Dialing in the Right Cannabis Strain for You

By Kent Gruetzmacher
Published: August 30, 2022 | Last updated: August 30, 2022 07:07:45
Key Takeaways

Feel like you’re not getting the most out of your grow? Maybe it’s time to reconsider what’s in your garden. Applying these criteria might help you get on track for growing cannabis that meets your needs.

When trying to decide what cannabis strain to grow, there are several important variables that could influence your decision making.


These variables include personal taste, cultivation techniques, as well as your experience as a grower.

In the process of deciphering the differences between cannabis strains, notions of sativas and indicas are helpful for general categorization purposes. Yet, with aggressive cannabis breeding programs taking place around the globe, most cannabis strains on the market today are hybrids of some sort. That being said, the terms sativa and indica can point you in the right direction, but truly appreciating the fine distinctions of different cannabis strains is a highly nuanced affair.


With general terminology as your guide, you should strive to figure out what cannabis strains best fit your palette and cultivation methods.

What Type of Cannabis Do You Enjoy?

Sativa-dominant strainSativa-dominant strain
Personal preference is a great place to start with choosing the right cannabis strain to grow. After all, why spend time and money growing types cannabis you don’t really enjoy consuming?

Sativa-dominant strains are known for having an energetic high that is also good for staying focused. If you enjoy consuming cannabis while engaging in physical activities like hiking, sativa-dominant hybrids are likely a good choice. Sativa-dominant strains are also known to have a cerebral effect that is good for creative work like writing, painting, and playing music.


Examples of classic sativa-dominant hybrids include Green Crack, Blue Dream, Sour Diesel, and Jack Herer.

indica-dominant strainIndica-dominant strain
If you enjoy consuming cannabis to relax after a long day of work, an indica-dominant strain will likely be a great fit. People also report that indica-dominant hybrids help them sleep when they are restless, as well as relieve stress in social situations. Indica-dominant strains are believed to have a mellowing effect that is often referred to as a body high.


Examples of classic indica-dominant strains include Girl Scout Cookies, Gorilla Glue, Blueberry, Northern Lights, and Purple Kush.

How Long are Flowering Periods?

Another critical concept to consider when choosing a cannabis strain to grow is the length of flowering periods. Whether it be time constraints with an indoor garden, or a shortened season for an outdoor operation, the amount of time it takes to finish flowering should always be considered when choosing cannabis strains.

Sativa-dominant cannabis strains generally take longer to flower than indica-dominant strains. That being said, most sativa-dominant hybrids have a 65- to 80-day flower cycle. In comparison, sativa-dominant hybrids generally finish flowering in anywhere from 50 to 60 days.

Considerations for Indoor Growers

cannabis growing up a stakeThe time it takes for a particular cannabis strain to finish flowering can have major impacts on an indoor grow operation. For example, if you are interested in “staggering” five to six indoor harvests per year, late finishing, sativa-dominant strains simply aren’t an option. By growing strains like Critical Kush that finish in just 50 days, you save massive amounts of time on each harvest. When compared to late-finishing strains like Sour Diesel that take 70 days, using a quick-finisher can be the difference between growing five or six harvests each year.

If you are looking for an early finishing indica-hybrid, Granddaddy Purple is always a good bet.

Considerations for Outdoor Growers

Flowering time is also a critical factor to consider when planning an outdoor garden. While most people agree that sativa-dominant strains make great outdoor crops, their longer flowering period can be a deal-breaker in certain climates.

If you live in the northern part of the country, you likely have to stick with quick-finishing, indica-dominant strains in your outdoor garden. Importantly, as the fall freeze often comes as early as late September in many regions, late finishing sativa-dominant hybrids can cause serious problems.

An exception to the above rule about outdoor growing would be Blue Dream. This sativa-dominant hybrid finishes in just 60 days, making it a favorite for outdoor growers around the world.

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What About Plant Structures?

You also need to consider how a plant grows — it can have a major impact on how it will fit in your garden.

Sativa-dominant strains like Silver Haze are notorious for growing extremely tall and producing only a few branches. Conversely, indica-dominant strains such as Green Crack are known for growing as short, bushy plants with many branches.

Considerations for Indoor Growers

How exactly different cannabis strains grow is a critical consideration when planning an indoor garden. Because of their bushy nature, indoor growers often prefer indica-dominant hybrids. With so many branches to work with, indica-dominant strains make for an extremely even canopy in the growroom. With a uniform canopy, you can keep grow lights at a consistent height to maximize usable PAR light.

If you are a newbie and planning on growing an indoor garden, an indica-dominant strain such as Northern Lights is likely a good idea.

Considerations for Outdoor Growers

Many people feel that sativa-dominant strains belong in the outdoors. Because they grow extremely tall, strains like Super Lemon Haze don’t do well in the tight confines of an indoor garden. However, when planted in the bright sunshine, sativa-dominant strains can grow up to 20 feet tall and produce several pounds of flower from a single plant.

If you have a long outdoor growing season, it’s definitely worth checking out a sativa-dominant strain like Jack Herer.

There are several important variables you should consider when choosing cannabis strains for your next garden. These factors include personal favorites, cultivation processes, and infrastructural constraints.

A commonly overlooked element for choosing the right cannabis strain has to do with your experience level. To this end, certain cannabis strains are known for being extremely forgiving for newbies, while others should only be attempted by experts. If you are just getting started with growing, be sure to choose strains that are easy to grow in your chosen environment. This notion applies to both indoor and outdoor growing.

Please bear in mind the terms sativa and indica fall short in explaining all the fine nuances of cannabis. Yet, with a near-endless genetic catalog of cannabis strains in the world today, the terms sativa and indica are helpful for general classifications. Beyond that, you should focus on traits related to psychoactive effects, flowering time, and plant structure.


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Written by Kent Gruetzmacher | Writer, Owner of KCG Content

Profile Picture of Kent Gruetzmacher

Kent Gruetzmacher MFA is a Colorado-based writer and owner of the writing and marketing firm KCG Content. Kent has been working in the cannabis and hydroponics space for over a decade. Beginning in California in 2009, he has held positions in cultivation, operations, marketing, and business development. Looking specifically to writing, Kent has worked with many of the leading publications and marketing agencies in the cannabis space. His writing has been recognized by such icons as Steve D’Angelo and Rick Simpson.

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