Kali Mist—the name is as elegantly poetic as the award-winning Sativa cannabis strain is legendary. Ever since the early 1990s when a couple of now-famous Dutch cannabis seed breeders were briefly working together for a short-lived cannabis seeds company called Cerebral Seeds, Kali Mist has been known as the best “pure Sativa” commercial cannabis strain.
One of those award-winning cannabis breeders is Simon, who founded and still operates Serious Seeds, home of the legendary Kali Mist, AK-47, Bubble Gum and other famous heritage strains. The other is Tony, who founded and still operates Sagarmatha Seeds, famous for Alaskan Thunderfuck, Bubbleberry and other epic strains.
Simon told us breeders in America were working on Kali Mist’s ancestors long before the strain’s formative genetics were transferred to Holland. He says Kali Mist’s dominant Sativa genetics are Cambodian, but there are other rare Sativa influences too. A small amount of pure Afghani Indica was bred in to tame pure Sativa traits such as ridiculously long bloom phases, difficulty in triggering bloom phase, and inadequate floral development.
The Kali Mist seeds you buy from Simon today don’t contain exactly the same genetics as you’d have gotten in 1990 when he first launched the strain. The original Kali Mist available from 1990-1997 was so purely Sativa that you could call it a near-landrace Sativa (but not a Haze Sativa). Growers and consumers adored the high from this first version of Kali Mist, which was like a mild, cannabis-influenced combination of LSD, magic mushrooms and mescaline.
Problem is, growers found the original Kali Mist challenging to cultivate due to its excessive height, vine-like branches, and an 11-14 week bloom phase that produced rather small buds.
Simon listened to growers and did a new breeding program that slightly increased the amount of Indica. The resultant Kali Mist had a shorter bloom phase and fatter buds, but Simon discovered that the changes decreased the clarity and purity of the Sativa high, so he did yet another breeding program to restore the original Sativa ratio by reducing the Indica component. This reworked version was first marketed in 1998 and is the version that won a coveted Amsterdam High Times Cannabis Cup in 2000 and dozens of other top awards.
Kali Mist Creator Describes Making Legendary Strain
Here’s an exclusive, edited interview with Simon explaining how he created Kali Mist:
“Before I founded Serious Seeds, two Americans invited me to start a seed company with them in 1993, called Cerebral Seeds. I had already created the Kali Mist, AK-47 and Chronic before then. That company didn’t last long. Tony, who later started Sagarmatha Seeds, was working with Cerebral too. He had some of the first seeds I had produced of Kali Mist and AK-47. Tony made different strains based on those strains; he calls them Western Winds and Slyder.
Kali Mist is a hybrid consisting of four narrow-leaf drug cannabis cultivars of tropical or sub-tropical origin. Its genetics came mostly from Southeast Asia, Africa and Colombia, with a very small percentage of Afghani Indica genetics.
My cannabis breeding experience goes back to the 1980s when I started collecting the most interesting cannabis clones and seeds. I collected rare strains that had already been bred for specific traits. I used those strains as building blocks to make something newer. [Marijuana grow book author and expert] Mel Frank had cannabis genetics that I procured, and later I made them into ‘Kali Mist’.
Obviously, the cannabis world is no different than the rest of society—we are dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants. That applies to me, and to people taking their turn in standing on my shoulders. Varieties I’ve made such as ‘Kali Mist’, ‘AK-47’ and others are now widely used to create ‘new’ cultivars with different names.
The refining and ongoing development of cannabis strains is the process of growing, selecting, crossbreeding and testing the resulting seeds. The choices you make in this process are highly personal and not always objectively explainable. Sometimes it might be a scent trait or some other trait you’re focusing on in breeding.
My cannabis breeding habits and goals include the fact that when I made AK-47, I was looking to make the most potent weed ever. It worked, which is why people fell off their stools in the Dutch cannabis coffee shops after taking one hit—nobody at that time was used to AK’s high potency. With my strain Chronic, the goal was to create massive harvest weight of branch-bending fat, potent buds.
With Kali Mist, my goal was to create the cleanest, most enjoyable Sativa effects ever. I achieved that and I hear from cannabis lovers all over the world about how Kali Mist has been such a good strain for them.
