By Steven Voser

Cannabis indica and sativa are inherently different, particularly in their morphology (i.e. physical traits). Given their increased height and longer flowering stage, sativa cannabis plants can be notoriously difficult to grow indoors in a room or tent. In this article, we'll teach you the ins and outs of how to successfully grow sativa strains indoors.


Tricks of the Trade — The Challenges of Growing Sativa Strains

Sativa cannabis plants, generally speaking, grow larger than indicas (with longer spaces between their nodes/branches) and have longer flowering stages. This likely comes from generations of adapting to regions with long, warm, and humid summers.

Cannabis sativa is believed to originate from Central Asia (though landrace strains can also be found in the Americas), while indicas are believed to originate from colder regions of India and the Middle East. Sativa cannabis plants also tend to stretch considerably before, as well as after, they begin to flower.

These peculiar traits can make sativa strains somewhat challenging to grow indoors, where space is often limited. Even experienced growers sometimes get caught off guard by a particularly tall, stretchy sativa reaching for the top of their room or tent. The apical growth of sativas can also cause a plant's main cola to overshadow its other branches and bud sites, resulting in a subpar harvest of one great cola and dozens of small "popcorn buds". For this reason, growers have traditionally opted to grow sativas or sativa-dominant hybrids outdoors while growing indicas or indica-dominant plants inside.

Sativas Indoor

How to Grow Sativa Strains Indoors — Tips for Handling Sativa Stretch, Flowering Times, and More

So, growing sativas indoors can be challenging. However, with the know-how we've compiled below, you should have no problem growing great sativa weed in a room or tent. Read through these tips carefully before your next sativa grow, and get ready for a stellar harvest.

Pick the Right Strain to Avoid Any Unwanted Surprises

Skill level: Beginner

One of the best ways to simplify your indoor sativa grow is to start off with the right strain. Take some time to analyze both the limitations of your grow space (such as the height of your tent, for example) and your skills as a grower; beginner growers may not feel prepared to experiment with some of the techniques we mention further down in this article. Then, pick a strain to suit.

Thanks to the breeding efforts of seed banks like Royal Queen Seeds, it's now easier than ever before to find cannabis strains to suit your grow space and skills. At RQS, for example, we stock a wide variety of sativas and sativa-dominant hybrids that have been purposely bred to stay compact and flower faster to suit the needs of indoor growers. Our sativa-dominant autoflowers, for example, are a great choice if speed and size are particularly vital to your growing operation.

Use Small Pots and Cut Down the Veg Stage to Compensate for Plant Height/Stretch

Skill level: Beginner

Once you've picked the right strain for your grow room, the next thing you can do to help control the vigorous growth of your sativas is plant your seeds/seedlings in smaller-than-average pots. The exact size of your pots will vary depending on the amount of space you have available and how many plants you intend to grow at one time. However, 5–7l is a good ballpark figure. Moreover, if you have a standard 1m tent, we recommend growing just one sativa plant at a time.

Cutting back your sativas' vegetative stage will also help to limit their growth. Most indoor growers let their plants veg for about 4 weeks; when growing sativas, however, you may want to consider flipping your plants to bloom after 2–3 weeks to account for their stature and stretch. Remember, some sativa strains can stretch up to double their size as they enter their bloom stage.

Small Pots

Keep the Conditions in Your Grow Room Optimal

Skill level: Intermediate

Once your sativa plants are in the soil and growing, you'll want to make sure the conditions in your room/tent remain optimal to avoid running into difficulties or ending up with a subpar harvest. Remember that sativa strains hate cold conditions but are fairly tolerant of humidity (much more so than indicas).

They also tend to be a little more sensitive to nutrients (it's not uncommon to see nitrogen toxicity in sativa plants even when using standard doses of fertiliser) and love long hours of high-intensity lighting. Keep up these conditions in your tent/room, and your sativas should prove super happy!

A Note on Sativa Bud Structure

Sativas naturally produce wispy, airy flowers. If you've ever had the chance to grow or smoke a pure landrace sativa, you may have been surprised by the look of the plant's natural "foxtail" buds. Most modern sativas, however, tend to have some indica genetics, which breeders use to improve the size and weight of the flowers. If your sativas look healthy but have airy buds, it's likely just due to their genetics—don't get caught up trying to fatten them with bloom boosters or other fertilisers. To avoid harvesting airy flowers in the future, store around for sativa-dominant hybrids with a denser bud structure.

