If you're new to growing cannabis, you might be feeling overwhelmed with all there is to know. There are lots of variables at play — light, air, temperature, humidity, pH, and nutrients, to name a few — let alone the idiosyncrasies that come along with specific strains.
When growing cannabis, the best way to learn is through experience, and the good news is that there are lots of novice-friendly cannabis strains available to the home grower.
What makes strains easier or harder to grow?
Different cannabis strains have different needs, and some strains can be quite picky or finicky when it comes to light, temperature, humidity, or nutrients. Other strains might be notorious for developing certain types of disease or attracting specific pests.
Easy to grow strains are generally tolerant to changes in their environment and a wide variety of growing conditions. They require less attention and will be more resistant to drought, mold, disease, and insects. They are more forgiving, or hardy, which makes them ideal for growers who are just getting started.
You still need to take good care of your plants, but easy-to-grow strains will help give you a leg up.
Genetics underpin the true potential of every strain, or cultivar, of cannabis. We could have a lengthy discussion about cannabis genetics alone, but for the sake of this conversation, suffice it to say that genetics are an important consideration when shopping for cannabis seeds.
“Some genetics are stronger than others. Crossbred strains, like indica and sativa hybrids, are typically weaker and more prone to pests, mold, and diseases, which makes them more challenging to grow. Original [landrace] strains tend to be stronger and more resilient, so they'll be easier to grow and cultivate,” added Kingston Woods, CEO of Gas House Cannabis and a master grower with more than 20 years of experience.
While solid genetics offer the best possible foot to start off on, remember that the success of your grow will depend on a whole lot of factors: light, air, nutrients, temperature, humidity, and so on. In other words, good genetics will not guarantee things like pest-resistance, high potency, or big yields, but they're an important part of achieving them.
Easy to grow strains for specific needs or interests
Whether you're looking for an all-around, hardy cannabis strain, one that is known to provide high yields, potent buds, a fast turnaround, or plants that are suited to indoor versus outdoor growing, here are some easy-to-grow strains to consider.
General hardiness: Blue Cheese
Indoors or outdoors, Blue Cheese is a forgiving strain that allows for beginner mistakes. It's an indica-dominant strain that is a cross between Cheese and Blueberry, with a relatively quick flowering time of 49 to 56 days that makes it a favorite for outdoor growers in colder climates. It's also typically pretty good at resisting mold and powdery mildew.
Potency: GG #4
If potency is important to you, look no further than GG #4. Formerly known as Gorilla Glue #4, GG #4 is a balanced indica/sativa hybrid known for its great genetics, and it thrives indoors and out. It's one of the most potent strains that's also beginner-friendly, but don't be surprised if your scissors get gunked up while trimming your flowers.
Cinex is an amenable strain with slightly sativa leaning genetics coming from Cinderella 99 and Vortex. An easy-to-grow cultivar, Cinex is known for producing solid yields of frosty light green flower. Originating in the Pacific Northwest, it's also a hardy strain that can thrive outdoors in cooler climates.
Speed: Blue Auto Mazar
If speed is your main driver, then autoflower strains are probably your best bet. A cross between Auto Blueberry and Auto Mazar, Blue Auto Mazar boasts a seed-to-harvest cycle of just 75 days. While there are autoflower varieties that are even quicker than Blue Auto Mazar, this hardy indica-dominant strain has done well in a variety of environments — hot/cold climates, outdoors, indoors, and in greenhouses — making it a great choice for novice growers.
Indoor grow environments: Northern Lights
The thing that makes Northern Lights a good choice for indoor growing (aside from its solid and near-pure indica genetics) is the fact that it's well-known for being on the less odorous end of the spectrum, which can be a concern for indoor grows. It's also considered an easy strain since it stays on the smaller side, flowers quickly, and is quite resilient.
Outdoor grow environments: Blue Dream
Blue Dream is a classic and beloved cannabis strain for many reasons, and, lucky for you, it's also a great strain for the novice grower. It does have a tendency to grow quite tall, perhaps making it a little better suited for outdoor cultivation, though many have grown Blue Dream indoors, too. Outdoors, Blue Dream does need protection from severe weather and should be monitored for spider mites, who love its sweet aroma.
Tips for new growers
When growing cannabis, or any plant, the best teacher is experience. A keen eye for detail and a little love will go a long way on your journey to becoming a seasoned grower. Here are a few tips from cultivation masters to get you started.
Be a good plant parent. “The best advice I ever got from a very talented grower is that 90% of successful growing is observation. Spend time with your plants daily, get to know them. You will soon learn to recognize subtle changes that can indicate problems with pests, feed, or water. You will also begin to see the amazing differences between all the different genetics and what they can produce,” advised Sara Rotman, a veteran grower and founder of Wellfounded Botanicals.
Keep a grow journal. Tracking your experience and the details of your plants' growth cycle is a must for serious growers. You can employ one of many ready-made cannabis grow journals out there or just grab a regular notebook and start documenting your journey.
Make lemons into lemonade. According to Adrixn Catao of Queer Canna Witch, “If you can't smoke them, eat them. With all the variables at play, sometimes your crop is compromised and falls short of top-shelf smoke.” As long as it isn't contaminated with mold, mildew, or chemicals, flower with under-ripe trichomes or a bad cure can still be used for making homemade edibles.
The easiest cannabis strains to grow for you may not be the easiest strains to grow for someone else. If you're a beginner grower, consider how much time you have to spend maintaining a plant, what your strengths and weaknesses are as a plant parent, and your ultimate goal for the harvested flower. Most importantly, have fun.