Out of my entire cannabis seeds menu, Kali Mist is my preferred strain, and tens of thousands of Kali seeds have been grown by happy growers who love this strain.
Especially in hot climates, I love to vape Kali and take a hike in nature. It helps me clear-mindedly enjoy what Nature has to offer. The Mist cools me down, when I would otherwise suffer from the heat. Several people whose opinion I value regard Kali Mist highly. My good friend [famous cannabis author, cannabis pioneer, cannabis genetics developer] Robert Connell Clarke has told me several times that the Kali was the best thing coming from Amsterdam.”
Kali Mist Creator Explains How to Grow It
Simon was kind enough to give us the following advice about growing Kali Mist…
“Most indoor Kali plants will be ready for harvest at around 77 days in bloom phase, but some plants may be ready as early as 70 days while others may take up to 90 days in bloom. The grower might have to do incremental and selective harvesting because not all flowers are ready at the same time, as new ones continue to be formed. The thing is, with Kali Mist you might see late season resin glands right next to white pistil clear resin glands, due to the new formation taking place. Some growers wait to harvest until all the resin glands and pistils look like they’re in late bloom, but I recommend somewhat earlier than that.
Kali Mist has mostly tropical genetics so it wants a warm grow room or outdoor environment, or it will suffer and not perform as well. Temperatures below 68-70°F for prolonged periods of time stunt its growth rate and decrease its yield. Indoors, lights-on temperatures should be 82°F or a little higher if you’re adding C02 and using LED grow lights. Lights-off temperatures should be about ten degrees cooler than lights-on temperatures, but not cooler than 68-70°F.
Kali Mist doesn’t like high nitrogen feeds, especially from artificial nutrients, and it doesn’t like a heavy feed program. Using synthetic nutrients or too high a dose of nutrients, you are likely to see yellow leaf tips indicative of nutrients burn. I recommend you grow Kali Mist only in organic living soil.
Kali Mist clones can be placed close together, 25 clones per eleven square feet indoors. In that situation, topping is not advised. The floral cluster density and abundance of flower clusters is remarkable, and because of the low leaf-to-buds ratio and narrow leaves, your grow lights penetrate deep into the canopy, which gives rise to exceptionally high yields.
We use plant support yoyo’s to support each plant from the top. They have adjustable rolling wires and hooks that grip the plants and holds them upright. This keeps plants growing straight up, and also saves plants the energy of having to support themselves.
For outdoor growing, Kali Mist does best in tropical or sub-tropical conditions with very warm temperatures and very intense sunshine. Kali Mist is a fantastic plant to grow in humid, hot, sunny conditions, and it’s resistant to diseases such as botrytis (grey mold).
Spanish growers who aren’t in tropical conditions tell us how outdoor Kali Mist plants thrive despite terrible weather such as torrential rainstorms in mid-peak bloom phase when most of the buds were pounded so severely that they looked like mush. What a surprise to the growers when a few weeks later these same battered plants delivered a massive yield of potent buds.”
Test-Growing Kali Mist Marijuana
During the past 15 years, I’ve grown Kali Mist twice, and a member of the Growing Marijuana Perfectly team grew it a couple of years ago in a grow op I monitored and photographed. The main photo for this article is from his grow op, and you can see from that photo how fat the Kali Mist buds are, especially for a pure Sativa strain. The fact that Kali Mist has performed well during 15 years of growing shows that Serious Seeds is maintaining the genetic lineage of this famous strain.
My first time growing Kali Mist was outdoors 15 years ago in a region too cold for the plants by mid-September. But even though conditions weren’t tropical or sub-tropical as Simon recommends, the plants performed admirably. I topped them several times to create a barrel-shaped profile instead of the Christmas tree profile they’d have otherwise had, but still the plants grew very tall. Fortunately, their branches were sturdy enough so they needed only minimal branch supports. They had khaki-green leaves with tight serrations on the leaf edges, lots of internode length, and foxtailing buds in mid-bloom that became thicker in late bloom.
