What is the difference between indica and sativa?

Sativa vs Indica

The genetics of your cannabis plant can have a huge impact on your grow results, so it is important to know a little about what you are going to deal with.

Cannabis plants are categorized in two notable ways: species and strains. The terminologies gets a bit messy and are used interchangeably. You have three species of cannabis: sativa, indica, and ruderalis. Strains are the varieties of the cannabis species. This means you’ll hear things like this strain is a sativa.

Hybrids are a mix of two or more strains/species. Nearly all cannabis strains you will run into today are some sort of a hybrid, some strains lean more to sativa, while other strains lean more to the indica side. I mentioned earlier that there is another species of cannabis known as ruderalis.

These short plants grow in the desert where they flower regardless of light schedule because they grow in a part of the world where they may never see 12 hours of darkness. It’s debated whether ruderalis are their own species of cannabis, or actually a subspecies of Cannabis sativa. Regardless, when a ruderalis is crossed with a photoperiod strain/species it may produce a plant that expresses its genes as an autoflower. Autoflowering will still fall under the three main strain varieties from above: sativa strains, indica strains, or hybrid strains. We will talk more about the ruderalis in the next article.

Genetics strongly influences the way your plants grow and the effects it will give you.


Sativa strains grow a lot taller and take longer to mature. Sativa strains often have thin, finger-like leaves (this is probably the leaf you visualize when you think about marijuana).

Effects: Tend to cause a more cerebral or mental high.


Indica strains grow shorter and bushier, and they are quicker to mature than sativa. Indica strains have fatter and shorter leaves.

Effects: Tend to be more associated with a body and medical high.


Hybrids are bred to carry the best traits of both sativa and indica variants. The influences on growth and effects strongly depend on the dominant traits of strains used to breed the hybrid. But expect a middle of the road plant in all facets, and hybrids are probably what you’re most used to consuming. 
Effects: Middle of the road and balanced.

For more information ask the Experts on our weedportal!