One of the most basic pieces of cannabis knowledge a newcomer will have imparted to them is the importance of knowing your indica from your sativa, and which of the two you might be more inclined towards at the time.
Whether you smoke cannabis for its medical benefits, uplifting effects, or just for a good time, odds are you’ll want to make sure any cannabis purchases you make fit the needs you have.
If you’re thinking of sativa in particular (and since you’re here, we’d be willing to bet that’s a good guess), then this article is for you. Whether you want the best sativa strains or the strongest sativa strains, rest assured we’ll make sure you find what you’re looking for.
Indica vs Sativa
One of the first steps to deciding whether you feel more like smoking a sativa or inhaling an indica is knowing what each type of strain offers.
Although they both come from the cannabis plant, they can be extremely different from each other in terms of flavor profiles and the types of effects offered (though, despite what you may have heard otherwise, that may not come down as much to the classic “indica vs. sativa debate” as historically thought – more info at the link).
In today’s guide we’ll offer a brief breakdown of each type of strain, what the differences are between them, and include a few words on why hybrid strains are quickly becoming a popular choice as well. Let’s get started.
Typically known for its relaxing and heady high, an indica strain of cannabis is often recommended as the ideal candidate for night-time smoking. High amounts of CBD content in most indicas work to help the body relax and wind down, both mentally and physically.
Recognizable for their short, broad leaves, indica plants are typically shorter than sativa, generally giving indica strains a shorter flowering season than their sativa cannabis cousins. Thanks to this shorter flowering season, it is an extremely popular choice for most home-growers.
Indica is also interesting because it has a more robust yield than your typical popular sativa strain. The growth rate for indicas may be a bit more extended than other sativas, but it won’t be far off (this will of course be influenced by how familiar you are with growing indica and how well you look after the bud).
If you are looking for the easiest strain to grow, then the hearty, short-statured indica is generally one of the best cannabis strains if you are new to the world of growing at home. For more about this variety of cannabis, make sure to check out our companion article on what we think are the best strains of indica available right now.
On the other end of the spectrum, and the main focus of today’s article, we have a pure sativa strain. Sativa is most famously known for its uplifting high and slight energy-boosting effects. It is an extremely popular choice for smokers who are pursuing a creative work endeavors or enjoy creative hobbies.
Most sativa strains are best suited to warm climates and, when compared to indica, tend to be much more demanding of a grow. Sativa will also grow far taller than most indica plants, which means it can be hard to maintain (also making it harder to grow indoors).
Sativa, however, does come with its fair share of unique benefits. Its natural painkilling properties may help relieve aches and pains including joint pains and muscle aches, and make it an interesting candidate for medical marijuana-focused growers over the potentially easier indica strain. For those who enjoy activating their taste buds with a bit of fresh cannabis, sativas are also often noted for having a lighter, more citrus-tinged flavor profile.
If you find yourself struggling to decide which strain is best for you, there exists a wide range of popular hybrids, including both indica and sativa dominant hybrid strains.
As you might have guessed, the dominant strain tends to lend the most properties to the chosen hybrid strain, but the main benefit behind a hybrid option is that it offers the benefits of both of its parents, just in a lesser quantity than smoking a pure sativa or indica option.
Hybrids can be fairly difficult to grow as they are a mixture of both breeds, and typically best suited for greenhouse growth where you have full control over the temperature and humidity levels of the growing environment.
Anyone who can appreciate both a pure sativa and indica should consider checking out hybrid options. There are many fantastic hybrids out there such as Pineapple Express and Trainwreck, so you are sure to find something you like.
Pros and Cons of Sativa
Perhaps the main reason why sativa is so popular is that it is traditionally known to offer a different high to many other weed strains out there. While cannabis use can often be recommended as a way to wind down, relax, and aid in sleep, sativa strains are typically sought-after for their provided energy boost and uplifting high.
Strains such as Super Silver Haze are known for their uplifting, energetic properties and can help get you ready for a busy day. Studies have shown that sativa strains may also help lower anxiety and stress, but this can differ from person to person.