Total time from pre-flowering to harvest was nearly 13 weeks, and these resilient outdoor plants produced at least a 16-19 ounces of connoisseur bud each, which is very good production for a Sativa strain…with no hint of gray mold or powdery mildew.The plants developed multiple colas that dried into beautiful lime-gold buds and provided the classic Kali Mist high that’s unlike Haze, Diesel, and other Sativa strains.
A couple of years ago, my colleague “J” grew the most current batch of Kali seeds indoors under LED lights using water culture hydroponics. Like many growers, he’d been hesitant to grow Kali Mist indoors, because he worried they’d grow too tall, especially because of bloom phase stretch. He germinated seven non-feminized seeds (note that Serious Seeds now also offers feminized Kali Mist seeds), and was intending to interbreed a male and female.
Germination rate was 100%. He saw relatively rapid growth in veg phase and no sign of nutrients overdoses, pH worries, light burn, or other problems. He found Kali an easy strain to grow. His Kali Mist plants had uniform phenotype expression and were definitely not the gangly, weak-limbed vines that some Sativa strains can grow to be indoors. J was surprised at how thick the stalk and side branches were.
A week before he started bloom phase, he topped each plant across its canopy to create multiple colas. Their main stalks and side branches were strong, with only a few branches requiring support, and the open structure of the plants allowing ample light penetration that stimulated bud growth.
When the plants were 22-24 inches high, he started bloom phase. Within two weeks of starting bloom phase lighting, we saw pre-flowers indicating three females and four males. Anticipating a potentially very long bloom phase and worried that pollinating even a few female flowers could risk pollen spreading throughout the grow room, J gave up on his breeding plans.
The plants immediately began stretching, and J worried they’d get too tall, because he uses high-powered commercial LED grow lights that should be at least 33 inches if not more away from the plant canopy. This was in a grow room with an 8-foot ceiling, but the light stands were only seven feet tall.
The finished plants ranged from 55-70 inches tall (including the pots). For the tallest plants, this was too tall to operate the grow lights at or near full power during peak and late bloom, due to the potential of high temperatures harming bud development, along with the light burning the tallest plants’ canopies.
If you have limited vertical space, very powerful lights or other limiters, beware: Kali Mist bloom phase stretch can double or triple the height you had at the end of grow phase. Carefully calculate your grow light-to-canopy issues, and other plant height limitations to be sure you don’t let your plants get too tall in grow phase.
By week four of bloom phase the plants had adequate early flowers, but few resin glands. J added in a phosphorus/potassium booster and increased the grow room temperature to 79°F, without added C02, and dialed in the humidity to 60% during lights-on cycle.
Beginning in week five of bloom phase, resin gland formation accelerated, and the buds greatly increased in diameter and resin gland density, perfuming the air with the smell of pepper, sandalwood, lemon, chocolate, patchouli, and the slightest hint of skunk.
By day 71 of bloom phase, leaves were turning yellow, red and gold, as you see in the photo at the top of the article. This color change happens naturally to leaves near the end of bloom phase in cannabis gardens that aren’t overfed nutrients. We were closely monitoring the buds every day, using a magnifying glass. They were very tight and resinous, larger and thicker than most other Sativa buds, and resin glands were crystal clear with no signs of degradation.
By day 78 of bloom phase, about 10% of the resin glands were cloudy, and others were falling over, with an accompanying loss of resin heads. J waited until day 83 and harvested all the plants. Dry-weight bud totals from the three plants were 159, 163 and 175 grams. The taste and high were truly superb, one-of-a-kind.
I grew a new batch of Kali Mist seeds earlier this year but was forced to harvest them after only 63 days in bloom phase due to grow room problems–other strains in the same room were infested with spider mites and/or mealybugs (scale).
I knew those plant-eating monsters would eventually find their way to my Kali buds. What really sucked is I needed at least 1-3 weeks to get all the room’s strains to ideal harvest date. I knew the pests could decimate my crop overnight, or I’d have to spray the plants with an organic treatment, but the buds would have been tainted by the spray. I decided to harvest early.
Despite the early harvest, this Kali Mist grow op gave me the same joy that J had experienced when he grew Kali indoors. Because I had watched his grow from start to finish, I knew what to expect. and the seeds grew out to be exactly like his plants.
