms, pain, insomnia, and anxiety.

Growing Sativa Cannabis Strains

In contrast to the harsh climate of indicas, sativa strains take their genetics from close to the equator. They are used to growing in regions with mild winters and long, hot summers. Because they grow exceedingly tall and have a long flowering period, they are seldom the first choice for home growers. Add in the lower yields, and it often isn’t worth pursuing this type of weed unless you have a lot of growing space.


On the plus side, the shorter vegetative phase does a reasonable job of offsetting the more extended flowering period, which can exceed 11 weeks in some strains. Here are some quick tips for growing sativa cannabis strains.

Use Intense Light

Sativas can grow up to 10 feet tall and usually offer a Christmas tree-type shape. The leaves of these plants are delicate, and their low chlorophyll content gives off a light green color. As a result, you need to expose them to intense light for optimal growth. They can thrive in temperatures of up to 85 degrees Fahrenheit, and you need higher humidity than indicas, ideally in the 55-65% range.

Infrequent Feedings

The cardinal sin of most new growers is to overfeed their marijuana plants. This is especially the case with sativas, as they need fewer feedings and less fertilizer than indicas.

Less Light Near Harvest

Did you know that most of the sativa plant’s essential oils are produced when it is ripe? It is an excellent idea to reduce the length of days down to eight hours in the last few weeks before harvest.

If you are up to the challenge of growing sativas, you will be rewarded with a powerful cerebral buzz that calls for use during the day. They are typically used for mental and emotional disorders such as ADD/ADHD and depression. However, some people use sativas to provide an energy boost if they suffer from fatigue.

Growing Hybrid Cannabis Strains

If you are looking for the best of both worlds, hybrid strains are ideal. An increasing number of marijuana strains mix sativa and indica traits, although there is usually a dominant type.

It depends on the strain, but you could benefit from a short flowering time and weed that provides a tremendous head high and energy buzz. Alternatively, you can grow a strain that helps sedate you like an indica but maintains the rapid vegetative growth of a sativa.

In general, there are four types of hybrid:

  1. Two indicas are combined
  2. Two sativas are combined
  3. Sativa-dominant
  4. Indica-dominant

Skunk was one of the earliest known hybrids, and there have been hundreds more since. The type of combination you should grow depends on what you’re looking for. Choose an indica-dominant strain if you want to feel a couch-lock effect. If you need help being creative, try a sativa-dominant strain instead.

Despite their popularity, creating a successful hybrid is hard work. Clone-only, Stable Seed, and Unstable Seed strains are available. You will not find the latter in a reputable store because they are wildly unpredictable.

If you decide to grow a hybrid strain, make sure you consult with a licensed budtender to find out more about strain specifics. Remember, the flowering time varies, and there is a blend of sativa and indica effects when you grow a hybrid. As for medical symptom relief, it is essential to look into the specifics of each combination.

Indica-dominant strains are useful for settling down and relaxing in the evening. They could help ease chronic pain and ensure a good night’s sleep. Sativa-dominant hybrids are ideal if you need creativity and energy and are looking for a mood boost.

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