Sativa, Indica vs Autoflowering Seeds: What Is the Difference?

by Glenn Maxwell

Cannabis enthusiasts may know that there are different strains of marijuana. Those who are new to growing or buying cannabis may not know exactly what that means, though. This article will start at the beginning by offering an overview of sativa, indica, and autoflowering seeds and the types of plants they produce.

Photoperiod vs Autoflowering Strains

The first distinction to make when it comes to the types of marijuana seeds available is between photoperiod and autoflowering strains. Both of these types of plants come in sativa, indica, and hybrid varieties. 

The difference is that while photoperiod cannabis strains require a full growing season and only switch over to the flowering stage when the levels of light reach the right point, autoflowering strains grow much faster and begin to flower after a certain period regardless of the light levels. Autoflowering strains contain genetics from a lesser-known type of cannabis plant known as Cannabis ruderalis, which allows them to start flowering much sooner than their photoperiod counterparts.

Sativa Strains

Now that the distinction between photoperiod and autoflowering strains has been made clear, let’s take a closer look at the two main types of cannabis plant strains. Sativa strains are produced by the Cannabis sativa plant, which tends to grow in places with long, sunny days and hot, dry climates.

Growth Characteristics

Because of their developmental history in hot, sunny, dry climates, sativa strains tend to grow tall and thin with thin leaves. They also tend to have longer growing periods than indica plants, likely as a result of their evolution in areas that had longer growing seasons.

Typical Effects

When it comes to typical effects associated with sativa strains, most cannabis enthusiasts indicate they produce a “mind high” that can induce creativity and productivity. In terms of plant physiology, these effects are likely due to sativa strains’ higher doses of THC compared to CBD. This cannabinoid profile tends to be less relaxing and more energizing, so most people use sativa strains during the daytime. 

Indica Strains

Indica strains are produced by the Cannabis indica plant, which is better adapted to harsher, more turbulent climates than Cannabis sativa. Like sativas, though, most indica strains are available in both photoperiod and autoflowering varieties.

Growth Characteristics

Indicas are usually looked at as being easier to grow than sativas, especially in cooler climates. They grow shorter and stockier with more branches and wider leaves. Indicas also tend to reach harvest faster than sativas, likely because they evolved in places with shorter growing seasons.

Typical Effects

While sativas are usually described as producing a “mind high,” indicas usually create a more intensely relaxing “body high.” Indica strains often contain higher levels of CBD and are often used by medical patients to assist with pain and nausea and increase appetite. Because they tend to be more sedating, most people use indica strains at night.

Hybrid Strains

Hybrid strains contain a mix of indica and sativa genetics. Hybrid plants’ growth patterns and effects are dependent upon the dominant strains used to breed them, but most fall somewhere in the middle on both counts.

It’s Time to Start Growing

Now that future growers know the difference between sativa, indica, and autoflowering seeds, it’s time to get to the fun part. Start learning about different strains online, choose a few that look like a good fit, and plant some seeds. Just make sure you order them from a reputable seed bank so they are high quality and have stabilized genetics.

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