Best Cannabis Strains for Experienced Growers: Challenging Strains You’ll Love

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Added 09 August 2023

As a cannabis grower, you’ve probably come across many strains and grown them too. We don’t know about you, but things could get boring and monotonous after a while for some growers. 

In fact, some growers find it hard to continue once their plants no longer challenge them. The rush you feel to grow cannabis? It’s simply missing. 

The solution? Well, you need to up your game and pick strains that will push you to your limits and help you become a better grower. If you’ve reached a plateau in your growing career, you’ve likely reached the “experienced” stage, but don’t worry, you are not out of options yet. 

Here are some of the most challenging cannabis strains that you should grow if you want to progress in your journey as a cannabis grower. 

Read on to know more. 

What Makes a Cannabis Strain Difficult to Grow?

Before we get into the most challenging cannabis strains for experienced growers, let’s consider what qualities make these strains so challenging to grow. These qualities are what test your mantle and patience as a cannabis grower, and they are worth considering before you begin growing any of these strains. 

Here are the major factors that make a cannabis strain difficult to grow.

1. Peculiar Environmental Factors

Cannabis strains are sensitive to environmental factors, and while some strains can grow in any kind of environment — they are hardy — other strains may not. In other words, some cannabis strains are more sensitive to environmental factors like temperature, relative humidity, and lighting conditions. So, if your local environment, be it your indoor grow room or an outdoor garden, fluctuates a lot or has extreme variations, some cannabis strains may not grow well.

2. Growing Medium Challenges 

Like the environmental factors, even the growing medium dictates how the plant will grow. If a cannabis plant is accustomed to growing in a specific growing medium, it will be difficult to grow in any other part of the world, unless you take great measures to mimic the same environment. 

3. Nutrient Needs

Along the same lines, some strains have particular nutrient demands. Even a minor change or lapse in the nutrient solution can make some strains difficult to grow and flourish. Again, these strains are difficult to grow unless you are on your toes about their nutritional demands. 

4. Structure and Size 

While nutrition and environmental factors may be in your control, the plant’s structure and size aren’t — they’re encoded in their genetics and training can only manage the structure by a small margin. Here, some strains have a complex structure or branching, which can make it difficult for you to manage, requiring complicated training methods that are less forgiving. 

5. Specialized Training Techniques 

Similarly, some cannabis strains produce satisfactory results only when they are trained with complicated methods. Otherwise, they may not grow to their potential and may produce subpar results, making them not worth growing in the first place.

6. Genetic Stability

Some cannabis strains aren’t as polished as other strains, so they may inherit genetic instability within their DNA, which can make them difficult to grow. What makes such strains a pain to grow is unpredictability — you never know how your plant will grow, so you have to be on your toes at all times. 

These factors can make a cannabis plant challenging to grow, but by no means impossible. An experienced grower who understands the challenge can grow these strains with ease without compromising the plant’s health or yield. If you think you can grow these strains, make sure you do enough research and give it the right attention. 

The Most Challenging Cannabis Strains to Grow

Now that you know what makes some cannabis strains so difficult to grow, let’s take a look at the best strains for experienced growers and what makes them so difficult to grow. 

1. Jack Herer

Jack Herer

Image Credit - Goldbud

Jack Herer needs no introduction, as it’s one of the most popular cannabis strains of all time, named after Jack Herer himself. Jack Herer was an American cannabis rights activist and he’s partly the reason we get to enjoy our stash without hearing a knock from the cops. So, for a strain to be named after the Emperor of Hemp, it’s no surprise that it will be amazing. 

The Jack Herer strain is a cross between Shiva Skunk, Haze, and Northern Lights #5, and it has been a go-to choice in Amsterdam coffee shops since its inception. And over the years, this strain has won several awards, and its popularity is down to its phenotype of 3 part sativa and one-part indica.

But it’s not the easiest strain to grow. It has a flowering time of up to 12 weeks and it enjoys warmer weather more than any other. And once it starts flowering, it can grow really tall, and the taller it grows, the better yield it produces. Advice: train this plant as much as you can. If you manage to give it the right environment to grow in, it will reward you, unlike any other strain. 

From Jack Herer, you can expect a 50/50 hybrid high that lasts long and is cerebral and relaxing. Plus, it’s rich in caryophyllene, pinene, and terpinolene, so it gives out a sweet, creamy flavor profile with fruity undernotes and a touch of sandalwood. Yum.

2. Shogun


Image Credit - Bluemels

Shogun is often regarded as a fierce strain that can scare away any grower who doesn’t know their plants. But what makes this notorious strain so good? Its THC content of up to 25% produces a cerebral high that lasts long — ideal for creative users who want to create some art. 