Even more interesting, is I wasn’t growing hydro like he did, but growing with “veganic” living soil nutrients from Biotabs.Nl, at the advice of Simon. The Biotabs veganics program works remarkably well, with much less effort and worry than hydroponics. It was designed by Karel Schelfhout, one of the earliest cannabis seeds breeders whose Super Sativa Seed Club has been around since the early days, and is the best place to get original Haze genetics. Karel has written the best organic-veganic grow book I’ve read. Look for our major article about veganic growing soon.
Those Kali Mist indoor buds would have been tastier, heavier and more potent if I’d let them go ten or more days longer, but my fear of the mites and mealybugs made me harvest before ideal harvest date. The amazing thing is that even “ten days early,” these buds were very, very tasty, powerful and especially stimulating, as early-harvest buds sometimes can be.
Regarding Kali Mist overall, I must give potency warnings for novice cannabis users: you’re entering mescaline territory with this incredible strain. It’s a rare, inspiring high. Be prepared for a trip!
The plants performed so well that next time I’ll grow a male Kali and breed it with rare strains I’ve made. I sure can tell that Simon and his crew have curated the genetic lineage of this strain, so a person who grew and used Kali 20 years ago would inhale my Kali today, and feel a deja vu high, just like the first time he used Kali all those years ago.
And even though I harvested early, I still got five ounces or more per plant!
The Sweet Kali Mist High
People don’t grow Kali Mist to get massive Indica-style yields or fast harvests. It’s the Kali Mist high they’re looking for, and that high is hard to describe. It isn’t a Haze high. The Haze high tends to remove you quite a distance from reality without sedating you. In contrast, Kali Mist has a high that enhances reality by putting a sweet, trippy feel to it.
Like, if you’re listening to your favorite music after inhaling Kali Mist, you suddenly notice more of the music’s depth and complexity. Or if you’re on a nature hike, as we heard about earlier from Simon who created Kali Mist, the grass is greener, the sky is bluer, the hike more memorable. Your body feels better, but Kali Mist isn’t a pain killer like Indica and Kush strains can be. The reason you feel less pain is that you’re more in tune with the good things around you and inside you.
Another nice thing about the Kali Mist high is that it isn’t likely to cause paranoia, racing thoughts, anxiety, worry, fear, doubt and insomnia like some Sativa strains do. You get stimulated, but not in a way that makes you nervous or crazy. The high lasts for hours and in my experience there’s no burned out, exhausted, irritable feeling when it wears off.
People who sell marijuana will be glad to know that even though Kali Mist takes a lot longer in bloom phase than so-called “cash crop” fat-bud Indica strains, it yields well enough and provides such a popular high that it’s well worth growing. Growers can easily charge high prices for Kali Mist, and you rarely see it in licensed cannabis shops or on the black market, making it very easy to sell.
I conclude this article by advising all serious cannabis growers to grow Kali Mist at least once, especially for breeding purposes. It will be interesting to do a competition grow using Kali Mist versus Western Winds–I’m planning to do one soon.
I’m also testing a tasty new strain from the Serious catalogue: the legendary Bubble Gum and AK-47 crossed. Simon calls it Strawberry AK-47 because it tastes like strawberries. It retains the most memorable potency and Sativa high characteristics of both strains that went into its creation, he says, making it a serious winner in any grow room.
Because Simon of Serious Seeds has spent many decades working hard for the cannabis grower community, I’ve chosen a quote from him to finish this article…
“We help our grower customers as much as we can. I hope that the fact that we’re always helpful and truthful is recognized by growers, and they tell other growers about us. My ethics for Serious Seeds are actually quite simple:
- Only sell seeds which you would have liked to buy yourself if you were a grower and seed purchaser.
- Deal with the customer the way you would like to be treated if you were buying seeds.
To ensure top quality, we give up on many strains and seeds we’ve developed when they just aren’t good enough for our customers. The best part of our perfectionistic process is we are 100% proud of and confident in the seeds we do sell. Along with that, we work hard to make a diverse menu of strains so growers anywhere in the world, growing indoors or outdoors under any conditions, can grow fantastic buds. We take cannabis growers’ concerns and needs very seriously. That’s why we call ourselves Serious Seeds!”