As spring rains yield to summer sun, tens of thousands of hobbyists are starting an annual cannabis garden.
With 33 medical states and 10 adult-use legalization ones, there are more first-time cannabis gardeners than ever before.
Some aficionados want to organically grow exotic, trendy flavors for a fraction of retail prices. Others are just curious plant lovers, eager to try their green thumbs on the fast-growing annual.
“You see every type of person coming into licensed stores now,” said Clay Cutter, Dark Heart dispensary sales director at leading California nursery Dark Heart Nursery, which can produce one million plants per year. “It’s just grabbing all these folks who didn’t know it was possible. And now it is.”
New cannabis strains sweep into vogue like fashion trends. Breeders constantly refine last year’s award-winners or combine them with something novel, setting off the next round of hype. As multimillion-dollar commercialization ramps up, gardeners and smokers alike are enjoying a golden age of cannabis flavors and effects.
Gardeners typically plant cannabis seeds and juvenile starts in the ground after the last rains of spring. The plant grows fast through the fall and gets harvested in September or October.
As the planting deadline of the summer solstice fast approaches, Leafly called up some of the best-known companies who are busy producing and selling the seeds and saplings that will go into US gardens this month.
Here are the most popular cannabis strains for the 2019 planting season. May it inspire your own green thumb!
We live in an era of dessert strains. It started with the scrumptious, complex strain Cookies (a.k.a. Girl Scout Cookies, GSC) about eight years ago, and it has only sped up since then. Most recently, Cookies led to the creamy, berry, and fuel strain Gelato, Leafly’s 2018 strain of the year. What’s next? Expect dessert to dominate seed and clone menus in trendy legal markets.
On Tuesday, May 21, lines started forming at 5 a.m. outside Cannavine, a licensed adult use store in Ukiah, CA. Growers got up early for clones of the new, limited-release dessert strain Vanilla Frosting.
Smelling of vanilla, followed by fuel, Vanilla Frosting descends from a Humboldt Gelato. Leading California seedmakers Humboldt Seed Co. worked with Happy Dreams Farm to select the variety from 10,000 of its peers in a year-long hunt for the next “It” strain. Dark Heart Nursery will release Vanilla Frosting at select retailers across California this month.
For the first time this spring, the Gelato strain breeder himself, Mr. Sherbinski, will offer verified Cookies genetics to the masses. They are seeds for The New—a cross of Cookies and Larry OG. Partner Humboldt Seed Organization sells the seeds in online marketplaces.
Award-winning West Coast breeder Exotic Genetix can’t keep up with the demand for this strain that crosses Cookies and Cream to Sherbert, Strawberry, or Lemon Tree. Those new strains are dubbed: Bonkers, Strawberry & Cream, and Driz-Nipper, respectively. All three crosses sold out in a few hours at the world’s largest legal cannabis seed bazaar, The Emerald Cup, in Santa Rosa, CA. Look for them now in online marketplaces.
In Oregon, seek out Archive Seeds of Portland’s immense line-up of Do-Si-Dos crosses like Sherbidos, Dosi-Cake, and Dosi-Tree, plus other dessert strains like Samoas.
Tons of Punches
Sweet and pretty, with a mild, stony lift, Purple Punch took over so many commercial gardens in 2018, selling it became a race to the bottom. We bought a $6 eighth-ounce of Purple Punch in Portland this spring. This summer, Punch progeny will populate hobby gardens nationwide.
“It is a super-hearty,” said Jason Mathys, founder of Equilibrium Genetics, which sells seeds though 80 licensed shops in California. “It’s not the craziest tasting plant, but it’s just healthy and happy.”
Purple Punch 3.0
We’re growing Symbiotic Genetics’ Mimosa (Purple Punch 2.0 x Clementine) this year and the plant is explosive and aromatic. Similarly, look for other fruity punch crosses in gardens from Symbiotic like Banana Punch and Cherry Punch. On the dessert side, plant Wedding Crasher, which is Purple Punch with Wedding Cake.
Tasty CBD Strains
About six years ago, the first strains that produced the highly therapeutic molecule, cannabidiol (CBD), tasted like hay. Not anymore. This year, CBD-lovers get all the exotic terpene profiles of THC-lovers.
