Cannabis Seeds 101 For Beginner Growers
If you are a new cannabis grower, your selection of marijuana seeds will be decisive for the success or failure of your crops. There are strains that will forgive you for many errors, while other, delicate strains can result in plants with little production following an error.
In this guide, we will review basic information to guide you to choose seed varieties that will have excellent results with the crop you are planning (and I recommend specific varieties for each situation).
There are so many varieties of cannabis today. So, how do you choose?
The type of seeds you purchase will depend on your answers to the following questions:
- In what environment are you going to grow your plants? Outdoors or indoors?
- What is the weather like in your city?
- How much time and work do you want to dedicate to your plants?
- What effects do you expect when the plants are consumed?
You don’t need to read everything; you can jump directly to my seed recommendations for beginners that will be explained with their respective characteristics. But if you want to know ALL of it, take a look at the following sections:
Sativa, indica, and ruderalis are species distinct from the ‘cannabis’ genus. There are several differences between them, ranging from size, leafiness, and leaf shapes, to psychoactive effects and flowering time.
Today there are no seeds that are only indica or only sativa; in the details of the varieties you will see the percentages of each of their genetics.
- Size — Indica is recognizable for its short stature and leafiness. It is the ideal plant for indoor growing (and stealth crops), and reaches maximum heights of 1.5 meters or lower after applying techniques that we will address later.
- Effects — Indica has the effect that we call ‘corporal’. When smoking it, you will feel your muscles relax, and a good strain may leave you unable to get up for a while. It also acts as a sedative to reduce inflammation, relieve pain, and help sleep. It can also be used to help relieve stress and anxiety.
- Time — It tends to flower much faster than Sativa. Once it reaches its ideal height it puts all its energy into producing buds.
- Production — It has very good production in relation to its size and growing time, and has dense and heavy buds.
- Climate — Indica grows in regions away from the equator. The ideal climate for this type of marijuana is at least 30 degrees south or north. These locations include Southern United States, almost all of Europe, Uruguay, central Argentina, central Chile.
- Size — Cannabis sativa is the largest of the three species, and can reach a height of more than four meters. It is spikier, less leafy, and the space between the nodes of the main trunk, where the branches and buds come from, is much larger.
- Effects — Sativa tends to produce a “cerebral” effect. You will feel energetic and euphoric. It generates motivation, greater focus and attention, inspires and helps creativity, and generates a feeling of well-being. These effects can sometimes be accompanied by anxiety and even paranoia in certain people, including myself at times.
- Time — Sativa needs more time in the flowering stage, and continues to grow during this stage, particularly during the first week of flowering Sativa gains considerable height.
- Production — Sativa has very good production in outdoor cultivation. The size and the extra time results in a large number of flowers. However, in indoor crops, where maximum height is determined by the distance from the light, production is notably lower.
- Climate — Sativa originated in equatorial regions and need many hours of sunshine during its growth stage. It needs a minimum temperature of 20ºC; any temperature below that can cause problems in the plant’s roots. Humid climates with low temperatures incite the multiplication of pests and fungi to which this type of marijuana plants is vulnerable. Sativa is ideal for countries in northern South America, Central America, Mexico, and equatorial regions of Africa and Asia.
This cannabis species grows little and reaches its flowering stage rapidly, being native to extreme climates such as Nepal, Russia, or northern Europe. It has a limited production, with little tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, the chemical responsible for the psychological effects of cannabis) content. It is not a variety that is marketed for recreational use, and we will not cover it here.
It is worth noting that autoflowering plants were created from crossing ruderalis with indica and sativa. Thanks to the accelerated flowering from Ruderalis and the power and production of the Indica and Sativa, it contains the best of both worlds.
Seed types are another factor to take into account when growing cannabis. We refer to the seed types when we use the terms “Regular”, “Feminized”, and “Autoflowering.”
Now, before we continue, an important fact to remember is that cannabis plants have genders.
- Females produce the buds that we smoke,
- Male plants produce other kind of flowers without psychoactive effects, and
- Hermaphrodites have flowers of both sexes.
Watch out! One male or hermaphrodite plant can pollinate your entire crop. The pollinated buds become sacks full of seeds, and the psychoactive quality will drop considerably.
If you are growing your plants for consumption, you’re going to want to avoid regular seeds.
You will not have control over the sex of your plants using regular seeds, as these produce males and females equally. Choosing these seeds will result in your having to get rid of half your crop for being the wrong gender.
It is impossible to determine the gender of the seed in advance – for this you will have to wait for the flowering stage.
In general, regular seeds are used by experienced growers to obtain flowers of both sexes and create their own seeds.
Feminized seeds were created to grow only female plants, and consequently they are the most popular among growers.
By growing only feminized seeds, you make sure that 100% of your harvest will result in seedless buds. Furthermore, feminized cannabis seeds tend to produce more uniform plants – similar to each other – than regular seed females.
