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My name is Luis Cordova and I am an expert cannabis cultivator as well as I know my fair share about strains as well. In this article I will share my expert knowledge on all things sativa vs. indica vs. hybrids.
Have you ever walked into a cannabis dispensary near you and wondered what the terms sativa and indica mean? Countless individuals scratch their heads when a budtender calls a strain sativa-dominant or indica-leaning.
Not knowing what type of weed you’re smoking can lead to unpleasant experiences or just keep you away from that perfect cannabis strain that’s just right for you.
Join us as we describe everything you need to know to understand the difference of indica vs. sativa cannabis strains. This ultimate guide offers essential insight into the traits, benefits, and characteristics of indica and sativa cannabis strains.
What is an Indica Cannabis Strain?
Let’s start with Cannabis indica. Indica cannabis strains are typically found in various environments around the globe that are mountainous, cold, dry, and hot. These areas are Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Western China, and Morocco.
Due to cold winters and hot summers, along with harsh conditions, such as high wind speeds – strains within the indica range grow short, bushy, and produce dense flowers.
The reason behind this squat and heavily-branched growth is to protect the plant from heavy wind.
Furthermore, the stocky growth that’s associated with indicas is due to the fact that they do not need to compete with other plants for valuable light. Instead, indica cannabis strains bush out and absorb as much light as possible.
When you look at a pure indica cannabis strain, you’ll notice that the leaves are large and wide.
Indica Cannabis Strain Considerations For Cultivators
For cultivators, the ultra-dense flowers of indica strains are both a blessing and a curse. Most consumers demand dense flowers; however, this comes at a cost.
Dense flowers retain more moisture than airy flowers, which makes them more susceptible to bud rot. Bud rot can quickly proliferate and destroy a cannabis crop – especially indica-dominant strains that are left in humid environments too long.
As a cannabis cultivator, it’s essential to monitor the dense flowers from indica cannabis strains.
However, indica-dominant cannabis strains flower quickly to beat the harsh winter that lies ahead. This is why indica cannabis strains are so popular to produce – they can be harvested in as little as 6-weeks from the onset of the flowering stage.
Due to the quick flowering process of indica cannabis strains, they must grow dense to fend off the dry and hot environment from sucking away the internal moisture. It’s for this protective reason that indica cannabis strains are compact. If it wasn’t for this trait, the flower wouldn’t live to be pollinated.
As a consumer, there’s nothing like breaking apart a dense indica flower. In general, indica flowers stay moist for longer compared to sativa-dominant strains.
Due to this, it could be said that indica cannabis strains have a longer shelf life. Now, let’s take a look at indica effects.
The Effects of Indica Cannabis Strains
Prior to scientific research into why cannabis strains make us feel the way we do – most people would have agreed that indica cannabis strains make you sleepy.
However, new research points to various factors that you should be well aware of when choosing an indica strain.
Dominant Terpenes in Cannabis Indica
When you look at an indica cannabis strain – what’s the first thing you look at? For most, it’s probably the THC content. Many believe that the effects of the strain in question are the result of high or low THC content.
However, current research shows that the effects of indica cannabis strains are attributed to lesser-known compounds called terpenes. All plants contain terpenes, as they play a role in attracting potential pollinators and deflecting would-be predators.
In the case of indica-dominant cannabis strains, the primary terpene that’s responsible for the “couch-lock” effect is myrcene. When a cannabis strain contains more than 0.05% myrcene, the likelihood of the strain presenting sleep-inducing effects becomes very high.
For one reason or another, indica cannabis strains tend to contain a large concentration of myrcene, which explains why indica cannabis strains are associated with incredibly calming effects. Furthermore, myrcene is also responsible for muscle-relaxing qualities.
This is why many budtenders will recommend a strong indica cannabis strain when you’re dealing with chronic pain, insomnia, and anxiety.
Aside from the relaxing and pain-relieving effects that indica cannabis strains provide – the smell is downright complex. In general, indica cannabis strains have an aroma that’s reminiscent of hashish, cacao, dark-roasted coffee, and a myriad of floral tones.
The Benefits of Indica Cannabis Strains
Indica cannabis strains offer consumers with a full-body experience that’s sure to please those seeking relaxing effects.
However, it’s not only recreational users that can benefit from indica cannabis strains. Medical marijuana patients are prone to choosing indica cannabis strains over sativas because they provide a multitude of therapeutic effects.
Let’s take a look at the various effects that indica cannabis strains are known to provide.
