Posted on

how to tell the difference between male and female weed seeds

Cannabis seeds 101: How to grow marijuana from seed

Cannabis is grown from one of two sources: a seed or a clone. Seeds carry genetic information from two parent plants and can express many different combinations of traits: some from the mother, some from the father, and some traits from both.

In commercial cannabis production, generally, growers will plant many seeds of one strain and choose the best plant. They will then take clones from that individual plant, which allows for consistent genetics for mass production.

If cannabis is legal in your state, you can buy seeds or clones from a local dispensary, or online through various seed banks.

Cannabis seeds vs. clones

For the typical homegrower, it may be easier to obtain cannabis seeds rather than clones. Growing from seed can produce a stronger plant with more solid genetics.

Plants grown from seed can be more hearty as young plants when compared to clones, mainly because seeds have a strong taproot. You can plant seeds directly into an outdoor garden in early spring, even in cool, wet climates.

If growing outside, some growers prefer to germinate seeds inside because they are delicate in the beginning stages of growth. Indoors, you can give weed seedlings supplemental light to help them along, and then transplant them outside when big enough.

Most seeds that you will buy are regular seeds as described above, but here are a couple more types.

How weed seeds work

Cannabis can be either male or female—also called “dioecious”—but only females produce the buds we all know and love. For reproduction, males have pollen sacs and pollinate females, causing female flowers to produce seeds.

Once cannabis seeds are mature, the female plant begins to die, and seeds are either dropped to the ground where they grow into new cannabis plants next spring, or the seeds are harvested for processing into seed oil or food products, or stored so they can be sown in the ground later and become the next generation of plants.

To get the buds found in medical and recreational stores, female cannabis plants are grown in an environment without males—or the males are removed from the area before they release pollen—so the females don’t create seeds. Females can then focus their energies on producing buds and not seeds—this high-potency marijuana is traditionally known as “sinsemilla,” meaning “seedless.”

Some varieties of cannabis can produce male parts alongside female flowers on the same plant, especially if exposed to environmental stressors. These plants are known as hermaphrodites, and sometimes they can self-pollinate to create seeds.

Pros and cons of using cannabis seeds

Check out Johanna’s full video series on how to grow weed on Leafly’s YouTube .

If buying from a reputable breeder or seed bank, growing from seed is the best way to ensure your plants will have solid genetics and start clean, meaning they won’t come with diseases or pests.

Also, buying from a reputable breeder or seed bank will give you a sense of what a particular strain will look and smell like, how it will grow, and how much it will yield at harvest.

The main drawback to growing from seed is there is no guarantee as to what you’ll end up with—if you buy a regular pack of cannabis seeds, it will be a mix of males and females. You’ll need to sex them out (more below) to identify the males and get rid of them, because you don’t want your females producing seeds.

Sexing marijuana plants can be a time-consuming process, and if you don’t catch males, there is a risk that even one males can pollinate your entire crop, causing all of your female weed plants to produce seeds.

One way to avoid sexing plants is to buy feminized seeds (more below), which ensures every seed you plant will be a bud-producing female.

You can also minimize headaches and avoid the hassle of seed germination and sexing plants by starting with clones.

How weed clones work

Aside from producing cannabis through seeds, or sexual reproduction, you can also reproduce the plant through cloning, or asexual reproduction. A clone is a cutting that is genetically identical to the plant it was taken from—that plant is known as the “mother.”

Pros and cons of using cannabis clones

Through cloning, you can create a new harvest with exact replicas of your favorite plant. Because genetics are identical, a clone will give you a plant with the same characteristics as the mother, such as flavor, cannabinoid profile, yield, grow time, etc. So if you come across a specific strain or phenotype you really like, you might want to clone it to reproduce more buds that have the same effects and characteristics.

With cloning, you don’t have to get new seeds every time you want to grow another plant—you just take a cutting of the old plant—and you don’t have to germinate seeds or sex them out and get rid of the males.

One drawback of clones is they need to be taken during the vegetative stage of a plant—flower is too late—so if you have a small setup with only one light, it can be hard to keep clones alive while flowering other plants, because the two need different amounts of light.

Another drawback to clones is they can take on negative traits from the mother plant as well. If the mother has a disease, attracts pests, or grows weak branches, its clones will probably have the same issues.

Additionally, every long-time grower will tell you that clones degrade over time.

What are feminized cannabis seeds?

Feminized cannabis seeds will produce only female plants for getting buds, so there is no need to remove males or worry about female plants getting pollinated. Feminized seeds are produced by causing the monoecious condition in a female cannabis plant—the resulting seeds are nearly identical to the self-pollinated female parent, as only one set of genes is present.

