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Top 5 Cannabis Strains for Indoor Growing

Indoors or outdoors, that is the question. Wondering which set-up to choose and which strains work best in which environment? Fear no more and read all about the benefits of growing cannabis indoors and get to know our top 5 strains for indoor growing.

There are quite a few factors to consider when choosing which strains to grow, especially if your set-up is indoors. You’ll have to compare flowering times, yields, effects and flavours, amongst other things. Growers will often land on their favourite strain after extended trial and error, and it can be an expensive process. We at Royal Queen Seeds, fortunately, have some information that can make the decision a bit easier.

We carry a wide variety of seeds, and each of them has something special to offer. Whether they’re indoor or outdoor strains or whether they’re indica, sativa or a pleasant hybrid, there’s quality across the board. However some varieties perform better than others in an indoor grow. That’s why we’ve decided to put together an updated list of the 5 best cannabis strains for growing indoors. Don’t take this as a full list of the best choices, though. In fact, we strongly encourage you to check out our website, where you can find even more gems.

WHY GROW INDOORS?

You may be wondering what the benefits of growing indoors are. Does it have an impact on how the plants grow? Is it better than outdoor growing? The answer to both those questions depends on the strain you select. Some will thrive in the indoor environment, others won’t reach their full potential. Indoor growing in general has quite a few advantages over growing outdoors.

For starters, you can control the climate of your environment. When you have this power in your hands, you can optimize the temperature to match the needs of whatever strain you’re growing, which is a major advantage. Plus, you can keep on cultivating throughout the year since change of seasons will not affect your grow. Keeping with the theme of control, being in charge of the cleanliness of your growing area is a plus, since keeping your product free of germs, parasites, and other harmful intruders is an easier task indoors. Also, an indoor set-up means much more discretion. In short, if you’re living in a rough climate or prioritize cleanliness and privacy, indoor growing is for you.

ARE ALL STRAINS SUITABLE FOR INDOOR GROWS?

The short answer to the first question is “Yes.” The slightly longer answer is, “Yes, as long as you can maintain the proper climate, lighting, etc.”

The viability of all strains outdoors is a different story, though. The main reasoning for this is down to plant sensitivity. If you live in a colder climate, many plants you’d normally be able to grow outdoors wouldn’t be able to stand the chill. Beyond climate, there’s the issue of pests. If some bugs happen to find your plants defenceless outside, they’re as good as gone. If you try to get rid of the pests with pesticides, though, the quality of your plants drops harshly.

CRITICAL

We like to think of our Critical as the perfect all-rounder and recommend it to outdoor growers, novices, and anyone aiming for extremely high yields in a short flowering period. Indoor growers can profit from a huge production that exceeds indoor yields of 600g/m² in some cases, a strong narcotic stone due to average THC levels of 18%, and a highly stable genetic background consisting of Afghani and Skunk genetics. What makes this strain one of the best choices for an indoor grow? Well, no other variety from the Royal Queen Seeds product range is capable of yielding higher in a short flowering period of 7-8 weeks. If you’re looking for a vigorous and resilient strain that won’t cause any trouble other than confronting you with large amounts of high-quality cannabis – Critical is your choice.

Critical
Afghani x Skunk
550 – 600 g/m 2
80 – 140 cm
7 – 8 weeks
THC: 18% (aprox.) / CBD: Low
40% Sativa, 60% Indica
600 – 650 g/per plant (dried)
180 – 220 cm
Late September
Stoned, physically and mentally
Critical
Afghani x Skunk
500 – 550 g/m 2
80 – 140 cm
7 – 8 weeks
THC: 18% (aprox.) / CBD: Low
40% Sativa, 60% Indica
500 – 550 g/per plant (dried)
180 – 220 cm
Late September
Stoned, physically and mentally

ROYAL GORILLA

It was once only available to smokers in the United States. Royal Gorilla has since crossed the pond, allowing for its amazing traits to be enjoyed by the growers and smokers in Europe. A clean split between indica & sativa, Royal Gorilla provides a wave of cerebral relaxation with an impressive 24–27% THC. This is a more complicated blend, combining Sour Dubb, Chem Sis and Chocolate Diesel. Her taste finds roots in the forest, showcasing pungent hits of earthiness and pine and it will grow beautifully away from the great outdoors. Royal Gorilla will take about 9–10 weeks to flower. But once that happens, you’ll see hefty buds with bright green leaves, with so much resin they shine in the light. The plants reach 90–160 cm and bear respectable yields of 500–550g/m². This strain produces superb quality and will definitely not disappoint.