- Muscle relaxant
- Pain relief
- Reduces depression
- Reduces anxiety
- And much more
As you can see, all of these effects are incredibly beneficial for both medicinal and recreational cannabis users. Many medical marijuana patients use indica cannabis strains to support various medical issues, such as:
- Bi-Polar Disorder
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Post-Chemotherapy Relief
What is a Sativa Cannabis Strain?
Now that you understand the characteristics of indica cannabis strains – let’s go in-depth regarding Cannabis sativa. Sativa cannabis strains differ from indicas because they are found in warm and humid environments.
Locations, such as Thailand, Mexico, Panama, Colombia, South Africa, Mozambique, Vietnam, and Laos, are all regions where sativas grow naturally.
Sativa cannabis strains are tall and skinny instead of short and bushy. Since sativas grow in tropical regions, the competition for sunlight is extremely high. Sativa plants have adapted to this challenge by growing tall and reaching for the light.
Furthermore, due to the long summers that are common in these regions, sativa strains flower for a much longer period when compared with indicas. On average, sativa cannabis strains flower between 10-16-weeks, which makes them more difficult to cultivate.
Since sativa cannabis strains grow in humid environments, they don't need to produce dense flowers. Instead, sativas are known to produce large and airy flowers to prevent any instance of bud rot.
Sativa Cannabis Strain Considerations for Cultivators
From the cultivation perspective, sativa cannabis strains are more complicated to produce than indicas. The primary reason behind this fact is the long flowering time and a general nutrient sensitivity.
Although sativa cannabis strains are very difficult to grow – they are wildly popular among cannabis enthusiasts.
Sativa Cannabis Strain Considerations for Cultivators
As a cannabis cultivator, it’s your duty to ensure your plants’ safety and productivity. Growing cannabis is a costly and time-consuming experience, which is why it’s so important to consider a strain’s characteristics before beginning.
However, cannabis cultivators must take special precautions when growing sativa cannabis strains because they can take double the time that an indica flowers in. If you thought to flower a cannabis strain in 8-weeks was difficult – imagine 16-weeks.
The yields from sativa cannabis plants far outweigh those of indica-dominant cannabis plants. Sativa strains are known as monster yielders, which is why many cannabis cultivators look towards sativa-dominant strains when producing for commercial purposes.
Although the yields are significant, sativa cannabis strains are far less dense when compared to indica strains. However, it’s a win-win situation for the cannabis cultivator because there is a lower chance that the final harvest will contract bud rot.
Sativa Cannabis Strain Considerations for the Consumer
When it comes to sky-high effects that are liable to make the most seasoned cannabis enthusiast say “no” to a second hit – look no further than sativa cannabis strains. These fruity tasting varieties are loaded with mind-bending terpenes that are known to leave consumers on cloud-9 for hours on end.
The Effects of Sativa Cannabis Strains
Now, let’s take a look at the sativa effects that you may experience. When it comes to the effects of sativa cannabis strains – remember, it’s all in your head. Whereas indica cannabis strains produce strong body effects, sativas feel much more psychoactive.
Although each person may perceive or react differently to a sativa strain, the effects are typically viewed as energetic, creative, social, psychedelic, and incredibly uplifting.
Dominant Terpenes in Cannabis Sativa
Sativa cannabis strains have a high concentration of pinene and limonene. Although they also contain myrcene, it’s in minute doses that test under the 0.05% threshold that’s commonly found in indica dominant cannabis strains.
When you open a jar that’s filled with sativa flowers – you’ll likely be overwhelmed by the scent of lemons, oranges, honey, pine needles, and even apricots. In other words, the more fruit-forward your cannabis flowers smell – the more likely they are sativa-dominant.
The Benefits of Sativa Strains
Aside from the delicious and sweet aroma that pervades sativa cannabis strains, limonene and pinene have interesting effects on the human body.
Research shows that limonene is responsible for the motivating and uplifting effects that users experience when consuming sativa cannabis strains. Pinene is known as a mood enhancer and empowers you with laser-like focus.
From a medical perspective, limonene is known to relieve stress, reduce anxiety, decrease pain, and even help with cancer symptoms. Pinene is known to help reduce asthma, ulcers, inflammation, and anxiety.
Instead of relying on the THC percentage, ask your local budtender to provide you with a full terpene analysis so that you can find a sativa strain with a high concentration of limonene, pinene, and more.
One of the most popular reasons that users consume sativa cannabis strains is because they help with social anxiety.
