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Indica vs Sativa vs Ruderalis: Features and differences

by Dr. Grow

Hemp is divided into three categories of plants:
Indica, Sativa and Ruderalis.

Each genus has different characteristics and their observation is a basic prerequisite for understanding the processes of the plant and its evolution.


family got its name due to geographical designation. It thrives on the Indian Subcontinent consisting of India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. It consists of relatively small plants, close in height. Due to the large variation in temperature from day to night it becomes compact and does not have the growth that the Sativa. Its leaves are wide and thick so that they can collect more light during the day and thus photosynthesize efficiently. In the places where the Indica sunshine is usually limited due to the massif it surrounds and the length of the day is shorter. Therefore, the plant tries to cover this difference by growing its leaves without caring so much about the loss of water due to transpiration. A key feature of Indica is their high content of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and their strong aroma. Their cultivation is usually more difficult than those of Sativa and they are susceptible to overfertilization. They do not need much food, while they do not withstand excessive pruning and techniques such as topping and training. Generally they are slowly growing plants that show rapid growth in the last weeks of flowering. Surprisingly they are much faster than sativa in their overall life cycle. Some of the best and most well-known varieties in the world are Indica. This species is especially loved in growing conditions where the height is limited. It does not produce a large quantity of flowers but has very good quality and high cannabinoid prices.


The next species of the genus is sativa, which grows in most parts of the planet. It is the same kind that we have here in Greece. Sativa plants show rapid progress during the growth period but are usually slow during flowering. They are very tolerant of any injuries and diseases. They withstand over-fertilization and need enough food. At their young age different techniques can be applied to them. They are easily cloned and take out roots much faster than Indica. Their leaves are long and narrow to avoid transpiration due to the high temperature. The plant is not so much in need of adequate lighting as it is to protect itself from drought. That’s why you don’t need a large sheet surface to photosynthesize. The height in Sativa can reach all 4 meters when it grows outdoors or greenhouse. Correspondingly large is the quantity it produces, multiples of that of Indica. The quality varies from variety to variety while the main characteristic is the cheerfulness and the tax office it produces. Indica usually have heavier psychosomatic effects while Sativa are more energetic and euphoric. They are not as diverse as referring to the aroma and taste. In fact, most of them have similar characteristics, even if they produce a completely different result. Sativa are the most widespread species, easy to grow and tolerant of climatic fluctuations.


The famous hybrids are nothing more than the marriage of Sativa with Indica, something that was always done anyway in places bordering the Indian subcontinent. One of the most famous weddings in the history of cannabis was when a grower married an Indica from India to a Sativa from Brazil, thus creating the well-known ”White Widow” variety. Hybrids are the result of simple fertilization and are by no means biologically mutated as many mistakenly think.


But there is also a third species in the cannabis family called the Ruderalis. This species thrives in central-eastern Europe and especially in Russia. It is the shortest and weakest of all kinds of cannabis. The production of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is extremely low and therefore not used for recreational purposes, which had marginalized it in the previous decades. However, the percentages of cannabidiol (CDB) can be high, thus leading many companies and growers to use it for this very reason. Its main difference with the other two species is that it does not depend on the photoperiod to bloom. This results in its immediate flowering from the moment it is born and therefore its life cycle is much shorter. In this way, up to two harvests a year are successful if climatic conditions allow it. It is a particularly strong plant and withstands adverse conditions. Most seed companies today have developed varieties by marrying well-known species with ruderalis calling them ”auto”. For example, white widow when crossed with a ruderalis is called auto-white and so on. Ruderalis or auto-strains have a huge appeal to the general public because of the ease of cultivation and the short time. However, they cannot be cloned because they continue their bloom from the moment they are cut without going through a period of development no matter how many hours of photoperiod we give them. Therefore, they are avoided in large crops with multiple crops such as those of greenhouses where cloning is necessary for the smooth operation and continuity of production.

Each species has its advantages and disadvantages. Their choice is related to factors such as the medium of cultivation, the space, the desired production and the quality they provide. The options are many as new intersections come to the market every day resulting in their rapid spread

The Green Greeks Magazine

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