Use LST or HST to Break Apical Dominance and Control Stretch

Skill level: Intermediate

Apical dominance and stretch are two of the biggest challenges to growing sativas indoors. Light burn can damage and stress overly tall plants that grow too close to the lights, while plants with a towering main cola can produce nothing but light, wavy popcorn buds on their lower branches. That's where training can come in super handy. Try topping/fimming your sativas early and regularly. Combine this with LST, and you should be able to encourage your sativas to develop more horizontal growth rather than just shooting upward.

LST

Use Lollipopping, Defoliation, and Side Lighting to Avoid Harvesting Popcorn Buds

Skill level: Advanced

LST and topping/fimming are great ways to manipulate sativa plants into growing a more even canopy. Meanwhile, lollipopping and defoliation can help to direct a plant's limited amount of energy to the areas that'll produce the biggest, most potent flowers. Experienced growers may even want to experiment with main-lining—a growing style that uses a combination of LST, topping, and lollipopping to focus a plant's energy toward only a few main shoots, which will eventually grow into massive colas.

Finally, installing side lighting in your room or tent can help to direct more light to a plant's lower branches and prevent the growth of flimsy flowers. Just note that growing with side lights will increase the amount of energy it takes to operate your room/tent.

When to Harvest Sativas Indoors — How Long Do Sativas Take to Flower?

Sativa strains are notorious for having long flowering times. This may have to do with their geographic origins—most sativas likely originate from regions with long summers, whereas indicas originate from colder regions where summer is naturally shorter. While modern sativas generally take around 10–11 weeks to flower, this is just a very rough ballpark figure, and varies greatly from one strain to another.

Amnesia Mac Ganja, for example, is an 80% sativa-dominant hybrid bred from Amnesia Haze and GG4 that can take up to 11 weeks to complete her flowering cycle. Green Crack Punch, on the other hand, is still sativa-dominant (60%) but finishes flowering in just 8–9 weeks.

Sometimes, flowering times can even vary among phenotypes of the same strain—this may come down to the genetics of each individual plant or the conditions in your room/tent. Light intensity, for example, can have a great impact on how long it takes plants to flower, and you may find that plants that receive more light will finish flowering before others.

Flowering Sativa

Why Bother — What Are the Benefits of Growing Sativas?

Given the special care they need, you might ask yourself if there's any reason to grow sativas indoors. Well, rest assured, growing sativas can be super rewarding for a number of reasons:

  • Sativas typically produce great yields thanks to their size.
  • Sativas make a great challenge for growers looking to increase their mastery.
  • There are claims that sativa strains tend to produce more THC than indicas, though this is increasingly hard to measure with so many hybrids on the market. Still, sativas do tend to produce distinct cannabinoid and terpene profiles from indicas, making for a unique cannabis experience.
  • Sativas are super fun to watch grow! Thanks to their high stress tolerance, sativas can be a real treat for growers who like experimenting with different training techniques.

The Best Sativas to Grow Indoors

Ready to kickstart your indoor sativa grow? Below you'll find a hand-picked selection of our favorite sativas that, with a little dose of TLC and the tips we mentioned above, produce spectacular results in rooms and tents!

1. Chocolate Haze

Chocolate Haze

With a motivating and creative cerebral effect, delicious chocolate aromas and flavors, and 95% sativa genes, Chocolate Haze is a favorite among our customers. Use the tips in this article to control her vigorous growth, and this offspring of Chocolate Thai and Cannalope Haze will grow to 3 – 5.2 feet, which is manageable in most tents/rooms. After 9–11 weeks, get ready to harvest up to 17.6 oz/m² of top-shelf sativa flowers.

Chocolate Haze
23_genetic background_1 OG Chocolate Thai x Cannalope Haze
33_Yield indoors_1 17 to 18 oz/m²
31_plant height outdoor_1 3 to 5 feet
25_flowering time_1 9 - 11 weeks
29_THC_1 THC: 20%
28_Type Blend_1 Sativa 95% Indica 5%
34_yield outdoor_1 16 to 18 oz/plant
32_plant height outdoors_1 5 to 7 feet
27_harvest period_1 Late October
22_Effect_1 Heavy

Buy Chocolate Haze

2. AMG (Amnesia Mac Ganja)

AMG Genetics

Amnesia Mac Ganja descends from Amnesia and Mexican Haze and boasts beautiful foxtail flowers, 22% THC, and a supercharged cerebral high. AMG is 80% sativa dominant and has a flowering time of 10–11 weeks. Thanks to the efforts of our breeders, this high-energy sativa grows into fairly compact plants, reaching just 2.6 – 3.9 feet indoors. Come harvest time, this beautiful strain will reward you with yields of up to 17.6 oz/m².