Not every sativa strain out there offers an uplifting high, though, and as mentioned above this can vary from person to person. Popular choices such as Sour Diesel and Green Crack have been noted to provide a wide array of effects in different individuals, both energetic and sedating, so the phrase “your mileage may vary” absolutely applies here. It’s a smart recommendation to try out a few strains to figure out which one produces the best high for you, particularly for those new to the cannabis world.
Lots of Unique Flavor Profiles
One of the biggest advantages to sativa strains are their wide variety of flavor profiles. Although most offer either mild or sour fruit flavors, there are still a wide variety of flavors out there suited to people with all kinds of tastes.
Particularly when considering smoking natural bud (as opposed to concentrates or vaping), the flavor profile is incredibly important, as nobody wants a mouthful of smoke that doesn’t taste great. The general flavor profile of a strain can occasionally be derived from its name (expect strains with names like “skunk”, “lemon”, or “blueberry” to carry some of those same notes), but if you’re at all unsure be sure to ask at your local dispensary tech, who will likely be very happy to offer suggestions.
Of course, you can also find our guide to some of the most popular sativa strains below. We’ve been sure to mention the flavors of the top herbs as well, so you can quickly find a taste you’re looking for.
On top of the many different varieties of strains out there, sativa is also an extremely common choice in many dispensaries across the US, as it offers both unique properties in its psychoactive effects and can be a recommended choice for medical patients due to its typically non-drowsy nature.
As sativas are so widely available, you’ll rarely need to travel far to get your hands on a decent sativa dominant strain. So whether you’re in for a Strawberry Cough or some Sour Diesel, you should never have trouble finding your preferred sativa strain somewhere near you.
High Cannabinoid Ratios
This may or may not be a potential drawback depending on what you’re expecting to get from your chosen herb. A higher THC content generally leads to a stronger and more potent high, which can be quite overwhelming if you are a novice cannabis user.
This is especially true when it comes to the strongest sativa strains out there. Due to the high THC content, you can quickly become flat-out stoned, which may not be what you’re wanting out of your cannabis use.
As some users smoke for the painkilling, physically sedative properties found in some strains, they may not be wanting the mentally-fogging high effect. For those, a weed strain lower in THC and higher in CBD are an excellent recommendation, as CBD is one of the few proven methods of helping someone come down from a cannabis high.
Whether or not you are looking to get mentally elevated, there’s a selection of sativa strains out there offering a variety of different sensations.
Although this doesn’t apply to every sativa strain, there are a few options out there that feature a pungent aroma. Weed connoisseurs will generally appreciate this, but if you’re new to smoking or otherwise just don’t like the smell, certain strains should be avoided.
Strains that focus on a sour flavor profile or rely on a fruity taste tend to have the strongest aromas; this is especially true for strains heavy in citrus terpenes, as citrus can have some of the strongest smells when smoked.
A great way to avoid a pungent aroma when smoking pure sativa strains is to consider a different way of consuming your cannabis. Vaping and dapping will help reduce overall odor, while edibles will completely eliminate any scents that would otherwise be produced by heating your herb.
Why Smoke Sativa Strains?
An extremely popular reason people smoke pure sativa strains is that they are known for providing an uplifting high. This may be able to help out if you’re feeling low and just need a slight energy boost to get back to your favorite creative hobbies.
The strongest sativa strains also feature a fairly high THC / CBD ratio, which is exactly what some experienced smokers may be looking for. A high THC content is believed to numb pain and offer a soothing sensation for aches, while CBD works to reduce inflammation and (as mentioned above) can help to counteract the mental “fogginess” of a cannabis high.
CBD-potent sativa strains are often a recommendation of choice for patients suffering from arthritis, joint pains, and other skeletal/muscular system disorders; though THC will work to aid these issues on its own, studies show the combination of THC and CBD both work to help the other in providing their sought-after effects.
Sativa cannabis will typically produce a strong, mentally calming-but-clouding high (which is exactly what some cannabis users are looking for). As a general rule the higher the THC amounts in your sativa strain, the higher you’ll get. So if you’re looking more for elevation over medication? A potent sativa can easily be one of the best options out there.
