In 2022 the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) quietly classified cannabis seeds as “hemp”, making them legal to ship between states and some countries. Home growers now have better access than ever to choice genetics, which historically has not been the case. Here we aim to give you some history and info on various cannabis seed varieties to help with your search for the right strains to grow.
Indica Vs Sativa
Just about all strains are technically hybrids after generations of cross-breading original land race strains. But to understand strain traits we should look at inherent varietal origins and where they come from. Marijuana is a diverse plant with three main species: Indica, Sativa, and Ruderalis. All three are distinctive in their plant characteristics, effects provided, and origin. Understanding the differences between these types will help you decide which is best suited for your needs.
Indica is perhaps the most popular type of cannabis. It originated in India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan and is characterized by its wide leaves and short stature. Indicas originally come from Mountainous regions and can thrive in cold, windy settings given their stout stature. Indica strains are also very popular for Indoor grows given they generally yield well and flower/finish faster than Sativa strains.
Indica is known for its calming effects and is often used to treat anxiety, chronic pain, insomnia, and muscle spasms. A classic indica effect is known as “couch lock”, for obvious reasons. Make sure the remote control is nearby when puffing heavy Indica. And consider the climate and conditions of your grow before deciding on Indica dominant strains.
Sativa dominant strains generally have long, thin leaves and tall stature, relative to shorter, bushier Indica plants. Originating in the tropic and jungles, Sativa strains trace back to Central and South America, Thailand, and Vietnam. Sativa are usually upbeat, daytime strains that are more uplifting than Indica. They are sometimes used to treat depression, fatigue, and stress, as well as to increase creativity and energy.
That brings us to Ruderalis, the least well-known and least potent of the three cannabis types. It originated in Russia and is characterized by its very short stature and thin, spindly leaves. Know for growing in extreme conditions and lack of resources, Ruderalis’ superpower is its ability to finish and flower really fast- in as little as 45 days all in, which much faster than both Indica and Sativa. Keying on that trait, breeders have crossed Ruderalis strains with Indica and Sativa cultivars, resulting in “autoflower” seeds which carry the distinct fast-finishing trait.
Beyond choosing Indica vs Sativa and specific strain types, the grower needs to select one of three types of seeds available; regular photoperiod, feminized, or auto-flower.
Regular photoperiod cannabis seeds
The most common and basic weed seeds, regular or “photoperiod” seeds flower based on the light cycle, meaning that they need a specific light cycle (usually 12/12) in order to bloom. Photoperiod seeds are great for growers who want to customize their grow and have more control over the plants. These seeds also tend to be larger and have a longer flowering period than autoflower or feminized seeds.
Regular seeds carry the strongest genetic traits and the truest expression of cultivar characteristics. Seed breeders will always use regular seeds when pheno-hunting or breeding for new cultivars. This ensures newly crossed strains receive the strongest representation of desired genetic traits of each strain being crossbred. Regular seeds come as both female and male, with the sex revealed just before flowering. If male seeds are not immediately identified and pulled out or away from the female plants, you risk male plants pollenating the females resulting in a ruined or seeded crop. If just looking to grow some bud to smoke, new or inexperienced growers should stay away from regular seeds for the same reason as professional cultivators- because there are more efficient options to ensure all the plants yield a proper crop. Read below for the more efficient options.
Feminized cannabis seeds
Feminized seeds lack male chromosomes and only produce female plants. The predictability of feminized seeds make them ideal for commercial growers. Fem seeds help maximize yield through their efficiency, as there are no male plants to take up space in the garden. Feminized seeds are used in some of the largest indoor and outdoor or greenhouse grows, especially in regulated legal markets. The downside of feminized seeds is that they are only fit for a single harvest, and the genetics have the tendency to become unstable when cloned.
Autoflower cannabis seeds
Autoflower seeds are a relatively new. They which carry the fast-finishing trait from Ruderalis, shift from vegetative growth to the flowering phase automatically, rather than a shift in daylight and the season. These seeds are genetically programmed to flower regardless of the light cycle, meaning that they will flower in any light cycle, be it 12/12, 18/6 or 24/0. Autoflower seeds begin to flower in 14-30 days, and can finish budding in 60 days, or as little as 45 days. This makes them ideal for inexperienced growers, or those who don’t have much control over the light cycle. Or for those who simply want an easier and faster harvest. Given that Autoflower seeds tend to be smaller and have much shorter flowering period, the downside is they typically will result in lower THC flower.
Buy cannabis seeds online
The new FDA allowance of weed seeds will normalize the practice of buying seeds online. No matter which type of cannabis you choose, knowing the origin, plant characteristics, and effects provided by each type will help you make an informed decision when selecting the right weed for your needs. Once you’ve identified the strain or terpene profile, consider your growing conditions, and required time commitments when choosing to grow from the right kind of seed; regular, feminized or autoflower. If you were buying shoes, this is akin choosing the style you like, then getting it in the right size. Because of the amount of research to be done and the convenience of air shipping makes the internet an ideal place to research strains and buy weed seeds.
Hempshop partners with California breeders to bring great genetics to commercial cultivators and home grows to those in States that allow cultivation for personal consumption.