Once you’ve made the decision to grow your own cannabis, you probably have a couple favorite strains in mind. Picking a strain is one of the most exciting aspects of homegrowing, but setting up a successful garden requires careful planning and consideration, no matter what your experience level.
Starting a grow takes an investment of time and money, and which strain you decide to grow will influence how you build out your garden.
Picking a strain to grow is ultimately a matter of balancing what is available to you and what your individual needs, experience, and growing preferences are. Below are some factors to consider to help you pick the right strain for your garden.
The great thing about cannabis cultivation is that you don’t have to be an expert to get started. Any cannabis enthusiast can grow at home with a bit of planning and research.
Nevertheless, some strains require more care and attention than others. This information is usually made available by breeders and distributors, but be sure to do some research to see how difficult specific strains are to grow.
Difficulty equates to more care and attention, which can involve a more complex nutrient regiment, more training requirements, and perhaps paying more attention to environmental factors. These all take time, patience, and research to master, especially if you don’t have much growing experience.
That being said, don’t let the difficulty factor discourage you from cultivating your favorite strain. As long as you’re determined and know what you’re getting yourself into, by all means, go for it.
Availability of Strains
Where you live and intend to set up your garden will affect what strains you have access to. Although there are many strains in circulation, not all markets carry certain varietals.
The legality of cannabis in your state will determine whether you can buy seeds or clones at the dispensary. Even if you can, you’ll be limited to genetics that are only produced in your state, as seeds and clones can’t cross state lines.
The selection of genetics will be contingent on many variables, including what local farmers are circulating, the time of year, and demand. Popular strains will be easier to find as the market favors supply and demand.
Contact local seed and clone suppliers to see what they have. That way, you can have the jump on genetics you want as they become available throughout the year.
Seed banks exist outside of the US and can sell seeds for “souvenir purposes,” but it is illegal to bring seeds into the US. Customs will seize any cannabis seeds that they find in packages or on a person.
Climate and Environment
Cultivating indoors or outdoors will also affect which strain you choose. Certain strains benefit from open space and are easier to grow outdoors. For example, sativas tend to grow taller than indicas and have a more open bud structure, making them better in warmer and more humid climates.
Cultivars such as Lemon Skunk and Chocolope are known for their towering canopies and moderate-to-intense stretching and will benefit greatly from the extra sun and space of an outdoor garden. Just be sure to plant them early as they have long flowering times.
Other strains need more attention and are more susceptible to pests. These usually benefit from a climate-controlled environment. OG Kush is considered a more finicky strain to grow, so it will probably benefit from being grown indoors despite its tendency to stretch.
Dwarf and auto-flowering varieties grow short and bushy, making them perfect companions for spatially limited grows. Lowryder is a dwarf cultivar and Hash Plant and Critical Kush are other varieties that grow small and have short flowering times.
Cannabis can be grown successfully in small or large spaces, but know how much space you have to work with before you start building out your garden in order to figure out which strains are suitable. For example, if growing in a small space, consider growing indicas, which tend to grow shorter and bushier.
Many OG strains, like OG Kush, need specific nutrients, like a higher quantity of calcium and magnesium. Other varieties such as Blue Dream or Green Crack don’t need as much watering and can be left alone for longer periods and given a less stringent nutrient schedule.
Also take into consideration flowering time. Some strains take longer to mature than others and if you want a quick turnaround, aim for strains that take 8-9 weeks to flower instead of 12.
Certain strains will need different types of soil, and some will need more watering and nutrients than others.
Other factors to consider before planning out the parameters of a cannabis garden include:
What kind of soil or grow medium you’ll use
How many lights you’ll need and how bright they need to be
The number of plants you’ll have
Be sure to also give yourself room to work in your garden. You’ll need workspaces to put soil in pots, take clones or plant seeds, and room to move potted plants around and water plants.
At the end of the day, choosing a strain that meets your needs is the most important factor. You want to enjoy the fruits of your labor after months of hard work and dedication. Think about why you want a specific strain:
If you’re looking for aroma and flavor, try growing a strain with a great terpene profile, even if it’s lower in THC.
If you’re looking to grow a strain simply to process into a concentrate, you’ll probably want something known for producing a lot of resin.
If you’re looking for symptom relief, check out Leafly’s strain database and find one that meets your needs–you might want something with a particular THC to CBD ratio.