Best Sativa Strains
Now that you know the main reasons why users enjoy smoking sativa, you may be wondering what the best sativa strains out there are? Well no need to stress, we’ve got you covered. Check out High There’s favorite sativa strains below, along with some general notes on what you can expect from each one.
Created by crossing Super Skunk and Chemdawg, Sour Diesel is a strong cannabis strain that is sativa-dominant.
In terms of its flavor profile, Sour Diesel has a pungent sour taste, which works surprisingly well as a sativa strain. However, if you’re someone who is conscious about the smell of a pure sativa strain, then Sour Diesel may not be for you – due to its sourness, it creates a powerful aroma when smoked.
The scent itself is reasonably pleasant, with fruity undertones. If you can handle the smell of Sour Diesel and you are looking for a powerful sativa dominant strain? This could be an ideal cultivar for you.
Super Silver Haze
Winning multiple awards throughout the late 90s, Super Silver Haze is an impressive sativa dominant strain that provides an uplifting high. Offering many qualities that are typically sought-after in sativa strains, users of this citrusy delight report boosted energy levels and a calm sense of euphoria.
Due to its energetic high, Super Silver Haze is one of the sativa dominant strains best used in the morning, noted for being able to give you that kickstart you might need to get through the day.
Its flavor is reminiscent of lemon skunk, but with added earthy elements that provide a break from the tang of citrus. With such a unique flavor and potent high, it’s no wonder Super Silver Haze has quickly become one of the most popular new sativa strain offerings in the US.
Thanks to its resilient nature, Green Crack is an extremely popular strain simply due to how easy it is to grow in a majority of climates. This strain blooms into a large tree-style growth, though one which can be maintained for indoor growth.
Similar to Super Silver Haze, Green Crack provides the smoker with an uplifting and energy-boosting high. This means it lends itself well to morning and afternoon smoking, especially if you need a slight energy boost and aren’t a fan of caffeine.
Sometimes known as ‘Mango Crack’ due to its mango undertones, this is often cited as one of the best tasting herbs out there. Even if you aren’t usually a fan of fruity flavors, you may be surprised at how enjoyable this bud can be.
Green Crack is not a pure sativa strain, however, it is generally considered one of the finest high-THC sativa dominant strains out there. With potent-but-soothing and uplifting effects, plus a pleasant fruity flavor, this is an ideal strain for experienced smokers looking to try something different.
With a name like Laughing Buddha, you can expect this strain to offer a heady and uplifting THC high. Laughing Buddha is a combination of two types of tropical sativa strain, one from Jamaica and the other from Thailand, creating a distinct flavor profile.
As this herb features a fairly unique combination of Thai and Jamaican flavors you can expect a fruity smoke with slightly spicy undertones. This works well with the high THC percentage to create an uplifting experience that even the gloomiest of smokers can enjoy.
The bud itself is fairly easy to spot once grown as it has a slight orange hue to its leaves and is covered in frosty tips throughout.
Growers will also quickly grow to appreciate this bud as it is reasonably easy to grow and is resistant to most growing hazards such as mildew and mold; these properties have quickly led to a popularity surge of Laughing Buddha throughout the U.S.
Lemon Skunk, or “Lemon Skunk OG” as it is known to some users, is an extremely classic sativa dominant strain, instantly recognizable thanks to its green and orange-colored buds.
An energizing strain with a mellow high, this classic strain is known for its uplifting properties. With a pungent aroma and zesty undertones, Lemon Skunk has a distinct taste that has been described as “skunky”.
This high-quality cannabis strain provides a fast hit and a buzzy high that leaves you feeling energized and ready to face the day. Customers who have used this strain have also claimed that it helps them when they’re feeling down (but, again, this can vary per person).
One of the best benefits of Lemon Skunk is its incredibly high yield. Growers love this sativa dominant strain as you can expect to get high quantities from a single bud; perfect for dispensaries and home-growers.
There are also a few hybrid herbs out there that use Lemon Skunk to produce an incredible cannabis experience – Super Lemon Haze is just one of the strains that combine Lemon Skunk with another sativa strain.