Plus, Shogun is known for its citrus, earthy, and pine flavors and aroma. And even if you don’t smoke the bud, you’d be mesmerized by its beauty. It’s covered in trichomes and it looks almost as good as it smells. 

So, what makes Shogun so difficult to grow? First, it’s the long growing season for its proper growth. This is also the reason why it’s almost impossible to grow Shogun in northern regions or areas with long winters. Even if you grow this strain in a greenhouse, the lack of light will make it hungry. 

So, for the best results, you need to grow it in a Mediterranean climate or a warmer indoor grow room. But if you get the environmental factors right, this strain can grow up to almost 200 cm and produce a staggering 750g of buds per plant! Do note that an indoor plant may produce slightly shorter results. 

3. Columbian Gold 

Columbian Gold

Columbian Gold, straight outta Columbia, is a classic landrace strain, i.e., this sativa strain was not created by any breeders; it’s indigenous. This is perhaps the reason why this cannabis strain is so difficult to grow for most growers — it evolved in high altitudes on its own, so replicating the same growth conditions is challenging. 

But once you figure out the right formula, this strain can grow very tall and flower within 90 days in an indoor grow room, and by the end of November in an outdoor environment. The long flowering time is another thing that makes Columbian Gold challenging to grow — the margin for error is a lot slimmer. 

Fortunately, this plant grows well indoors and outdoors, thanks to its resistance to pests and mold, and even if you grow it indoors, it will still yield up to 400 grams easily despite its small stature. 

And with all the effort you put in, Columbian Gold will reward you with flowers containing up to 19% THC which is still great for daytime consumption. The buds will have an aroma of must and citrus with a skunky undernote, just enough to let you enjoy them without getting too overwhelmed. These same qualities also make this a terrific medicinal strain. 

4. Amnesia White

Amnesia White

Amnesia White is a cross between an earthy Afghan strain and a Thai strain, and the result is a sweet hybrid that is packed with floral and spicy notes with undernotes of citrus and earth. Amnesia White is a superb cannabis strain for growers who want to clone plants as it acts as a stable mother that can produce excellent clones. 

When grown outdoors, this strain can reach as tall as 3 meters, but it prefers a warm Mediterranean climate, so if you live in a colder environment, it’s best to grow this strain indoors. However, despite preferring warmer climates, this strain has a shorter bloom period, where it still produces some dense nugs. 

Smoke the buds, and you’ll start feeling a comfortable cerebral high that promises to increase your creativity and productivity, and soon, it will spread into a body high that will relax you. 

The best tip to keep in mind when growing Amnesia White is to be meticulous. This strain grows dense foliage and large fan leaves, so you need to train and prune it properly to ensure adequate airflow and light penetration throughout while decreasing the chance of mold. The best training method for this plant is the screen of green and pruning. 

5. Amnesia Haze 

Amnesia Haze

Image Credit - R01_444

While Amnesia White is not so popular, its distant cousin, Amnesia Haze is one of the most popular cannabis buds out there. However, this cannabis strain will test you, so you need to be an experienced grower before you purchase Amnesia Haze seeds. 

This strain can produce buds with up to 22% THC content full of peppery and citrusy terpenes, which offer a cognitive high that will motivate you for the rest of the day. But before you get to enjoy them, you’ll have to put in a good amount of hard work.

Amnesia Haze grows best when it gets a lot of sunlight throughout its growing cycle, so you either need to grow it indoors or in a warmer climate with long summers. Give it the right conditions and it can grow up to 210 cm and produce a terrific yield of up to 700 grams per plant. As an additional protip, use plenty of organic nutrients to sustain this plant. You won’t be disappointed. 

6. Malawi Gold

Malawi Gold

You may have heard of the Malawi Cob, an ancient cannabis fermentation method that produces a sweet cannabis product that’s unlike any other in terms of its flavor and potency. Malawi Cob is rare these days, but don’t worry, you can try Malawi Gold instead. 

Malawi Gold is still one of the rarest cannabis strains out there, so getting your hands on its seeds may be tricky. If you do get the seeds, growing them out is a different ball game altogether. Mawali Gold is famous for producing long colas thanks to its extremely long flowering cycle that takes up to four months to flower!

Plus, growing this equatorial strain outside of its natural environment is tricky, so you need to grow it indoors unless you live on the equator. Best to avoid this strain in any other climate than tropical. And even if you do grow this indoors, give it a lot of room. Once you get all the factors right, you’ll be rewarded with some of the biggest, smoothest cannabis buds of your life. 