Unsure which strains thrive indoors? Here's a list of some of the best cannabis strains for indoor growing. Click to find out more!

A Guide to Growing Sativa Strains Indoors

by Nebula Haze (with a big “Thank You” to alltatup who inspired this tutorial!)


Growing & Caring for Finicky Plants Strains Indoors

When it comes to growing cannabis indoors, there are two main varieties of photoperiod plants that are cultivated for their buds: Indica and Sativa strains. While Indica plants tend to stay small and manageable (which can be convenient for indoor growing), Sativa plants are typically a little tougher to care for indoors.

Sativa strains originated from hotter regions near the equator with long growing seasons, and as a result, they carry a few properties from their family history that can catch an indoor grower by surprise!

Example of two Sativa plants (Panama strain) grown indoors. Sativa strains produce big and tall plants that can get out of control quickly in a small grow space!

Sativa plants really thrive outdoors when they have unlimited space to grow!

Why do we still try to grow Sativa plants indoors if it’s tough? In part, because Sativa strains often have amazing and unique buds effects, and produce very high yields when done right 🙂

Note: It is rare to find a “pure” Sativa strain since that’s a loose definition, and nearly all marijuana strains available today are actually some sort of hybrid. The following tutorial is all about strains with a lot of Sativa plants in their ancestry and which carry a lot of common Sativa characteristics!

Typical Indica vs Typical Sativa plant

These two plants were grown indoors together under the same conditions from seed to harvest. The short Indica plant produced half the yields of the 5-foot Sativa! A big part of this is the fact that the Sativa plant got big enough to take full advantage of all the lights, while the Indica stayed short.

Sativa buds often have “foxtails” (buds grow in little towers) and/or may be relatively “wild” or leafy looking

Just for reference, this is what that same Sativa strain (Kaya Gold) looks like when buds are grown indoors under LED grow lights

This is what the buds of a “true” landrace Sativa looks like – basically all foxtails! Most available “Sativa” strains are actually hybrids with at least a little Indica genes mixed in to help increase bud density and improve overall structure.

Example of untrimmed, dried buds of a Blue Dream plant, a very popular Sativa-leaning cannabis hybrid that’s become well known for being easy to grow.

pic by Psychonaught

General Appearance of Sativa Plants

  • Often have long, skinny leaves
  • Generally stretchy appearance with lots of side branching and plenty of space between sets of leaves (as opposed to the short, squat Christmas tree shape of an Indica plant).
  • Tend to grow tall and fast throughout their life, and may double or even triple in height after entering the flowering stage!
  • Buds often have “foxtails” and may be loose or airy compared to Indica buds, which tend to be solid and dense. However, a well-bred Sativa strain can still often out-produce an Indica in the same conditions because everything about the plant grows so big and so fast.

Long, thin “fingers” on Sativa leaves, compared to Indica leaves which tend to be round and fat.

Sativa plants tend to grow tall, with lots of stem between leaves and extensive side branching

Bud Effects

Sativa buds tend to give a more cerebral “in-your-head” effect than the more “body-based” Indica effects. Sativa buds may feel more energizing, so some people prefer Sativa strains for daytime use or in social settings.

A Sativa-based strain with a little bit of Indica genes

The buds from another “pure” Sativa strain – Although the buds are airy and a little strange looking, some of these old Sativa strains produce unique mental effects that you just don’t find anywhere else.

Dried leafy buds of a “pure” Sativa. Only a few decades ago in the USA, this type of cannabis was common! Now you’ll almost never see buds like this unless you grow them yourself.