Due to terpenes such as limonene and pinene, sativa cannabis strains are likely to reduce fear and anxiety; while increasing the desire to communicate with others.
Sativa cannabis strains are well known to provide a hearty dose of the munchies. If you find that you’re lacking an appetite, then sativa cannabis strains may hold the key in activating your taste buds for anything in the fridge.
What About Indica vs. Sativa vs. Hybrids?
Hybrids are the result of crossing an indica and sativa strain together. The offspring of this cross is known as a hybrid because it contains the traits of both the indica and sativa parents.
The introduction of hybrids has made the job of knowing the differences between indicas and sativas even more difficult. Prior to hybrids, discerning a sativa from an indica was routine. Now, hybrids contain indica and sativa traits, which can be seen as beneficial or detrimental.
However, hybrids are commonly referred to as being indica-dominant or sativa-dominant. The dominant attachment connotes which type is commanding the overall experience.
For example, a sativa-dominant hybrid produces sativa-like effects. An indica-dominant hybrid will generate relaxing effects that are typically found in indica strains.
As each year passes, thousands of new hybrids enter the cannabis industry. This is why it’s imperative that you understand the differences between indicas and sativas.
Although hybrids are more difficult to categorize by sight and smell – lab tests will get to the bottom of the matter. This is why it’s essential that all cannabis flowers should be lab tested. By seeing the overall terpene concentrations, you’ll be able to know the potential effects that a strain contains.
Remember, any strain that contains over 0.05% myrcene will lead to typical indica-like effects. Strains that are dominant in limonene and pinene are likely to exhibit sativa-like effects.
It should also be noted that hybrids can even offer a 50/50 split of indica and sativa effects. If you find yourself keen to feel uplifted at first and relaxed during the “come down,” then true hybrids may be right for you.
Should You Trust Cannabis Labels?
Although you should hope that labels on a given cannabis strain are correct – you should always look for lab results. Lab results are the determining factor on whether a cannabis strain is indica or sativa.
Anyone can claim that a certain strain will provide indica or sativa effects, but it’s the terpene concentration that you must pay attention to. By remembering this fact, you can make well-informed decisions based on hard evidence.
Why is it Essential to Understand the Differences of Indica vs. Sativa Strains?
Knowledge is power. This simple fact speaks volumes in regards to everything – especially when it comes to buying a cannabis product. Cannabis products that are indica or sativa dominant are typically THC-rich, which means they are psychoactive.
As you consume a THC-rich cannabis strain, your perception will be swayed depending on the type of cannabis consumed.
As you can imagine, indulging in a sativa cannabis strain will produce significantly different results than consuming an indica cannabis strain. However, it’s always best to understand why.
Knowing why these differences exist will empower you as a cannabis consumer – and allow you to purchase the proper cannabis strain for you – every time.
Looking for a Job in the Cannabis Industry
If you’re looking for a job in the cannabis industry – you must know the difference between indicas and sativas. By enrolling in a cannabis university, you can quickly streamline your knowledge and be prepared for an upcoming interview.
There’s no better way to get hired at a legal cannabis dispensary than knowing everything from A-Z about cannabis strains. This is especially so if you’re seeking a budtending position. Budtender jobs are one of the most important positions in the cannabis industry because the budtender is the face of the cannabis industry.
As a budtender, you’ll find yourself assisting countless customers with questions that range from – “how will this particular cannabis strain affect me?” or “what is this cannabis strain good for?”.
As you can see – you’ll need to have a treasure trove of knowledge to answer these questions quickly and accurately. Knowing the difference between sativas and indicas quickly helps you to narrow down strains for potential customers.
This is why all budtenders must first prove they know how various indica and sativa cannabis strains affect people – and why.
Seeking a Specific Sensation While Consuming Cannabis
Let’s say you work 12-grueling hours a day, and you need a cannabis strain that eases your body into a deep state of relaxation. Another example is that you don’t have any energy, but you need to clean the house by the afternoon.
By knowing the difference between indica and sativa cannabis strains, you can immediately search for the best strain for your needs. This is the fun part about cannabis, which is that you can pick and choose between sativas and indicas, depending on how you want to feel.
For most, choosing a sativa during the day and an indica during the night is a great choice. However, not all of us benefit from both types.
For some, sativas provide strong effects for the mind, which may increase an individuals’ anxiety. Alternatively, a depressed patient may need the extra boost from a sativa instead of the couch-lock effects of an indica.