First reaching the U.S sometime in the 60s, this sativa dominant strain is famous for its chocolate and coffee flavors. The herb itself is fairly dark in color and features a slightly brown hue, also lending to its name.
Sadly, this herb is incredibly difficult to grow and is native to Thailand, which is why a lot of strains found in the U.S are copycat strains. However, if you are lucky enough to get your hand on Chocolate Thai this bud has a high THC percentage, which is something that most of the strongest sativa strains are known for.
If you’re ever lucky enough to find a genuine version of this strain you may want to give it a try. There are few cannabis varieties like this out there, especially with its unique coffee and chocolate flavor profile!
With an extremely dark bud color and a fantastic blueberry/lemon flavor, Blue Dream is a popular sativa dominant strain in the U.S. Mainly grown in California, this awesome bud offers an exceptionally high yield rate perfect for the efficient grower.
When smoked, the buds release a piney aroma different to the usual pungent scents you find in some of the strongest sativa strains. The high itself has been described as ‘cerebral’ due to the high amount of THC found in this bud.
The high THC count makes this popular sativa strain a perfect choice for any creative types out there. It also produces an uplifting and energizing effect, much like most sativa strains on our list.
An alternative to Blue Dream would be the Blue Walker Hybrid strain. This 90% sativa/10% indica strain is made by combining Blue Dream and Skywalker strains to create an extremely THC-heavy hybrid strain.
If you are looking for a potent sativa strain that doesn’t have the usual citrusy flavor, Blue Dream might be the best bud for you. Keep your eyes peeled for this dark and shiny bud the next time you’re in your local dispensary.
Another great alternative to Skunk is the popular Jack Herer strain. Named after the famous weed activist and author Jack Herer, this strain was made by mixing Northern Lights, Haze, and Shiva Skunk to create a high THC sativa bud.
One of the most stand-out features of this potent sativa strain is its unique aroma. Unlike some of the strongest sativa strains, Jack Herer produces a peppery-but-earthy scent that can be reminiscent of pine needles.
As this is a high-THC sativa it is typically recommended for daytime use. The energizing high produces a cerebral effect that can help you focus and prevent distractions from getting in the way of any work.
On top of this, Jack Herer is one of the few strains to be recognized in the Netherlands as a medicinal bud, becoming so popular in the 1990s that it saw regular distribution from Dutch pharmacies due to its medicinal properties.
With a name like Trainwreck, you might expect this strain to be a letdown – However that is absolutely not the case. We think Trainwreck is one of the best sativa strains out there thanks to a fantastic combination of flavor and pungent high.
Any budding weed growers should consider giving this strain a go. Its resilient nature makes it suitable for almost any climate, though as it appreciates proper UV lighting more than some other varieties of weed, Trainwreck is best grown outdoors or inside a well-lit growing room.
This sticky herb offers its user a woody flavor with citrus undertones, which is a familiar taste profile for anyone who appreciates the strongest sativa strains. However, new weed smokers be warned, this strain packs a punch.
It has an extremely high THC content that even experienced smokers may be surprised by (and may be where this bud got its name from). This is one cannabis high you can feel throughout your entire body, not just in your head, truly living up to its namesake.
Ghost Train Haze
Recognized by High Times as one of the strongest sativa strains on the market today, Ghost Train Haze is a superb bud for experienced weed users. Offering strong, energetic effects and a remarkably high amount of THC, this potent strain can be overwhelming if you are new to the world of weed.
For growers, Ghost Train Haze is a dream. It has an exceptionally high yield and doesn’t take too long to flower. It is also extremely adaptable to a range of climates and has even been known to be able to withstand both pests and mold.
The flavor profile of this haze is extremely similar to some other citrus-flavored buds out there, with a sour punch that is sure to impress anyone who enjoys strain such as Sour Diesel or even some of the top Citrus Skunks out there.
As you might have already guessed, it is similar to other sativa strains out there as it produces an energetic high. If you are ready to handle some of the strongest sativa strains out there, then you would be missing out if you don’t try out this bud.
