The 5 Best High-CBD Cannabis Strains to Grow

By Monica Mansfield
Published: December 28, 2020 | Last updated: April 9, 2021 05:56:50
Key Takeaways

There are plenty of CBD products for sale in stores, but cultivators can easily grow their own high-CBD cannabis plants for medicinal purposes. Monica Mansfield details five of the best strains to grow at home.

CBD products have hit the mainstream. Even people who have long been against the use of cannabis are opening their minds to it.


CBD, or cannabidiol, is the second-most abundant chemical compound in cannabis after THC. It mitigates the psychoactive effects of THC, so for many years it was bred out of the plant by growers who were trying to develop the most potent strains possible.

However, now that the many benefits of CBD are becoming more well known, there has been a resurgence in breeding CBD-rich cannabis plants.


Health Benefits of CBD

For the last decade or so, scientists have been studying the health benefits of CBD more than they used to. As a result, medical journals are full of studies supporting its medicinal use. In fact, the FDA approved the CBD drug Epidiolex in 2018 for patients as young as two years old in the treatment of seizures associated with two forms of epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, and Dravet syndrome.

CBD products are ideal for people who want the many benefits cannabis offers without the intoxicating side effects. Studies have shown CBD helps people keep a clear head while easing their suffering from chronic pain, neuropathic pain, sleep disorders, arthritis, musculoskeletal injuries, muscle spasms, epilepsy, nausea, and headaches.

It also helps with psychiatric and mood disorders such as schizophrenia, anxiety, depression, PTSD, addiction and post concussive syndrome. CBD can also be used as a neuroprotective treatment for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, and malignant brain tumors. In fact, it has been shown to reduce the growth of tumors by modulating different cell signaling pathways in gliomas, lymphoma, prostate, breast, skin, and pancreatic cancer cells as well. CBD has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory benefits, which are beneficial to those suffering from autoimmune diseases.


Read also: Top Five Strains High in CBD

Benefits of Growing Your Own CBD

You can find CBD products everywhere nowadays. You can find tinctures, capsules, lotions and more at dispensaries, pharmacies, grocery stores, and online. However, there are many benefits to growing your own high-CBD cannabis plants.


First and foremost, growing your own gives you total quality control. You can ensure that organic gardening practices are used, especially when choosing fertilizers and pesticides, and that there isn’t any mold in your final product.

Different strains affect different people in different ways, so you can cultivate the strains that suit you best and use techniques that increase the CBD levels as much as possible.

Although growing supplies and electricity can be costly when growing indoors, you can grow your plants almost entirely for free outdoors, which will save you plenty of money and give you an abundance of medicine.

Growing Tips for High-CBD Plants

Growing high-CBD cannabis is just about the same as growing any other kind of cannabis plant, but there are a few tips that can help you get your CBD levels as high as possible. It’s important to note you cannot raise the CBD levels of any plant higher than is genetically possible. In fact, seeds from the same strain will produce varying CBD percentages. This is why it’s important to keep a mother plant and take cuttings once you find a plant you love. With clones, you’ll get the same CBD levels every time.

If you’re starting out with seeds, you can test their CBD levels at a lab when they are three to four weeks old. To test your plants, trim off the top few nodes and dry them before sending them into the lab. Once you have identified your plants with the highest CBD levels, you can take clones and keep your phenotype growing indefinitely.

A 2011 study found that certain conditions were associated with higher CBD levels in hemp plants. Researchers found that the more precipitation hemp plants were exposed to, the lower the CBD levels, so be sure to keep your humidity levels low and don’t overwater.

The most important tip of all is to grow a strain with genetics that are naturally high in CBD. The following strains make excellent additions to your garden.

Read also: The Healing Properties of Cannabis: 5 Weed Strains High in CBD


Cannatonic is the mother of most of our current high-CBD cannabis strains and is considered to be responsible for the CBD movement. The breeders at Resin Seeds unveiled Cannatonic at 2008 Spannabis and were shocked when the test results showed dramatically elevated levels of CBD.

Although industrial hemp always contained CBD, this was the first time a cannabis sativa plant contained such high levels. This also happened to be around the same time news reports were coming out with the benefits of CBD. The CBD revolution was born.

Cannatonic went on to receive multiple first-place awards at different Cannabis Cups around the US and has become a mainstay in the breeding world. It is a 50-50 indica-sativa hybrid with a 1:1 THC to CBD ratio. Depending on where you get your seeds, CBD levels can range from 10-19 per cent, while THC levels remain as low as three per cent. It has a piney, peppery flavor and produces a mellow, relaxing high.

