Characteristics of Different Cannabis Types: Sativa vs. Indica vs. Hybrids

The first step of growing marijuana is of course to choose what exactly you will be growing. There are different types of strains and before choosing a particular type you should think about what results you are aiming for. Ask yourself if you are looking for medical or non-medical use, what kind of smell and appearance you are looking for and whether you want mental or physical effects.

Origin and Characteristics

Cannabis is one of the oldest crops in the world. Records show that it has been used in ancient times, going back as far as 6000 years ago. Combined with the fact that over the past century heavy restrictions all over the world have been placed on cannabis, it’s no wonder that people are very unfamiliar with its peculiarities up to this day. There are three popular types of cannabis: Sativa, Indica, and Hybrid. Each has its own very distinguishable characteristics, and each can be used for different purposes, during different times of the day and based on personal preferences and needs.



In terms of appearance, the main characteristics of Sativa strains are that they grow tall and into airy, long buds with a lot of space for air to circulate. They usually reach a height of 8-15 feet. Sativas will take longer to produce but they have more powerfully stimulated yields. The flowering time is between 10 and 16 weeks. An interesting fact is that Sativas grow better near the equator.

Sativa buds are heat-resistant but unable to manage cold weather. Sativa has a lighter effect and is a good anti-depressant to cope with anxiety. Patients also use it to treat chronic pain. It increases focus and creativity, as well as serotonin, which transmits messages between nerve cells. These neurotransmitters are responsible for learning, mood, and sleep. Cannabis Sativa is perfect for daytime use.

The effect Cannabis Sativa might have on you is feelings of energy and cheerfulness. You might feel euphoria, the need for social contact and heightened creativity.



In terms of appearance, the main characteristics of Indica strains are that they grow shorter and into dense, plump, and dark buds, reaching a height of 2-6 feet. Their flowering time is between 6 and 8 weeks.

Indica buds typically grow faster and have a higher yield than the Sativa strains. Indica strains are also higher in CBD and have lower THC counts. Cannabis Indica is cold-resistant but unable to manage heat. It has a heavier, relaxing effect. In fact, it is characterized by its increased mental relaxation, muscle relaxation, nausea and acute pain decrease, and appetite increase after consumption. Using Indica increases dopamine; thus, helps control the brain’s pleasure centers. It is usually better for nighttime use.

The effects of Cannabis Indica are mellow and calming. You might feel sleepy, carefree, relaxed. Indica typically provides the anecdotal “couchlock” that is coveted by many a cannabis consumer, so moderation is paramount.  



There are male and female cannabis plants, which can pollinate together. They produce offspring in the form of seeds which are then used to grow new plants with both Sativa and Indica characteristics. The main reason for this wacky science experiment is to create plants that combine the best qualities of both types above. For example, OG Kush is a hybrid that has the effects of body relaxation–which is typical for Indica–alongside the uplifting effect of Sativa.

The different types of hybrid strains include Sativa-dominant, Indica-dominant, and balanced. The Sativa-dominant hybrids usually provide a stimulating head high, combined with a relaxing body feeling. Thus, they are used to relax both mentally and physically. The Indica-dominant hybrids influence is typically a strong body high and sedated feeling, but with a weak mental effect. Compared to the original Indica strains, these hybrids are less likely to put you to sleep. The balanced hybrids represent an equal balance of Indica and Sativa and have an all-over effect over the mind and the body.


Luis Rivera

Luis has 20+ years of experience in global market expansion, business development, mergers and acquisitions, business re-engineering, finance and investor relations of software companies. He is passionate about technology, spectral science, indoor farming, food production, automation, and more. Since 2015 he is the president of Advanced LED Lights, a leading LED grow lights manufacturer based in Hiwasse, Arkansas. When not at work, Luis enjoys swimming, yoga, as well as growing grapes and flowers in Sonoma, California.