Male vs. female cannabis: How to determine the sex of your plant
In the world of plants, reproduction can happen in a variety of ways. Monoecious plants produce two different types of flowers on the same plant, and hermaphrodite plants grow single flowers that have both male and female reproductive organs.
Cannabis is a dioecious plant, meaning male or female reproductive organs appear on different plants.
With cannabis, females are usually isolated away from males—introducing males into a garden will result in pollination, causing females to create seeds.
This is important for a breeder to achieve new genetics, but most growers remove the males to allow females to produce seedless buds, also called sinsemilla. These are the resinous buds that appear on the store shelf; they all come from female plants.
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Seeded buds are generally regarded as low-quality cannabis. When seeds are present, the smoke is harsh and unpleasant.
Female genetics can be guaranteed by obtaining clones and feminized seeds. If, however, you’re working with regular seeds and are unsure of your seed’s sex, knowing how to determine the sex of your plant is vital to developing new genetics, gathering seeds, or growing sinsemilla.
Sexing cannabis plants is easy. Let’s see how to tell.
Check out these additional resources for more info on cannabis seeds:
How to determine the sex of a cannabis plant
Female cannabis pre-flowers grow as tiny bracts with hair-like stigma peeking out. Male plants produce small, round balls at the nodes. (Amy Phung/Leafly)
Cannabis plants show their sex by what grows in between their nodes (where leaves and branches extend from the stalk). Pollen sacs will develop on a male plant to spread seeds and stigma will develop on a female to catch pollen. You can see these differences weeks before they actually start serving their purposes in the reproduction cycle. These are known as “pre-flowers.”
Pre-flowers begin to develop four weeks into growth, but they may take a little longer depending on how quickly the sprouting phase occurs. By the sixth week, you should be able to find the pre-flowers and confidently determine the sex of your plant.
Pre-flowers can initially be extremely small and hard to identify with the naked eye, but you can use a magnifying glass to get a better look. Examine the nodes of the plant and look for either the early growth of small sacs on a male, or two bracts on a female, which will eventually produce the hair-like stigma.
Though there are other methods to determine what sex the plant is, examining pre-flower formation is the most reliable.
Removing males early on is important for two reasons: it frees up space in your garden so females can grow bigger and stronger, and it prevents males from pollinating females.
What are hermaphrodite cannabis plants?
Hermaphrodite cannabis can express both sex organs and self-pollinate. (Amy Phung/Leafly)
When a female plant develops both male and female sex organs, it is considered a hermaphrodite. This means your cannabis plant is now capable of producing pollen that can pollinate your entire garden. “Herming out,” as some call it, is something that generally happens when a plant becomes excessively stressed. Some plant stressors include:
- Plant damage
- Bad weather
- Nutrient deficiencies
There are two types of hermaphrodite plants:
- A plant that develops both buds and pollen sacs
- A plant that produces anthers, commonly referred to as “bananas” due to their appearance
While both result in pollen production, true hermaphrodites produce sacs that need to rupture, while anthers are exposed, pollen-producing stamen.
Because this occurs when cannabis is under stress, it’s important to monitor plants after they have been exposed to stressors—indoors: high temperatures or light leaks are often the cause; outdoors: a snapped branch might be repaired and then turn into a hermaphrodite.
The other primary cause of hermaphrodite plants lies in the plant’s genetics. A plant with poor genetics or a history of hermaphrodite development should be avoided to protect your garden. If you notice any pollen sacs or anthers at any point, remove the plant from your garden immediately to prevent pollination of female plants.
If you’re interested in pollinating portions of your crop, remember that pollen is extremely potent and very good at traveling. Keep your males intended for pollination far from your garden space and work carefully with that pollen.
This post was originally published on September 19, 2017. It was most recently updated on February 11, 2020.
Determining the sex of your cannabis plant is vital to achieving your growing goals. Luckily, sexing cannabis plants is easier than one might think.
How to Identify a Female Marijuana Seed
How to Identify a Quality Marijuana Seed
Ask any experienced grower how to produce a hardy marijuana plant and they will say to start with a seed for a good strain. Lighting, soil, nutrients, and water play large roles in the final yield, but starting with a high-quality seed gives growers the best genetics with the highest potential yield possible. Most people find their first seed mixed in with marijuana, but most of these seeds are low quality and may grow to be male plants. The best way to get high-quality seeds is to purchase them from a reputable marijuana seed retailer.
Characteristics of a Quality Marijuana Seed
Quality marijuana seeds have specific characteristics that set them apart. Unfortunately, they can be difficult for consumers to find since most growers avoid seed production in their plants at all costs. Even when a rogue seed is present, it rarely grows mature enough to germinate. Though it is challenging to identify a quality seed for even the most experienced growers, it is vital to be able to do so when using seeds to grow marijuana. Below is an overview of the characteristics of a high-quality seed.
There are several visual indicators that can give a person an idea about the quality of a marijuana seed. Some details are easy to spot while others take a higher level of scrutiny.
A high-quality marijuana seed has a dark color, typically a shade of brown, grey, or black. It should have tiger-like stripes or spots on the entire surface of the seed. If the seed is green or white, it is immature and is not likely to germinate. In the rare circumstance that an immature seed germinates, it takes much longer than it would for a mature seed.
Good quality marijuana seeds have a waxy coating around the shell. This is easy to see if the seed is held up to the light because the shell will have a slight sheen.
