Differences between Indica, Sativa and Hybrid


When you say cannabis, it does not only refer to one plant. There are different types of cannabis plants. Strains, as they are called, are grouped into two different types: Indica and Sativa. Both Indica and Sativa strains are very different from one another in terms of looks and effects though they are both cannabis plants.

But, with the help of genetic breeding, breeders have given rise to hybrid strains. These hybrids are called as such because they are the combination of the genetic makeup of two or more Indica and Sativa strains. Hybrids usually have some of the qualities of both Indica and Sativa cannabis plants.

To get to know more about Indicas, Sativas, and Hybrids, here are what sets them apart from each other:

  1. Appearance
  • Indica

Indica strains are usually a lot shorter than their Sativa counterparts and are rarely over six feet tall in terms of height. Some Indicas are even just a few inches tall. You can easily distinguish an Indica from a Sativa just by looking at the plant’s height though there are some Sativas that may appear short as well.

These strain’s leaves are also a lot different compared to Sativas. Indica leaves are wider and broader. Meanwhile, their buds tend to be denser than Sativas.

  • Sativa

Sativas are particularly a lot bigger than Indicas. These are massive plants that are even taller than most other normal plant varieties. In fact, there are even Sativa plants that reach heights of over 12 feet. If you see a cannabis plant that’s simply gigantic, it is most likely of the Sativa variety.

The overall size of the plant isn’t the only way you can distinguish a Sativa from an Indica. Sativas tend to have thin and narrow leaves that, along with the buds, are spread apart. The leaves also have a comparatively lighter color.

  • Hybrid

The appearance of a hybrid cannabis plant depends largely on whether it is Indica-dominant or Sativa-dominant. If it leans more on the Indica side, the plant might display physical traits that are similar to the usual Indica plant. Likewise, the plant will appear to look more like a Sativa if it is Sativa-dominant.

Nevertheless, it still does not mean that the hybrid plant won’t have physical traits that are similar to Sativas or Indicas if they are Indica-dominant or Sativa-dominant and vice versa.

  1. Effects
  • Indica

Indicas have effects that you can say are the complete opposite of Sativas. These strains promote relaxation above all. They tend to increase mental and physical relaxation bring about a high that makes the entire body feel heavy and calm. And, if the strain is potent enough, it may promote a lazy and lethargic feeling that keeps the user glued to the couch. Indicas can even lull the user to sleep if the high gets tense enough.

These strains also have the tendency of increasing the user’s appetite to massive proportions to make him/her feel the urge to eat every edible food insight.

Because of these effects, Indicas are usually used for relaxation purposes during the evening. They are the perfect strains to use when binge-watching movies and television series, listening to music, or reading a good book. In any other case, they are great to end a rough day with because they tend to relax the entire body into a state of peace.

  • Sativa

The type of high a user can get from Sativa plant tends to be invigorating rather than relaxing. Sativas energize the mind and the body instead of relaxing them to promote an uplifted mood and a euphoric state.

Since Sativas aim to improve mental and physical energy, the user will most likely feel a kind of cerebral buzz that heightens the senses and improves focus and acuity. Some Sativa strains even make the mind more creative and imaginative. The entire body will also feel a tingling sensation that promotes laughter and boundless energy.

Because of these effects, Sativa strains are perfect for activities that require the mind and/or the body to work. These strains are perfect for improving productivity and creativity. They are also best used for physical activities such as exercise, hiking, or leisurely walking.

Sativa strains are ideal for daytime use and are usually used early in the morning to give the user that jolt of energy he/she badly needs to start the day with. They are also great for social gatherings with like-minded friends because of how they tend to promote talkativeness and sociability.

  • Hybrid

One can say that hybrid strains offer the best of both worlds or some of the best qualities of Indicas and Sativas. However, it still depends on whether or not the strain is Indica-dominant or Sativa-dominant. If the strain has a more dominant Indica side, then it will naturally have more Indica effects. The same is true if you are talking about a Sativa-dominant hybrid.

Likewise, if the hybrid was a 50-50 split between the two strains, it will have balanced effects. However, some Indica-dominant or Sativa-dominant strains actually have well-balanced effects that make them seem like they were actually 50-50 buds. It all depends on their genetics and how they were selectively bred.

This is exactly the reason why most hybrids offer a mentally stimulating high that turns into a relaxing buzz as time goes by. However, the best hybrids have effects that don’t tend to overlap each other

  1. Medicinal benefits
  • Indica

Because of their effects, Indica strains’ medicinal benefits are usually associated with medical conditions that require mental and physical relaxation. They are great at fending off mood-related illnesses such as depression. Physically, they help ease chronic pains and muscle spasms. In other cases, they can also be used to combat anorexia and other eating disorders.

In most cases, Indica plants bred as medicinal plants tend to have high CBD levels and low THC counts. A strain that has a higher CBD to THC ratio is potentially a better medicinal plant.

  • Sativa

Medicinal Sativa strains tend to have higher THC levels and lower CBD counts. Nevertheless, they are still effective treatments for a lot of medical conditions. Sativas are effective fending of symptoms of panic and anxiety. The uplifting effects are also great at treating depression. In terms of physical effects, they are helpful against fatigue. And because Sativas improve focus, these strains can be used to treat ADHD and other focus-related conditions.

  • Hybrid

Most hybrids are bred to have both the medicinal properties of Indicas and Sativas. In that sense, a good hybrid can treat mood-related conditions such as depression and fight off physical ailments while treating the user’s anxiety and fatigue.

  1. Grow info
  • Indica

Historically, Indica strains are native to areas with cold climates such as the Himalayas and other high-altitude areas. However, because of genetic modification and selective breeding, most Indica plants are now capable of thriving in almost any kind of climate and weather condition.

Indica strains also tend to grow faster than their Sativa counterparts particularly because they are a lot shorter. Most Indica plants only need about seven to nine weeks to flower. And, despite the fact they are smaller, they also tend to have higher yields.

  • Sativa

Historically, Sativa plants are native to areas that are quite hot and humid such as countries near the equator (Africa, Mexico, Thailand, etc.). But because of the advancements in technology and in selective breeding, most Sativa strains can now be grown anywhere and strive better when cultivated outdoors especially if the climate is warm or humid.

Because of how massive these plants are, Sativas tend to require more nutrition and need more time to grow. They have flowering periods that lie somewhere between nine and twelve weeks

  • Hybrid

Hybrids tend to have varying growth patterns and behaviors. It still largely depends on whether or not they lean more on the Indica side or on the Sativa side but most hybrids are specifically bred to be able to thrive in almost any kind of condition. The best hybrids can grow well in indoor and outdoor environments as well as in cold and warm weather.

With all of that information out of the bag, it can be safe to say that it is important to know the genetics of whatever strain of cannabis you are using. Indicas, Sativas, and hybrids all have varying effects and growth behaviors that will respectively play a role in how you use them or in how you cultivate them. For example, you can’t just use an Indica early in the morning if you have tons of work to do. Likewise, using a Sativa late in the evening will most likely ruin your sleep pattern. In the same sense, you should also get to know more about your hybrid before using it.

Nevertheless, the genus of the plant (whether it is Indica, Sativa, or a hybrid) should not be the only factor you base your decision on. You should also look at THC and CBD levels as well as taste and aroma if you really want to educate yourself.

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