In our recent article about sea of green marijuana growing, we cleared up the common misconceptions within our marijuana grow community about sea of green (SOG) as it relates to screen of green (SCROG) growing.
SOG isn’t SCROG, the two most crucial differences being that SOG doesn’t utilize screen nets to hold plants in place, nor does it utilize low stress training to manipulate plants into growing horizontally.
Sea of green is a garden grown from rooted clones taken from the same mother plant(s). These clones are given minimal time in grow phase, sometimes only 3–5 days, at most a couple of weeks. The goal is to give them enough time to develop adequate root systems before they’re swiftly put into bloom phase.
The resulting SOG garden is a cannabis plantation of short plants that rarely grow more than 16–28 inches tall. Bud development starts just above the root zone and continues all the way to the top of the plant. The main stem is the bud stem. The usual growth spurt that happens when plants are switched to 12–12 lighting runs concurrent with bud development, so as height increases, buds develop along the entire length of the plant.
SOG plants are grouped very closely together — much closer than in regular gardens. Intense, penetrating lighting is used. The plants are ready for harvest at least two weeks earlier than in regular marijuana gardens.
SOG cannabis growing decreases crop cycle time, electricity, water and nutrients expenditure. Harvesting is easier because the finished clones are uniform spikes of buds that can be chopped at the bottom and placed on drying racks. Little to no trimming, topping or training is needed while the plants are growing, and not much manicuring is needed after they’re harvested, because there are few if any side branches.
Sea of green is easier and faster than regular marijuana growing, and can sometimes produce more yield from the same square footage than would be produced using full-sized plants, with less vertical space needed.
To get the most successful sea of green results, you have to carefully choose a plant for its cannabis genetics and grow methods, and its reaction to grow lights, hydroponics fertilizers and cultivation protocols.
Marijuana strains that do best with this grow technique have unique characteristics that reflect the goals and grow conditions of SOG as opposed to SCROG, regular indoor marijuana grow ops, or outdoor marijuana growing.
In most non-SOG grow ops, you want short, densely branched plants. If they don’t grow as such based on their genetics, you can top them to make them grow that way.
In contrast, SOG cultivation favors plants that grow straight up without side branching, grow fast, flower early, and produce a vertical cluster of dense buds for the entire height of the plant.
Other desirable traits that make for an ideal SOG plant include unusually strong and fast root development, exceptional hardiness, resistance to pests and diseases (especially botrytis and powdery mildew), magnificent cannabinoid and terpenoid production, and high yield potential.
It’s difficult to find strains that have all or even most of the phenotype traits that make them ideal for SOG gardens. Fortunately, if you’re a SOG grower or want to be, this strain guide is just what you need. Read on to find out if your favorite strain makes the cut.
Strains For SOG Growing
Take a look at our comprehensive article on Sensi Seeds’ Northern Lights, a famous heritage strain grown in all kinds of cannabis gardens, and ideal for SOG. Like many SOG strains, Northern Lights leans toward indica and Afghanica genetics because it grows short and fast while giving you a lot more yield than plants that are 50 percent or more sativa.
White Widow is another famed heritage strain that works well in SOG gardens. Known for its frosty, resinous buds, White Widow does have sativa genetics, but every time I’ve grown it or seen it grown, it’s been a fast finisher. And with only one topping (grown in a regular garden) the White Widow plants grew no more than three-feet tall and produced huge, crystallized buds.
In a SOG garden with cuttings sourced from the right phenotype of White Widow mother plants and properly rooted and placed in the grow grid, each plant is a spike of frosty buds from top to bottom.
Another resin-rich SOG champ is Hash Plant, also best sourced from Sensi Seeds. Cultivated primarily for use by cannabis concentrates producers, this SOG hero requires only 40–47 days in bloom phase. You can go from cutting to harvest using honed Hash Plant phenotypes faster than if you were growing autoflowering marijuana.
Then there’s the Critical Mass strain courtesy of Mr. Nice Seedbank. This is a favored SOG alternative derivative to the rather boring high you get from indica-leaning Big Bud, yet Critical Mass has all the positive characteristics of the latter.
It offers cultivators a fast-growing, crazy-big yield that combines a pure Afghanica with Skunk #1, and was bred by famed outlaw cannabis breeder Nevil Schoenmakers of Neville’s Haze fame. Like Hash Plant, it has a short bloom phase of 45–54 days.
As with many indica/Afghanica strains and especially in SOG plantations where plants are very closely spaced, Critical Mass buds are so dense that they’re susceptible to gray mold. To combat this, keep your humidity and vapor pressure deficit in line with grow-room relative humidity on the low end (from 55–65 percent, depending on VPD).
SOG growers prefer the F1, or first generation hybrid Warlock from Serious Seeds. A High Times Cannabis Cup winner from way back, Warlock combines Afghanica and skunk genetics to give you hardy, high-yielding plants that need 55–61 days in bloom. Unlike other Afghanica and skunk strains, this one gives you a head high, not just a body stone.
Blueberry from Dutch Passion is a long-time SOG favorite and a heritage marijuana strain. It boasts a smattering of sativa genetics and therefore a nine-week bloom phase, which in SOG means it will be ready in 10 weeks if you give your cuttings a week or less in grow phase. I find the Blueberry high and taste to be delightful, and I’m not usually a fan of indica/Afghanica-dominant strains.
A very special strain for SOG growing is Power Plant, which has more sativa genetics than you usually want for this method of growing. Also from Dutch Passion, Power Plant has a long bloom phase, but the high is stimulating and very fun, and the strain is easy to grow and provides the large yields SOG growers look for.
The shark is one animal you want to avoid while swimming in the sea. However, in your sea of green garden, Silver Shark by Sagarmatha is indeed a very friendly fish.
This heavy yielder has a longer bloom phase (59–66 days) but has a potent high that really takes a bite out of your brain and your body. Sagarmatha won’t reveal the genetic lineage of this strain, but it works well in SOG and doesn’t give you the typical heavy indica/Afghanica high.
For your SOG you might also consider chewing on Bubble Gum, a heritage cannabis strain with a candy-like taste and a 53–63 day bloom phase. This hybrid naturally tends to grow one main stalk with few side branches, making it perfect for SOG gardens.
Skywalker Kush from DNA Genetics is an exception to the usual rule that Kush strains can be finicky to grow and branchy, which is why I haven’t seen many successful SOG gardens growing Kush strains.
With a relatively short flowering time (for a Kush) of 58–64 days, a natural no-branching phenotype, and wonderful resin gland production, this Kush roots fast and grows straight up in your SOG to provide you the sweet all-bud stalks you desire.
If you want a beautifully colored bud, while also getting a short bloom phase and pure skunk genetics, grow Orange Bud from Dutch Passion.
With origins dating back to the late 1970s, this heritage strain offers vertical low-branch phenotypes, and orange-haired, sticky buds. You only need 55–58 days in bloom phase to harvest this SOG sensation.
If your favorite strains aren’t on this list, I recommend contacting breeders or sellers and asking them if your preferred strains are proven to do well in SOG gardens. If they say they have different strains appropriate for this particular grow technique, then ask them about the traits that make those strains good for SOG.
And one more thing. I urge you to get these strains from the reputable breeders listed, because many of these same strain names are used by knockoff seed sellers who are really selling inferior seeds with pirated names.