Cannabis Gender: Growing from Seeds? Here’s how to tell if you have a male or a female cannabis plant! ⠀⠀⠀⠀ Many growers believe they cannot correctly identify the sex of their cannabis plant until the flowering stage. Good news! Cannabis “pre-flowers” will help you to identify the sex of your plant within 3-6 weeks of Learn about feminized seeds, or seeds that are bred to only produce female cannabis plants. Herming: How female plants turn male Cannabis plants are gendered, or for the botanically-inclined, dioecious. Female plants are particularly prized because they form buds that are rich in
Cannabis Gender: Male Versus Female Plants
Many growers believe they cannot correctly identify the sex of their cannabis plant until the flowering stage. Good news! Cannabis “pre-flowers” will help you to identify the sex of your plant within 3-6 weeks of germination. These pre flowers can show up on male plants as early as 3-4 weeks from germination and on female plants as early as 4-6 weeks from germination. These results may not always be accurate so it is always best practice to wait until flowering to be 100% sure on the sex.
Yes! Female cannabis plants will create seeds when a male plant pollinates them.
Only female cannabis plants produce buds!
How to tell if your cannabis seeds are male or female?
Cannabis seeds are normally 50% male and 50% female. If you are wanting to grow a female plant from seed, you can order feminized seeds online. If male cannabis plants are introduced into a garden with females, this will cause pollination which will result in the female plants producing seeds. Buds with seeds produce a harsh smoke and a low quality product.
It is possible to get hermaphrodite cannabis plants. That would be a plant that developed both male and female sex organs. So the plant is capable of pollinating itself, and every plant in the grow room!
Male cannabis plants produce pollen which can fertilize female plants and cause them to produce seeds.
How to identify the gender of your cannabis plants?
Male cannabis plants will develop their pollen sacks before the females produce buds. It only takes 1-2 weeks for pollen sacks to show up on the male plant. Females show their gender around 2-4 weeks.
When looking to tell what sex a cannabis plant is, you have to look at where the branches grow off the stalk. These are called nodes. If your plant is a male, it will have round balls on the nodes. If your plant is female, it will have small flower clusters with long “hairs” poking out. These differences will be apparent around 4 weeks into plant growth, they are called pre-flowers.
Examine your plants carefully as identifying sex in the first month of grow can be very difficult.
Things to look for when determining gender:
- Male plants are normally taller
- The calyx (center part of flower) on female plants will be large and have white hair. On male plants it will be small with no hair.
* You may need a magnifying glass to tell the distinction at this stage!
To get the highest quality buds, growers will want to do everything they can to prevent pollination!
MALE CANNABIS PLANT
How to identify a male cannabis plant:
Male plants will mature much faster than female plants. They will grow faster and within 2 weeks should be taller than the female. They will begin their flowering stage almost a month before the female plants.
Features of Male Plants:
- Less flower development
- Straight growth
- Flowers will be close knit green clusters
FEMALE CANNABIS PLANTS
How to identify a female cannabis plant:
Male plants have what is often referred to as “false buds” but they are in fact pollen sacs!
Female plants, on the other hand, have flowers that will resemble sacs. These sacs open to have yellow or white flowers. Additionally, they will have pistils (resembles hair).
Features of Female Plants:
- Flower development
You can guarantee females by getting feminized seeds or female clones!
What about hermaphroditic cannabis plants?
Some cannabis plants can be hermaphrodites. This is when the female plant will develop both the male and female sex organs! A hermaphroditic plant can result in the plant pollinating itself and your entire grow. This most often occurs when your plant is stressed out. Monitor the temperature, humidity, and pH closely! And always look out for pests, pathogens, diseases, and other factors that may cause your plant stress.
Male and female cannabis plants must be separated unless you want to produce seeds!
What to do when you get a male cannabis plant?
Most growers find and terminate all male cannabis plants in their grow. This is understandable if you want to ensure no female plants get pollinated. However, male plants are still of value. If you want to continue to grow your male plants we recommend growing them in a separate room from the females to discourage pollination. Male cannabis plants can be used for breeding, concentrates, hemp, and more.
