Indica vs Sativa vs Hybrid

The Cannabis plant has three subspecies that influence its characteristics. Sativa,  Indica, Ruderalis, and hybrid strains each possess specific traits.

It’s no surprise that many wonder about Indica vs Sativa vs Hybrid when thinking about marijuana strains. 

Sativa and Indica first appeared around the 1700s, with hybrids appearing later. Sativas originated in temperate climates near the equator, while Indicas likely originated near the harsh Hindu Kush region in present-day Afghanistan.

These contrasting environments help explain why the protective coat of resin is thicker in Indica vs Sativa strains. Today attention has shifted from the origins of Indica and Sativa to the traits, determining the preference of marijuana growers. 

Indica vs Sativa buds
Indica vs Sativa

Sativa vs Indica Origins 

Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus classified the strain Cannabis Sativa was in the mid-1700s. Sativa literally means ‘things that are cultivated’ – a fitting description for this renowned plant.

Originating in western Eurasia, the cannabis plant eventually found its way to other regions of the world. For centuries, cultivators harvested Cannabis Sativa for its hemp fiber and seeds.  

Closer to the end of the 1700s, French biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck discovered another species of Cannabis that was somewhat different from the Sativa.

He classified this species as Cannabis Indica, a reference to where he found the plant –  India. It also helped distinguish the new plant from the already established Cannabis Sativa.

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    According to Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, this species, much like its predecessor, could be grown for its fiber and seeds but had an intoxicating effect that Sativa did not. It became widely regarded in Europe as a therapeutic remedy during the 1800s. 

    Today, the strains are commonly known as Sativa and Indica, with much debate surrounding how much these two subspecies differ. Both strains have industrial, recreational, and medicinal use. 

    Physical Differences  

    The difference in origins isn’t the only thing you’ll notice. The plant also has notable differences between the two strains, especially the contrast between Sativa vs Indica leaves.

    While Indica plants typically produce round, broad leaves with dark coloring, Sativa leaves are a lot more narrow and dainty, with a much lighter pigment. These characteristics go a long way in contributing to the overall appearance of each plant.  

    Indica leaf
    An Indica leaf

    In addition to the leaves, the Indica plant is bushy and short in stature. Even at maturity, it may only reach heights of just 3.2-9.8 feet.

    The Sativa plant is as tall as its leaves are long, reaching heights of up to 19.6 feet. Indica buds are a lot more dense and stout, adding to their overall solid appearance.

    Most people describe them as emitting penetrating, earthy aromas. Sativa buds are less compacted, and this, coupled with the thin, long leaves and tall stature, gives it a slender appearance.

    Sativa leaf
    A Sativa leaf

    They are said to have a gentler scent that is a smooth combination of spicy florals. 

    They do share some common characteristics, though, with both having marbled colored, soft seeds. Growers and consumers have also compared their sweet scents and sour undertones.  

    Sativa vs Indica Effects 

    Sativa, known for its cerebral high, contains high levels of the psychoactive THC. Indica tends to contain lower THC and higher CBD levels, which is non-psychoactive. Indicas produce a body high. In general,  Indica vs. Sativa effects fall under the following spectrum. 

    Indica is the stoner’s favorite, thanks to its deeply relaxing properties. It acts as a sedative, placing your entire body into a deep state of relaxation.

    Indica effect - relaxing
    Indica effect – relaxing

    It is ideal for nighttime consumption since it impacts insomnia, body pains, muscle spasms, anxiety, and other uncomfortable situations.

    It may also include CBN, which offers additional benefits. 

    Explore our full selection of Indica weed seeds in our shop.

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    Sativa, on the other hand, delivers a rush of euphoria and mental awareness. Its energizing effects make it best for morning use. Known to spur divergent, creative thinking and focus, it is popular with artistically inclined users.

    A combination of stimulation, motivation and free-thinking provides an overall uplifting feeling, impacting stress, chronic fatigue, and mood problems.

    Sativa effect_energizing
    Sativa effect – energizing

    Although CBD is used therapeutically more than THC, Ayurvedic medications commonly include Sativa. 

    Check out other Sativa weed seeds in our online seedbank.

