Why you might want to consider hybridizing some of your cannabis plants

Published Aug 10, 2019 09:03 a.m. ET
iStock / Yarygin

Growing marijuana can make for a soothing and enjoyable hobby that takes minimal investment and effort, but for some, this type of work is a dedicated art form. One that requires attention to detail, plenty of patience and a keen eye for viable and robust genetics. Though most people know that all cannabis strains produce THC, many don’t realize the delicate process that was required in order to create the thousands of types of weed that we all know and love today. Here, we will briefly cover some of the basics of cannabis plant genetics and explain why learning how to breed new and exciting strains can be such a useful and bountiful skill.

The types of cannabis strains

Consumers are most familiar with specific labels that have been used to describe marijuana strains, and the two most common are types Indica and Sativa. However, that heavy-hitting Indica variety may not contain 100% Indica genetics; in fact, it is much more likely that it doesn’t. The reason for this is complicated, but the general idea is that all cannabis strains originated somewhere from decades before we even existed. These original types are called land-race strains, and they are the birth parents of every single strain that we enjoy today. As all of these plants’ seeds were slowly brought over to different regions of the world, they were crossbred with others to make the very first hybrids. Now, this isn’t to say that you will never come across an entirely Indica or Sativa variety of cannabis, it just means, if those who are growing marijuana continues to experiment, the chances of it are reasonably slim.

What is hybridizing?

Hybridizing is little more than a fancy term for crossbreeding two different varieties of cannabis strains, to create a brand-new breed. This pair will include genetics from both Sativa and Indica strains. The intent behind this is typically to enhance specific characteristics from two plants and combine them into one.

How is hybridization done?

This process is done in a variety of different ways, but the basics remain the same. The pollen is taken from a male plant of one type of cannabis and a female from another. The female is then fertilized using the powder. The resulting seeds from the pollinated bud flowers will contain the genetics from both of its parents to some degree, but this is not a precise science. There is no way to be entirely sure of what the results of a mix will be until tried. There are, however, a few methods that can help to transfer certain features from each parent strain. Sometimes it can get even more complicated, and there can be up to 4 parents involved, but that is an expert level topic that we will save for another day.

The benefits of hybridizing when growing marijuana

Not everyone will have success with this type of breeding, but those who do can obtain a vast number of different benefits. Combining both Indica and Sativa genetics for growing marijuana can help to:

  • Increase the potency of a product by enhancing the production of the psychoactive element THC.
  • Combine different marijuana terpenes, which can dramatically alter the effects of a plant once ingested.
  • Eradicate specific marijuana terpenes which influence both tastes and smells that are unenjoyable.
  • Enhance the aromatic profile by altering the amount and types of marijuana terpenes that are produced.
  • Alter the growth cycle, which can lengthen or hasten a growing period.
  • Help to make a new strain that is less susceptible to disease, pests and cooler temperatures.
  • Increase the strength of the THC by adding genetics that contains high amounts of CBD.
  • Alter aesthetics by changing the colors, plant size, bud density, growth thickness and height.
  • Combine enjoyable sensations. One example would be using an energetic strain with a sedative one to create a mellow in between version that offers the best of both worlds.
  • Decrease adverse side effects by adding genetics that includes the opposite characteristics.

Is hybridization necessary to successfully grow cannabis plants?

Growing marijuana doesn’t have to be complicated, and these types of experimentation are never necessary to cultivate a fruitful yield. However, if you plan on improving long term and ever find yourself disappointed with the results of all of your hard work, then you might want to look into this unique way to personalize the effects, growth and benefits of your very own strains.

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