- Breeding History
- Physical Appearance
- Growing Northern Lights
- Effect and Flavor
- Northern Lights for Medical Use
THC Content: 19%
Dominant Variety: Indica
Origins: Seattle and Netherlands
1. Breeding History
Northern Lights is one of the most potent and well-known cannabis strains. Primarily of the indica family, some offshoots of the strain do have a bit of Thai sativa in their genealogy, stemming from the various hybrids created during the strain’s tenure in the Netherlands. Though developed exclusively in Holland, owned by a prominent seed bank since the mid-80s, Northern Lights is thought to have originated in Seattle, Washington.
1.1 Indica Cannabis Strains
The indica family of cannabis – sometimes called Cannabis Afghanica instead – originated in the Hindu Kush region, an area of the Middle East encompassing Turkey, Morocco, and Afghanistan. If a strain has the term “Kush” in its title, it is generally an indica-dominant type. Most indica-dominant plants have a yield of about 1.5 to 2.5 oz (40-70 grams) per plant, derived from dense and bulky buds rather than the sausage-shaped flowers of sativa strains.
The calming, sedating high of indica breeds can treat symptoms of health issues such as insomnia and anxious thoughts. When Northern Lights is bred with energizing sativa (though usually no more than 5% sativa to 95% indica) the strain may also help those suffering from depression.
1.2 Northern Lights by the Numbers
Of the eleven original Northern Lights plants, numbered #1 through #11, #5 and #1 are considered the top selections and, together with #2, make up the only pure Northern Lights strains remaining. These strains are used to create a wide variety of hybrids.
After spending a few years in Holland, the newly perfected Northern Lights #5 took a prize at the 1989 Cannabis Cup, and went on to win the High Cannabis Cup a year later. It has received numerous other awards since.
1.3 The Northern Lights Foundation
Male Northern Lights plants (which do not produce buds) serve as a foundation for many strains popular today, including Skunk, Swazi, and Haze. In breeding the strain, the much-lauded Northern Lights #5 plant is prized for potency and a diminished flowering time. Northern Lights #1 provides a fresh scent and good bud formation, while Northern Lights #2 (a Hindu Kush hybrid) offers pest resistance and increased hardiness.
2. Physical Appearance
2.1 Size and Shape
Known to be fast-flowering and resilient, Northern Lights generally tops out at about four feet high – this shorter stature is common to indica breeds. Bushy in shape, the dark green leaves of the Northern Light plant have wide leaflets, though some plants may exhibit their sativa influence with longer, thinner leaves. Unlike some strains, during the flowering stage the purple-tinted flowers of Northern Lights plants – of which there are many – protrude in all directions.
2.2 Resin Production
The sugar leaves and flowers of the Northern Lights plant develop a thick coating of therapeutic resin, which is the norm in indica-dominant strains. As a result, the top-most part of the plants generally have a “frosted” appearance, as though they have been crystalized.
3. Growing Northern Lights Cannabis Seeds
3.1 The Growing Period
A good choice for planting from seed, Northern Lights is one of the fastest-growing strains, with a flowering period of 6-7 weeks (an average of 47 days) – ideally ready for harvest around mid-October. Comparatively, most other indica strains require 8 to 10 weeks of growth before harvesting, and sativa strains can take even more time.
3.2 Growing Location and Lighting
Growing Northern Lights indoors, in hydroponic gardens, has produced the best results. In the first four weeks of life, the plants should be treated to 18 to 24 hours of light each day, allowing thick and leafy development. The light provided to the Northern Lights plants can be lessened to 10 to 12 hours a day for the remaining 2 to 3 weeks. The plants are well-suited to the Sea of Green or Screen of Green methods.
Grown indoors, the plant rarely reaches beyond its minimum four-foot height, making it easy to care for in a box or small room. When Northern Lights is planted outdoors, directly into the ground in a warm climate, it is likely to reach its maximum height of about five feet. In proper growing conditions, around 100 grams can be harvested per plant, a bit more than the average indica plant.
3.3 Northern Lights Harvest
Northern Lights is ready for harvest when the resin coating the numerous buds is mostly gold in colour. After 24 hours drying time in a dark room, and at least six hours curing in a sealed container, the crop is ready for use.
4. Effect and Flavor
Northern Lights develops a considerable amount of resin, and is celebrated for its pungent, sweet and spicy flavour and the relaxing effect of its THC component of 15 per cent or higher. Widely considered a “two hit and quit” strain, it provides a full-body high that eases tense muscles and relieves pain, leaving users feeling comfortably relaxed.
This sleepy sensation is common to indica strains, but breeding with sativa over the years has introduced a “euphoria” to the Northern Lights strain that is more commonly to the latter cannabis species. Depending on the exact breeding specs of your plant, and your personal chemical make-up, you may feel more or less of this mental effect.
5. Northern Lights for Medical Use
5.1 Medical Testing
Medical marijuana is comprised largely of hybrid indica strains, the category into which Northern Lights falls, so it is not surprising that this strain is popular in Medical Marijuana testing. Botanists have also shown considerable interest in the genetic characteristics of Northern Lights, apparent in the vast number of strains it has parented.
5.2 Treating Symptoms and Conditions
Northern Lights can provide relief from sleeplessness (insomnia), depression, anxiety, and stress, among other ailments. The strain can also encourage appetite in those suffering from anorexia or loss of hunger due to medical treatments such as chemotherapy. The pain relief offered by Northern Lights can help to lessen the severity of migraine headaches, and is considered a suitable treatment for chronic pain and arthritis.