“That’s the new name of the game,” said Mathys, “the CBD plant that tastes and smells in every way like a high-THC plant, but just lacks that cannabinoid, for the most part.”
CBD Glue Tide
Equilibrium is selling out of CBD Glue Tide—a high-CBD and low-THC cultivar with a 24:1 ratio. It’s a cross of CBD classics Sour Tsunami, Cannatonic, and AC/DC, plus Good Medicine, and a touch of Original Glue for aroma and euphoria.
Guava Jelly CBD
Initial aroma of sweet tropical fruit yield to a fuel finish for Guava Jelly CBD—available as clones from Dark Heart Nursery in California. Sourced from Hawaiian Seed Company, Guava Jelly CBD produces a very effective, 1:1 ratio of CBD to THC. “The scent profile is amazing,” Cutter said.
By contrast, Dark Heart also sells less stoney clones of 2:1 Chocolate Tonic CBD and the old-school CBD strain, Remedy, an 8:1 strain.
OG Kush are more than 20 years old and charging, thanks to their pungent fuel-lemon smell and high-THC effects, which can conquer even the highest of tolerances. And they’re not going anywhere in 2019. “They’re still king,” said Mathys.
In 2019, it’s all about Venom OG—an award-winning variant on the classic OG. The Venom cut is very strong and tasty, but grows shorter and bushier than many OG Kushes and gets gorgeously purple. This makes Venom OG perfect for the backyard gardener who does not want cannabis plants stretching above his fence line, said Cutter.
Dark Heart also enters year two of producing award-winning WhoOodyclones—a cross of Gucci OG and Sour Strawberry from Colorado’s Nerds Genetics.
“It’s a very heavy indica and it’s very effective for sleep,” Cutter said. “The terpene profiles are just kind of off the charts.”
Isn’t this fun? Let’s do a few more.
Sticky, gassy, and potent—Original Glue (formerly “Gorilla Glue,” or “GG4”)—continues to fly off retail store shelves. But it’s also a hit in gardens. Breeders keep crossing Glue because its offspring produce highly resinous, pungent, glimmering buds.
Equilibrium Genetics is selling out of seeds of Cookie Glue, Lemon Wookie Glue, Super Silver Glue, and Platinum Skunk Glue, Mathys said.
Meanwhile, Dark Heart offers 4G—a cross of Gelato #45, Original Glue, and Cookies. Exotic Genetix’s Grease Monkey also pairs Glue with Cookies. And Humboldt Seed Co’s Bigfoot Glue offers Glue crossed to Headband.
Do you see the pattern of remixing old hits beginning to emerge?
Nostalgic Heirloom Sativas
Lastly, one of the great parts about growing your own is picking a personalized strain.
Many folks love the energetic effects associated with sativa variety cannabis. But sativas tend to be more rare on dispensary shelves, I’ve seen. They certainly cost more to produce, owing to their longer flowering times compared to indicas.
Time and yield matter not to the hobby gardener, who can try the soaring EQ Haze, a mix of Old Timer’s Haze and Tom Hill Haze, from Equilibrium Genetics this year. Also look for a Chem ‘91 x Tom Hill Haze called Chem Hill Haze, or Skunk Hill Haze. See also: Crockett’s Haze by DNA Genetics, in the online markets.
The rush is on to find 50-year-old cannabis from remote parts of the world untouched by hybridization—so-called landraces. Aficionados are trying to source old-school Southeast Asian sativas like Vietnamese and Cambodian.
“People are asking for that stuff for sure,” said Dark Heart founder Dan Grace. “Some of it is nostalgia. Like, ‘I want an Acapulco Gold’.”
Mathys has released new crosses of Orange Burmese and Malawi year. “I really like sativas and growing unique strains that have a unique appearance. I see myself experimenting a lot more with some of the landraces we haven’t worked with yet.”
So there you have it—a historic bounty of dessert strains, punches, new OGs, terpy CBD cultivars, and heirloom genetics await the intrepid gardener.
The only question is, what are you still doing reading this when you could be planting?