It is a short plant that can be grown indoors, outdoors, and in greenhouses, and is ready to harvest in 60-70 days. When grown indoors under ideal conditions, it can produce up to 500 grams per square meter. Outdoors, it can produce 250-400 grams per plant.


ACDC is the offspring of Cannatonic and Cannabis Ruderalis. Its THC levels are almost nonexistent, giving you all the medical benefits of cannabis without the high. This strain is ideal for those needing to treat health conditions while keeping a clear head. It is one of the strongest CBD strains out there, with levels at 20 per cent or more. This sativa-dominant hybrid has a fruity, skunky, earthy aroma, and offers a relaxed buzz. It leaves you feeling euphoric, happy, calm, and helps you focus.

When grown indoors, this plant will reach a height of up to 2.5 feet, flowers in about 65-72 days, and will produce a harvest up to 400 grams per 10 square feet. Outdoors, ACDC will reach a height of up to four feet, the flowering time is about 63-70 days, and it will yield 400-500 grams per 10 square feet.

ACDC can be a little picky and likes a consistent temperature between 68-80°F, so if you’re growing outdoors, you will want to make sure you can harvest before temperatures drop in the fall. Growers report that it is sensitive to overfeeding, so feed at half strength in the vegetative stage and then go to full strength in bloom. It has a medium resistance to mold.

Read also: Finding Calm: Cannabis and Anxiety


Harlequin is a sativa-dominant hybrid known for its reliable expression of high-CBD and low-THC levels. It generally tests at a 5:2 CBD to THC ratio, with seven to 10 per cent CBD content. It is another strain that treats a variety of conditions without an intoxicating effect, making it perfect for using during work and daytime activities. It will make you feel alert, focused, clear-headed, calm, and creative. It is known for its sweet mango and earthy musk flavors.

Harlequin has a reputation for growing into relatively large plants and producing high yields. Outdoors, it can grow to be eight feet tall and produce up to 600 grams per plant. Indoors, these plants yield up to 700 grams per 10 square feet.

It prefers to grow in temperatures between 72-85°F and likes humidity right around 50 per cent. It is very resistant to pests, disease, and mold. Harlequin produces large colas and should be harvested early before CBD levels start dropping off. To get the highest CBD levels possible, harvest when 80-85 per cent of the pistils have changed color from white to orange and brown.


Hammershark is another award-winning strain from Resin Seeds and took home third place at the 2013 High Times Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam. This strain strikes a balance between high CBD levels and high yields. It produces large colas covered in a thick layer of trichomes with a 1:1 ratio of CBD to THC.

This indica-dominant hybrid comes from Dieseltonic and Great White Shark. It has a fruity aroma and produces a mellow high, perfect for moments of deep reflection.

This strain has a strong resistance to pests, disease, and mold. When grown indoors, it has a flowering time of nine to 10 weeks and will produce up to 500 grams per 10 square feet. Outdoors, it should reach maturity around October and will produce 250-400 grams per plant.

Read also: Treating Epilepsy with CBD-A from Live Leaves


Harlequin and Jack the Ripper have come together to create Pennywise. More than 70 per cent of plants tested have 12-15 per cent CBD with equal parts THC. This indica-dominant strain treats you to a pleasant and calming body high with mild psychoactive effects.

Its strong analgesic properties provide superior medicinal value. This strain has a coffee-like, peppery flavor with a hint of lemon and bubblegum.

This strain grows well both indoors and outdoors and reaches maturity in 60-67 days. These short plants produce a medium yield and have a strong resistance to mold. Pennywise seeds produce four main phenotypes that vary in bud structure and color, but they all produce the same effects. Some phenotypes produce a beautiful purple color. Indoors, you can expect your plants to yield 300-500 grams per 10 square feet. Outdoors, Pennywise will produce 400-500 grams per plant and will be ready to harvest around mid-October.

If you are interested in the therapeutic benefits of high-CBD cannabis and want to try your hand at growing your own, these five strains will give you an abundance of high-quality medicine to treat what ails you.


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Written by Monica Mansfield | Homesteader, Owner & Writer of The Nature Life Project

Profile Picture of Monica Mansfield

Monica Mansfield is passionate about gardening, sustainable living, and holistic health. After owning an indoor garden store for 5 1/2 years, Monica sold the business and started a 6.5-acre homestead with her husband, Owen. She writes about gardening and health, as well as her homestead adventures on her blog at

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