Indica vs. Sativa and Hybrids: The Differences in Growing and Effects

There are hundreds, if not THOUSANDS of cannabis strains available on the market today. But what are the differences between these strains? And more importantly: how do we categorize them to easier select the most suitable strain for our personal needs and growing situation?

Hybrid Cannabis Strains

If you’ve ever visited a coffeeshop in the Netherlands, you’ve probably seen they stock not only one; but a large variety of cannabis ‘strains’. These strains, also known as cultivars, distinct themselves by their grow-characteristics and effects – through their unique cannabinoid and terpene-profiles. Just to clarify: cannabinoids like THC and CBD make the medicinal and recreational effects of cannabis possible. But it’s actually the terpenes that determine which specific effect you experience from consuming a certain strain.

Like most cannabis consumers might have experienced, the effects from a Lemon Ice or
Super Silver Haze are pretty different from the effects felt from consuming
 Green Magic or Milkshake Kush, for example. This has everything to do with their unique combination of terpenes. With one very important one in particular: myrcene. The sedative terpene which is mostly responsible for a relaxing and sleep-inducing effect from cannabis strains.

Though it’s also the compound which helps us divide these many strains into three main categories: indica, sativa and hyrbids. According to experts from the renowned Steep Hills Labs, the effects of cannabis strains containing more than 0.5% myrcene can be deemed as ‘indica’-dominant’. Cultivars with less than that amount of myrcene are usually considered as having ‘sativa’-dominant effects. Though every strain which is not fully indica or fully sativa, falls under the ‘hyrbrid-category’.

Considering the many crosses we have today, and the fact that pure indica and sativa strains are rare finds nowadays, you could even say almost every modern cannabis strain falls under the latter. If you grow your own cannabis from seeds, you might have already found out that one strain can have different phenotypestoo. Like siblings, they have the same parents but can still have a different genetic make-up. Giving sativa growing-traits to strains with an indica-dominant effect – to make it more complicated than it already is.

Growing Indica Strains

The original and pure indica genetics were first found in the area of India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Coming from mountainous areas and extreme climates, these plants developed into robust and stress-resistant organisms over the years. To be able to thrive in those climates, indica strains would not grow very tall, but rather short and bushy with broad and dark green leafs.

indica milkshake kush amsterdam genetics
Growing indica plants, like our Milkshake Kush, is easy and rewarding

Cannabis strains with indica dominant growing traits, like our very own Milkshake Kush (autoflower) for example, will accumulate 50-80 percent of their total height in the vegetative phase. So apart from a short stretch after switching to the flowering phase, indica’s will not grow much taller when in bloom. Because the flowering period is usually relatively short for indica-strains (6-9 weeks), it is no problem to keep them in vegetative state longer to increase yields.

Their build and resistance to stress make indica dominant cannabis strains easy to grow. First-time growers are therefore often advised to start with a strain with indica-dominant growing characteristics. As stated above, indica dominant hybrids and indica-strains are known for their relaxing, sedative effect and sleep-inducing and couch-lock abilities. Perfect to use when you want to relax after work or need some help sleeping.

Sativa Strains

Sativa strains first originated in parts of the world now known as Asia, parts of America and Africa. Because of the hot and dry climate in those areas, sativa-plants developed into tall plants with long and slim-fingered leafs – to help prevent evaporation of the much needed moisture in the plant.

These traits come in handy when growing indoors in the summer or outdoors in hot climates. As sativa-plants are less susceptible to heat-related stress but rather dislike colder environments.Due to the lack of a real fall in these areas, where days shorten and nights become longer, sativa plants are less dependable on long nights to start flowering.

This insensibility to day- and nighttime allows growers to switch their sativa plants to the flowering stage soon after germination. After all, sativa strains gain up to 75 percent of their final height during the flowering stage. Meaning sativa-plants can grow up to 1,5 times their size from the moment they start flowering.This trait makes sativa’s more complicated to grow; but it’s nothing that can’t be learned through trial and error.

In comparison, indica-dominant cannabis strains only gather 20-50% of their total height in their short flowering stage. A period that lasts much longer for sativa plants. On average 11-12, but sometimes up to 20 weeks. Furthermore, sativa buds tend to grow longer and less compact than indica’s. Making the yields appear heavier than they actually are.

Other than indicas, sativa-dominant strains usually provide consumers with an uplifting and energetic ‘high’. In contrast to the slow, sedative ‘stoned’ effect you get from indica-weed. Making sativa-strains ideal for daytime painkilling, stimulate creativity or to compliment your night out in Amsterdam.

What’s your preference?