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female plant cannabis seeds vs male

Male Vs Female Marijuana Plants

This article by Sylvia Hu was originally published on The Green Fund, and appears here with permission.

Do weed plants have genders? What are the differences between male and female cannabis plants? Find out in this article.

Like most living creatures such as humans, animals, and other plants, the cannabis plant also has male and female genders and reproductive systems. Being able to distinguish between male and female marijuana plants is important for breeders and growers as the type of weed plays an important role in the value and quality of the final product that is being sold.

Main Differences

Only female marijuana plants can produce potent high THC buds. Thus, it is redundant to sell male marijuana plants as if will have minimal psychoactive effects and will not provide much of a high when consumed. Additionally, male plants can contaminate a crop of female plants by potentially fertilizing them. Once a female plant is fertilized, it will spend more of its energy on producing seeds rather than growing juicy THC nugs and flowers. Male plants can also crowd female plants, restricting the space for female plants to grow to their full yield potential. Therefore, growers will only plant crops of female seeds if they intend to cultivate marijuana into a sellable product.

So how do we know which seeds will grow into which gender?

Well, regular seeds have a 50/50 chance of growing into a female or male plant. So if you pull seeds from a nug and decide to plant them, there is no guarantee as to which gender the seeds will produce. This is why the production of feminized seeds has grown into a large market, allowing growers to know that the seeds they plant will grow into female plants.

Physical Differences

Say you found a few seeds in a nug you were about to grind and decide to try growing them. How do you identify and tell the difference between female and male plants?

To identify the gender of the cannabis plant, you must examine what grows in between the nodes. The nodes are the part of the plant where the branches extend from the stalk of the plant. Male plants will have small pollen sacs for the purpose of spreading seeds while the female plant will have stigmas, which catch the pollen that male plants spread. It is best to identify the sex of the plant before the plant's reproduction cycle become active. Usually, it is possible to determine the sex of the plant by 4-6 weeks into plant growth.

Hermaphrodite plants?

When a female plant is exposed to or put under a lot of stress, it can ultimately develop both female and male sex organs, thereby creating a hermaphrodite plant for self-reproduction. A hermaphrodite plant can pollinate the entire crop and is best removed when discovered.

Therefore, it is crucial to continuously monitor your plants whilst stressors are distinguished and minimized so that your plant or crop can flourish. Plant stressors can include:

  • Plant damage
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Extreme weather
  • Disease or pests

Growing a marijuana plant is a patient but rewarding process, so it is best to ensure you get the best yield by identifying and removing male plants from your crops and taking care of your female plants to ensure nice healthy plants with juicy nugs.

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Male or Female Cannabis plant?

In case of humans, reproduction is quite straightforward. Take a male and a female of this striking two-legged animal species and put them together in the same room. Depending on how much they like each other, after about nine months there are suddenly 3 persons in the room.

Cannabis Plant Reproduction

In the bedrooms of the Plant Kingdom reproduction goes in many different ways. Example: a plant can be hermaphroditic. The plant contains pollen grains and egg cells and can clone itself. Some examples are tulips and garlic. Other types of plants grow because one plant produces two types of flowers.

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Still, the sex life of the marijuana plant resembles that of human heterosexuals up to a certain extent. Cannabis has male and female plants. In general, they need each other to reproduce. They do so through pollination. The male´s pollen enters the female´s flower, leading to fertilization.

Female (left) and male cannabis plant (right).

The Importance of Female Cannabis Plants

For marijuana cultivation, which harvest you use to roll a joint or put into your vaporizer, you can best use the buds (flowers) of unfertilized female cannabis plants. This is also called sensimilla. A female cannabis plant actually produces more THC than its male counterpart. And: the bigger the flower, the higher the yield.

This beautiful flowering marijuana plant is the world-renowned American strain Blue Dream.

No Children Please

It is important to note we don´t want fertilization to happen when growing weed. After fertilization, all energy goes into the production of cannabis seeds. This has two consequences. First of all, fertilization makes the females produce smaller flowers, so your yield is much lower. Secondly, marijuana seeds start growing in the fertilized cannabis plant, and that can lead to unpleasant results. Cannabis seeds in your joint may explode when heating them. Also, the seeds contain no THC. Inhaling the smoke of such burnt seeds is more harmful than it is beneficial.

You may imagine that for these reasons it pays off to separate the male cannabis plants from the female ones. We actually only use male cannabis plants for reproductive ends.