Research and planning is essential to building out your cannabis garden and picking which strain to grow in that garden. Whatever your wants or needs, as long as you’re determined, you’ll be on the way to growing your own cannabis in no time.
Check out this Twitter post and see what some of our followers’ favorite strains to grow are. Let us know yourself!
Imagine a wedding ceremony during which the groom embraces the bride then pulls two joints out of his pocket. The wedding officiant says, “You may now smoke with the bride,” and provides a light to the happy pair, who start their married life with a giant puff of their favourite cannabis strain.
Scenarios like this are playing out with increasing frequency in US states that have already legalized cannabis for recreational use. In fact, canna-weddings are a booming business in much of the country. Event planners, retailers, bakers, and florists are all involved in the niche industry. Many of them even attend special cannabis wedding expos.
Now that adult-use cannabis is legal across Canada, the trend is starting here. Calgary-based Lifted Cannabis Weddings opened for business a year ago. Owner Laureen Cameron, who has been an event planner for a decade, is now helping a growing number of Canadian couples plan canna-weddings.
She says that, in some ways, a canna-wedding isn’t that different from a conventional one. “The theme of the wedding is still going be the same, the people are still getting married for all the same reasons,” says Cameron. But there are some differences.
At a canna-wedding, cannabis can play a role in the spiritual aspect of the event, with couples smoking up during the ceremony itself, and it can be handed out as party favours. Of course, cannabis is most often used where you would most expect it to be–at the reception.
Some couples offer cannabis at their weddings the way other couples offer alcohol. Some canna-weddings feature special “bud bars,” where budtenders provide strains to guests, advise them about their choices and roll their joints.
South of the border, the scope of cannabis use at canna-weddings is expanding at a rapid pace. In fact, one American couple recently included $8,000 worth of cannabis at their nuptials in California. The bridesmaids’ bouquets were decorated with cannabis buds and flower and the ushers sported boutonnieres featuring cannabis leaves and buds.
Use is a little more modest at Canadian weddings. “Right now, cannabis is used primarily for the receptions and as party favours,” says Cameron. But she adds that is likely to change as canna-weddings become more popular here.
With more of them on the horizon, Cameron has been sharing some tips for interested couples:
She won’t recommend a particular strain of cannabis, insisting there is “never a one size fits all. It depends on the kind of vibe you want at your wedding,” she says. “Personally, I am very interested in a strain called Wedding Cake. It’s fitting.”
“Every individual has a different comfort level so it’s not one size fits all in this aspect either. All you can really do is [make your guests aware] that the cannabis can be used at the wedding or afterwards,” she says. “Just because you have a joint as your party favour, you don’t have to have it right then and there.”
“Educate your guests. Let them know what they are choosing to do when they use cannabis,” says Cameron. She adds that, if many of the wedding guests are new to cannabis, it might be a good idea to have station where those who are interested can go rather than to hand cannabis to every guest as a party favour.
Couples who are seriously looking into planning canna-weddings could attend Canadian Cannabis Wedding Expo in Calgary in March. Traditional wedding planners and canna-wedding specialists will be on hand as will cannabis retailers.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) is a hardline conservative who ranks among the most powerful politicians in Washington, DC. He’s also now an official (albeit unlikely) “hemp hero” thanks to an amendment he added to the massive 2018 Farm Bill that legalized hemp as an agricultural commodity in the United States for the first time in over 80 years.
In its long history, the hemp movement has produced many heroes we can celebrate wholeheartedly, including activists, scientists, authors, and a few of the nation’s Founding Fathers.
Hoping to provide a viable crop replacement for his state’s struggling tobacco farmers, McConnell leveraged his leadership position in the Senate to move the provision through the legislative process at lightning speed.
American farmers are now free to grow and process hemp for industrial uses, as a nutritious food source, or to create hemp-derived CBD products. Which means an issue long considered a far-left pipe dream has suddenly became the law of the land–which much thanks to one of America’s least groovy politicians.
The problem with Mitch McConnell is that he hasn’t been a “hemp hero” for very long, and he remains adamantly opposed to legalization of cannabis. So we’re talking about a guy who considered hemp too dangerous to grow in American soil until domestic tobacco was no longer sufficiently profitable. And he still doesn’t support letting Kentucky’s farmers grow high-THC cannabis varieties. In fact, he’s been a key voice in Congress opposing efforts to protect the existing legal cannabis industry in the United States, never mind end federal prohibition entirely.
