Medically reviewed by Alexander Tabibi, MD
January 29, 2021

Cannabis, a versatile plant with numerous therapeutic properties, comes in various strains, each offering distinctive effects. Among the most popular strains are Cannabis Sativa and Cannabis Indica, which have unique characteristics, growth requirements, and medicinal attributes. Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned cultivator, learning how to grow Sativa and Indica will enable you to harness the full potential of these plants and produce top-quality buds. In this article, we will explore the essential steps and considerations for successfully cultivating Sativa and Indica strains.

This post is intended as information and for general knowledge only. It is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It is recommended that you consult a healthcare professional before introducing cannabinoids into your daily routine, especially if you have been diagnosed with any medical conditions or are under any medication. It is not recommended to drive or operate any machinery when using cannabis- or hemp-derived products. Use responsibly!

Things to Consider when Cultivating Cannabis

Embarking on the journey of growing cannabis is an exciting endeavor that allows you to witness the fascinating lifecycle of this versatile plant. As you embark on this journey, it’s essential to arm yourself with knowledge and a clear understanding of the intricate factors that contribute to the growth, health, and ultimate success of your cannabis plants.

Cultivating cannabis is not merely a task; it’s a blend of science, art, and mindful observation. Whether you’re a novice grower eager to learn or a seasoned cultivator seeking to refine your skills, a strong foundation in the following key considerations will pave the way for a thriving cannabis garden.

Understanding Cannabis Sativa and Indica

Cannabis Sativa and Cannabis Indica are two primary subspecies of the Cannabis plant. Sativa plants are known for their tall stature, thin leaves, and long flowering times, while Indica plants are typically shorter with broader leaves and shorter flowering cycles. Sativa strains are often associated with uplifting and energetic effects, making them ideal for daytime use, while Indica strains offer a more relaxing and sedative experience, often preferred for nighttime consumption.

Nevertheless, evidence shows, that distinguishing between “sativa” and “indica” has become almost impossible because of extensive cross-breeding over the last decades. Traditional landraces of sativa and indica are becoming extinct through hybridization, meaning dividing these plants into species does not make sense nowadays.

Choosing the Right Strain

Before diving into the growing process, it’s essential to select the right Sativa or Indica strain that suits your preferences and needs. Research different strains and consider factors such as potency, flowering time, aroma, and effect. Popular Sativa strains like Blue Dream and Durban Poison offer invigorating effects, while Indica strains like Hindu Kush and OG Kush provide a more calming experience.

Germinating Cannabis Seeds

To begin the growing journey, start with high-quality cannabis seeds. Proper germination is crucial for healthy plant development. Place your seeds in a damp paper towel or use specialized germination cubes. Ensure a warm and dark environment, and within a few days, you should see the seeds sprout with tiny taproots.

Optimal Growing Environment

Both Sativa and Indica strains thrive in controlled environments with specific temperature, humidity, and lighting conditions. Indoor growing allows for better control of these factors, but outdoor cultivation can also be successful in the right climate. Sativa plants generally prefer warmer temperatures and higher humidity levels, while Indica strains are more resilient to cooler temperatures and lower humidity.

Lighting and Nutrients

A key aspect of how to grow Sativa and Indica successfully is providing the right lighting and nutrients. For indoor cultivation, invest in high-quality grow lights that mimic the sun’s spectrum. Sativa strains typically require more light during their longer vegetative phase, while Indica plants may need slightly less light. Utilize a balanced nutrient solution during the vegetative and flowering stages to ensure healthy growth and maximize yield.

Managing Growth and Pruning

As your Sativa or Indica plants mature, it’s crucial to manage their growth to optimize bud development. Sativa strains tend to stretch more during flowering, so regular pruning and training techniques, such as topping or low-stress training, can help maintain an even canopy and increase light penetration. Indica plants, with their bushier growth pattern, may require less pruning but may benefit from defoliation of some lower leaves to enhance airflow.

Flowering and Harvesting

After the vegetative stage, your Sativa and Indica plants will enter the flowering phase. This is when buds begin to develop and mature. Sativa strains often have a longer flowering period, sometimes up to 12 weeks, while Indica strains usually flower for 8 to 10 weeks. Monitor the trichomes for the desired level of maturity before harvesting. Harvest Sativa strains when the trichomes are mostly milky white with some amber, and Indica strains when they are mostly cloudy with a few amber ones.

Maximizing Terpenes and Cannabinoids

Terpenes are aromatic compounds responsible for the unique scents and flavors of different cannabis strains, while cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD, determine the therapeutic effects. To maximize terpene production, maintain stable environmental conditions during the flowering stage, as fluctuations can affect terpene levels. Proper curing of harvested buds also preserves terpenes and cannabinoids, enhancing the overall cannabis experience.

Why Cultivating Cannabis Has Gotten More Advanced

Cannabis Growing Advanced

We would not have the advanced cultivation practices that we have now if it weren’t for a few factors that have appeared over the last couple of decades.

#1: Technology

Technology has undoubtedly played a major role in how we grow our cannabis.  We are able to use advanced data systems to ensure consistency between crops.  We have the means to identify specific strains using more advanced testing methods than what once existed before, which gives us insight into the specific levels of certain chemical compounds found in the plant material.  And, we have the ability to control growing conditions inways that were not possible only a few decades ago.