Feminized – What does that actually mean?

Feminizing marijuana seeds simply means: the artificial selection of female cannabis seeds. But, how to prevent male cannabis seeds end up among the females seeds?

There are several reliable methods to produce feminized cannabis seeds. One method is to interrupt the lighting schedule in such a way your plant will only develop female cannabis seeds. This is, however, not a completely reliable practice.

Much better is the following method. Nowadays, basically all female plants are treated with colloidal silver or a silver thiosulfate solution. The minuscule silver particles in both solutions prevent the production of flowers. The result is a female plant with male pollen that only contain female genetics. If that pollen then ends up on the flowers, seeds will grow that almost certainly grow into females.

Every grower now sells feminized cannabis seeds. Even so, at Dutch-Headshop we exclusively sell feminized cannabis seeds.

Still a Male?

The above-mentioned treatment with silver particles turns out to be a very reliable method to produce only female cannabis seeds, without any genetic modification. In almost 100% of cases the plant produces female cannabis seeds. Almost 100%. Feminized does not mean “guaranteed female”. Due to a variety of genetic and environmental factors, a male plant could still be growing from your feminized seed.

Male pollen sac.

Recognizing Female Cannabis Plants

Distinguishing male and female marijuana plants is therefore important for every grower. We explain how to recognize the differences. Let´s first start with the most important and easiest: the female cannabis plant.

The females have features males do not have. For example, a female cannabis plant looks fuller and healthier and the plants have many branches, by nature. One can also recognize females during the flowering phase. You will start seeing hairs at the ends of the branches at many places. These are the places the buds will start growing.

The Best Way to Determine the Sex of Your Marijuana Plant

Recognizing the sex of the cannabis can best be done in the following way. Look at the leaf pits (see images). The leaf pit is the branching where the leaf grows of the stem. With most cannabis strains, the female can be recognized by the “hair” growing out of a tiny ball.

Here we have a female reproductive organ of marijuana. Hairs (pistils) grow from a slightly elongated ball (calyx). Eventually, the flower tops will sprout from this calyx.

This method is the best, as one can already observe these pre-flowers before the flowering. This ensures you are well on time to see if a male will mess things up. After germination you can often observe the distinctive leaf pits within 4 weeks’ time. In the sixth week you can, with almost any plant, observe whether it’s a male or female, so you can separate the males to prevent fertilization of the females.

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The female reproductive organ of your weed. The calyx with pistils growing out from it.

Recognizing Male Cannabis Plants

The male cannabis plants can be recognized by round balls in the leaf pits. These balls are slightly bigger than the female balls with hairs growing out. Sometimes, the male plants look thinner and less healthy. The male often has fewer leaves and grows somewhat taller in general, with fewer branches.

The male reproductive organs (pollen sacs) are noticably rounder and lack the distinctive fine hairs that their female counterparts have.

Hermaphrodite

In rare cases your plant will develop both female and male sexual organs. Such an ambivalent plant is called a hermaphrodite. These cannabis plants can fertilize themselves, and is Nature’s answer to unfavorable conditions. A hermaphrodite often occurs with physical damage to the plant, a disease, shortages in the diet or unfavorable weather conditions. Yes, cannabis plants are sensitive! Hermaphrodites can also be the result of genetic predisposition. Certain strains may have stronger tendencies to develop into a hermaphrodite than others.

Hermaphrodite: Easily recognisable by the banana-shaped reproductive organs or having both male and female reproductive organs on the same plant.

With a hermaphrodite you just need one plant to fill up your greenhouse with plants. That sounds ideal, but as mentioned earlier, the pollen of male flowers are not very useful. Both males and hermaphrodites can fertilize the entire garden or greenhouse. This way, THC-rich female flowers stay small and will also develop seeds.

Recognize Hermaphrodites

The hermaphrodite comes in two shapes. The first one clearly has two different sex organs in the leaf pits. A bigger ball (male) and a smaller ball with hair (female). The second type develops a ‘small banana’ in the flowering phase. This is a seed ball turned inside out, which won’t need to explode to release its pollen. For this reason, a hermaphrodite is excellent in the fast fertilization of female flowers in its surroundings.

Clear bananas on a hermaphrodite.

