8 essential cannabis strains to grow at home

Robert Bergman with I Love Growing Marijuana
Presented ByRobert Bergman with I Love Growing MarijuanaPublished on September 17, 2020 · Last updated July 17, 2022
This article is sponsored by I Love Growing Marijuana. Image courtesy of ILGM.

If you’re a regular cannabis user, you’ve probably thought about growing your own. Now is a great time to start. With cannabis prohibition lifting in many places, it’s easier than ever for would-be cultivators to glean knowledge from experienced growers.

Robert Bergman is an industrial cannabis grower and breeder, but he started growing cannabis at home 25 years ago just five little plants. He’s since started I Love Growing Marijuana (ILGM) to help cannabis users turn into successful cannabis growers, with more than 200 grow guides on every stage of cannabis production, grow journals for learning from other growers, andin-depth profiles on the best cannabis strains. When you’re ready to get started, you can buy seeds and everything else you need to start growing in the ILGM shop, which ships internationally.

With a little planning, you can find a strain perfect for your first crop, whether you’re looking for a little hobby or a new vocation. Not sure where to start? Here are eight iconic strains to get you started, from a centuries-old classic to some of the latest legends.

Know before you grow

Cannabis can be a pretty high-maintenance crop. Before you pick a strain, you should take stock of a few things, like what kind of cannabis you’re after, the amount of grow space you have, lighting constraints you may have, and your budget.

You’re going to want to know about growing an indica plant vs. a sativa plant, and not because of the strain’s effects. Indica varieties have shorter flowering times, so they’re ready for harvest more quickly, and stay relatively short and bushy. Sativa strains can be a little more challenging: They’re tall, lanky, and tend to have smaller harvests per plant, although they grow more quickly at the beginning. Sativa plants handle heat well, while indica plants tolerate cool weather a little better.

Hybrid plants can inherit traits from both their indica and sativa ancestors—whether it’s a high yield, a love for hot weather, or fast growth—so just do a little background research before bringing the seeds home.

You’re also going to want to think about whether to plant feminized or autoflower seeds. Feminized seeds only produce female plants, which is good: Female plants are the ones with the smokable buds you know and love, and having no males around to pollinate means strong, potent crops.

If you’re willing to trade off some potency and yield for an easier growing experience, autoflower cannabis plants don’t need as much light and keep a much lower profile. They’re an especially great choice for dimmer climates and smaller spaces.

6 time-tested cannabis strains—and 2 new icons—to grow at home

Need a well-established strain to get your home grow started? Here are the basics on some decades-long cannabis staples and a couple of instant classics, all available from I Love Growing Marijuana. Some are available both feminized and autoflower, but keep in mind the autos are going to have a smaller yield.

Northern Lights
90/10 indica

Image provided by ILGM

This relaxing, euphoric herb is one of the most famous strains to emerge in the 1970s and 1980s, when cannabis breeders operated in the shadows—but according to legend, Northern Lights was born just outside of Seattle, Washington before it entered the Netherlands seed bank in 1985. It’s an enduring classic, with a strong lineage in Afghani indica combined with a whisper of Thai sativa. Expect to harvest about 22 ounces per outdoor plant or 18 ounces per square meter indoors.

Available from ILGM both feminized and autoflower.

Purple Haze
70/30 sativa

Purple Haze is one of the most recognizable cannabis strain names—and while the Jimi Hendrix song wasn’t named for the strain, they date back to a similar era. 

Purple Haze has been a popular strain for half a century for good reason: a cerebral high that’s both calming and uplifting, with a psychedelic vibe that matches the Hendrix jam perfectly. One square meter can yield up to 19 ounces of bud indoors, or 14 ounces per plant outdoors.

Available from ILGM feminized.

Durban Poison
Pure sativa

Image courtesy of ILGM.

There’s no breeding backstory to Durban Poison: It’s a landrace strain, meaning it’s more or less the same strain that came to America in the first place, with no subsequent genetic meddling. This is what gives Durban Poison—hailing from Durban, South Africa—its pure, 100% sativa profile.

This strain offers an intensely energizing, happy high that can promote focus and creativity. An outdoor plant can grow to 8 feet tall, and can yield about 16 ounces. Grown indoors, expect 13 ounces per square meter.

Available from ILGM in feminized.

OG Kush
75/25 indica

The early-90s offspring of an unknown strain and an old-school kush, OG Kush is a staple in West Coast cannabis, with a high THC content that packs a euphoric punch. Its children include high-profile strains like GSC and Headband, but there’s nothing quite like the original.

The plants are low and dense, offering a relatively high yield in a smaller package—about 16 ounces per plant outdoors or 17 ounces per square meter indoors.

Available from ILGM in feminized, autoflower, or high-CBD.

Sour Diesel
40/60 sativa

Sour Diesel will keep you off the couch with euphoric, energizing, and creative effects. This especially dank strain, generally believed to have descended from Chemdawg 91 and Super Skunk, rose to prominence in early 1990s California and has stayed in the spotlight ever since.

These tall, dense plants can yield 18 ounces per square meter indoors, or more than 25 per plant outside.

Available from ILGM in feminized and autoflower.

Jack Herer
40/60 sativa

Image courtesy of ILGM.

Jack Herer, named for the legendary cannabis activist, is a soothing, energetic strain, perfect for coaxing people out of social anxiety and a variety of other physical and mental benefits. Originally bred in the Netherlands for medicinal purposes, it has a reputation for being well-rounded, balancing the best of what cannabis has to offer.

Expect about 18 ounces of yield from each square meter indoors or each plant outdoors.

Available from ILGM in feminized and autoflower.

Bruce Banner
40/60 Sativa

A pungent green monster, Bruce Banner is known for its earthy diesel aroma and lives up to its name with hulking, high potency yields. 

Originally bred from OG Kush and Strawberry Diesel, feminized seeds can yield 14 to 19 ounces per square meter indoors or in sunny climates, and even its autoflower variety can get up to 25% THC.

Available from ILGM in feminized and autoflower.

70/30 indica

Image courtesy of ILGM.

The super-fruity child of Grape Ape and Grapefruit, Zkittlez won multiple Cannabis Cups when it emerged in 2015. While it’s a traditionally-relaxing indica, it’s also uplifting and euphoric, perfect for letting the stress of the day melt away without tucking yourself into bed quite yet.

This plant is pretty easygoing and relatively compact. Expect yields of 13 ounces per square meter indoors, or about 17 ounces per plant outdoors.

Available from ILGM in feminized and autoflower.

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