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Grand Daddy Purple: Powerful History and Rewarding Cultivation

Grand Daddy Purple is the standard-bearer of purple indicas. It possesses beautifully heavy physical effects, a unique head experience, and it is an aesthetic pleasure to behold. GDP is a triumph of breeding, having resulted from a careful collaboration between nature, human ingenuity, and perhaps a bit of luck. Its THC content usually ranges fro 19-21%, with CBD hovering around 0.5%. Grand Daddy Purple is also fun to grow.

Grand Daddy Purple offers immediate muscle relaxation and a quieting of anxiety, along with near-certain couch lock, all while maintaining more mental clarity than is usual for such a powerful body high. Most experience no hangover or fogginess the next morning. It is regularly used to combat pain, insomnia, loss of appetite, anxiety, muscle spasms, nausea, and much more. Its purple coloring can range from lavender to violet, and from lightly flecked with color, to nearly solid purple.


Like anything biological, the evolution of a strain is an often meandering and messy process. According to its creator, the breeder and activist Ken Estes, the roots of GDP began in the 70s with veterans returning from Vietnam. The powerful strains they brought back from war included Afghani buds with the signature purple. In those days, sativa was queen, and the Northern California growers started experimenting with these new indicas, which were particularly well suited to the cooler climate of the Emerald Triangle. Because of their smaller yields, the Purples remained relatively unknown outside of connoisseur growing circles.

The change came when Estes encountered some noteworthy nugs while sharing rites with a Northern California indigenous tribe, who had been carefully cultivating the strain for 22 years. After taking that strain and working with it, and others taking on the task as well, in 2003 Grand Daddy Purple came out of Purple Urkle and Big Bud. Purple Urkle’s smaller buds bring dynamic color and lovely aromatics, paired with strong sleep and pain medicine. Big bud, having trichome-covered Northern Lights #1 in its genetics, is a potent strain with the added benefit or enormous nugs.

Many phenotypes have resulted from this work, but the basic GDP characteristics remain. Grand Daddy Purple is one of the most popular strains, even after more than a decade, and there is little sign of that changing.


Grand Daddy Purple is an extremely rewarding strain to grow. If you are short on space, GDP can be a great choice because it is a shorter plant, yet it is a substantial producer, thanks to its Big Bud parentage. Dense, sweetly scented buds mature quickly, as this strain’s flowering period is around 60 days.

Grand Daddy Purple is a great plant for colder climates, as it takes on its signature hues when exposed to cold temperatures late in flower, making it an excellent choice for outdoor temperatures that drop to about 12˚C (mid-50s in Fahrenheit). This strain can thrive on windy balconies, due to its squat and branchy build, and it does well to shield other more delicate plants. Ken Estes has theorized that GDP has Skunk genetics, and this seems likely once you encounter the potent scent that starts less than halfway through flowering.

Large, very resinous buds require a few extra considerations. GDP seems to resist mould better than most, but any plant will succumb to Bud Mould or Powder Mildew with enough moisture and soft plant matter. Keep consistent airflow on these plants, take care not to over-water, and maintain a very tidy grow space. If you pay attention to these small environmental details, GDP will be very forgiving, overall. Removal or tucking back of some of the fan leaves may be necessary; otherwise, the thick foliage can form an outer armor to the sun. Let the light hit the internal nodes, too.

Grand Daddy Purple is an exceptional strain. With its roots in a powerful history, and developed with great care over several decades, GDP is already the stuff of legend. It’s aesthetic beauty and medicinal efficacy can make it easy to forget that it is also one of the most rewarding marijuana strains to grow.

by Kristin Cerda

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