Indica vs Sativa vs Hybrid: What’s The Difference?
Either you consume cannabis or not, it’s most likely that you know what Indica and Sativa are. Back in the day before cannabis became well-known to the average person, there wasn’t a lot of knowledge about the cannabis plant and most consumers classified a strain to be either Indica or Sativa, which are both cannabis plants but different subspecies of the cannabis family. These species were classified not only by plant appearance but also due to the different effects they offered and the type of climate they preferred.
Pure Indica plants grow relatively short with wide fan leaves and dense buds due to growing in colder climates. These plants normally grow a bit faster due to grow shorter, with a higher CBD to THC content that provides mental and muscular relaxation, and alleviates pain, thus why it was known as medicinal cannabis.
Pure Sativa plants are quite the opposite of Indica, these plants grow tall and thin, with narrow leaves and a longer internodal space due to growing in hotter climates. Sativa strains usually grow lighter but longer buds and became known as recreational cannabis due to producing more THC than CBD, so it wasn’t normally used for medicinal purposes but more recent research has discovered that, in some cases, can help ease anxiety, depression, and increase focus and creativity. As cannabis consumption became more and more popular, everyone started growing their own cannabis and not only seeds but also clones became more available, and that’s where hybrids started.
Hybrids started due to people wanting to try new things, so home growers started exchanging clones and seeds and starting experimenting with breeding to be able to try new things while getting the seeds they needed for the next grow cycle. So, for example, growers could have a female Sativa plant which he could clone and exchange one of the clones for a regular Indica cannabis seed that turns out to be male, the grower would then cross the male plant with the female clone, resulting in a 50/50 gene mix, aka a hybrid. Obviously, hybrids are not only 50/50 crosses, it could be whatever percentage as long as it contains a mix of different subspecies.
Now, this also applies to autoflowers; Autoflowering strains are also hybrids, but apart from having Indica and Sativa genetics, they also contain Ruderalis genes which provide the autoflowering characteristic. This means that, unlike photoperiodic cannabis plants, autoflowering marijuana seeds don’t depend on the light cycle to trigger flowering, so they can be grown outdoors all year long. So, just to make it easier to understand, here’s a basic infographic to make it easier for you to understand it, for example: Gorilla Glue (Sativa) + Girl Scout Cookies (Indica) = Gorilla Cookies (50/50 Hybrid)
Now, the result after breeding both of these strains would be a photoperiodic strain, meaning that it will depend on the amount of darkness it gets to start flowering but, if you wanted to make auto-flowering strains, you would have to add Ruderalis genes. So, for example,
Gorilla Glue (Sativa) + Girl Scout Cookies (Indica) = Gorilla Cookies (50/50 Hybrid)
Gorilla Cookies (50/50 Hybrid) + Ruderalis genetics = Gorilla Cookies Auto (33/33/33 Hybrid)
Obviously, cannabis breeding isn’t as simple as that but this way you can get a basic idea of what a hybrid, remember that hybrids can contain any amount of Indica, Sativa, and Ruderalis genetics, which will make them either an Indica-dominant Hybrid, Sativa-dominant Hybrid, Indica-dominant Hybrid Autoflower or a Sativa-dominant Hybrid Autoflower. And despite seeming hard to understand, it really isn’t and, as you consume or grow cannabis, you’ll gradually understand it.
Nowadays, with thousands and thousands of cannabis strains available online, you won’t have to go through the whole process of acquiring and crossing different cannabis strains, obviously, you can do it if you want to get into breeding but, if you just want to grow your own it’s just a matter of buying seeds. We recommend buying seeds from reputable seed-banks such as Fast Buds, which has more than 10 years of experience breeding auto-flowering cannabis strains.