When a male and a female cannabis plant are bred, the male provides 50% of the genetics. This can be helpful in breeding strains that are mold resistant, have more resin, higher THC content, etc.
Most growers dispose of male plants
While male plants often contain less THC than female plants, you can still find cannabinoids in the leaves, stems, and flowers. You can extract resin from male plants to create concentrates like hash, oil, and wax. Even the pollen contains THC! Male plants produce copious amounts of pollen, which can be collected, pressed, and consumed to give you an adequate high.
Feminized seeds are bred to produce only female plants, as opposed to regular seeds that have a 50% chance of producing male plants.
More about feminized cannabis seeds
Feminized cannabis seeds are important to cannabis cultivation because only female plants produce consumable flowers.
Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Beyond the fact that male cannabis plants produce pollen sacs instead of flowers, having males plants around female plants can ruin an entire harvest. That’s because male plants pollinate the buds of young female plants. When that happens, the flowers will be full of seeds, lowering their quality and value.
Breeders and growers developed feminized cannabis seeds to address these challenges. By increasing the likelihood that all your seeds will produce female plants, you eliminate the possibility of getting a male plant that won’t produce flowers and of having a male plant accidentally pollinate flower-bearing female plants.
How to get feminized seeds
Feminized cannabis seeds are very mainstream. You can buy feminized cannabis seeds online from seed banks around the world. And if you live in a place where home cultivation is legal, you should be able to purchase feminized seeds at most dispensaries. You can also feminize seeds on your own, but to get the best feminized seeds, buy them from a reputable breeder or seed bank.
How are marijuana seeds feminized?
Feminized cannabis seeds are created through a process of genetic manipulation. Essentially, the idea is to induce female plants to make pollen. Normally, only male plants produce pollen, but if you can somehow make a female plant produce pollen, then what you’ve got is pollen containing only female chromosomes. There are a few ways to make this happen:
- Spray a female plant with colloidal silver while it grows and transitions into the flowering phase. This chemical promotes the growth of pollen sacs, and because this pollen comes from a female plant it carries female chromosomes. After the plant starts producing pollen, use it to pollinate the flowers on a regular female cannabis plant. These pollinated flowers will produce feminized seeds. There are some reports online that say you shouldn’t smoke or otherwise consume any part of a plant that’s been sprayed with colloidal silver. And there are also reports saying that’s baloney. You’ll need to decide for yourself.
- In a process very similar to the colloidal silver method, spray a young female cannabis plant with silver thiosulfate. This chemical suppresses the production of ethylene, which is necessary to the flowering process. By feeding your female plant silver thiosulfate, you encourage the plant to produce pollen, which can be used to pollinate other female plants and produce feminized cannabis seeds.
- The third main method is known as “rodelization.” This is an all-natural technique, although it does not produce the desired outcome as consistently as the colloidal silver or silver thiosulfate methods. Rodelization takes advantage of a natural process in which an unpollinated female plant will sometimes organically sprout its own pollen sacs. Think of it as the plant’s last-ditch effort to reproduce. In this method, you force a female plant to remain in the flowering phase for so long that the plant’s self-pollination mechanism kicks in. When this happens, you can use the pollen created by the female plant to pollinate the flowers on a regular female plant, which will then produce feminized seeds.
What is the difference between autoflowering and feminized seeds?
Autoflowering seeds have been bred to move into the flowering phase without needing changes in light to activate the production of flowers. Whether cannabis seeds are seeds doesn’t have anything to do with when plants enter the flowering phase. Feminized cannabis seeds have been bred to grow only female plants.
Are feminized seeds guaranteed to be female?
While feminized seeds generally grow only female plants, there is no 100% guarantee whether you buy feminized seeds or create them yourself. Every once in a while, a feminized seed will still grow up to become a male plant. For this reason, it’s a good idea to keep a close eye on your plants as they mature. If you ever see pollen sacs starting to form, remove the plant before it accidentally pollinates and ruins your female plants.
Do feminized seeds produce seeds?