With origins in both Jamaica and South Asia, Amnesia Haze is an earthy but citrusy sativa strain. Contrary to its name you won’t be forgetting this OG kush anytime soon thanks to the effects it produces once smoked.
The main detriment of this top-tier strain is how difficult it can be to grow. It features a fairly lengthy flowering time of anywhere between 11 and 13 weeks; it’s also best suited to warmer climates and outdoor growth, so Alaskan growers may want to avoid adding this sativa strain to their crop list.
Licorice lovers will get the most out of this herb’s flavor profile. It is known for its mix of anise seed and citrus undertones, making for a surprisingly tasty combination. The smoke produced is also extremely smooth, so if you are looking for an alternative to Strawberry Cough, keep your eyes on this sativa strain.
Earning its name from the strong strawberry flavor and thick smoke produced by this bud, Strawberry Cough is easily one of the top OG kush strains out there. Known by newbies and advanced smokers alike, Strawberry Cough is popular throughout the world, not just in the US.
Although its exact origins are a mystery, it is believed that this sativa dominant strain is a combination of the popular Strawberry Fields and the traditional Haze bud. Due to this unique combination, Strawberry Cough produces a mood-boosting high.
This sativa strain is commonly used to help reduce stress and improve your general state of emotion. However, creative types across the globe have also used this berry-flavored bud to produce a feeling of euphoria to aid in boosting productivity.
Any cannabis user looking to satisfy their sweet tooth who can handle the thick smoke produced might be able to appreciate this tasty bud.
Originating in Durban, South Africa, Durban Poison is famous for its fantastic energizing properties. It is a highly sought-after cannabis strain thanks both to its deeply-felt high and sweet but pleasant aroma.
Unlike a few other forms of sativa on the market, Durban Poison is perfectly designed for concentrate extraction; the entire plant is typically coated in trichomes, which almost any weed grower or enthusiast will be able to appreciate.
The oversized resin glands help boost the energizing effect this herb has on the body, keeping you powered up throughout the day. This means you may want to avoid smoking this kush before you watch a film or chill out with your buddies.
Durban Poison took South Africa by storm, but it’s now time for this herb to enrapture the weed enthusiasts of the US. Not many herbs can compete with this top-tier strain!
Will Sativa Keep Me Awake?
Although some sativa strains such as Green Crack and Jack Herer provide an energy boost, they’ll rarely be able to compete with something like caffeine. Generally, sativa strains are best used if you are looking for a soothing but still-uplifting experience.
What Are the Best Sativa Strains Out There?
This depends entirely on what you’re looking to get out of your sativa strain and how your opinion on its flavor profile. There’s no end of popular options out there, but we typically suggest you sample a few just to see what you might prefer (may we recommend some of the suggestions from our list above?)
Is There Really a Big Difference Between Sativa and Indica?
Generally, sativa is seen as providing a stimulating high whereas indica is closer to the relaxing high cannabis is known for. However, there have been recent studies that suggest the differences between indica and sativa strains aren’t as noticeable as once thought.
However. While we here at High There generally recommend sticking to whereas fact when it comes to cannabis knowledge…. there’s something to be said for sticking to accepted nomenclature.
Yes, sativa strains may not be “super energetic” for everyone, but on the whole most people will know what you mean when you’re talking about the properties of an indica vs. a sativa, and sticking to the more traditional classification can be an easy way to find the weed strain that matches your needs.
Are Sativa Strains More Expensive than Indica Strains?
This truly depends on what strain you’re looking for and where you shop for it. Usually it doesn’t matter whether a strain is sativa or indica, as the price is almost always based either on the individual strain itself or overall scarcity.
It’s a smart idea to learn the differences between indica and sativa , no matter if you’re new to cannabis or have smoked for years. As said above, it can be a useful bit of shorthand when describing to someone the general types of effects you’re looking for from your cannabis experience, and (assuming they’re even vaguely familiar with cannabis use) rarely will you meet someone who isn’t familiar with the concept.
It’s our hope that we’ve helped you understand the difference between these two most popular types of cannabis strains. Before you head to a dispensary, make sure you refer to our list of best sativa strains to ensure you are getting the best buds – Happy smoking!