The Best Cannabis Strains to Grow

Selection of the best cannabis strains for cultivation is a process of choosing good investments that will pay off at harvest time.

Two desirable strains of cannabis grow side by side in this indoor cultivation project.

Deciding what cultivars to commit to a growing cycle is an important decision for any cannabis farmer. To avoid wasted time and money growing a poor performing strain that has little value or will not sell, make the effort to identify key factors in your own region for the greatest potential of crop success.

“Usually, the best marijuana strains to grow comes down to the popularity in local markets because of good publicity and marketing, favorable word of mouth, availability of seed, or clones, ease of growing in a region, and what are most profitable to move through the distribution stream.”

In regulated markets with little room for error in any aspect of farming, informed consumers are increasingly more discerning about quality and consistency, making what you grow even more of a determinate in operational profit than ever before.

A Sea of choices

If you have ever walked into a cannabis dispensary or retail store with a big selection, you know the choice of what to buy is often the biggest challenge. There is a cannabis product for every need and sensibility, so, your best bet is to complete a little market research before you even begin a shopping adventure. The same holds true for strain shopping, either for seed or clones. The task of selecting what strain to cultivate for a marijuana farmer requires in depth exploration for destination shopping. It is never a good idea to hit a retailer with no ideas and choose cavalierly from an available selection. Like preparation for any shopping, research is the key, and using several sources is a requirement for crop success, marketability, and profit.

Some growers prefer to grow the same strain season after season. Nothing is wrong with that, but a more progressive approach keeps you more competitive and life more exciting. Realistically, the starting point is to make lists of strains that will grow well using your cultivation method and location. Hybrid strains of cannabis are not suitable to grow in any manner, or at any location; inside, in a greenhouse, or out in the sun. It may be possible to obtain vegetative growth without regard to suitability, but the flower production will most assuredly be disappointing if these chief criteria are not in consideration.

In the list building, think about what you enjoy consuming, if you do, as an influential part of the decision making. If you are not “into” what you grow, the results, in many ways of measurement are typically less than if you have a consumable interest in the finished crop. With new strains appearing continually, it helps to sample and test new product in the marketplace. Maybe you will discover something that you enjoy and might excel at cultivating with regular shopping as part of the process.

Use as many resources as you have time for in your selection journey. Visit potential customers and ask what they suggest, or what is selling well. Then, get on the Internet and again, use as many directories that you can find. is an excellent resource for list building, along with seed banks and vendors. Look at all the aspects that are important to a farmer. Things like growth habits, preferred cultivation methods, locations, plant size, and production volume potential.


• INDICA: Plants are under 6 feet tall, leaves are larger than sativa, and shorter bloom phases. Calming and soothing effect from flowers.

• SATIVA: Plants range 8 to 20 feet tall, leaf width narrower than indica with longer bloom phases. Uplifting effect from flowers.

• HYBRIDS: A genetic mix of indica, sativa, (less common, ruderalis) crossed for desired characteristics. Growth traits like parents.


Enters bloom phase by maturity and not light; genetics used for auto-flowering strains.

Indica or Sativa

The sheer numbers of available cannabis cultivars afford the possibility that your prospect list is also numerous. As a way of narrowing the search, divide your list into two; one that is indica dominant strains and the other that are sativa dominant strains. Each has varied culture requirements and different growth habits along with unique traits and characteristics of the finished crop.

As a rule; the effects from indica tend to be more sedative while sativa strains tend to be more uplifting. Both have merit, and both are good sellers as the consumer defines the preference. Regarding value, there is no significant difference in selling price since every crop, even from the same strain, will command a different price in the market based on many factors. 

From an operational view, indica dominant strains are usually shorter or squattier at maturity than sativa strains that typically require more cultivation space for higher and wider growth patterns. Root systems also require different space for optimal growth and must be an evaluating aspect for specific cultivation systems; sativa hybrids typically have deeper root systems than indica hybrids.

Similar Traits 

When first starting as a commercial farmer, there is a tendency to cultivate too many different strains at once. Some of the reasons to focus on a few strains to cultivate at a time are the growth habits and timing of the crop harvest. From a farming stand point, it makes top production amid uniformity easier to achieve and more efficient if there is consistency in plant habit. It also serves a grower well to focus and be the best at a given genotype and why the suggestion to choose an indica dominant or sativa dominant strain in the selection process can help narrow the search to suitable strains for your cultivation method and location. Better to be known for an awesome grower of a few types who can supply the market with an adequate volume of each instead of scattered with a light supply of all your favorite strains of mediocre quality.

Colors of purple, lime and pineapple highlight a manicured bud with excellent structure.
A desirable flower is one with good structure, color, and nose like this Humboldt Purple bud from California.

Bloom Phase

Except for auto-flowering hybrids that begin the bloom phase of development by chronological plant age, the length of time that a cannabis plant is in the bloom phase of development is another determinate when selecting a strain to grow. The chief influence on the length of the vegetative phase is lighting duration in a photo period, but the bloom phase relies on genetics for how much time a plant takes to produce a ripe flower for harvest. Until there is more darkness (more than 12 hours) in a 24-hour period than light, most cannabis strains will not begin to flower with any significance.

The bloom phase, including the transition period as plants form bud sites and set flowers may not be as important to an indoor grower using artificial lighting, but for an outside or greenhouse grower, timing is a big deal. If the bloom phase is lengthy, weather conditions outside may preclude a successful harvest as the seasons change and rain or snow hit the ripening crop, making a strain with a long bloom phase a poor choice on your list.

Terpene Profile

A final feature to refinement of your list of possible cultivation candidates is the nose, or aroma of a strain. The characteristic effects of a strain are usually subjective; things like calming, or euphoric. Sometimes the strain descriptions even include some marketing hype. However, the terpenes present and exhibiting in a strain, give it the smell, and taste that consumers specifically look for are also easily identifiable. Descriptors like diesel, citrus, pine, or berry is accurate and a dynamic found in the marketplace of many choices and preferences.

Finding Your Ideal Strain

Several strain directories on the internet are valuable for reference before your final selection, while seed, and clone vendors usually offer cultivation requirements for comparison. Chances are you will be able to locate a source for your selected strains from a seed bank (allow enough lead time for shipping and delivery) or from a local retail dispensary, but for cultivation from clones, the market is more restricted to locally produced varieties and retailers that sell them. That is not a bad thing since locally available strains grown by breeders are for suitability to environments and micro-climates in the area and for better salability of the harvested crop if it is popular or sought after.

Cannabis farmers may also use the final crop use or destination as a way of selecting what to grow. Some strains are good for flowers used in extraction instead of for sale as a manicured bud, while others are more elite and produced for the heavy, resinous flowers that are ideal for trimming and packaging.

Selecting what strain to grow is a multi-faceted process that requires investigation and careful consideration to a professional cannabis farmer. Consider production goals as the final determining factor if you are a commercial grower, since all strains are different. Even if you are just growing for personal use, the commitment of time, and money required to cultivate a good crop relies on the decisions you make before you even start. Strain selection is a critical first step on the road to successful cultivation of medical cannabis.