Sativas, Indicas, and Hybrids: What’s the difference?

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Sativa, Indica, what’s the difference? Weed is weed if you want to get high, right? Unfortunately, this gross oversimplification that weed newbies typically believe can ruin their initial growing experience. Imagine shelling out for expensive seeds and having the wrong setup to grow them, then waiting a couple of months just to get weed that gives you a high totally opposite of what you expected. 

Figuring out what kind of weed you want to smoke and grow is a critical step that you need to figure out even before you start shopping for seeds. We’ve already given a basic explanation on the difference of Sativas and Indicas in The Pros and Cons of Growing Autoflower vs Photoperiod Marijuana so in this article, we’ll talk more about the effects and considerations when growing each one. 

Growing Sativa, Indica, and hybrid strains

Nowadays, most of the strains offered by online seed stores are hybrids, meaning that they’re part Sativa, part Indica. That’s the whole point of hybrids; they bring together the best traits of both subspecies. Unless you’re a breeder, it’s unlikely that you’d want to grow pure Sativas or Indicas, your choice would likely depend on how easy a strain is to grow and the kind of experience that you want.

One of the biggest considerations growers used to have is plant height and the amount of vertical space you have will usually dictate your choice of subspecies. But then again, growers that don’t have enough space will resort to training or opt for the autoflowering version of their desired strain which is a lot shorter. But for reference, here’s a basic chart that shows the differences between sativas and indicas:

SubspeciesSativaIndica
Height and appearanceGrows tallerGrows shorter and bushier
Preferred climateWarmer and more humidCooler, but can adapt better to temperature changes
Flowering timeLonger flowering timesShorter flowering time and life cycle

But then again, these differences pose barely any constraints on most home growers nowadays. You can easily set the right temperature and humidity with your fans, a humidifier, or even a space heater if you live in a colder region. As mentioned earlier, you can also use Low Stress Training (LST) to get a flat and wide canopy even when growing Sativa-dominant strains. You’d want to go for this method if you’re in a state with a low plant limit. Otherwise, you can opt to do a Sea of Green (SoG) setup with autoflowers where you maximize the area of your space by growing lots of smaller plants without the need for training.

One thing to keep in mind though, is that hybrids, especially the Indica-dominant ones, are somewhat easier to grow and generally more resistant to pests and diseases.  

Differences in the effects of Sativa, Indica, and Hybrids

It’s easy to figure out which hybrid strain you want. Most seed websites allow you to sort strains by desired effects (calming, energizing, etc), smell and taste, along with other considerations such as flowering time, plant height, etc. But if for some reason you intend to grow a pure Sativa or Indica, here’s what you can expect to experience:

StrainSativa-dominantIndica-dominant
Kind of highGives a “mind high” that hits the brainGives a “body high” sensation that is often described as being physically sedated and “couched locked”
EffectsHappy, energetic, uplifted. Calm, buzzed, sedated. 
Good forBoosting creativity and motivation. Ideally taken in the morning or middle of the day. Relaxing and de-stressing. Generally better for relieving anxiety. Best taken at the end of the day. 

You can think of these two strains as belonging to the opposite ends of the spectrum, with hybrids in between. Sativas generally have higher THC content and Indicas, a more balanced ratio of THC and CBD. This is why sativa-dominant strains are usually taken for recreation and indica-dominant ones for therapeutic use. 

However, this spectrum is not that simple since there’s also a bunch of other cannabinoids and a number of terpenes that adds a whole other dimension to your experience. Add to this, the experience you’ll have when using marijuana will also be affected by your genetics and tolerance

Frequently Asked Questions on Sativas, Indicas, and Hybrid Strains

Which is easier to grow, Sativa or Indica?

Indica-dominant strains are generally more resistant to pests and diseases but due to years of breeding, there are a lot of hybrid strains that are just as resistant and easy to grow.

Which can get you more high, Sativas or Indicas?

Sativas generally have more THC content but nowadays there are hybrid strains that have been bred to give an intense high, more than pure sativas.

Conclusion

While knowing the dominant strain of your chosen seeds can give you some insight on how to raise it better, it won’t necessarily give you a good idea on what kind of experience you can expect from it. Added up, factors like genetics, terpene and cannabinoid profile, growing expertise etc. can make a tremendous impact on the smell, taste and high of a particular strain. This is why it makes more sense to choose your seeds primarily by your intended effect, whether it is sativa or indica becomes a secondary consideration because it’s likely that you’ll be picking a hybrid since it brings the best of both worlds. 

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