These examples can be taken even further, especially for specific needs. In the case of severe insomnia, an individual will look for the most potent indica cannabis strain. For asthma, users will search for a sativa-dominant cannabis strain that’s high in pinene.
By understanding the effects of sativa and indica cannabis strains – the better you can pinpoint and strain for the best experience.
Being Informed on Indica vs. Sativa
Whether you’re seeking a job in the cannabis industry or you want to be an informed consumer – then knowing what’s the difference between an indica and sativa is crucial knowledge.
Being so is also beneficial from a financial perspective. If you don’t know the difference between indicas and sativas – then you might waste money on products that won’t suit your needs.
Sativa is the most popular strain. It is dried, cooked and consumed as well as vaporized or smoked.
It's effects can vary depending on the strain and active ingredients. Sativa is known for it's uplifting and energizing effects and make you feel happier.
It has a high ratio of THC and is often used for medicinal purposes.
It is a very large plant ranging from 6.5-19.5 feet in height. Sativa isn't as dense in foliage, but makes up for it in height and is slow to flower. The leaves are long, delicate and narrow and the seeds are smooth and soft to the touch, with no spots or markings.
Sativa plants thrive in temperate areas closer to the equator and is suitable for outdoor gardens. Many use sativa to relieve symptoms of depression, ADD, mood disorders and fatigue.
It is known for it's healing qualities and many use it to relieve symptoms of insomnia, nausea, anxiety, headaches or migraines, epilepsy, muscle spasms, and alleviating pain.
Indica is higher in cannabidiols (CBD) which have anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety properties. It is ideal for night time consumption due to its sedating and relaxing effects.
Indica is a shorter plant with thicker, darker leaves. Indica plants grow between 3.2-9.8 feet tall and are dense and bushy with round leaves.
Its seeds are soft and have a marbled color. It is a perfect strain for indoor growing being that it's short in height. It flowers much faster and are stickier to the touch than sativa.
Most of the marijuana we have today is hybrid. There are few pure strains of sativa or indica left. Modern cultivation and breeding have created a number of hybrid strains.
Hybrids provide the best of both worlds. Hybrids can be sativa dominant, indica dominant or 50/50. Combining the strains can bring out properties from both for medicinal purposes.
Your own body chemistry will determine the affect a given strain gives you. THC and CBD along with their many other cannabinoids and terpenes will influence taste, scent and it's effects.
What Are Hybrid Cannabis Effects?
Hybrids can be bred from sativa, indica, and ruderalis plants to produce a unique blend of mental and physical effects and have distinct growth patterns. Since hybrid strains are a blend of two parent strains, their effects vary based on the strain’s genetics, the growing environment, and a person's tolerance to cannabis.
Cannabis strains contain a wide range of cannabinoids and terpenes, the therapeutic compounds that are believed to work together to produce elevated health benefits. Not only is the chemical profile controlled by the strain’s genes, but also the way it's grown, harvested, and stored.
There are even differences in hybrid marijuana effects between different batches of the same hybrid strain. While their hybrid weed effects will generally be the same, there may be nuances in potency, flavor, and aroma depending on their cannabinoid and terpene concentrations.
Where Did Hybrids Originate?
Cannabis breeders began to cross genetics to improve their yields and bud quality. Breeders pollinate a female plant with a male plant depending on their desired characteristics. In the mid-twentieth century, growers would combine genetics from mold-resistant sativas and quick flowering indicas to improve the commercial production of cannabis strains.
The first hybrid strain generations will be relatively unstable and produce a wildly varying set of characteristics. Through a process called backcrossing, breeders cross the new hybrid strain again with a genetic clone or its parents to improve the stability of its traits. Backcrossing ensures the future generations of hybrids will produce generally consistent traits.
Are Hybrids Right For You?
Generally, dispensaries carry a majority, if not all, hybrid strains. Pure sativas and indicas are rare to find nowadays. On that note, hybrids are perfect for almost everyone. Over time, breeders have developed unique blends to create specific aromas, potencies, and flavors.
Since there are so many hybrids to choose from, there's bound to be one with the right combination of cannabinoids and terpenes for you.
Hybrid pot strains are right for a wide range of users, including:
- First-time user: You can choose from a wide range of low THC, CBD-rich strains to become acquainted with the effects of cannabis.
- Medical patient: Choose from a range of strains that have the right cannabinoids and terpenes to provide relief for your medical condition and symptoms.
