What is the Difference Between Growing Indica and Sativa?

The Indica versus Sativa debate extends even to the growing of the cannabis species. Depending on each of their characteristics, certain practices are best suited for Indica and others for Sativa. It is always helpful to know the differences.

Depending on how long you have been into cannabis, you may or may not have heard of the Indica versus Sativa debate. Some stoners clearly state that they prefer one over the other. Dispensaries have Sativa seeds as well as Indica ones and as a grower just starting their first batch, it is easy to confuse the two.

Which is better? What is Sativa seeds and Indica seeds? Amidst those who argue for either Indica or Sativa, some feel marijuana is marijuana regardless of its species. Scientifically, there are disparities between these species, which are felt by the users and seen in planting the seeds.

Marijuana Subspecies

Since its discovery, researchers have been interested in the cannabis plant. When talking about subspecies, it is common to hear names such as Kush, Lemon Haze, Northern Lights, and more. These are what people refer to as strains, and currently, over 1000 weed strains exist. These strains can further be grouped into three main categories namely; Sativa, Indica, and hybrids.

Each of these groups has general characteristics but what determines a plant’s effects is its strain. Indica was first discovered in India and its surrounding areas. On the other hand, Sativa is more prevalent in Africa and other tropical regions. Hybrids are the result of modified versions of either. It is possible to find hybrids that combine two or more strains or a unique combination of a number of Indica and Sativa.

Characteristics of Weed Species

As mentioned, three main groups of cannabis can be found in the market. For this article, we will focus on the two main ones. Before looking at the differences in planting and harvesting buds of each, we will first review the general characteristics of each.


Indica originated from the regions of India, Afghanistan, Turkey, and the surroundings. The climate in the region supports their growth to maturity with the end product being a stout large leafed crop. Due to the lack of adequate sunlight, Indica strains have broad leaves, which can only be assumed to be for capturing as much light as possible.

They also do tend to have many leaves as compared to Sativa. In distinguishing an Indica from a Sativa, the leaves and the height are the major giveaways. Another notable aspect is that the bud is normally well-packed. Its stout nature gives off more weight due to its being packed.


Sativa strains are more majestic than their counterparts. For one, they grow very tall and contain way lesser leaves. Also, the leaves are thinner than those of the Indica. This can be attributed to the fact that they are used to warm tropical regions with excessive sunlight.

 With indoor growth, you may need a larger space for cannabis Sativa seeds as you anticipate the height of the plant at maturity. The Sativa plant itself is also lanky and delicate. This also translates to an airy bud that is less packed than with Indica.

Differences in Growing Sativa and Indica

On matters of growth, a few aspects are needed for Indica and Sativa that differ. The general structures and development of the two species mean that they each take a certain amount of time to mature. Regardless of the same, each of these species can be grown from both seeds or clones. Here is a breakdown of cultivating Sativa and Indica, each with consideration of their uniqueness.

Cultivating Indica

Indica strains have a shorter maturity period as compared to Sativa. This is mostly because of the shortness of their plants and the compact nature of the leaves. When growing indoors, Indica can do with about 16 hours of LED lighting a day. Around the flowering time, you can reduce this to 12 hours of lighting to facilitate the faster development of the buds.

Regarding maintenance, Indica can get quite bushy, which may slow the overall growth. It is always helpful to prune the excess leaves and train the plant to take the structure you want. For instance, you can prune more at the top to have it look like a Christmas tree. Growing Indica is easier, especially if it is indoors. The plants’ species allow them to survive without too much light, which can save the cost of lighting.

Cultivating Sativa

Sativa has an incredible growth spurt that continues even after flowering commences. If you settle on growing this strain, you will need space first. They can grow quite tall, and limiting their height reduces yields. The other aspects to consider are lighting, warmth, and nutrients.

Since they are suited to tropics, they need excessive humidity, lighting, and warmth. It is always better to plant your Sativa outdoors where they can readily get all the natural elements. With maintenance, there is little need for pruning as the leaves do not restrict sunlight from reaching the buds. You will also have to wait longer than Indica for the harvest.


The choice of the species to grow depends on the individuals’ familiarity with the same. Some swear by Sativa and others by Indica. Regardless of the same, the growth process is almost the same with the small distinction of maintenance. Where Indica may require some pruning and training here and there, Sativa will need increased exposure to light and warmth. Understanding how the two main species differ informs one on the necessary strategic maintenance techniques. With that basic understanding, they can grow any of the two and even hybrids.

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Adam Regan
Adam Regan
Deputy Editor

Features and account management. 3 years media experience. Previously covered features for online and print editions.

Email Adam@MarkMeets.com

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