For a politician who’s long been a proud backer of Big Tobacco to turn up his nose at cannabis is just inexcusable.
Besides, in its long history, the hemp movement has produced many heroes we can celebrate wholeheartedly, including activists, scientists, authors, and a few of the nation’s Founding Fathers. Here’s the story of seven who truly changed the game.
Yes, many of the Founding Fathers grew hemp–a versatile crop that played an invaluable role in colonial America’s economy–though there’s no direct evidence any of them got high on their own supply.
“I am very glad to hear that the Gardener has saved so much of the India Hemp [seed],” George Washington wrote to William Pearce, his farm manager, in 1794. “Make the most [of it]… Let the ground be well prepared. The Hemp may be sown anywhere.”
Washington initially became interested in hemp as a commercial crop in the 1760s, when the price he fetched for his tobacco crop suddenly plummeted (sound familiar?). But ultimately he decided to focus on wheat instead, while growing just enough hemp to supply his own needs on the farm.
Primarily, the future leader of the American Revolution used the hemp he grew at Monticello to make the large nets he used to pull fish from the nearby Potomac River.
Today, after two centuries of absence, hemp once again grows at the site of Washington’s home and farm, which the National Park Service now maintains as a National Historic Landmark and model farm. The first modern crop of Mount Vernon hemp was harvested in 2018 and used to make rope and cloth.
Sister Mary Etienne Tibeau
Sister Mary Etienne Tibeau was a Catholic nun associated with Mount Mercy Junior College of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
What she accomplished in terms of determining how and when to best fertilize cannabis formed the basis for the next 80-years of experimentation.
In 1936, just a year before federal prohibition of hemp became the law of the land in the United States, she published a study in Plant Physiology–the journal of the American Society of Plant Biologists–called Time Factor in Utilization of Mineral Nutrients By Hemp. Her results came for a series of double-blind experiments she conducted herself, in which she took identical sets of hemp seedlings and grew them under the exact same conditions, except in each different set she varied “the composition of various nutrient solutions, and the time of growth in these cultures, in order to test the effect of these treatments.”
In his Cultivator’s Handbook of Marijuana, author Bill Drake calls Sister Mary “every cannabis grower’s spiritual mother superior,” and says she “writes of her work with her plants with the systematic vision of a fascinated researcher. Her work concentrates particularly on the nutrients required to produce the largest and thickest leaves and the greatest amounts of resin.”
Though details of her life are hard to come by, Tibeau’s influence on the past 85 years of cannabis cultivation (whether hemp or weed) is undeniable. Though only a rare few remember her name, what she accomplished in terms of determining how and when to best fertilize cannabis formed the basis for the next 80-years of experimentation.
Which means it’s long past time somebody named a strain “Sister Mary.”
Born in New York City in 1939, Jack Herer dropped out of high school to join the Army and serve in Korea. He didn’t try smoking cannabis for the first time until he’d turned thirty, and not long after, ditched his job as a sign maker and opened up a head shop on Venice Beach in Los Angeles, pledging to campaign tirelessly until cannabis was legal and everyone was let out of prison, or he turned 84–whichever came first.
In 1981, Herer was arrested for trespassing on federal property while collecting signatures for a cannabis ballot initiative. Given two weeks in prison, he used the time to start work on The Emperor Wears No Clothes, which was published in 1985. Through painstaking research, Herer’s magnum opus told the hidden history of hemp–a once-revered crop cultivated for more than 10,000 years, that played a vital role in America’s economy from colonial times until the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 made growing it a federal crime.
“I don’t know if hemp is going to save the world, but it’s the only thing that can.”
“I don’t know if hemp is going to save the world,” he once famously opined, “but it’s the only thing that can.”
Alex White Plume
Born on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation (in South Dakota) in 1952, Alex While Plume has devoted much of his life to advocating for legal hemp production on reservation land as a way to bring an economically and environmentally sustainable source of income to a place stricken with few job opportunities and systemic poverty.
In 1998, he persuaded the Oglala Sioux Tribe to adopt an ordinance exempting industrial hemp from the tribe’s ban on cannabis cultivation. Two years later, believing the ordinance and the tribe’s sovereign status would protect his efforts from interference by the US federal government, he grew a small plot of hand-sewn hemp.