Theoretically, plants sprouted from feminized seeds should not produce seeds. They should only grow into female plants, and unpollinated female plants produce buds instead of seeds. Cannabis plants make seeds when the flowers of a female plant are pollinated with the pollen from a male plant. In the absence of male plants, there should be no pollen and therefore no seed production. If you force a female plant to stay in the flowering stage too long, however, all bets are off and you could wind up with rodelization as discussed above.
Are regular seeds better than feminized?
Growing cannabis is all about your goals and preferences. There is no inherent reason why regular female marijuana seeds would be considered better than feminized seeds. With that said, feminized seeds:
- Maximize yields by reducing the chance of producing an unusable male plant
- Decrease the risk that a male plant will accidentally pollinate female plants
- Simplify the growing process by making unexpected male plants much less likely
In many ways, feminized seeds can be a good option for new growers, as they eliminate some guesswork and reduce the pressure to quickly and accurately identify and eradicate unwanted male plants. However, there are no guarantees and new growers should still do their homework and know how to spot a male cannabis plant.
Tips for growing marijuana from feminized seeds
The steps for growing cannabis from feminized seeds are the same as growing from regular seeds. If you understand the laws and regulations where you live and want to give cannabis cultivation a try, keep these things in mind.
Before you plant the first seed, you’ll need to make some decisions:
- Do you want to grow your cannabis indoors, in a greenhouse, or outside under the sun? do you plan to cultivate?
- Will it be autoflowering or photoperiod?
- Are you going to grow from seed or clone a cannabis plant?
- What cultivation medium will you use? Good old soil, hydroponic solution, or an aeroponic system?
Each of these areas may generate more questions. If you grow indoors will you use natural or artificial light? If you go hydroponic, will you also use a grow medium like rockwool or hydroton? While you could just buy a clone, plop it in some soil, and hope, it’s best to think like a beginner and do some thorough research before taking the marijuana-growing plunge.
On the other hand, if that’s just not your style, you could treat cannabis like a houseplant and attempt a simple indoor grow with natural light. If you start with a plant or two on a sunny windowsill and wind up with a nice harvest, you might choose to move on to a more complicated setup or just keep it simple. Like most things in the cannabis world, it’s all up to your personal taste and how much effort you want to put into it.
Herming: How female plants turn male
Cannabis plants are gendered, or for the botanically-inclined, dioecious. Female plants are particularly prized because they form buds that are rich in cannabinoid content. For most growers, maintaining a crop free of male plants is critical to ensuring that female buds are not pollinated.
Like all plants, however, cannabis has an inherent drive to procreate by propagating seeds. One way that the plant achieves this is by herming, when female plants become hermaphrodite to self-pollinate. The tendency to herm means that growers must take extra care to minimize any stressors that may cause the plant to perceive a threat and change its sex.
What is herming, and why does it happen?
Herming can occur when female plants experience conditions of environmental stress. “Female plants don’t actually turn male, they become hermaphrodites,” says Bruce Perlowin , CEO of Hemp, Inc . and seasoned cannabis cultivator. “You have a female plant that develops both reproductive parts so it can pollinate itself.” A hermaphroditic plant, by definition, contains both female and male sex organs .
A hermaphroditic plant, by definition, contains both female and male sex organs. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
According to Perlowin, stress is the fundamental cause of hermaphroditic plants, or ‘hermies.’ “Some examples of stressors would be not enough water, too much water, not enough nutrients, or too much heat. It can happen at any time in the life cycle of a plant from a new plant to a very mature one,” explains Perlowin. The female plant will develop male flowers in response to stress, to ensure seeds are produced before the environmental trigger can kill the plant.
Other stressors that may incite female cannabis plants to become hermaphroditic include disruptions to the photoperiod, dramatic shifts in temperature, disease or pest infestations, the use of toxic pesticides, and physical damage from vigorous pruning.
Herming can also have a genetic component, with some growers viewing plants that are inclined to herm as genetically inferior.
“Herming can also definitely be a genetic problem, but it is not cultivar-specific,” says Perlowin. “You can get the same cultivars from different seed companies, and they will yield different results.” Reputable breeders are more likely to competently sort and select seeds from genetically robust plants with desirable traits.
How can growers prevent hermaphroditic plants?