    Buy Sativa Seeds
    Strain NameStrain TypeTHCCBDHelps with
    Bubba KushIndica22%less than 1%appetite, pain, insomnia
    Northern LightsIndica18%less than 1%stress, pain, anxiety
    Sour DieselSativa20%less than 1%creativity, depression, anxiety
    Green CrackSativa22%less than 1%energy, stress, euphoria
    Super Lemon HazeSativa22%less than 1%happiness, fatigue, pain
    Cannatonichybrid15%12%pain, focus, stress
    Blue Dreamhybrid21%2%relaxation, euphoria, happiness
    Gorilla Gluehybrid26%less than 1%relaxation, happiness, stress
    Sunset Sherbethybrid21%less than 1%happiness, creativity, relaxation

    Growing Indicas vs Sativas 

    Both Indica and Sativa plants are native to hot regions and require plenty of light and heat, along with regular photoperiods when entering the flowering stage.

    A sativa plant’s airy buds are less susceptible to mold than the dense buds of the Indica. Because of this, it thrives in warm and sticky climates. Indicas need an environment with controlled humidity levels.

    Outdoor growers may protect their plants from rain and excess moisture or keep them indoors.

    Indicas have a built-in resilience to harsh weather conditions, thanks to their origins. This resilience, coupled with a short growing cycle, makes outdoor cultivation viable, while its short, dense bushes make it ideal for indoors.

    Whichever you chose, be sure to expose the buds to plenty of light to ensure large, healthy yields. We recommend topping or low-stress training to level the Indicas triangular shape.

    Growing Indicas vs Sativas
    Growing Indicas vs Sativas

    Sativa plants are less resilient than Indicas due to their thin leaves, which provide less chlorophyll, but need less fertilizer and fewer feedings.

    Sativa plants have a much longer flowering phase and reach great heights, especially in the first two weeks. The ScrOG method is an optimal way to control this. 

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      What About Hybrid Cannabis Strains? 

      Hybridization combines the best characteristics of various strains to breed a unique blend of Sativa and Indica. Many also include Ruderalis. Cannabis Ruderalis is a little-known hybrid strain native to the Northern Regions of the globe.

      The plant is small in stature, growing just 11.8-23.6 inches, and has thick foliage with large leaves like Indica, yet it’s lighter in color like Sativa. 

      Hybrid cannabis leaf
      A hybrid cannabis leaf

      Because most modern marijuana strains are hybrids, growers also distinguish Landrace strains from hybrids.

      Landrace strains are “pure-bred” with no genetics mixed with any other type of cannabis. Today, most Sativas and Indicas are Hybrids with varying Sativa/Indica ratios. 

      Breeding Ruderalis with Sativa and Indica strains produces high-CBD strains. CBD can minimize the “high” caused by THC. Ruderalis plants came from an extremely cold climate and developed a fast flowering phase to survive.

      Growers use this strain for breeding auto-flowering marijuana plants that thrive in colder climates. 

      Many hybrid strains also induce a balanced high. Because there are many cannabis variations, it is hard to know what you can expect. 

      Visit our store for our full selection of hybrid weed seeds.

      Buy Hybrid Seeds

      A Sativa vs Indica chart is a handy guideline for the effects you might experience, but the Hybrids lineage is better at predicting traits.  

      FAQs About Indica vs. Sativa vs. Hybrid

      Is there a difference in THC and CBD levels?

      Sativa is typically higher in the THC cannabinoid, with lower levels of CBD. While Indica is higher in CBD, this does not automatically equate to low levels of THC. Years of cross-breeding led to Indica-dominant hybrids with THC levels more typically associated with Sativa landraces.  

      What are landrace strains?

       “Landrace” can be translated as origin, which is just what it is. A Landrace strain is the original ancestor strain of all subsequent hybrids. The term Landrace describes a strain that is either pure Indica or pure Sativa. 

      Robert Bergman

      Robert Bergman is an Amsterdam-based marijuana grow expert who has years of experience from small grows to massive operations. His passion for growing lead him to develop his own Gold Leaf strain. Now, Robert is dedicated to sharing his knowledge with the world.... [Read full bio]


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        32 comments on “Indica vs Sativa vs Hybrid”

        1. Thanks so much for your site every question I can think of asking you have a answer for . For the most part growing is something new and exciting for me. And to have your site to pull information from has helped a lot. Thanks

        2. Is this sentence correct or is this a typo? Sativas naturally produce high levels of THC, while Indicas instead produce high levels of CBD. This is from the article above..

        3. […] Sativa dominant head rush will have you thinking clearly and feeling good. Earning its name because of its […]

        4. Ruderalis has 3 or 5 lives, bigger one has 5, smoler 3. It start growing on the end of may, buds is ready in half may. Ruderalis have a little bit of thc maybe 0,2-0,5. You can’t smoke this, but you make a cookies with this. It growing everywhere in Poland, when I live, also in Russia. We have also another wild plant, this is Sativa use as a product for clothes and more.