7. Dr. Grinspoon

Dr grinspoon

Image Credit - MadeInGermany

Dr. Grinspoon, named after Dr. Lester Grinspoon for his outstanding contribution to the cannabis industry is a beautiful strain known for its buds that resemble grapes hanging off a vine. This strain was first produced by Barneys Farm and has since won many accolades, including the second prize in the Cannabis Cup. 

Like a true sativa, the strain can take you to the highest highs and give you a taste of why sativas are so famous. The fragrance is mesmerizing, like spices and fruits mixed together by a careful perfumer. The colors are great, but they become especially stunning as the plant heads into the last few weeks of its blooming stage. 

This strain has a lot of positive things going for it, but one major con is that it’s difficult to cultivate because of its landrace genetics. Moreover, what makes it even more difficult is the bud’s size and shape. While this cannabis strain has a long flowering time of up to 14 weeks, the buds tend to grow airy and thin and take a lot of time to put on any mass. And, thanks to the plant’s structure, light distribution is a tad difficult, so you’ll need to prune and train it extensively throughout its life cycle to ensure it performs to the best of its ability. 

As a result, novice growers might find it particularly challenging to manage the strain's unique characteristics and growth requirements effectively. 

Also, despite all the efforts you put in, the yields aren’t all that great compared to other new heavy-hitting strains. In fact, a yield of merely 12 ounces is considered a successful harvest. But don’t worry, the buds will still contain up to 25% THC with a long-lasting high that hits you hard. This strain is ideal for improving your mood after a long day. 

Remember, you should only for Dr. Grinpsoon if you’re looking for a challenge to grow buds of great quality and don’t mind low yields. 

And, just like other landrace strains, Dr. Grinspoon seeds are hard to get as most commercial breeders don’t stock them. If you get some authentic genetics from a breeder or any of your friends, it’s best to grab a few clones and start your journey from there.

8. Thai 


Thai is a popular landrace strain with its roots in — surprise — Thailand. While some experts believe that the original Thai strain no longer exists, the Thai that we know today is still worthy of your love and attention. 

This strain prefers warm tropical climates with long summers, and it likes to grow tall. And like any other landrace strain, Thai will also require a bit of pruning and training. Also, it is recommended that you use organic soil with compost to ensure it gets high-quality organic nutrients at all times. 

Depending on the specific type of Thai strain you get, it may flower anywhere from two to three months, but the yield is terrific as long as you train the plant well. 



Image Credit - OsirisD

ACDC can either take you on a highway to hell or a stairway to heaven, depending on how well you live up to its challenge. This strain is a 50/50 sativa indica hybrid, which is a cross between Ruderalis and Cannatonic. And while this strain is low on THC of only around 1.2%, it boasts of a high CBD ratio of up to 20%!

So, what makes this CBD-dominant strain so challenging to grow? First, it’s the fact that it needs a stable climate with temperatures between 68°F to 80°F (20°C to 27°C). Second, it’s a high CBD strain, so there’s always a chance of overfeeding it — you must be meticulous with the nutrient solution. 

The best way to grow ACDC is in an indoor hydroponic setup with a dialed-in nutrient solution. Many growers even recommend growing ACDC with 50% of the recommended nutrients during the vegetative cycle and boosting it to 100% during the flowering cycle. Also, a little pruning and training never hurt anybody, so use it on ACDC, too. 

The flowering time of ACDC is around 10 weeks, but if you don’t overfeed it or give it temperature stress, it will reward you with a plentiful yield that’s skunky and earthy to taste. The effects you can expect are euphoria, calm, and happiness, making this a great remedy for anxiety, nausea, migraines, and chronic pain. 

10. Headband


A cross between OG Kush and Sour Diesel — two legendary strains — it’s a surprise that Headband didn’t receive the same recognition as its parents. Part of the reason for its niche appeal may be due to how difficult this high THC strain is to grow. 

Those that love Headband appreciate the strain for its high THC content, a flavor profile of lemongrass, and a relaxing high. But they aren’t usually a fan of how sensitive this plant can be in an indoor environment. Many growers even say this plant is stubborn — if you don’t dial in the growing conditions as it likes, it won’t produce a decent yield. 

So, you have to be meticulous about the humidity, temperature, watering routine, and other growth factors if you want to achieve success with this strain. It prefers a warm climate and plenty of light, but when even a grow room does not suffice, you can tell how moody the plant is. 

PROTIP: Use training methods like low-stress training, ScrOG, and lollipopping for the best results.

11. Chocolate Thai

Chocolate Thai

Chocolate Thai is an amazing strain with rare qualities, but it has an incredibly lengthy blooming time that can go beyond 14 weeks, and even 16 weeks in many cases. As a cannabis grower, you want the plant to flower fast so you don’t have to deal with many issues, but Chocolate Thai’s prolonged flowering duration increases the threat of various problems, including pests, and nutrient issues.