The time it takes between the germination and the flowering of a cannabis plant is typically two to four weeks. Also called ‘automatic’, the plant begins its flowering process when it reaches its ideal maturity and height, and does not depend on daylight hours; the plant will flourish even if it receives sunlight 24 hours a day.
Typically, a marijuana plant needs a change in daylight hours to begin its flowering process. When grown outdoors, this occurs in the late summer when the days become shorter.
Autoflowering plants complete their harvest cycle in just 60-90 days. The speed in which they develop is their greatest virtue. In comparison, a sativa plant may take 90 days to complete only its flowering stage.
These seeds will produce smaller crops that are already short in stature — shorter than a regular indica — but production will be very good in relation to the time needed. They are ideal for indoor crops, discreet plantations, balconies, and terraces.
These are feminized seeds! It is worth mentioning that the autoflowering characteristic does not determine this aspect; most of what you can buy today is feminized.
Effects according to its Components
THC and cannabidiol (CBD) are the two components you’ll see in descriptions of marijuana strains. These compounds work in different ways in the human body, depending on which type of cannabidiol predominates the plant. Both, however, are always present.
The THC:CBD ratio of each variety is genetically determined. However, the abundance of these compounds in your crops will vary depending on the conditions in which you grow them, including humidity, temperature, and nutrients from the soil.
The below descriptions are a summary so as to not overwhelm beginners. Later we will discuss this topic in depth, as well as other cannabinoids such as CNB, and the terpenes of the resin and how they modulate the effect of THC, something that is not discussed often.
THC is the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. It is responsible for producing the ‘hit’ that makes you feel energetic, euphoric, and accelerated. In certain people, like myself, it can also create anxiety and paranoia.
Most varieties have been bred to produce as much THC as possible by seed banks.
CBD: Sedative and pain reliever
CBD does not have the same psychoactivity as THC. Instead, it offers analgesic, anxiolytic, and sedative properties.
High CBD cannabis is considered to have a wide range of potential medicinal applications. While researching cannabis, I have devoted myself to studying the subject in depth but I will not be discussing it right now.
If you are interested in the great advances that are being made by highly qualified people, I encourage you to do your own research and consult professionals who are studying the subject. There are many and they are easy to find, even online.
Growing Environment: What to consider
In this section, we are going to examine what environment is best for you, and analyze the advantages and disadvantages of each one. If you want to see specifications and how to grow in these environments, I have devoted a specific chapter to the subject later on.
Popular opinion is that indoor marijuana is better than outdoor marijuana. Indoor-grown buds tend to be more aesthetic and smell-rich, while outdoor-grown buds for one reason or another — rain or wind — tend to be low-odor and not visually beautiful.
But this does not really mean anything; that they look and smell better does not imply that they have more power or are of better quality. When outdoor buds are good, they are truly good. Both options are excellent and it will be up to you where you prefer to plant.
When planting directly in the ground, you will need to see the quality of the soil. Leafy soil — which forms naturally — is generally very acidic for marijuana.
Ideally, you will have to prepare the soil with natural fertilizers before starting to germinate the seeds. When cannabis roots are placed directly into the soil, they produce the best harvests and generally have better growth.
Your other outdoor option is to plant in pots. These have the advantage that you can transport them — for example, bring them into the house on a high wind night — but they need to be watered more regularly.
Your cultivation area must be very well-illuminated by the sun, not only in the hours of light but also the quantity of light. They will need at least six hours of DIRECT SUN a day, and even more is better. If you live near the equator, it is ideal to have flowerpots on a sunny balcony.
The weather in your city should be warm during the growing season, and the longer the better. And once again, the amount of sunlight your plants get is very important – cloudy days do not help. Ideal conditions are hot days, warm nights, and low humidity in the air.
Strong winds and storms can break your branches, especially when they already have heavy buds. In this case, your duty is protecting them from the wind.
Your plants will only flower when they detect that the days are beginning to get shorter — such as the last days of summer when there are fewer hours of sunshine. You will have one single harvest per year, and depending on what season you plant, you may have to wait several months before harvesting.
The fastest harvest you can get is with autoflowering marijuana outdoors. You will be cutting them between 70 and 90 days after planting.
Insects and pests
It is likely that you will have problems with insects that want to eat, lay eggs, or even make nests inside your buds. At the same time, though, you will have natural predators that will take care of those pests.
Your outdoor harvests are going to be much more significant than indoors, due to the space they have to grow and unlimited sunlight.
You will need to keep your plants hidden from the view of the neighbors and thieves, and avoid problems with the law. Remember that sativa cannabis can grow four meters or more, and the indica plant can grow up to 1.5 meters.
