Hybrids rule the cannabis space. While most dispensaries have menus with separate categories for sativa, indica, and hybrids, the “indica” and “sativa” strains are usually just strains that are indica-dominant or sativa-dominant and result in an indica or sativa effect when consumed.
There are very few 100-percent pure indica or sativa strains found in the industry today. Original landrace strains are scarce. Pure sativas like Durban Poison and pure indicas like Afghani or Maple Leaf Indica are among the few exceptions. To learn more about the importance of hybrids and the reasons why they dominate the cannabis industry, continue reading. This article will address why hybrids are so common and popular, as well as reasons why their existence is vital to the industry.
If you truly think your favorite strain is a pure indica or sativa, research its genetics and you will find that at least two, and most likely a variety of strains were used to create it. To produce sativa-leaning strains, indica is included in the mix to increase resin production, reduce the time it takes to harvest, as well as make height more manageable in the grow room. For instance, the classic Jack Herer “sativa” strain contains Northern Lights #5, a heavy indica-dominant strain that packs a sedative punch. There are several Jack Herer phenos, with a range of subtle flavors and a fairly constant Haze flavor that shines through. Because even Jack Herer is prone to a long finishing time, another popular strain, Jack Flash, was created to take the shorter finishing time and shorter height a step further.
Producing Ongoing Variety
As the old saying goes, “variety is the spice of life,” and the ongoing production of new hybrid strains adds variety to an industry with a hunger for new strains. Cultivation companies and companies with a cultivation division are almost obligated to create their own proprietary strains. The cannabis plant is an amazing thing, and the reshuffling of the marijuana-genetics deck continues to deliver exciting new flavors to the booming assortment currently available.
Because of the tremendous strain variety in the cannabis space today, it’s very easy to assign some of them to the sativa or indica categories. Many of them behave like one or the other. As well as cannabinoid profiles, terpenes play a big part on how we react to cannabis. Strains like Haze or AK-47 elevate you to a sativa experience while a Bubba Kush or Granddaddy Purp will induce extreme relaxation and a couch-lock reaction. These days it seems like the most balanced strains with a fairly even (50/50 or 60/40 sativa-to-indica ratio, are the ones most often referred to as “hybrids” by dispensaries, but this can vary widely. What one company calls an indica or sativa another may call a hybrid.
Growing Hybrid Strains
Some hybrid strains are only available as clones, and you need to obtain a good cutting and grow it to enjoy its special qualities. Others are available in seed form. Cannabis growers owe a debt of gratitude to those seed companies that took the time to work with the genetics and provide a stable version that will grow into something consistently potent and flavorful. Even with stabilized seed strains, there may be a range of phenotypes, but this is part of the reality of growing from seed. It can be fun to identify the best phenotype in a pack of seeds. Then, if the grower is so inclined, it can be made into a mother plant that provides cuttings for a regular supply of clones.
When you grow hybrids, consider the genetics that went into creating it. If the hybrid leans heavily to the sativa side like Haze, you should expect some stretching as the plant grows, so be sure you have adequate height in your grow room or space. You also may want to induce flowering earlier so the plant doesn’t stretch quite as much during the second phase of its life cycle. Extreme sativa hybrids behave quite a bit like pure sativa. Plan to wait for them to mature, because some take a while. Expect sativa-dominant strains to be uplifting and motivational for the most part. Some of them show their indica side more than others, but the effect shouldn’t be too similar to a true indica.
There are a number of outstanding sativa-dominant hybrids that are available in seed packs. You should be able to locate many of them online. Good examples include Haze, Amnesia Haze and other Haze crosses, Pineapple Punch, Jack Herer, Ak-47, Laughing Buddha, NYC Diesel, Bruce Banner, Golden Goat, Chernobyl, Strawberry Cough, Green Crack, Jillybean, Casey Jones, Trainwreck, and Malawi.
Likewise, if you’re growing an indica-dominant hybrid, expect it to behave somewhat like an indica. The height of these plants should be manageable, although it might not be very consistent if you are growing a few different indica-dominant strains at once. The effect should be relaxing, even sedative, but not as energy-draining as a pure indica.
Some of the more well-known and respected indica-dominant strains that are available in seed form include Blueberry, OG Kush, L.A. Confidential, Northern Lights, Ice, Dark Star, Kosher Kush, Money Maker, Bubba Kush, Afgooey, Blue Cheese, Master Kush, Hindu Kush, G-13, Purple Urkle, Critical Mass, Chocolate Chunk, Romulan, White Rhino, and Girl Scout Cookies.
If you’re looking to add some balance to your life, some hybrid strains are better than others when it comes to capturing the best qualities of both sativa and indica. The most balanced strains often have a very pleasing effect. They don’t result in a racy high that can induce anxiety, but they definitely don’t knock you out and make you unmotivated either.
Many cannabis connoisseurs appreciate the balanced hybrids for their middle-of-the-road effects. Strains like the original White Widow capture some of the best of indica and sativa. An initial soaring sativa high settles into something more calming and relaxing. Other strains that strike a fine balance include Blue Dream, Banana Kush, Dutch Treat, and Bubblegum. The balance of these strains is quite pleasing.
Bubblegum is an interesting hybrid in seed form. Real Bubblegum is available from T.H. Seeds and Serious Seeds. Both companies received cuttings at the same time and took them in slightly different directions when creating their Bubblegums for seed sales. The Serious Seeds version leans to the sativa side, while the T.H. Seeds version is slightly indica dominant—two different takes on the same strain. Consider this variation if you decide to grow Bubblegum.
The cannabis industry would be a very different place without the huge influence of hybrid cannabis strains. The aromas and flavors imparted by hybrids include pine, lemon, chocolate, grape, mango, sandalwood, earth, punch, pineapple, orange, and a wide range of others that will tantalize your palate. Some of them even defy description.
So, if you decide you need some balance to your cannabis experience and sativa and indica strains aren’t meeting your needs, consider a hybrid. Try some of the well-known favorites—they didn’t become favorites for no reason. Just like Goldilocks visiting the three bears’ house, you will probably find one that’s just right.