#2: Demand

Demand has increased exponentially since the old days, which has increased competition between farmers.  This has given farmers an incentive to work harder to produce the best crops possible, in order to compete in today’s larger market.  As demand increases, farmers are forced to get more creative (supply) to ensure that their cannabis is the best that they can possibly produce.

#3: Legalization

With legalization taking place throughout the country and other parts of the world, farmers can grow crops legally, which has benefited them enormously.  Legalization has allowed farmers to work directly with research institutions and laboratories to uncover data that helps them in every step of the process.  It has also enabled farmers to grow their crops in a more industrialized way, which allows them to utilize modern technology in ways that were not possible when they risked legal repercussion.

Modern Techniques for Cannabis Cultivation

Cannabis Growing and Modern Techniques

It’s impossible to ignore the role that technology has played in modern marijuana and hemp cultivation, as a series of advancements have allowed cannabis to be grown according to more precise factors than ever before.  Let’s go over some of the most exciting advancements that the cannabis industry has seen in recent years.

Technique #1: Feminization

Feminization has been a gamechanger in the world of growing cannabis.  As many of you know, cannabis can produce male, female, and hermaphrodite plants.  Only the female plants have the cannabinoid-rich buds and resinous trichomes that give us the desired effects.  This means that for a long time, hemp farmers had to throw out about half of their crops.  This was extremely inefficient, costing money and time devoted to caring for plants that would eventually be discarded.

Feminization is a fascinating cultivation technique that yields up to 99% female plants, which benefits farmers by keeping down both cost and time.  The most common method used today involves the utilization of colloidal silver, which allows the female plant to develop pollen which will directly result in more female plants.  By spraying the plants with the silver, they develop male pollen sacs instead of pistils and calyxes.

Technique #2: Hydroponic Systems

Hydroponic systems are not new and were first used to cultivate cannabis in the 1980s.  But now, they are becoming more common due to increasing demand, especially for those who do not have the ideal growing conditions in their outdoor spaces.  Hydroponics is a method of growing that ditches soil in favor of nutrient-rich water which supports the root system of the plant.

In many ways, it allows for a more stable and controlled growing environment, and ensures that climate conditions, which can be unpredictable, do not have a negative impact on the crop.  Hydroponics has directly resulted in more competition, as it has allowed farmers to enter the market who would not have been able to grow plants otherwise due to their climates.

Technique #3: Climate Control

There are ways to control climate that don’t rely on hydroponics, as well.  Today’s farmers have access to advanced technology that allows the growing conditions to remain stable.  Growing indoors is becoming more and more common, with devices that mimic natural, ideal light cycles as well as humidity levels and temperature.  This modern technology is better at tracking and displaying climate information so that farmers can cultivate with precision that was once unavailable.

Technique #4: Hybridization

Anyone who has been a cannabis enthusiast for more than a couple of decades is blown away by the variety of strains that are available today.  Cross-breeding techniques have improved so much that cultivators can essentially develop any chemical composition that they wish.  They can create strains with unusually high levels of THC, ones that contain high CBD levels that were once impossible, and ones that are developed specifically for certain ailments.  Nowadays, you can walk into a dispensary and tell the person at the counter exactly why you want cannabis, and they will give you a strain based on your needs, much like a doctor writing out a prescription.

All of this comes from the process of hybridization, which has really taken off in the last two decades.  One thing that has made hybridization more accessible is the indoor growing boom, which makes it easier to grow different existing strains that would usually be incompatible with specific growing climates.  Further, modern technology has allowed us to understand the specifics of individual strains in terms of their chemical compositions, and this has directly resulted in developing strains according to percentages of certain terpenes and cannabinoids.

Technique #5: Advanced Testing

Advanced testing methods allow cultivators to maintain consistency across their crops, as they can see the percentages of each chemical compound.  Testing also allows farmers to look for impurities like never before, which plays a major role in the overall quality of the buds.  And, of course, testing allows farmers to ensure that they stay within legal regulations.

Technique #6: Market Competition

Market competition has indirectly benefited cannabis cultivation by forcing farmers to get more creative and invest more into modern technology in order to ensure consistency and quality.  The bigger the cannabis industry gets, the more drive there is to produce the absolute best crops possible with today’s resources.  We know that there is growing competition for rare and exceptional strains, for instance, which is why we have the incredible selection that is available to us today.

Technique #7: Bigger Budgets

With a more profitable cannabis industry, cultivators generally have larger budgets that they can use to invest into the quality of their crops.  We know that the cannabis industry in the United States is growing each year economically, and this means that there is a lot of money that’s going directly to farmers who can use these resources to explore higher-end technology.  Further, cannabis companies are using investors to fund research and new, cutting-edge techniques that will continue to shape the future of the market.


The cannabisindustry is more profitable, advanced, and legal than ever before, and this has directly resulted in cultivation techniques that were unheard of just a couple of decades ago.  All of these advancements in cultivation have given us better-quality buds that are more capable than ever of meeting our needs.  In the years to come, as more and more money is invested into the industry, we expect to see technology taken to further heights.

Cultivating Sativa and Indica strains can be a rewarding and enriching experience for any cannabis grower. Understanding the differences between these subspecies and their unique growth requirements is essential to produce high-quality buds with distinct effects. By following the guidelines in this article on how to grow Sativa and Indica, you can embark on a successful cultivation journey and enjoy the fruits of your labor with bountiful yields of top-notch cannabis. Remember to always comply with local laws and regulations regarding cannabis cultivation and use. Happy growing!


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