When selecting a strain or cannabis genetics to grow from seeds, whether regular or feminized, one of the biggest and main points of difference you may find between one variety or another is the classification of Indica versus Sativa. The fact that most cannabis strain varieties are a hybrid (combined combination) of the two classifications can make the matter confusing, especially if you are newer to growing or using cannabis recreationally or for therapeutic purposes.

Sativa Versus Indica, Effects

When smoking, eating or vaping cannabis the effects can vary from one strain to another. Besides strength or potency levels ie how much you need to take for the desired effect, the actual experience can be dramatically different from one variety to another. This is due in large part to the ratio of Indica to Sativa genetics in plant.

In the effects of Sativa versus Indica, Sativa dominant strains will tend to have a higher degree of mental stimulation or “cerebral” effects. The type of experience from Sativa strains can be described as uplifting, giddy, happy, creative, motivational and energetic. Sometimes the effects for some people can be uncomfortable from a potent Sativa, for example evoking anxiety and paranoia. While the effects will differ from person to person, they also differ from strain to strain.

In terms of the effects of Indica dominant strains when discussing Sativa versus Indica, Indica genetics tend to create more of a physical response versus mental. Indica strains are often described as physically relaxing, ie a body buzz that encourages rest, appetite and sleep. Indica effects, while typically very physical, can also serve to put the mind in a more relaxed or even lethargic state.

Because most strains are hybrids, when talking about Sativa versus Indica, a lot of the time cannabis users will find the experience to be both a combination of both mental and physical effects–the actual ratio or balance of the Sativa to Indica content in a bud has a strong influence over the experience, which may also vary slightly from individual to individual.

As a generalization, if you seek a more alert and stimulating experience, ie creativity and socialization look for more Sativa dominant strains. If you want to relax, have a snack and some rest look for more Indica dominant strains.

Sativa Versus Indica, Growing Plants

When it comes to growing cannabis plants, Sativa strains tend to finish as larger plants with wide branches, lacy looking thin leaves and longer, thinner more spear like buds. Yields are often heavier with Sativas. Sativa strains won’t require as much time in vegetative growth to finish at a good size–they do more development in flowering versus their Indica counterparts. However, the trade off is that typically more time is required in flowering (12/12 lighting) to reach maturity, ie usually 9 weeks and longer. Sativa strains will tolerate higher humidity levels and warmer temperatures while they tend not to be as cold tolerant.

In discussing Sativa versus Indica growth characteristics, Indica dominant strains tend to grow short and squat with wide leaves. The buds are typically short and tight with lots of density. There is typically more leaf to trim away at harvest on Indica strains, with the small leaves surrounding the buds often having significant levels of resin, ie why indicas originate from hash making regions, historically. Indica strains will require more time in vegetative growth to produce large yields per plant, as they will not develop much more stature once flowering starts. Indica dominant strains are usually mature 7 to 9 weeks once 12/12 lighting is provided as as natural day length shortens to the critical flowering duration. Indica plants do not tolerate high humidity levels and tend to be more root sensitive. However, their tolerance for cooler nights and light frosts coupled with faster finishes makes them a popular choice with outdoor growers.

As a final note in this brief article on the Sativa versus Indica discussion, please note there are always exceptions to the general rules we have described here. For example Durban Poison is a fast finishing Sativa with firm buds. Some Chitral strains (Indica) will tend to be widely branched and take longer to mature. However, following these tips as a guide will serve you well in identifying what you may want to select for in a strain to grow and enjoy for yourself or others.

Some Favorite Sativas:


Some Favorite Indicas: