You likely already know that all marijuana strains are not the same. Males and females differ already, but different seeds also produce different varieties (known as “strains”) of marijuana plants. Short and bushy, tall and slender, smaller altogether, or gargantuan marijuana plants are all growing somewhere in the world at the moment. To clarify things, we’ll be covering the three different types of marijuana plants: Cannabis Sativa, Cannabis Indica, and Cannabis Ruderalis. We will also discuss the differences between male and female plants, and how that will affect your growing operations.
In this article we will discuss:
Understanding the differences
In addition to the three distinct types of marijuana plants, you need to take into account that male and female plants are innately different. It is a good idea to understand the main differences between the two sexes of plants to maximize your growing operations. It is also important to remember one thing – marijuana plants can also be hermaphroditic.
Understanding the differences between the different strains of marijuana plants is equally important, as it allows you to make an educated decision on your very first action with your marijuana plants: choosing and buying the seeds. You will want to be well-versed in whichever strain you choose so that you know it’s the right strain for your climate or your grow room setup, and so you know exactly what to do to maximize your marijuana plants’ potential. More about marijuana plant types in my free grow bible.
In general, the Cannabis Sativa is considered to be the most commonly grown of the marijuana strains. It generally reaches quite a large size (up to 19 feet tall!), but experiences most of its growth in its height, as it won’t be particularly bushy.
Cannabis Sativa plants have delicate leaves and smooth seeds that have no marbling or flecked patterns. It takes a sativa a relatively long time to flower, and any changes in light won’t have quite as strong an effect on a sativa as it will on other marijuana species. These plants are most commonly located in India, Thailand, Nigeria, Mexico, Colombia, and other countries located below a latitude of 30 degrees North.
Just like the majority of marijuana strains, sativas will be dried, cured, and processed after their harvest to be smoked or vaporized. Sativas are considered the strain that will get a smoker “high” instead of “stoned,” which means it is a more active and energetic type of feeling. It has more THC than CBD and, therefore, is not used for medicinal purposes as often as other strains nowadays.
Cannabis Indica is characterized by its short, stocky structure, and generally reaches a maximum height of only about 10 feet. The leaves are rounder and less delicate than their sativa counterparts. The seeds are also smooth but generally have a marble-like pattern.
Indicas flower rather quickly, and are very responsive to light changes – this is what causes the flowering phase to begin so abruptly. It’s the northern strain of marijuana, found above 30 degrees North in countries such as Nepal, Lebanon, Morocco, or Afghanistan.
Generally speaking, the buds and flowers of an indica plant grow more densely and closer together than a sativa’s buds, and they are extremely sticky. Because of the high quantity of resin found in indica buds, they are usually used to make hashish. Sometimes indica buds have more CBD than THC, and the effect is, therefore, a more relaxed “stoned” sensation than with a sativa. More about marijuana plant types in my free grow bible.
Cannabis Ruderalis plants are not as commonly found as indicas and sativas. They only reach a maximum height of about two feet tall, but their branches and leaves are extremely dense, making this a particularly bushy plant.
Ruderalis is a strain that is generally grown up north since its flowering cycle begins quite early. Since cold weather hits northern climates earlier, this makes ruderalis a perfect choice for some growers. If you have heard of autoflowering marijuana plants, they are always from a ruderalis strain.
In general, ruderalis is not the chosen product for smoking because it is not as psychoactive as the indica or sativa strains. It is more commonly used by breeders and cultivators for other things, such as a genetic source for hybrid marijuana strains that need to be able to grow in colder climates.
These days, most strains you will find on the market are going to be a hybrid of some sort. Breeders carefully cultivate plants to form the best hybrids possible, and there are a massive amount of different types of hybrids. Instead of marijuana plants falling into one of the above categories, they now range across a wide spectrum between them.
Different hybrids harbor different advantages, depending on your purpose and climate. The ultimate point of creating hybrids is to get all the positive qualities of multiple strains to materialize into one useful plant.
You will know whether a hybrid has more indica or sativa genetics based on its height, the spacing of the bud growth, the leaf shape and size, the smell, the feeling from a smoke, and the chemical balance. To keep things simple, just remember that indica plants are wide and bushy, and sativa plants are tall and thin.
Male marijuana plants
You will be able to identify a male marijuana plant after it matures. Small flower stalks (called “racemes”) will begin forming towards the base of its flowers, and pollen will be released when the flowers open. This pollen is supposed to stick to the female pistils in order to carry out the fertilization process. Generally speaking, male plants develop sooner than females, making identification a bit easier. More about marijuana plant types in my free grow bible.
Female marijuana plants
Females also form “racemes,” although they differ from the males’ in that they are formed from a combination of little pistils and calices. Each calyx has an ovule on which the male pollen sticks. When the pistil has pollen stuck to it, which then gets pushed into the calyx, the fertilization process has been carried out and your female plant will begin producing seeds. Like all cases of sexual reproduction, the resulting seeds will end up with genes from both parents.
Hermaphroditic marijuana plants
While growing marijuana plants, many people are surprised by some plants that exhibit both male and female sex organs. If left alone, the plant may perform self-pollination, which ultimately can be extremely helpful in terms of breeding. Hermaphroditism doesn’t occur frequently in nature, but it is a natural occurrence that has evolved as a self-preservation method for the species.
Hermaphrodites do not all have the same characteristics. They have mainly male flowers, more female flowers, or equal parts of both. Only the ones with mostly female flowers are considered useful and worth saving, however. Because those kinds of hermaphrodites are genetically female, you can use this pollen to fertilize other female plants and have feminized seeds.
For the most part, growers aren’t looking to pollinate their female plants. Instead, they would like to have their female plants focus their resources on producing big, fat buds, as these are the best for smoking later. When female plants are fertilized, their valuable resources go towards seed production, and, therefore, the bud growth is significantly reduced.
Unpollinated female marijuana plants are called sinsemilla plants, and they are considered the most desirable. They contain more sugar and THC, and their flowers are both denser and more fragrant. In general, they make for a better smoke for both recreational and medicinal purposes.
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