        5. […] plant is highly similar to each other. Generally speaking, a landrace will either be completely indica or completely sativa. Back in the 1960s and 1970s, landraces were the only available product on the […]

        6. Hi Tweber, nice experiment you’ve got going there! You can’t really tell the strain from the plant other than if it’s indica or sativa dominant. You can read up on the flowering stage here or you could hop onto our grow support forum where our experts and fellow growers can help you out.

        7. Im a beginner, and i was hoping some one can tell me what stain i have growing. I got some seeds from some smoke i had gotten. So just goffing around and they popped. So i reall don’t know what they are,and don’t really know how to take care of them, there in the flowering stage now,12 on 12 off. For about 3 weeks now.

        8. […] This means it has a more energizing and stimulating effect, as opposed to the ‘couch-lock’ found more frequently in Indica strains. Sativa is known for a high ratio of THC to CBN the two primary active ingredients in cannabis. Because of this, sativa is less often suggested for medicinal uses, although it was still used historically for health purposes in Ayurvedic medicine. More about sativa in The Difference Between Indica, Sativa And Hybrid. […]

        9. Ur bible has gave me the learning that I’ve been missing….now know how to grow easily in closet w lots of good bud w just plain ole shop light…… Fully disabilied n need my smoke n too damn high in cost.

        10. To make better oils..when possible mix “several strains” of indica or indica dominant cannabis with a THC content of 20 to 25%++( the higher the better ), and a nice low cbd content of around 1% ( 1 to 3% is fine – the lower the better ) – the mixed oil will be great for many conditions,
          This is a copy from Ricks fbook page, what type would you recommend now ???
          Also I haven’t had a good daytime one in years,what would you recommend for me there??
          Cheers and

        11. Yes it will make it a bit more heady as I call it. I would harvest when just a few trichomes are getting milky looking. That should help some, but you will lose your higher THC count.

        12. Bob,

          I recommend Robert’s Gold Leaf. It is very high in CBD. High in CBD is what you would be looking for in any plant that you wished to use in order to make RSO

        13. Hello in Tampa,

          I would advise that you find out when produce farms start their Tomatoes. I would work around that time to get my seeds going.

          If your seeds are stored in a cool dry place, (I like the fridge inside an envelope, and recipe card box, or other plastic container to keep moisture out), it is possible to store them for months.

          If they have been stored in the open and exposed to humidity, and or dry air that could dry them out, then you need to plant them within a month or so. As long as the seed is not cracked, and will not crush easily between your thumb and forefinger; It should be OK.

        14. I live in the Tampa,fla area I am an outside grower.what is the best time of the year to germinate White widow, and how long will the seeds remain viable. Thanks?

        15. junie

          Auto flowers are genetics that have been bred to have characterisitics of the “Ruderalis” pheno type. It does not require a dark period in order to flower. Once roots are strong enough in an Auto Flower plant; It will start budding. You can grow these type genetics under 24/0 photo period.

        16. […] By Robert Bergman, […]

        17. That is correct. Keep in mind that most genetics offered today are hybrid strains, and can have the characteristics of both. It is getting harder and harder to find Pure Sativa & Indica strains.

          Sorry for being so late to the conversation. Thanks Jennifer

        18. I think a correction has been made. It now says, “Sativas naturally produce high levels of THC, while Indicas instead produce high levels of CBD.” And that’s how I understand it to be.

        19. Dan and Jane you guys are so right, will be fixed right away, thanks for paying attention and noticing.

        20. From my knowledge I was of the understanding that indicas were naturally high in cbd and sativas were high in thc yet this article says it’s the other way round, this is the first I have seen saying this anyone else have any thoughts on this?

        21. If I harvest an indica strand early will it give me more of a up high compared to the couchlock high?

        22. Over cloned maybe… where did you get the plant from? I know plants without perfect conditions show stress by growing only three leaves.

        23. Yess that’s definitely the weak type if cannabis, ruderalis. Had the same experience it neva got big lol

        24. Love your company and the way your hands on everything from the seeds to the knowage. You rock
          Keep up the awesome work

        25. I had asked about three-leafed cannabis before, but the answer given was that when it gets bigger, it will start to grow five leaves. Well, it never got 5 leaves. This was a flowering, small-budded no matter how much light it was given, just over a foot tall, all deep dark green three-leaved plant. I believed it to be a ruderalis, when I looked at some pictures, but even those had five leaves, although there were two very small leaves on the bottom of each leaf. The plant to which I refer, only had three leaves all the way, from top to bottom. Any thoughts on what type this would be?