But before that minuscule amount of non-intoxicating cannabis–grown in one of the most remote and resource deprived areas under US jurisdiction–reached maturity, a deployment of federal agents wielding guns and wearing bullet proof vests arrived at White-Plume’s land, where he lived with extended family in a compound of modest homes and trailer houses.
The feds brought along metal weed whackers, to chop down the crop and haul it away. As they did the next year, when White Plume again defiantly planted hemp. In 2002, he actually managed to harvest his small crop, but shortly after he was hit with a court order proactively prohibiting him from planting any more hemp until the DEA gave him permission. This caused him to finally relent from replanting, but White Plume would continue to tirelessly advocate for hemp–both within the Oglala Sioux Tribe and globally.
In 2016, based on new protections for hemp farming at the federal level, he took a chance and started growing again, this time a small commercial crop. He now sells his output to a Colorado-based company called Evo Hemp, which uses it to make tinctures and capsules, including a signature line with White Plume’s name on the label.
At one point during his campaign to legalize hemp cultivation throughout the United States, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell offered some props to fellow Kentucky Republican James Comer, calling him the “first Kentuckian to take a major lead role in what has now developed into a national consensus.”
This really irked Molly Galbraith, daughter of the late, great Kenneth Galbraith.
Galbraith wore hemp suits on the campaign trail throughout that campaign, and five subsequent unsuccessful runs for Governor–a quixotic pursuit that he shrewdly used as a platform to inform people about cannabis and hemp. Known as a colorful character and a straight shooter, Galbraith won over a lot of converts on both sides of the aisle by being persistent, and by positioning hemp as a replacement crop for Kentucky’s ailing tobacco farmers.
His highest moment on the campaign trail was no doubt crossing Kentucky in a hemp-fueled car with Willie Nelson. But his greatest legacy will be that his home state led the charge to successfully re-legalize hemp cultivation
Emanuel Bronner was a third-generation German Jewish soap maker who emigrated to the United States in 1929. Intent on branching out on his own in the soap business, he ended up narrowly escaping the Holocaust, which saw both his parents meet their ends in a Nazi death camp. After that, and the untimely death of his wife in America, he developed an All-One Philosophy that defies easy summation, and remains printed on the side of every iconic bottle of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap to this day.
Dr. Bronner’s donates millions of dollars every year to cannabis legalization, mental health research, environmental justice, animal-rights causes, and LGBT communities.
“Somehow in the midst of the massive personal tragedy, my grandfather experienced intense mystical love and the oneness of humanity,” David Bronner, now the company’s CEO, explains. “He urgently promoted his All-One mission to convince the public and world leaders alike that we must recognize our transcendent unity across ethnic and religious divides.”
For more on Emanuel Bronner, check out the entertaining and enlightening documentary Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soapbox. But what’s essential for our purposes is that his mix of high ideals and a highly utilitarian all-natural product with 18 different uses made Dr. Bronner’s soap a hit with the hippies of the 1960s and 70s. And then things really took off in 1999, when at the insistence of David Bronner, the company began adding hemp oil to their soaps–with annual sales skyrocketing from roughly $4 million that year to $100 million in 2015.
At one point the company was importing 20 tons of Canadian hemp seed oil annually, but they’ve been increasingly sourcing domestically as US hemp production ramps up post-prohibition. Dr. Bronner’s also donates millions of dollars every year to cannabis legalization, mental health research, environmental justice, animal-rights causes, and LGBT communities.
David Bronner himself is an outspoken activist, one who’s not afraid to get his hands dirty. Like the time he helped plant hemp seeds on the lawn outside the DEA building in Arlington, Virginia. Or the time he locked himself in a cage outside the White House for a few hours to protest hemp prohibition.
Cannabis vaporizers and pre-packaged cartridges continue to grow in popularity, with sales estimated to grow nearly 50% from 2017 to 2018. Vaping delivers a different experience than smoking a joint, but it’s not easy to quantify that difference. Recently, though, scientists have looked into the question and found that vaping actually packs a more powerful punch than the traditional joint.
Vaping ‘can produce drastically different’ experiences than smoking joints.
Tory Spindle, postdoctoral fellow, John Hopkins University
According to a recent JAMA study that examined cannabis consumption in infrequent consumers, people who vaporized cannabis flower experienced more pronounced effects than those who smoked the same dose. What’s more, effects increased along with the dose administered, suggesting that vaporized flower should be approached with more conservative dosing than any other consumption method, especially for infrequent consumers.