AMG - Amnesia Mac Ganja
23_genetic background_1 Amnesia x Mexican Haze
33_Yield indoors_1 16 to 19 oz/m²
31_plant height outdoor_1 3 to 4 feet
25_flowering time_1 10 - 11 weeks
29_THC_1 THC: 22%
28_Type Blend_1 Sativa 80% Indica 20%
34_yield outdoor_1 19 to 21 oz/plant
32_plant height outdoors_1 5 to 7 feet
27_harvest period_1 October
22_Effect_1 Balanced, Clear, Stoned

Buy AMG - Amnesia Mac Ganja

3. Shining Silver Haze

Shining Silver Haze

As the result of a cross of Haze, Skunk, and Northern Light, our Shining Silver Haze descends from a long line of greats. This unique combination of genetics has made for a 75% sativa-dominant strain that grows to 2.6 – 3.9 feet tall and takes roughly 11 weeks to flower indoors, at which point she'll be laden up to 22.9 oz/m² of buds boasting delicious aromas and a strong cerebral high.

Shining Silver Haze
23_genetic background_1 Haze x (Skunk x Northern Light)
33_Yield indoors_1 21 to 23 oz/m²
31_plant height outdoor_1 3 to 4 feet
25_flowering time_1 9 - 11 weeks
29_THC_1 THC: 21%
28_Type Blend_1 Sativa 75% Indica 25%
34_yield outdoor_1 21 to 23 oz/plant
32_plant height outdoors_1 6 to 7 feet
27_harvest period_1 Late October
22_Effect_1 Heavy

Buy Shining Silver Haze

4. Bubblegum XL

Bubblegum XL

Our Bubblegum XL takes classic Dutch genetics and revives them into a delicious, high-yielding, well-balanced hybrid. Exploding with candy-sweet aromas and 19% THC, this cross of Power Plant and Santa Maria perfectly balances sativa and indica genetics, offering a manageable stature (2.6 – 4.6 feet) and an 8–9-week flowering time that's perfect for growers cultivating in small rooms/tents. Gear up for yields of up to 17.6 oz/m².

Bubblegum XL
23_genetic background_1 Power Plant x Santa Maria
33_Yield indoors_1 16 to 19 oz/m²
31_plant height outdoor_1 3 to 5 feet
25_flowering time_1 8 - 9 weeks
29_THC_1 THC: 19%
28_Type Blend_1 Sativa 50% Indica 50%
34_yield outdoor_1 14 to 16 oz/plant
32_plant height outdoors_1 5 to 7 feet
27_harvest period_1 October
22_Effect_1 Calming, Uplifting

Buy Bubblegum XL

5. Amnesia Haze

Amnesia Haze

Amnesia Haze is one of the most famous sativas of the last decades. A long-time coffeeshop favorite, this 70% sativa-dominant strain boasts an almost psychedelic high, delicious Haze aromas and flavors, and, best of all, grow traits that perfectly suit indoor growers—she grows to 2.6 – 4.6 feet and is ready after 11 weeks of bloom!

Amnesia Haze
23_genetic background_1 Original Amnesia Haze
33_Yield indoors_1 21 to 23 oz/m²
31_plant height outdoor_1 3 to 5 feet
25_flowering time_1 10 - 11 weeks
29_THC_1 THC: 22%
28_Type Blend_1 Sativa 70% Indica 30%
34_yield outdoor_1 23 to 25 oz/plant
32_plant height outdoors_1 6 to 7 feet
27_harvest period_1 Late October
22_Effect_1 Long Lasting , Physically Relaxing, Powerful

Buy Amnesia Haze

Growing Sativas Indoors Is Possible!

As you can see, growing sativas indoors is challenging, but rewarding. It’s certainly achievable, but it pays dividends to choose genetics that are more primed to flourish under grow lights and spatial limitations. With a little care and upkeep, satisfying yields of quality sativa buds are yours!

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