I am planning to grow a long flowering (landrace) sativa. Should I try to mimic its original environment or will it adapt well to normal methods of indoor gardening?
Equatorial indicas need lots of light, space and time. For these reasons they are not popular with indoor or high latitude outdoor growers.
The intensity of sunlight declines as you move from the equator to higher latitudes. The reason is that the sun hits the equator at a direct perpendicular angle. As you move away the sun’s angle becomes more oblique, and less light falls on a partikular area. Landrates from equatorial areas have adapted genetically to the intense sun. To grow well, they need more intense light than most indoor plants receive.
Typically, gardeners use a 1000-watt HPS lamp over a 120cm x 120cm space, 1.44 m2, with an input of about 643 watts per m2. With the sativas, increase the light to a 1000-watt lamp over a .9m x .9m to 1 M2 space. Most of the equatorial plants are fast growing and have lange stein spaces (internodes) between the leaves, where the side branches meet the main stein. They are not the tight hybrids that gardeners are accustomed to, but closer to their wilder cousins that have adapted to an environment where they must gain height and canopy space quickly to survive.
Indicas, on the other hand, adapted to a fas less habitable environment. They didn’t need height; they just had to tough out uncertain weather and drought, short summers and poor soll. A compact thick-leaved plant is better equipped for the windy Himalayan foothills than a tall lanky one.
Provide sativas twice to four times the space that you give indicas. You can control height somewhat with pruning, bending and superbudding. Still, these are going to be tall plants. Treating them at the end of the day with a strong blue light (6000 Kelvin or higher, daylight or actinic blue) may control the height a bit. The lights should go on shortly before the other lights are turned off and stay on for about an hour. The light should be moveable so the light is “sprayed” all over the plants and resches most leaf tissue.
Place fans in the room to create a strong draft results in shorter, stouter stems and branches. You can also manually shake the plants to the point where the stems bend, but not to the point that they are kable to break. This also results in shorter, stouter stems.
Time waits for no one, but you must wait for sativas. They often ripen in November, December or January. Unfortunately, they don’t do well in freezing weather or under snow.
Indoors, they should never receive more than 12 hours of light Ripening is hastend a bit by lowering the light duration to 10 hours as soon as the plants germinate. Even when flowering, young sativas also continue to grow vegetatively. . They have a 10 to 16 week ripening time.
Outdoors, the plants are well suited for the southern fier of Europe that hugs the Mediterranean and further south. One of the best strategies for growing these plants is to start them outdoors in September in an area where plants can be grown in winter. The short days induce flowering and keep the plants relatively short. This gives them 180 days to grow, flower and ripen while the dank period is is longer than 12 hours.