Your plants will demand significant initial costs wherever you grow. Exterior costs may include purchasing substrate (soil), pots, fertilizers, repellents, seeds, tools, and extra materials.
However, growing outdoors will not demand higher expenses once the process has started.
Outdoor plants need less care, though less does not mean little work. You will have to take care of pests, and water the plants and see that they are well fed. But Mother Nature will help you in many aspects, and the work you will have to do will be much more relaxed than if you grew indoors with the same crop throughout the year.
No lamp can reproduce the spectrum of sunlight, but there are good options that come very close. Any of the following lamps will give you good crops:
- Special LED lamps that emit violet light,
- High Intensity Lamps, including metal halide lamps and sodium vapor lamps,
- Energy saving lightbulbs, which come in many shapes and types, and you can buy them anywhere you would normally buy lightbulbs.
The good thing about growing indoors is that you don’t have to depend on the outside climate. The downside is that you have to take care of that climate yourself, even getting heaters for your grow tent. You have to control temperature and humidity to create a stable habitat if you want a worthwhile harvest.
If you live in a damp city or your grow room is damp or very small, it is good to choose a marijuana strain that is resistant to fungi and disease.
Time is another advantage compared to growing outdoors. By managing your daylight hours, you can grow your plants as much as your growing space allows. This also lets them grow as small as you want and harvest as soon as possible.
Insects and pests
With the plants having no contact with the outside, it is more difficult for bugs to disturb them. However, if pests appear on your indoor crops, you will have a lot of work checking each leaf and applying repellents and natural poisons that do not affect your crop.
Indoor buds are recognized as the ‘best’ products, as they are not conditioned by the elements. Their aesthetic appearance, high percentages of THC, and strong aromas stand out over those grown outdoors.
Growing indoors also gives you the opportunity to harvest several times a year.
The size of your plants will be determined by the height of your lamp. With high intensity lights you must leave a considerable distance to avoid burning the leaves, while LEDs and low consumption lightbulbs do not have this problem. It is important to maintain a distance that allows the light to reach the entire crop equally.
Due to their small height, indica cannabis seeds or autoflowering plants are perfect for indoor growing.
Both environments will demand the highest costs at the start — lamps, substrate (soil), flower pots, reflective paper, extractors, tools — but in the case of growing indoors, energy consumption will prolong your costs throughout the cultivation.
Continuous harvests bring continuous work together. You will always have things to do, such as pruning, trimming, watering, fertilizing, checking for pests, temperature and humidity control. Indoor cultivation requires more work and attention.
Recommended Seeds for Beginners
Finally, we have arrived! These recommendations will be divided by their main highlight, and in each one you will have details indicating their characteristics. All of these recommendations are according to the questions we asked at the beginning:
In what environment are you going to grow, outdoors or indoors? What is the weather like in your city? How much time and work do you want to dedicate to it? What effects do you expect when consuming?
Quick to harvest
Autoflowering is the best option if you want to harvest as soon as possible. It is also possible to harvest some indica varieties in almost the same time using a photoperiod of 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness throughout the cultivation.
Keep in mind that they will need a lot of attention from you, especially during the first month. If you take care of them as you should, giving them the nutrients they need and being attentive to their needs, you will have great harvests. Don’t forget, if you have serious problems during the beginning of their growth, it will be difficult to recover from them in a short time.
In case you cannot or do not want to buy online, take the above chart to your trusted growshop, and explain that you want a seed with similar characteristics.
Easy to grow
If you don’t have a lot of time to spend on them, or just feel like growing without stress, below are some cannabis strains that aren’t going to require too much attention from you, and can forgive you for some beginner mistakes. Although you will always achieve better results taking care of your plants as much as possible.
Autoflowering strains are excluded from this list. Photoperiodic plants (those that flourish when you increase the hours of darkness) will allow you time to correct mistakes that could otherwise be fatal.
In this section, there are three highly potent, historical, award-winning varieties to recommend you. These strains are so characterized because their potency and their production are genetically guaranteed, but they must be given good care and sufficient nutrients so they can give everything of themselves.
There are hundreds of varieties that fall into this category. Since this guide is for beginners, I considered strains that are not overpriced, are resistant, and in which feminized versions can be found.
Thank you for reading
In this article we saw only the most basic cannabis strains and guidelines. I know it may seem like a lot of information if you’re just entering this world, but once you internalize it, it’s actually pretty simple.
Every cultivator with some experience should know the topics that we covered in this article very well.
Once you get seeds suitable for your desired crop, I recommend some methods to germinate marijuana successfully. They are all very simple and assure you almost 100% sprouts in all cases.
I will continue to publish guides that will cover everything related to growing marijuana at home. If you’d like to find out when I am publishing those, sign up for the mailing list below.
You will see that as you grow more crops, this knowledge will make an incredible difference when harvesting – and not to mention smoking.
Hope to see you here again!