The vast majority of cannabis growers cultivate the plant to produce sensimilla . Sensimilla refers to female cannabis buds that have not been pollinated by a male cannabis plant. Sensimilla is more potent than seeded cannabis as it contains greater concentrations of essential oils and psychoactive cannabinoids.
When female plants herm, or develop male flowers capable of disseminating pollen, the entire crop is at risk of pollination. Female flowers that have been fertilized by pollen will halt their development to produce seeds, limiting flower production.
Perlowin advises that growers who wish to prevent female cannabis plants from herming must be diligent throughout the plant’s grow cycle. For starters, purchase seeds from a reputable company or trustworthy breeder that understands cannabis genetics. While potential environmental stressors must be monitored and minimized, growers should also examine their plants every day for any unusual growth.
“With hemp and cannabis, you h ave to walk your fields or monitor your plants every single day to ensure that there are no hermaphrodites or pollen on the plants, as it will affect the rest of your grow,” states Perlowin. “It is surprising how fast something can go wrong so it is important to watch closely. If you don’t find these plants, you could be jeopardizing not only your crops, but also those of other growers .”
Finally, swiftly remove any male flowers that appear. If the plant has very few male flowers, those flowers can be removed, but the plant will need to be watched closely. Plants with many male flowers should be eliminated entirely.
“We found that it is better to remove the entire plant than cutting off the problematic branches,” explains Perlowin. “We do this by using a large plastic bag to cover the entire plant. Without shaking the plant, we move the bag down to the very bottom of the plant, seal it, cut the plant down at dirt level, then take it off the property.”
How can you tell a male plant from a female plant?
To a non-expert grower, all cannabis seeds look alike. The gender of cannabis plants becomes more readily apparent when the plant approaches the flowering period .
Author Robert Connell Clarke’s book Marijuana Botany An Advanced Study: The Propagation and Breeding of Distinctive Cannabis presents clear instructions for differentiating male and female plants. The gender of a cannabis plant is located at the nodes along the main stem.
Male plants can be identified most easily when they begin flowering. The flowers initially appear as a curved claw shape, which soon differentiates into a flower bud containing five radial segments. As the flowers develop, pollen sacs emerge that almost look similar to small bunches of grapes. Eventually, the sepals of the pollen sacs will open to release the pollen.
“When you see a pollen sac, you will know that a female plant is turning male,” says Perlowin. “Oftentimes, you can tell before the pollen sack becomes a problem. You should examine the plant from the very bottom of the plant to the top. It is easy to spot when the pollen sacs are at the top of the plant, but be sure to examine if there are pollen sacs at the bottom.” Male plants additionally grow taller than female plants as they mature and have thicker stems and fewer leaves.
Female plants are generally shorter, denser in foliage, and broader than their male counterparts. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Female plants usually take several days longer than males to develop pistils or female sexual organs. The pistils look like small green seed pods and have white v-shaped stigmas, or thin hairs, which extend from them. Female plants are generally shorter, denser in foliage, and broader than their male counterparts.
Can you turn a male plant female?
The sex of a plant is determined by its genetics before germination even begins. With the sex genetically encoded, there is no way to make a male plant female, or a female plant male. There are techniques that can be used, however, to encourage a male plant to display female characteristics. These techniques require the use of chemicals, such as ethylene , to prompt a hormonal response from the plant.
Elevated levels of female hormones in male cannabis plants can trigger female flowering development. The technique is more effective when applied to male plants that have not yet formed mature flowers. It’s also vital to bear in mind that many male marijuana plants are hermaphroditic plants, and distinguishing true males can be very difficult.
Can you clone a female from a male?
A true female cannabis plant cannot be cloned from a male plant. Cloning is a process that is used by breeders to make genetic copies of robust, healthy female plants, reducing the guesswork that sometimes accompanies cannabis cultivated from seed.
For growers who wish to grow female cannabis plants from seed, the availability of feminized seeds can significantly streamline the growing process. Feminized seeds occur as a result of inducing a female plant to herm, then fertilizing another female plant with the pollen. The pollen from the ‘hermie’ contains only female chromosomes, so that no true males can result from the seed.