A challenge that is well worth
We don’t want to discourage you, but you must know that growing sativa strains indoors is a tough work. It is difficult and sometimes the result can be disastrous. Why then insist in such a difficult task? The answer is simple. Have you ever tried a good sativa strain? If the answer is yes, we don’t need to explain you anymore about it. If the answer is no, then you must know that the effect produced by sativa strains is quite unique. Therefore, no matter how tough it can be. There will always be growers cultivating these varieties. The effect is more cerebral and psychoactive than indica strains. While indica strains are more narcotic, the good sativa varieties are very invigorating.
Precisely thanks to this invigorating effect, many cannabis users prefer consuming sativa strains during the day and leave indica varieties for the night. And remember that sativa genetics can be extremely potent. I remember once, being in eastern Africa, I bought a little bit of “Bangui”; a pure sativa landrace from that area. I was resting in bed while reading a book. I lit a joint and I had three or four drags. I never ever had again such a “trip” in my life. It lasted more than four hours and I was unable to leave my room. I was so stoned that everybody could notice it. It was a pure landrace; not a hybrid.
We assume you know the difference between indica and sativa strains. This article is about the way and tips you should know before starting the task. If could be impossible for you if you don’t have the minimum space required for it.
While indica strains use to be small and easy to manage, which makes them a perfect choice for indoors cultures, sativa strains are tougher to manage in indoors. It is a question of several factors, but above all because their morphology.
In nature, sativa strains grow in hot areas near the equator. The plants are very tall and they can get out of control very easily if you don’t have space enough. This is a problem that you don’t have if you grow them outdoors. But you have others, at least in continental climates, because the weather can get too cold before the flowers are ready to be harvested. Because of these factors, it is difficult to buy a pure sativa strain. Most varieties are hybrids, whose maximum sativa usually don’t exceed 90%. Some of these hybrids are fantastic and when they have been bred by good breeders, the result is incredible. There is an strain named Frutilla Haze, created by one of the best banks (ketama seeds) that is easy to grow and the effect is absolutely amazing. A couple of drags are enough to make you fly!
The buds grow like little towers and usually they can be quite leafy looking. They tend to stretch a lot and the distance among the several nodes is very long. This is probably the major problem when cultivating them. And, moreover, the flowering period lasts much more than indica strains. It is very common to wait until three months before you can collect your plants. Many growers don’t want to wait that much.
Typical shape of cannabis sativa strains
Usually they have quite long and skinny leaves. In fact they are very elegant.
Most sativa strains have many side branches, which leads to open space between sets of leaves.
Their natural tendency is to grow tall and keep growing rapidly throughout their lives. Because of this, you must calculate the space you are going to need during the flowering phase. They can easily double and even triple in height after the flowering period has started.
Buds use to have the typical “foxtail” appearance, and are loose compared to indica strains.
Environmental conditions, feeding protocol and tips to grow them indoors
Sativa strains love light in abundance. Originally coming from hot areas in the world, they like heat and hate cold temperatures.
Beware of too much Nitrogen (N) when you feed your plants. If the environmental conditions are not the best, sativa strains can be very sensitive to high doses of this nutrient. They can get burnt easily.
However, if you feed them with low doses of Nitrogen, you will encourage the plants to develop bigger flowers. I am not saying you don’t have to feed them without Nitrogen at all. But instead of using the common protocol for the growing season, you better use the flowering phase dose.
When it comes to sativa strains, you can see there is a long distance between sets of leaves. Although defoliation is a common praxis in indica strains in order to allow the light to reach all the different points of the plant, the truth is that you do more harm than good. However, with a stretchy sativa plant, buds and every corner receive light enough. Therefore, in sativa strain this praxis is never necessary. In case any area of the plant is covered by too many leaves (which is very rare), don’t use defoliation to avoid it.
I personally don’t give my sativa strains a growing period. Most sativa genetics keep growing from the beginning until the day the plant is cut. Don’t think this way of cultivating means a too small plant. No matter if the plant is an indica or a sativa strain. Any variety needs to reach its sexual maturity before begin to flower. When does a plant reach its sexual maturity? It never reaches it before developing leaves with five folioles, “fingers”. Any cannabis plant begins with leaves of 1 foliole, after it develops leaves with 3 folioles and after 5 folioles. After five, they have 7, 9 and eventually 11. In any case, no plant will be able to flower before its leaves have, at least, 5 “fingers”.
If you don’t give a growing period to your sativa plants, be sure they will reach a good height before it begins to flower. If you decide to give them a growing period, don’t give them more than a week if you don’t want to get plants that exceed the size of your space. As I said, I never give my sativa strains a growing time at all.
Many sativa varieties may need 3 months, or even more, of flowering phase before they are ready to be harvested. Of course we are talking of 12/12 hours. But it can be necessary to accelerate the process. They can need to adjust your lamps and give the plants more hours of darkness than just 12. For example, 11/13, 10/14 and sometimes 8/16 light schedule.
As we said in the beginning of this article, growing sativa strains can be tougher than indica genetics. But the effort is well worth!