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Cultivation

Indica vs Sativa vs Ruderalis: Characteristics and Differences

by Dr. Grow

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

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

Indica

The Indica family got its name for geographic identification reasons. It thrives on the Indian peninsula that consists of India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. It consists of relatively small plants, short at height. Due to the high temperature variation from day to night, it becomes compact and doesn’t have the development of Sativa. Its leaves are fat and thick to be able to collect more light during the day and thus achieve photosynthesis efficiently. In Indica’s thriving places, sunshine is usually limited due to the surrounding mountain range and the duration of the day is shorter. So the plant tries to fill this gap by growing its leaves without having to worry about water loss due to transpiration.

A basic feature of Indica is its high content of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and its intense aroma. Their cultivation is usually more difficult than those of Sativa and they are sensitive to over-fertilization. They don’t need much food, they can not withstand excessive pruning and techniques such as topping and training. Generally, they are slow-growing plants that develop rapidly in the last few weeks of flowering. Surprisingly, they are much faster than Sativa in their overall life cycle. Some of the best and most famous varieties in the world are Indica. This species is particularly preferable in cultivations where the height is limited. It doesn’t produce large quantities of flowers, but it has very good quality and high cannabinoid levels.

Sativa

The next category is Sativa, which grows in most parts of the planet. It’s the same kind we have here in Greece. Sativa plants show a rapid development during the growth period, but are usually slow in flowering. They are very tolerant of any injuries and illnesses. They are resistant to over-fertilization and need a lot of food. At their young age, different techniques can be applied to them. They are easily cloned and root much faster than Indica. Their leaves are long and narrow to avoid transpiration due to high temperature. The plant doesn’t necessarily need a lot of light, but rather to be protected from drought. That’s why it doesn’t need a large surface of leaves to achieve photosynthesis.

The height at Sativa can reach up to 4 meters when it grows outdoors or in a greenhouse. Similarly, the quantity it produces is multiple to that of Indica. Quality varies depending on its variety, while their basic feature is the cheerfulness and the euphoria they bring. Indica usually has heavier psychosomatic effects, while Sativa is more energetic and versatile. They are not as diverse in flavor and taste. In fact, most have similar features, even if they produce a completely different result. Sativa is the most popular species, easy to cultivate and tolerant in climate fluctuations.

Hybrids

The famous hybrids are nothing more than Sativa’s marriage to Indica, something that has always been done in places bordering the Indian peninsula. One of the most famous marriages in the history of cannabis was when a farmer married an Indica from India with a Sativa from Brazil, creating the famous variety “White Widow”. Hybrids are the result of simple fertilization and are by no means biologically mutated as many people think.

Ruderalis

There is, also, a third category in the family of cannabis called Ruderalis. This species thrives in Central Eastern Europe and mainly in Russia. It is the shortest and most slim of all types of cannabis. Production of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is extremely low and therefore wasn’t used for recreational purposes, which had marginalized it in the past decades. However, the rates 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 doesn’t depend on the photoperiod to blossom. This results in its immediate flowering from the moment of its birth and therefore its life cycle is much shorter. Thus, up to two crops can be achieved, per year, if climatic conditions permit it. It is a very strong plant and is resistant to adverse conditions. Most seed production companies today, have developed varieties by marrying familiar species with ruderalis calling it ” auto ”. For example, the white widow when crossed with a ruderalis is called “auto-white” and so on. Ruderalis or auto-strains have a tremendous impact on the general public, due to their ease and short-term cultivation. But they can’t be cloned because they continue to flower from the time they are cut, without going into a period of growth no matter how many hours of photoperiod you give them. They are, therefore, avoided in large-scale cultivation with multiple harvests, such as those in greenhouses, where cloning is essential for smooth operation and continuity of production.

Each species has its advantages and disadvantages. The choice is related to factors such as the cultivation type,  space, the desired production and the quality they provide. The choices are too many as new crossings come into the market every day resulting in their rapid spread.

The Green Greeks Magazine

 

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