Environment & Nutrients

  • Sativa plants generally respond well to high levels of light and don’t mind a little heat, but can easily get stressed by cold temperatures
  • Can be nutrient-sensitive, especially in dry heat, low light levels or if a plant does not have many leaves. Not uncommon to see nutrient burn or Nitrogen toxicity at standard-strength nutrient levels.
  • It’s a good idea to give lower levels of Nitrogen if you see an N toxicity, this will help encourage as much bud growth as possible. You don’t want to give zero Nitrogen, but be on the lookout for dark green leaves and curled tips!

Example of buds on a Sativa plant that is suffering from a Nitrogen Toxicity (too much Nitrogen) in the flowering stage. Nitrogen “tells” the plant to focus on vegetative growth, and the plant keeps putting out more and more sugar leaves if given too much N in the flowering stage. These leaves will turn dark, bend, and eventually turn yellow again as the toxicity goes on.

Growing Tips – Vegetative Stage

  • Sativa plants respond well to LST (low stress training), and are difficult to stress once they’re growing fast.
  • If you’re naturally seeing a significant amount of stem between sets of leaves (as is common with many Sativa strains), defoliation can sometimes do more harm than good. With a stretchy plant, the buds and inside of the plant are often already as exposed as they need to be for optimum results. Defoliation is most effective at increasing yields of bushy plants where buds get hidden by leaves, which is much less common with Sativa strains than Indica strains!

You might not want to choose Sativa-based strains if you’re using a small grow space like this!

Example of a Sativa plant that’s 2 feet tall at only 5 weeks old, and already had to be topped to keep it short! This is a very typical vegetative growth structure for a Sativa plant.

Growing Tips – Flowering Stage

  • Some Sativa strains may need 3 months in the flowering stage to be ready to harvest on the standard 12/12 flowering light schedule. In order to “hurry them along,” they may need longer than average nights until harvest, for example, an 11/13, 10/14 or even 8/16 light schedule!
  • Can be more common to get hermies, especially under stress or close to harvest if buds are not pollinated. If buds appear mostly done and suddenly throw out a bunch of bananas (a type of hermie), it could mean it’s time to harvest

Sativa plant in the flowering stage – may grow with lots of stem between sets of leaves

If you initiate the flowering stage when the plant is still very small, you may end up with just one long bud like this

Example of the power of Sativa cannabis plants when they’re trained to grow flat and wide during the vegetative stage – look at all those huge Sativa colas that are all the same distance from the grow light! These plants still have several weeks of fattening left to go before harvest!

Sativa buds may be airier than Indica-leaning buds on average, but they make up for it with good yields, fast growth and soaring, memorable bud effects! This Sativa-leaning Chem Dawg strain grows mind-altering buds that feel “up” but still relaxing!

Harvest Tips

  • Some Sativa strains have trichomes that may never turn amber even after months of flowering. If your plant has fully white trichomes, it’s possible it may be time to harvest even if no ambers are appearing.
  • Harvest when trichomes are mostly cloudy with a few clears left for the most psychedelic effect
  • Look below for two examples of trichomes from Sativa plants that are ready to harvest.

Trichomes should be mostly milky white with just a few clears for maximum potency! These buds are ready to be harvested, but it’s still on the early side because there are quite a few clear trichomes left.

These buds are smack in the middle of the harvest window. It has nearly all white trichomes and just a clear trichome here and there. You’ll notice even at this stage with nearly all white trichomes you don’t really see many if any amber trichomes (which you would generally see in an Indica plant by the time it hits this stage).

This is the main bud on a Sativa plant just before harvest. Sativa bud structure is often long and thin, almost like spears.

The resulting buds end up looking a little bit differently after they get trimmed from your standard Indica bud, which tends to grow more in “chunks”

Hopefully, you are now more prepared to grow your own Sativa marijuana plants indoors! The challenge of the strain will reward you!

Sativa cannabis strains are typically outdoor strains and originate from regions with long growing seasons. As a result, they can be tough to grow indoors. Learn what to expect, and how to get the most from your indoor-grown Sativa plant!