- Recreational user: Find a balanced hybrid strain (50/50 marijuana hybrids) to use to unwind or gain energy without feeling too drowsy or hyperactive, respectively.
Hybrid Marijuana Medical Effects
Hybrid cannabis strains can produce a wide range of therapeutic effects depending on the strain. Like indicas, they can be relaxing, which can aid in sleep management. Like sativas, they can be energizing to help with fatigue.
Indicas are known for providing the following positive benefits:
- Promoting good sleep
- Anxiety and stress relief
- Pain management
- Inflammation relief
- Minimizing frequency and severity of seizures
Sativas are known for providing the following positive benefits:
- Mood improvement to reduce anxiety and depression
- Pain relief
- Appetite stimulation
- Increase energy to reduce fatigue
- Increase focus and creativity
The medical effects of hybrids depend on their genetics. Experiment with different sativa-dominant, indica-dominant, and balanced hybrids to find the right strain for your needs.
Growing Hybrid Cannabis
Choosing the right hybrid marijuana seeds or clones for your garden can be the difference between a successful and poor yield.
- Indicas tend to have a short flowering time, grow short and bushy with broad leaves, and produce high yields.
- Sativas tend to have a longer flowering time, grow tall and thin with thin leaves, and have relatively low yields.
Hybrid strains fall somewhere in the middle when it comes to growing them. Flowering times, growth patterns, and yields will vary depending on their genetics.
For instance, a hybrid pot strain may inherit the fast flowering time of an indica and the energizing effects of a sativa. Or, it can have a long flowering time of a sativa with the relaxing effects of an indica.
You can find a variety of hybrid marijuana seeds for sale from licensed dispensaries and online seed banks.
Do you want to learn how to grow cannabis at home? Check out our guide on how to grow cannabis from seed in 10 easy steps.
Popular Hybrid Marijuana Strains
There are many hybrid cannabis strains and new ones coming out every year. The best hybrid cannabis strains depend on your needs.
Here are some of the most popular hybrid strains:
- Pineapple Express
- Blue Dream
- Jilly Bean
- Dutch Treat
- Banana kush
- White Widow
- Girl Scout Cookies
- OG Kush
- Wedding Cake
Which Hybrid Marijuana Strain Is Right For You?
With so many hybrid weed strains to choose from, it can be daunting trying to find the right one for you. However, the wide selection of hybrid strains ensures that there is a strain out there that has the right combination of cannabinoids and terpenes to work for you.
Sativa vs. Indica vs. Hybrids Conclusion
Just because a strain affects someone in a certain way, doesn't mean it will affect you the same.
It is important to start with good genetics when growing marijuana. Knowing the difference between sativa vs. indica vs. hybrids will help you decide which is best for you.
If you are wanting to learn how to grow marijuana, it is good to know about the differences in strains.
To learn more about sativa vs. indica vs. hybrid strains, check out how to grow marijuana.
Learn Everything About Cannabis Strains at Cannabis Training University
No longer will you wonder if you should pick sativa or indica. No longer will you ask what the difference between indica and sativa. By enrolling at Cannabis Training University, you’ll be empowered with all the knowledge that will propel you into the cannabis industry.
The cannabis industry is booming, and knowledge is key, whether you want to be an industry professional or you want to safely consume cannabis products. Whatever your reason, enrolling at Cannabis Training University will put you in the fast-lane for success.
Looking for a budtending job? Want to find a dispensary job? Want to be a paid cannabis grower? Want to start your own cannabis edibles business?
If you are looking for a marijuana job and want to start a cannabis career enroll today. Cannabis Training University is the most recognized and accepted cannabis certification provider in the industry. Start at CTU and get the knowledge you need to set yourself apart from the rest. CTU is the only IACET accredited cannabis college.
When referring to cannabis there are different strains. The differences between sativa vs. indica vs. hybrids were first noted in the 18th century when differences between their resin production and structure were realized.
Genetic mixing from location to location began later when selective breeding and cross pollination was discovered and produced hybrids.
Gavin is a worldly adventurer and cannabis connoisseur, embarking on journeys that take him to the far corners of the globe to explore and document the varied effects, flavors, and histories of both renowned and lesser-known strains. From the misty high-altitude farms of the Hindu Kush highlands to the vibrant cannabis cafes of Amsterdam, Gavin's quest for knowledge spans continents. A recognized authority in the cannabis industry, he frequently lends his expertise to leading publications such as Cannabis Training University, where his captivating blog articles chronicle his unique experiences with different cannabis strains.