While the lead author acknowledged that the study has some limitations, he echoed its conclusions in an interview with Leafly: “It was surprising, the magnitude of difference between equal doses of smoking versus vaping,” said Tory Spindle, a postdoctoral fellow with John Hopkins University’s Bayview Medical Center. Vaping “can produce drastically different impairment” for all consumers, he said.
More Efficient THC Delivery
Previous studies have shown that vaping is a more efficient THC delivery method than smoking, so researchers sought to examine its impacts on several outcomes at two doses and to compare these results with both smoking the same doses and consuming placebo doses of a THC-free substance. Researchers conducted the study between June 2016-January 2017 at Hopkins’ Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit.
The population studied was made up of nine men and eight women with a mean age of 27.3 who were prescreened for cannabis and other drug use beforehand to confirm they all had gone an average of 13 months without consuming cannabis before the study.
Additionally, researchers assessed the participants before they consumed cannabis and then at 10 points afterwards up to 8 hours after they had consumed each of the six study doses (three vaping and three smoking) and each dose was measured to ensure consistency and with participants blinded to the amount they were using.
“We were able to control dosing better across the two conditions,” Spindle said, noting that this was likely why the study yielded different results. This research method allowing for titrated doses, or more carefully-calculated individual doses, which has been difficult to achieve in much of the past research on this subject.
Researchers tested subjects vaping flower, not cannabis oil. So there’s more work to be done.
Comparing 17 participants’ outcomes across vaping and smoking, researchers found statistically significant differences at a 25-mg THC dose. With vaping, consumers experienced more adverse effects, or “pronounced impairment of cognitive and psychomotor ability,” determined by their performances on the computer tests. Consumers that vaped also experienced more paranoia and anxiety than their smoking peers.
The results were similar at a lower dose as well. At 10 mg THC, vaporized cannabis flower “modestly” harmed cognitive functioning and yielded significant differences with smoking, as measured by mean drug effect scores.
“For both inhalation methods, mean peak changes for ratings of drug effect at the 10-mg and 25-mg doses were significantly greater than placebo,” the researchers also found. “Significant, sometimes adverse, drug effects can occur at relatively low THC doses in infrequent cannabis users,” they wrote, “and accordingly, these data should be considered with regard to regulation of retail cannabis products and education for individuals initiating cannabis use.”
What This Means for Consumers
The cannabis administered in the study contained 13% THC (as well as 0.03% CBD and 0.8% cannabinol), according to Spindle, which says a lot about how infrequent users and especially new medical cannabis patients should dose themselves if they choose to vape. Keeping in mind too that cannabis products available at dispensaries are usually more THC-rich than these research doses.
As for regular cannabis consumers with a high tolerance to THC, the results cannot be extrapolated, one of a few limitations in the study. Other limitations included using a range of only three doses and one strain of cannabis (which was low in CBD, Spindle noted), and using only flower and a single vaporizer type (the Volcano Medic) for the vaping portion, and a small pipe for the smoking research. Researchers did not examine the effects of vaping liquid cannabis or using other vaping instruments.
“This is one vaporizer and we need to do more research,” Spindle said. “Definitely more studies are needed to see if these effects are applicable across other types of variables.”
Need to Test More Variables
That idea was echoed in the research, which stated that more controlled studies of a variety of vaporizing and smoking methods are “vital” and “may inform dosing guidelines, cannabis policy and regulation, and procedures for detecting acute cannabis intoxication.”
In addition, the corresponding author for this study, Ryan Vandrey, said, “We still don’t have a full look at the long-term effects of vaping, such as whether there is a risk for chronic bronchitis, and more work needs to be done on that front,” according to a news release issued by the Hopkins School of Medicine (where Vandrey is an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences).
On the other hand, some results from previous studies were echoed in this John Hopkins study, like, for instance, researchers did not find strong correlations between results and THC blood concentration.
“THC doesn’t stay in the blood that long,” Spindle said, cautioning: Blood concentration levels “can go back to baseline before you’re done feeling the effects.”
Collectively, the findings from this study and others indicate yet again that blood THC concentrations are not a valid indicator of a cannabis consumer’s intoxication and/or impairment, and that it’s a much more complex issue than once assumed.
As the study concluded: “It highlights the need to explore other biological and behavioral means of detecting acute cannabis impairment.”