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Northern Lights

Have you had a chance to try the Northern Lights strain? If you haven’t, put it on your to-do list right now. Northern Lights is lights out for most. An almost entirely pure indica that became popular for its sedative couch-lock effects. This strain has a complex aroma that has a spicy, funky, pine scent that is a pleasant trip down memory lane for a lot of old-school smokers. 

Northern Lights Overview

Legend has it that 11 special little indica seeds were germinated and planted on an island near Seattle, Washington by a mystery grower. These seeds were indica seeds harvested from Afghani landrace strains. However, there was a  sativa portion of these genetics that were introduced later on, but it had originally been a pure indica. The plant was back bred to reinforce traits like its strong indica effects and its resin production. In ‘85 we know that the strain was being grown in Holland to perfect these qualities by breeders like Neville Schoenmaker. Neville produced several amazing phenotypes, breeding them together to create some very potent cannabis. 

Once we start asking who brought the seeds to Neville? This is where the mystery really gets deeper. Most people will say the mystery grower was that Seattle cultivator, but there’s some claim Skunkman Sam had been the one who brought them over the Atlantic. Perhaps in the same trip as the genetics for other famous strains like Durban Poison. Most folks that get this far in the story will settle to agree that the seeds made their way from California to Seattle or vice versa before taking the trip over the Mr. Schoenmaker. 

Northern Light Strain IconNothern Lights Strain Bud Image Indica Dominant

THC: 17% – 20% 

Parent strains: Afghani x Thai

Watch: Northern Lights Review

A Proud Parent 

Because of the cult following for this 2-hitter-quitter, it naturally became a building block for a lot of the haze and kush strains we’ve all come to love. You can find a little bit of Northern Lights (or a lot of it) in so many strains available today, but if we’re dropping names I’m going with Amnesia and White Widow. 

Lucky Eleven 

The story of how the Northern Lights weed strain came to be is pretty cool. Out of the 11 seeds planted, the 3 phenotypes that are commonly available in genetics today seem to be NL#1, NL#2, and NL#5, however, a of couple searches online can provide a lot of information about the different phenotypes that are available. Differences in phenotypes can create drastic changes from one plant to another, impacting its resilience while growing, or highlighting certain qualities of the smoking experience. The genetics for NL#1, #2, and #5 are still pretty common compared to the other 8 that would’ve been around in decades past. More than likely the original genetics are still floating around in Europe, but a true representation of old-school Northern Lights weed may be pretty hard to come by. 

Smoking At The Office 

If you’re one of the many stoners out there that consider themselves ready for a The Office Themed trivia night at a moment’s notice, you might remember the episode which highlights Creed’s knowledge of superior smoke. Dwight’s overreaching volunteer position turned into a drug investigation. Creed quickly identifies Northern Lights in a photo lineup but flies under Dwight’s radar using lingo only a pro would know. 


Even in the best conditions, we don’t think you could grow a plant big enough to hang all the awards the Northern Lights strain has received. This classic is ranked with the best of the best! When NL first came to the Cannabis Cups in 1985 it was game over in the indica awards. It continued to gain momentum for years either winning awards on its own as it did again in 1990 and 1992 or through the strains that had been bred with the NL genetics. 

Northern Lights Effects

Northern Lights is not a strain to be messed with. This indica dominant strain is going to leave you totally zoned out in front of the T.V. wishing the fridge was just a little bit closer. Northern Lights weed is around 95% indica in some phenotypes. Maybe try half the joint before you commit to the whole thing! You can expect a euphoric relaxing high that will help relax muscles, relieve anxiety, and put you right to bed. Myrcene, the couch-lock terpene, is the major player in Northern Lights. Myrcene also works with THC in an interesting way that allows THC along the way. Have you heard of eating a mango before smoking to enrich the high? This is because of the presence of myrcene in mangos! Smoking a strain with lots of myrcene works in a very similar fashion. 

Growing Northern Lights

Growing this one is a walk in the park even for the uninitiated. Your Northern Lights seeds might not be one of the first 11, but chances are you can expect big yields from your crop. This big producer works well for indoor and outdoor growers, but in either case, you may want to apply some low-stress training (LST) to this bushy indica. Using LST allows you to shape the direction the branches grow in. This makes it much easier to manage light penetration to leaves on lower branches. Flowering time is usually 7-8 weeks here. 

The buds will be dense, so monitor your humidity and watch those flowers for rot. The last thing you want is to lose half your crop because your plants couldn’t feel a decent breeze! This is another great reason to apply LST in your grow, creating more airflow around your plant’s leaves helps to prevent high humidity levels. A good tip is to think of where this strain’s native environment would be, and how you can best mimic that in your grow setup. The Afghani background here means lots of light, and resistance to drought and high temperatures. No wonder it’s regarded as one of the easier strains to grow! 

“If anyone can come up with anything more resinous than this, I'd like to see it.“

Grower, Steven Hager

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