Growing Sativa vs Indica Strains
The cannabis plant has two dominant strains from which all hybrids come from. Generally speaking, all cannabis plants are rather resilient and can grow in less than favorable conditions. However, growing Sativa vs. Indica strains presents different challenges as each type of cannabis comes with specific growing requirements.
Cannabis Sativa vs. Cannabis Indica - The Differences
Technically speaking, there are three subspecies of cannabis. The third one is called Cannabis Ruderalis. Cannabis Indica and Sativa begin to bloom when the light cycle changes, which makes them photoperiod strains. Ruderalis, on the other hand, begins to bloom when it reaches a certain age. Most growers consider it inferior to Sativa and Indica strains, so the two photoperiod strains will be our focus.
Before you can grow either of the two cannabis strains, it’s important to understand how their genetic differences affect their growth, appearance, and psychological effect.
Sativa plants tend to be slender and tall (as tall as 10ft) with long, thin, widely-spaced leaves. Because they can grow to over 3ft tall, they typically take longer to mature. They have long and thin buds as well, which are less dense than Indica buds. You may also recognize a Sativa plant from the large gaps between each set of leaves.
Indica plants have a short, stocky appearance that makes them ideal for small, growing spaces. The short, sturdy, and strong plants flower quickly and produce tightly-packed buds, which are usually sticky because of terpenes. Indica plants produce dark-green flowers.
Sativa plants have a rapid vegetative state, but they take much longer to enter the flowering phase. Compared to Indicas, they are slow growers, and most people avoid them due to this reason. They also have a lower yield as their buds are light and airy, not dense. Indica plants grow and mature very quickly. Because they’re exceptionally resilient, they thrive in all sorts of environments.
They have a short flowering cycle so that these plants can be harvested multiple times a year. They also yield more because their buds are large and dense. Best of all, they require very little space compared to Sativa plants.
Cannabis sativa is known for its energizing cerebral high. It has a stimulating mind high that’s considered suitable for daytime activities as it leaves the mind clear and alert. Sativa is often used to treat ADHD and depression due to its uplifting properties.
Cannabis indica produces a “couch-lock” effect. It has sedative properties that relax muscles and promote calmness. That’s why Indica strains are commonly used to manage conditions like anxiety, chronic pain, muscle spasms, and insomnia.
The Sativa strain thrives in tropical climates and the hot, dry climates of Central America, Asia, and Africa. It does well in regions with hot summers and mild winters. As a plant that’s accustomed to lots of light and little nutrition, it grows quite tall and will require up to 3 feet of vertical space to reach maximum growth.
Also, because the plant grows in hot equatorial climates, it takes quite a while to reach maturity. It reaches its vegetative stage very fast, though. Once it flowers, it matures into long, sparsely populated buds.
Quick Facts About Cannabis Sativa
- This strain typically requires little nutrition and fertilizer to grow.
- It can last a long time without feeding.
- It needs tons of space to grow-it is not exactly closet-friendly
- It reaches its vegetative phase quickly and also passes it quickly. The flowering period takes longer to come around, but it also lasts longer than Indica strains.
Tips For Growing Cannabis Sativa
To recreate the equatorial environment it thrives in, growers must provide Sativa plants with intense light and high temperatures. They must also have enough space, especially overhead clearance, to allow the plants to grow to their full height, which can be up to ten feet.
Give Your Plants Plenty Of Light
Sativa plants thrive in high temperatures (up to 85 degrees Fahrenheit) and humidity. Their light-green leaves contain less chlorophyll, so they need more light exposure than Indica plants.
During the initial stages of growth, these plants require up to 12 hours of light. As they approach their harvest phase, this light period can be reduced to eight hours to allow the development of terpenes.
Go Easy On The Nutrients
You should be careful about how often you feed Sativa plants, particularly when it comes to nitrogen-rich fertilizers. They are highly susceptible to nutrient burn and typically need fewer feedings and fertilizer.
Use The Screen Of Green Method
Sativas can be challenging to grow to full height, which is why most growers use the screen of green (ScrOG) technique. It involves placing a screen above your plants and weaving the plant through the mesh as it grows to create a flat canopy rather than allow it to grow in its traditionally tall and thin form. This way, you can maximize yield on the available space.
The Indica strain is indigenous to regions of modern-day India, Turkey, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. These characteristically stocky bushes are known for their dark-green, wide leaves that allow them to soak up more sun and grow much faster than Sativas.
Indicas have dense and sticky buds. They generally produce more yield compared to the light and airy buds of Sativa plants. Most growers prefer Indicas for their shorter growing cycles, their space-saving form, and their resilient nature. Despite their stature, they can withstand considerably harsh temperatures and are suitable for outdoor and indoor cultivation.
Quick Facts About Growing Cannabis Indica
- They reach their budding phase much faster.
- They grow into short and compact bushes.
- They have very dense buds that are moist, and therefore highly prone to mold and pestilence.
- To initiate the flowering phase, you have to switch up the light schedule.
- They can withstand temperature fluctuations.
Tips For Growing Cannabis Indica
As an already resilient strain of cannabis, indicas are perfectly at home, growing in different environments. They’re the most ideal for indoor growth due to their size and fair extremely well in greenhouses that allow the close monitoring of temperature and humidity.
Keep The Humidity Low
Remember, the dense, sticky buds of the indica plant are already an incentive for mold and pests, so you should keep humidity levels at around 40 – 50 %.
Control The Lighting Schedule
During their growing phase, Indicas should get at least 18 hours of light every day. Their chlorophyll-rich leaves enable their rapid development only if you give them enough light to work with.
Once they make it out of the grow room, indica plants thrive on a 12/12 schedule (12 hours of light followed by 12 hours of darkness). This schedule is appropriate for flowering and budding.
Protect Against Mold
Indicas thrive in cool but dry environments. Therefore, they don’t handle humid weather very well. Ensure that you keep them well ventilated to avoid the development of mold on the buds.
Shaping Your Indica Plant
Use low-stress training or super-cropping to shape your indica plants to your desire. When left untouched, they grow into Christmas tree-shaped bushes that are still quite small.
Growing Sativa vs Indica Strains Conclusion
Whether or not you decide to grow sativa or indica plants depends on a number of factors. Your space availability, climate and experience are all factors to consider when deciding which cannabis strain is best for you.
Each strain comes with it’s own set of obstacles, so be careful before buying cannabis seeds or clones. If you are looking to grow indoors within a grow tent kit, it would be best to opt for shorter indica strains.
This will allow you to maximize your growing space while also maximizing your yield. If you have more space available, sativa might be your best option due to it’s less temperamental characteristics, beneficial for newer growers.
Regardless of which strain you choose, make sure you research your seeds or clones carefully. If you are in Arizona, where it is now legal to grow your own cannabis as of 2020, you should check out our reliable marijuana seeds in Phoenix.
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