If you’re reading this article, then you probably want to pay your first visit to a cannabis dispensary.
The first question a budtender will ask you is whether you want an indica, sativa, or hybrid weed.
And that’s exactly where your problems start.
What’s the difference between indica, sativa, and hybrid weed? How to pick the strain based on the desired effects and which variety will suit beginner growers?
Now we’re getting down the rabbit hole, aren’t we?
Indica, sativa, and hybrids are the three categories of cannabis strains. Each of them produces different effects and aromas based on their genetic profile.
Although every marijuana strain will get you high, there’s a large degree of difference between those varieties when it comes to the character of that high.
Ready to take a lesson?
What Are the Different Types of Weed Strains?
Weed strains are broken down into four categories:
All these plants are native to different regions of the world and they vary in several features depending on their origins.
The most common distinction first-time users will face is the indica vs. sativa system.
Let’s bring it closer to us.
Indica vs. Sativa: How to Distinguish Between These two Varieties?
There are 4 key areas that can tell you whether you have an indica or sativa strain. Let’s start with their native climates.
1. Geographic Origins
Both indica and sativa come from different parts of the globe.
Indica plants are native to colder regions of the world, including higher mountain areas. Cannabis indica probably originated from countries like Lebanon, Nepal, Pakistan, Turkestan, and Afghanistan.
Cannabis sativa strains are believed to come from Mexico, Colombia, India, and a few African countries. They are also popular in other countries near the equator such as Thailand.
Cannabis indica plants grow small and bushy, reaching up to 6 feet. Their leaves are broader and their buds have a densely packed structure, resembling popcorn. Indica strains tend to produce higher amount of resin than their sativa counterparts — their average THC content is higher because of that, and many people speak of indica flowers as pungent and even skunky.
Sativa strains grow much taller than cannabis indica; they can reach up to 15 feet. If your plant has thin leaves and tall branches, then you have a sativa strain. Sativa flowers have a loose structure, with more elongated and conical buds. This variety of cannabis often smells of citrus fruits and pine trees
3. Growth Habits
Indicas are better suited for indoor cultivation due to their low height. They also bring smaller yields but they are more dense and resinous — coming in as little as 45–50 days from flowering.
Sativas work better with outdoor spaces and require more patience from growers. They provide generous yields that come within 60–90 days from the flowering stage.
This is where the difference between indica and sativa is most vivid.
The high from sativa strains is known for its invigorating and uplifting character. The effects are mostly head-focused and thus better for daytime use, social gatherings, creative tasks, or repetitive activities. This is the go-to wake n’ bake type of weed for many consumers.
When it comes to indica strains, the effects are on the opposite end of the scale. Indicas are usually more sedative and affect the body, relieving physical stress, tension, and pain — and clears the head at the same time. This type of weed is better suited for evening or nighttime use. Many people with sleep deprivation problems use indica strains as their nightly aid.
What Is Hybrid Weed?
If you want to revel in the traits of both sativa and indica strains in different ratios, hybrids are exactly what you’re looking for.
Marijuana hybrids are created by crossing different types of cannabis strains. The combination of genes may involve both indica and sativa or only strains bred within one variety.
Based on that, we have three main types of hybrids:
- Indica-dominant hybrid
- Sativa-dominant hybrid
- Balanced hybrid (50/50)
This classification is very intuitive. For example, consuming an indica-dominant hybrid will cause you to experience mostly indica effects with certain traits of sativa.
When smoking a sativa-dominant hybrid, you can expect the majority of its sativa effects with some gentle touch of indica.
Of course, the final effect profile of your strain will depend on the ratio between indica and sativa genes.
Finally, even hybrids are 50% indica / 50% sativa strains, meaning they provide well-balanced effects and can be used throughout the whole day.
Cannabis Ruderalis: A Rare Type of Cannabis
At the beginning of the article, we mentioned that there’s a rare type of cannabis — ruderalis.
The reason why it’s not so popular is that it lacks psychoactive properties. Still, this unique cannabis strain is able to produce an autoflowering effect, which makes it a sought-after variety for crossbreeding different marijuana plants.
Cannabis ruderalis is similar to cannabis indica when it comes to its appearance, growing dense and short, and bushy.
It’s not a commercial strain, but it’s an invaluable material for creating new weed species.
How to Choose Between Indica, Sativa, and Hybrid Weed
Usually, consumers pick one type of cannabis over another based on the effects they want to achieve.
If you want to get nice appetite stimulation or you’re having trouble sleeping, pure indicas or indica-dominant hybrids should suit you best.
On the other hand, if energy, creativity, and elevated mood are on your radar, adding a sativa or sativa-dominant hybrid to your routine will be a better choice.
Savvy consumers use their nose to decide whether a certain strain appeals to them. If you like the aroma of your weed — be it indica, sativa, or hybrid — it’s a good indicator that you’ll also like the effects.