Summary

When it comes to the sex of the cannabis plants there are many aspects involved. Still, we hope we have provided you with some background information to understand the importance of its sex. The most important points at a glance:

  • Female, unfertilized cannabis plants provide a useful, high yield.
  • Male cannabis plants and hermaphrodites can destroy your harvest.
  • The best way to determine whether you have a male or female plant, is by looking at the sexual organs of the cannabis plant’s leaf pits.
  • In the sixth week of the growth phase, watch for a hair coming out of the ball – those are the females.
  • Next to genetic predisposition, also unfavorable circumstances can turn a cannabis plant into a hermaphrodite (an ambivalent plant).
  • Feminized is not the same as “guaranteed female” Still, the chance of male weed plants with feminized cannabis seeds is negligible.

Culling and Removing Male Plants

Only a tiny amount of pollen needs to end up on the cannabis plant’s female flower to ensure fertilization. Your harvest is then lost. Only sensimilla (the unfertilized flower of the female cannabis plant) is suitable for the production of weed or hashish. Therefore, remove both males and hermaphrodites from your garden.

CANNABIS: MALE PLANTS VS. FEMALES

There is no way to determine the sex of cannabis plan t until they begin flowering. Even using feminized seeds that give us the highest chance to know their sex in advance, there can always be a 1% chance that a male plant come out from a feminized seed. Male plants are the “nightmare” of any grower that grows cannabis for its bud as there always will be a chance to waste time and space growing plants that won’t produce any.

Normally male hemp plants start flowering slightly before their respective females so that is easy to recognize them and take the correct precaution in advance to avoid unwanted pollination . It’s possible to force a single stem into flowering simply by obscuring it to trig its bloom, otherwise knowing the basic difference between a male cannabis plant and female, together with some patience will do.

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Cannabis plants give birth to small flowers attached to the main stem in the internodes, right next to where the new branches sprout.

The first flowers appear around the eighth or ninth node from the base, when the plant has already formed twelve or more nodes. This may vary slightly depending on the species.

FEMALE CANNABIS PLANTS

The female plants form a flower formed by a green cup (calyx) from which a white filament is born that opens into two pistils that form a “v” facing upwards. Each cup is covered with resin glands, like small buds . The flowers grow so close to each other that they form buds covered with white hairs ( pistils ).

The tip of the plant gives rise to the top, which is the set of buds that grow so close together that they form a very large and elongated top (the largest and highest quality bud). The tips of the main branches also form smaller buds. Females plants overall tend to be shorter and more branched .
Sometimes they have a bulge at the base of the branches, where they adhere to the main stem, before presenting the flowers. However, only the appearance of these buds will confirm the sex of the cannabis plant . When the buds have formed, it’s time to pollinate some of them to get seeds. In order to achieved this is enough that little pollen taken from a male plant comes into contact with the pistil of the female one. SuperCloset – SuperBox – Grow Closet

MALE CANNABIS PLANTS

Males have flowers that prematurely look like two green balls attached to the knot . Once formed, they end up hanging from a small stem and acquire a yellowish tone with streaks similar to small melons. These spheres open into four sepals from which hang four yellow stamens laden with pollen. Pollen won’t last long once the flower has opened.

Males form clusters of balls that dangle. Pollen is a very fine whitish powder that can be carried by the wind for hundreds of meters , facilitating its diffusion. Males should be kept away from females as soon as the flowers are identified and before they open and release their pollen . A few flowers can pollinate an entire system.

Males are usually eliminated to avoid this. If we wanted to, it would be enough to keep them away from our system if by chance we intend to collect pollen if we intend to pollinate ourselves some female plant in a more controlled way.

POLLINATION

The safest way to collect pollen is to insert the top of the male chosen as “stallion”, in a white or transparent paper bag. We can seal the envelope at the stem with duct tape and cut the tips of the growth of the branches, leaving the large leaves to keep it alive and removing any flowers that grow out of the envelope.

When the flowers open and the pollen will be visible. The male is cut at the base and kept for a few days to release all pollen. To pollinate, we will deposit some pollen in a cellophane bag where we will introduce the top of the female chosen to be pollinated, taking care not to damage it.
We seal the envelope with tape and then remove the envelope containing the pollen the following day. So we will just have to wait for the formation of the seeds and their ripening.

Pollination of one or more buds of the female plant does not affect the quality of the rest of the buds and the plant. There are many reason someone would wish to pollinate its female plant , perhaps a grower wish to keep the genetic and does plant to take a break from growing. Tiresias Mist – Seed Feminizer – This product allows growers to produce feminized seeds