A cannabises strain will determine all the characteristics of the plant — from the size, shape, grow speed, yield, potency, effects, to the smell and taste. So, choosing the right one for your grow is very important.
Cannabis Indica and Cannabis Sativa
There are 2 main species of cannabis that pretty much all the strains originate from: cannabis indica and cannabis sativa.
Cannabis indica originated in South Asia, while cannabis sativa originated in Southeast Asia as well as Central America. There are some key differences between the two varieties, both physically and chemically. Physically, indicas are shorter, with darker, broader leaves, and sativas are taller, with thin, lighter green leaves. Indica plants also generally yield more overall because they have shorter growth cycles and denser buds, while sativa plants have longer growth cycles and produce less dense buds. These characteristics make indicas ideal for both new growers as well as indoor growers who need to keep a plant short and manageable.
In terms of effects, pure indicas create more of a body high, providing a sedative effect that helps with relaxation and sleep. Sativas create more of a head high, providing an uplifting effect that helps with anxiety and creativity.
However, these days, most strains are now considered hybrids, as sativa and indica strains are constantly being crossbred to produce new strains with more desirable traits and to produce specific effects. Due to this, if you are looking for a specific effect from your cannabis plants, be sure to research each strain to find out which one is right for you instead of just checking if they are an indica or sativa.
Cannabis Ruderalis and Autoflowering Seeds
Now, there is a third variety of cannabis that is not well known because, by itself, it is not that useful. Cannabis ruderalis, which originated in Europe and Russia, is a species of cannabis that produces very low amounts of THC and grows small, so by itself, it is not worth growing. The one redeeming trait that makes this variety very popular when crossbred with indicas and sativas is that the ruderalis plant enters the flowering stage based on the maturity of the plant rather than on a light cycle. So, when you see an autoflowering version of a popular strain, it came from a normal photoperiod plant of that strain that was bred with a ruderalis plant to create an autoflowering seed of that strain.
Sativa Leaf vs Indica Leaf
What Strain Is Right for You?
On top of the effects you want from a particular strain, you should also consider how a strain will thrive in your grow space. Every strain grows differently, with some being easier to grow than others. Here are the main considerations:
How much space is needed for the specific strain?
How long is a typical growth cycle for this strain?
Is the strain able to survive in your environment?
How resilient is the strain to pests, mold, and mildew?
Luckily, all this information is readily available from both seed banks and breeders for each strain they produce, so be sure to look up each strain to make sure the strain you choose both produces the effect you want and will succeed in your environment.
Looking for a good beginner strain to start with? I'd recommend starting with one of the most well-known indicas: Northern Lights. This strain hits all the checkboxes new growers look for. It grows short, which is great for indoor setups; is resilient to mold and mildew; has a short growth cycle; produces large yields; and, as a bonus, has a fainter smell than most strains. This is not to say you won’t need a carbon filter, especially during the flowering cycle if you are planning a discrete grow, but it is definitely not as noticeable as some of the other strains out there. If you are looking for an easy-to-grow, high-yielding hybrid strain, White Widow is a great place to start, and if you are looking for a more sativa heavy strain, Jack Herer is surprisingly low-maintenance and has a pretty short growth cycle for a sativa.
Did this guide help? This article was taken directly from The Absolute Beginner's Guide to Growing Cannabis book, so if you like the advice above you'll love the rest of the book, which includes a lot of exclusive content not found anywhere else. You can find both the e-book and paperback copy on Amazon, and it's free with a Kindle Unlimited subscription!