Another problem is that the plant isn’t particularly fond of growing indoors. If you grow outdoors, you can hope to harvest somewhere around October but don’t expect high yields because this strain is more of a quality-over-quantity type of strain. 

In addition, Chocolate Thai has a tendency to grow tall and lanky with elongated branches. Although many users love sativas, this framework can make it challenging to take care of the plants inside your home particularly if you don’t have a lot of vertical space. Remember to train the plant as much as you can to control the height and to also ensure there’s uniform light distribution. 

Being a landrace strain, Chocolate Thai's genes are adjusted to it’s native environment’s conditions. Therefore, the plant can be very sensitive to alterations in environmental conditions, including humidity, temperature, and other factors. If you deviate too much from what it wants, the plant can be stressed and produce less yield. 

Also, it doesn’t grow according to your expectations. Unless you live in a climate that’s similar to Thailand’s warm weather, you’ll have to think twice before purchasing the seeds. 

And, that’s where you’ll have another problem — procuring the seeds is rather difficult because only a few growers put the effort to grow the plant. This strain was very popular during the 60s and even up to the 80s but it lost its prevalence due to the emergence of new strains. Your best bet is to find someone who’s growing it and get a clone. 

If you do succeed in getting clones, note that there’s very little information abotu this strain other than its landrace genetics. Thus, you will have to experiment and train the plant to see how it reacts and take it from there. 

12. Haze Berry 

Haze berry

Image Credit - TheIceCreamParlour

Haze Berry is a fantastic hybrid strain and receives its characteristics from its two parents — Blueberry and Super Sllver Haze. Now, Blueberry is an indica while Super Silver Haze is a sativa. The offspring can exhibit various growth patterns, thanks to a combination of genetics, thereby making it challenging to predict the plant's final size, shape, and overall structure. So, you need to tweak your growing techniques according to the plan’ts requirements if you want good yields. 

In addition, just like the other sativas mentioned here, Haze Berry can have a long flowering time. Sure, you may be able to harvest it early at times, but it often leans toward the longer side due to its sativa lineage. Longer flowering times can be challenging for you as you need to maintain the plants consistently throughout the life cycle. 

And, like other sativas, Haze Berry can grow really tall and stretch a lot during the blooming phase. So, if vertical height is a problem for you, Haze Berry might not be suitable. 

When Can You Grow Challenging Cannabis Strains?

The more you learn about these cannabis strains, the more you will realize what makes them so challenging to grow. So, how do you know whether you are ready to grow them just yet? 

The answer may not be simple for many growers. How do you know whether you are experienced or not? Would a grower with 2 years of experience in growing cannabis tackle these strains or does one need 5 years of experience? 

Instead of thinking about your expertise in a matter of time, think of it as a matter of skills that you’ve mastered. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Have you mastered the basics of growing cannabis?
  2. Can you dial in the environmental factors like temperature, humidity, light, airflow, and water?
  3. Do you know how to provide the right nutrients for your cannabis plant?
  4. Can you keep pests at bay?
  5. Can you spot health issues and even anticipate them?

If you answer yes to these five questions, you are probably ready to grow the most challenging cannabis strains out there. And even if you are not, if you are confident about yourself, give it a go. 

Even the most experienced growers have reached that position through trial and error, so unless you push yourself beyond your comfort zone and take some risks, you will take a lot longer to grow such strains at home. 

Just remember to do enough research and choose the right strain for yourself. As long as you have equipped yourself with all the information and taken the right steps, there are a few reasons why you may fail to grow the most challenging cannabis strains. 

Summary: Best Cannabis Strains for Experienced Growers: Challenging Strains You’ll Love

Cannabis strains come in all kinds of varieties, and most strains are easy to grow and forgiving, but others are not so forgiving. These strains are challenging to grow due to several reasons: environmental factors, genetics, unique requirements, and much more. 

Some of the best strains that fall into this category include Jack Herer, Shogun, Columbian Gold, Amnesia White, Amnesia Haze, Malawi Gold, Dr. Grinspoon, Thai, Chocolate Thai, Haze Berry, ACDC, and Headband. 

A few of these strains are difficult to grow outside their native environment, a few are less forgiving, and the rest are more sensitive to environmental factors. Considering your local weather, preferences, and the strains’ peculiarities, you must pick the right strain for yourself and start growing it. 

At first, any of these challenging strains may not be easy to grow. You may feel lost or even defeated but don’t let it get to you. After all, it’s just a plant. Do enough research, arm yourself with all the knowledge, and begin again. Soon enough, you’ll be left with the sweet victory (read: buds) of one of the most difficult cannabis strains to grow. 


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