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Growing your own cannabis for recreational or medical use can be a rewarding and cost-saving practice. All you need is some spare space, equipment, good marijuana genetics, and careful planning. Home growing is now legal in numerous states that allow cultivation for medical and adult use, so if you own your own home or have permission from your property owner, the benefits of a home grow are an option worth considering.
Many cannabis consumers have a decided preference for either sativa or indica strains, which often speaks to their most frequent times of consumption, personality, and lifestyle—as well as their medical needs. When growing cannabis, an indica grow differs quite a bit from a grow consisting of sativa strains. Each requires special consideration and planning. Both can result in an abundant harvest of strains that will meet the preferences and needs of the grower, whether it’s a sweet and spicy motivating sativa or a pungent, dank and fruity indica.
Some growers, however, appreciate both cannabis species and recognize that there’s a time and a place for each. A cerebral and clear-headed sativa will meet the needs of an active day of hiking, but when evening sets in and a fun movie or concert is on the agenda, an indica may suit the occasion better. By including both types of cannabis strains into a cultivation project, the harvest will provide more options for use.
The remainder of this article will focus on a quick review of basic grow-room set up, the differences between sativa and indica grows, and a good course of action for setting up a grow that will produce both.
Grow Room Variables and Essentials
Home growers have a variety of options regarding locations in which to cultivate cannabis. Grow tents work well for many people; they are self-contained grow environments that come stocked with a variety of cultivation essentials built in. For a mixed grow of sativa and indica strains, however, the overly confined space of a grow tent will not serve the needs of the grow. A small grow room will meet these needs much better.
A proper grow room will include a defined growing area with a calculation for the required square feet the plants will eventually require. Grow lights, whether they’re high-pressure sodium (HPS), metal halide (MH) or light-emitting diode (LED), are another essential component. Usually, home grows use 400-, 600-, or 1,000-watt lamps, with the former two being the most common. Two or three lamps total will suffice, with calculations made for the space the individual lights will service properly calculated (the plants should not be crowded). With these main essentials covered, all that remains are mylar wall sheeting, proper cultivation pots and trays (be sure they provide thorough drainage), organic soil and additives, and cannabis strains, whether they come from seeds or clones.
A sativa cultivation project is usually more ambitious than one that contains indica strains. Sativa is not as suitable for the inexperienced grower or a person who lacks patience. In short, the plants grow taller and can take much longer to mature. Some grow rooms simply do not provide adequate vertical space for robust sativa grow and limit themselves to the dimensions of the room.
Indica is comparatively easier since the plants grow to a shorter stature and mature more quickly. Indica strains are also more forgiving of common novice cultivation errors like slight watering and nutrient deviations. This is not to say that a grower can be careless, but generally speaking, indica plants are a better starting point, as are many hybrid strains, which we will get to soon.
The Mixed Grow
With proper grow room adjustments to lighting heights and intensity, it’s very possible for a home grower to successfully grow and harvest indica-leaning and sativa-leaning strains at the same time. Relatively few pure sativa and indica strains are commonly grown in the cannabis industry, and the vast majority of strains are hybrids that lean one way or the other and make fine choices for indoor growing with regard to plant structure, vigor, and harvest times.
A true mixed grow that contains both sativa- and indica-leaning strains will usually require some planning around plant height. Sativa and sativa-dominant strains require more height and benefit from their own light(s), which require a more elevated position than lights used for indica—although it’s possible to have them occupy the same grow room simultaneously. Because of the height differential, one would be wise to use a separate SCROG setup for each to promote similar plant heights in both plant groupings. Growing a heavyweight sativa like Haze or Durban Poison with an indica powerhouse like Afghani or Northern Lights is entirely possible; the lights on the sativa side of the room will continue to remain illuminated once the indica side has gone dark. Sativa—particularly pure sativa—needs considerably longer to mature.
As interesting and possible as a grow containing both pure indica and sativa strains may be, a good selection of hybrids that contain plants that lean both ways is undoubtedly a simpler way to go. Variation in plant height will still occur, but the differential will be less dramatic, and the plant finishing times will be more consistent. The certainty of capturing the best that both indica and sativa strains offer—in the same grow—is still definite with this approach. The clever breeders who created numerous hybrids that behave like either sativa or indica have taken much of the work out of the equation for home growers who want to execute mixed grow cultivation projects. Wide diversity is attainable by growing specific hybrids simultaneously in the same grow.
To combine a carefully planned garden that includes a mix of hybrid strains that act like either indica or sativa requires some thought. You will want half of the strains to result in plants that produce indica flavors and effects, and the other half to behave like sativa strains. The sativa-dominant strains will still want to stretch out a little bit compared to their indica-leaning counterparts, so different lights for each and a SCROG arrangement may still prove advantageous for many of these hybrid strains.
Among the sativa-leaning hybrids, there are a number of top choices that are established industry favorites for both medical and adult use. Sativa hybrids with pronounced sativa effects like Bruce Banner, Golden Goat, Jack Herer, Chocolope, and Hawaiian Snow all make outstanding choices for the mixed indoor grow. While these strains will not grow to towering heights that hit the ceiling rafters, they do like to stretch upward. For strains that are sativa-dominant and deliver all you could ask for from a sativa without the propensity for upward growth, Jack Flash, Strawberry Cough, Jillybean, AK-47, Tangie, and Candyland are excellent strains to consider. These sativa dominant strains will grow to similar heights as indica-leaning hybrids and there should be little or no differential.
Indica-dominant strains that reach manageable, low-to-moderate heights include Granddaddy Purple, LA Confidential, Northern Lights, Hash Plant, Bubba Kush, Mr. Nice, Afgooey, and White Rhino. While there are indica phenotypes among these strains that will only grow short, the majority of them will reach a medium height that’s manageable and compatible with the medium-height sativa hybrids mentioned above.
The indoor mixed grow provides welcome diversity among growers who appreciate a variety of strains. Careful strain selection and grow room setup is important for this type of garden, but the rewards of harvesting a mixture of both saliva- and indica-dominant strains will prove well worth the effort.