One of the most significant components of harvesting high-quality cannabis is understanding sexing your marijuana plants. While it may seem like a confusing concept, it’s actually simpler than you’d think.
As part of our cannabis seeds 101, you should understand the difference between regular seeds and feminized seeds. The significant points are:
- Regular seeds develop male and female cannabis plants. If you don’t mind pollination or intend to breed, this is the ideal option for you.
- Feminized seeds lack the male chromosome found in the regular ones. If juicy buds are what you’re after, feminized are the right choice. Remember that 100% female marijuana seeds are nothing but a marketing gimmick; you should still watch out for pollen sacs.
Let’s delve into this interesting practice and why it plays such a big role in the quality of your crop. We’ll look at male vs. female marijuana plants and a few top tips from our expert growers.
Cannabis plant reproduction
What makes marijuana stand out from most other plants? Like humans, cannabis plants have sex chromosomes.
The significant difference from humans is that marijuana can also be a hermaphroditic plant—with both pistils and pollen sacs.
The male plants produce pollen sacs within 1–2 weeks, whereas the female plants develop pistils around 2–4 weeks. These are the two identifying traits for male vs. female cannabis plants.
Why sexing marijuana plants is important?
Male weed plants can pollinate the females within a grow space—that could be hundreds of crops!
If you have male and female cannabis plants and pollination occurs, you’ll find that your yield is significantly lower than expected and less potent. The upshot here is that you now have extra seeds to keep cultivating. To be fully educated, be sure to study all you can about how to germinate cannabis seeds.
As with a pregnant woman, the pollinated female pot plant would divert most of its energy into producing seeds. Since the females produce THC, you wouldn’t want her to be distracted from creating it if you want a high from your yield.
Since sexing cannabis cannot be done without identifying the reproductive organs, you’ll have to keep a close eye on them as they mature. As soon as you spot them, be ready to take action.
How to identify male cannabis plants
Unlike humans, the male weed plant matures faster than its female counterparts. They grow more quickly and appear taller, making it easier to pollinate the females. Since they stand out faster, it’s easier to remove them before they go about their business.
Male flowers look more like green buds and are referred to as pollen sacs; they’re located closer to the top of the plant. When the time is right, these clusters open, ready to pollinate.
How to identify female cannabis plants
The early signs of a female plant are the pistils covered in little white hairs (stigmas). This genitalia looks like little feathers but could also be mistaken for new leaves—so it’s best to refer to cannabis leaves: ultimate guide if you’re unsure.
You’ll commonly find the pistils closer to the node region, where new branches develop. The stigmas are a key component in pollination, collecting the pollen released by the male weed plant.
Do feminized seeds prevent fertilization?
No. Since buying feminized seeds doesn’t guarantee that you’ll only have female pot plants, they don’t prevent fertilization. You’d still have a 99% chance of sprouting female marijuana plants, So keep an eye out for pollen sacs to be safe.
Remember that, even if you don’t have any male weed plants in your garden, pollen from your neighbor’s male cannabis could fertilize your entire female crop.
The only way to truly prevent fertilization is to use a greenhouse or indoor grow room with air filters.
What about male and female autoflowering cannabis plants?
As with regular seeds, you’d still have a 50% chance of male vs. female cannabis plant sprouting. The autoflowering aspect just means that you’d have to watch for signs of maturity sooner.
Of course, if you purchase feminized autoflowering cannabis seeds, this probability drastically tilts in favor of female pot plants. Sexing cannabis plants from these seeds is often unnecessary.
While the chance of multiple harvests in a year sounds fantastic, slow and steady really does win the race. Many expert growers have reported that the size and yield of the crop from autoflower seeds cannot compare to regular weed plants.
What are hermaphrodite marijuana plants?
Hermaphroditism is an example of genetic mutation, phenotypically presenting as a cannabis plant with male and female cannabis flowers.
So what is the difference between genotype and phenotype?
- Genotype refers to the weed plant’s genetic potential
- Phenotype refers to the physical appearance of a weed plant
This means that you could have two seeds with the same genetics that appear completely different in varying growing environments. Genes only determine the potential of a cannabis plant—conditions like the watering schedule, lighting, and nutrition all contribute to a desirable phenotype.
Unfavorable or stressful growing environments would lead to the plant going into this “survival mode.”
Sexing marijuana plants - top tips
Understand the growth patterns
Every cannabis crop, regardless of its sex, matures during the vegetative stage. This is when you can tell if your plant is male or female.
If you have a keen eye, you may even spot a subtle size difference. Some expert growers say that they’ve noticed that one of the early signs of a female plant is how the branches spread out. Male weed plants, on the other hand, grow taller.
Cloning can speed up the sexing process
If you’d like to start sexing your marijuana plants before they reach maturity, cloning is the fastest way to do so.
Collect clippings from your cannabis plants and place them in a pot of soil away from the hosts. Allow them to grow independently for a few days, then take control of the lighting schedule—12 hours of light and 12 hours of dark will force your clones into flowering.
Cloning allows you to determine the sex of your cannabis pre-flower and remove any unwanted males.
Some experts claim that you could start sexing marijuana plants soon after germination. To do this, they say that you should identify where the plant sprouted from—the top (female) or the side (male) of the seed.
While there is no scientific proof, many growers have reported a 90% success rate in sexing marijuana plants using this method. Before you rush to toss any side-sprouting seedlings away, we suggest that you do an independent study on this theory.
A final thought
Now that you understand what sexing marijuana plants means and how to do it, you’re ready to stop your crop’s reproduction in its tracks. Of course, it all depends on whether you want seeds or not.
Pay close attention to your cannabis and the various stages to spot any unwanted male weed plants early. If you want your female pot plants to focus their energy on delivering higher quality yields, get ready to remove the males on sight.
If you’re new to sexing marijuana plants, be sure to track any helpful tips in your grow diary for future crops.