Size & Shape
The largest seeds are the best ones to grow. It is easier to pick the largest ones if there are several to compare side by side. Growers should look for the most symmetrical seed that is round or shaped slightly like a teardrop. Underdeveloped seeds are small and have an asymmetrical shape.
A lot of information can be gleaned from the texture and hardness of a marijuana seed. After visually inspecting the seeds, growers can pick them up and feel their shell for the following:
Poor quality seeds have weak shells that are damaged easily. These seeds will have cracks or splits on them that expose the inside. The best seeds have a smooth exterior with few anomalies.
A mature, high-quality marijuana seed has a hard shell that can withstand the pressure of being squeezed between two fingers. Poor quality seeds will disintegrate when squeezed. If this happens, the seed was weak or dead and would not have grown a viable plant if it germinated at all.
How to Determine the Quality of a Marijuana Seed
While seeing and feeling a marijuana seed can give growers a lot of information, it is not always accurate. Even the best-looking seeds can be duds, especially if they have been frozen. Below are a few things growers can do to better determine the quality of their seeds.
Germinate the Seed
The most obvious thing a person can do to show seed quality is to germinate the seed. If the seed sprouts within 5 days, it is a viable seed. It will still take time to find out if the plant will be male or female and whether the strain is high quality.
How to Germinate a Marijuana Seed
The traditional way to germinate a seed is to bury it one-quarter inch deep in moist soil and watch it closely for a sprout. A freshly germinated seed has a very fragile root that is easily damaged when the seed is transplanted. This method allows the seed to germinate without root interference.
Another common way to germinate marijuana seeds is by wetting a folded paper towel or cotton pad and placing the seeds inside of it. It is important not to get the paper towel or cotton pad too wet or it could drown the seeds. Growers should check the seeds after a few days to see which have taken root.
Perform a Float Test
The float test is a more scientific approach to determining the quality of a seed. The test involves filling a drinking glass with spring or distilled water and placing the seeds inside of it. Allow the seeds to soak for one to two hours before determining quality.
After the time has passed, seeds that float can be considered poor quality and discarded. Seeds that have sunk to the bottom of the glass are healthy, high-quality seeds. Once the test is complete, the seeds need to be germinated right away. Their shells will be soft from soaking in the water and will not survive storage.
Source Them Well
The simplest way for growers to ensure they have high-quality seeds is by sourcing them from a reputable seed bank. These companies specialize in breeding a variety of marijuana strains and producing seeds that, with the right care, grow into viable, high-yielding plants. Growers can choose a variety that meets their requirements for potency and desired effects and be sure they are getting seeds that produce the plant they want.
Using an Online Marijuana Seed Bank
Those who live in a state where marijuana is legal for medical or recreational use can sometimes find seeds at their local dispensary. However, online marijuana seed banks have significantly more strains available. Even individuals who live in some states where marijuana has not been made legal to use can purchase seeds online. Several states consider dormant seeds to be souvenirs, so it is legal to purchase and own the seeds as long as they don’t become high-THC plants.
Do Marijuana Seeds Expire?
Many growers who have numerous marijuana seeds need to store them long term if they want to germinate them in the future. However, seeds need to be kept in specific conditions to remain viable. They should be stored in a cool, dark, and dry room, much like the environment in which growers dry their harvested marijuana.
Germinating Old Seeds
Seeds can remain viable for three to ten years if stored properly, but more and more seeds will fail to germinate as time passes. Older seeds will take more time to germinate, so growers should use the float test before assuming the viability of their stored seeds. They can speed germination by soaking the viable seeds in water mixed with a few drops of hydrogen peroxide for 24 hours. It is important to watch them closely for signs of opening, as they will need to be removed immediately to avoid drowning.
Can You Tell if a Marijuana Seed is Female?
Cannabis enthusiasts have been trying to find out how to determine the sex of a marijuana plant by the seed for ages. Unfortunately, there is no way to tell if the seed will produce a male or female plant by just looking at the seed. Regular marijuana seeds have a 50% chance of being female, so out ten seeds, growers can expect that 5 of them will probably produce female plants.
What Does a Male Cannabis Plant Look Like?
When growing marijuana, it is important to identify male plants as early as possible. Just one male plant can pollinate an entire field, so it is critical that male plants are removed before they develop pollen sacs. There are certain signs that a young marijuana plant is male, including the following:
Preflowers are the earliest sign of a marijuana plant’s gender. Between four and six weeks, nodes will develop at the joint where a plant’s stem meets the stalk. Female plants develop white hairs at the internodal joints while male plants develop rounded internodal sacs that fill with pollen.
While it is best to identify male marijuana plants by their pollen sacs as soon as possible to avoid accidental pollination, there is another way to determine a plant’s sex. If male and female seeds are planted at the same time, the male plants will grow faster and taller than the female plants. Additionally, male plants have longer stems with fewer leaves, making them look spindly compared to female plants.
Quality seeds are not often found in the bottom of a bag of dried marijuana, but there are ways for growers to ensure they are getting the best seeds available. With a keen eye and a reputable seed bank like i49.net, growers will have hardy, high-yield plants that make them proud of their hard work. Seed banks provide quality marijuana seeds in a variety of strains not typically available from other sources, and many of them can guarantee that the seeds will be feminized and thus produce female plants.
Check out our article on How to Identify a Female Marijuana Seed. Click for more Grow at Home information from I49 Seed Bank. Weed seeds for sale online in the USA. 1-888-441-4949