This is sometimes referred to as “cloning by seed” and will not produce any male plants. This is achieved through several methods:

  • By spraying the plant with a solution of colloidal silver, a liquid containing tiny particles of silver
  • Through a method known as rodelization, in which a female plant pushed past maturity can pollinate another female
  • Spraying seeds with gibberellic acid, a hormone that triggers germination (this is much less common)

Most experienced or commercial growers will not use feminized seeds because they only contain one set of genes, and these should never be used for breeding purposes. However, a lot of beginning growers start with feminized seeds because they eliminate the worry of having to deal with male plants.

Top feminized cannabis strain families

A lot of classic weed strains that have been around for a while come in feminized form. Some popular fem seeds are:

  • OG Kush
  • Haze
  • Afghan
  • GSC (Cookies)
  • Skunk
  • Cheese
  • Gelato

What are autoflowering cannabis seeds?

Autoflowering seeds are also popular with beginning growers. They are easy to grow because you don’t have to worry about light cycles and how much light a plant receives.

Most cannabis plants begin flowering when the amount of light they receive on a daily basis reduces. Outdoors, this happens when the sun starts setting earlier in the day as the season turns from summer to autumn. Indoor growers can control when a plant flowers by reducing the daily amount of light plants receive from 18 hours to 12 hours.

However, a type of cannabis called Cannabis ruderalis, which developed in extreme northern conditions without much sunlight, will begin flowering once the plant reaches a certain age—they automatically start flowering regardless of the amount of light they receive, hence the name “autoflower.”

Pros and cons of growing autoflower

Because they grow and flower quicker, growers can fit in multiple autoflower cannabis harvests into the span of one regular harvest.

Autoflowers can be started in early spring and will flower during the longest days of summer, taking advantage of high quality light to get bigger yields. Or, if you get a late start in the growing season, you can start autoflowers in May or June and harvest in the fall.

Also, autoflower plants are small—perfect for closet grows or any small grow, or growing outdoors where you don’t want your neighbors to see what you’re up to.

A couple big drawbacks, though: Autoflower strains are known for being less potent. Also, because they are small in stature, they usually don’t produce big yields.

However, potency in autoflowering varieties has increased significantly since their initial introduction, with some breeders crossbreeding the low-THC ruderalis with other more potent varieties.

Tips for growing autoflower marijuana seeds

Autoflowering strains require some preparation, as they will grow quickly and start to flower whether or not you’re ready for them.

Climate considerations

Many marijuana growers start autoflowers early in the season, and at a different time than a regular crop, so keep the season and climate in mind when growing and harvesting—your plants still need warmth to grow, and rain can give them bud rot. Consider growing in a greenhouse to protect them.

Training plants

Because training happens during vegetative growth, for autoflowering plants, this period could be as short as a few weeks, which means time is limited. Try topping your autoflowers after they have three nodes, and stop once they begin to flower. You will want to prune them lightly.

Go easy on nutrients

Autoflowers don’t need lots of nutrients because they’re small and don’t spend much time in the vegetative cycle. They won’t need as much veg nutrients—such as nitrogen—but will need more bloom nutrients.

What are high-CBD cannabis seeds?

CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of the chemical components—known collectively as cannabinoids—found in the cannabis plant. Over the years, humans have selected plants for high-THC content, making cannabis with high levels of CBD rare. The genetic pathways through which THC is synthesized by the plant are different than those for CBD production.

Cannabis used for hemp production has been selected for other traits, including a low THC content, so as to comply with the 2018 Farm Bill. Consequently, many varieties of hemp produce significant quantities of CBD.

As interest in CBD as a medicine has grown, many breeders have crossed high-CBD hemp with cannabis. These strains have little or no THC, 1:1 ratios of THC and CBD, or some have a high-THC content along with significant amounts of CBD (3% or more).

Seeds for these varieties are now widely available online and through dispensaries. It should be noted, however, that any plant grown from these seeds is not guaranteed to produce high levels of CBD, as it takes many years to create a seed line that produces consistent results. A grower looking to produce cannabis with a certain THC to CBD ratio will need to grow from a tested and proven clone or seed.

How to germinate marijuana seeds

Germination is the process in which a seed sprouts and begins to grow into a new plant. Also referred to as “popping,” germination is the very first step in starting your weed grow.

Marijuana seeds can be acquired from an array of sources and can vary in quality. For more info on how to buy marijuana seeds, check out our Guide to buying cannabis seeds.

Cannabis seeds require three things to germinate: water, heat, and air. There are many methods to germinate seeds, but for the most common and simplest method, you will need:

  • Two clean plates
  • Four paper towels
  • Seeds
  • Distilled water

Step 1

Take four sheets of paper towels and soak them with distilled water. The towels should be soaked but shouldn’t have excess water running off.

Step 2

Take two of the paper towels and place them on a plate. Then, place the marijuana seeds at least an inch apart from each other and cover them with the remaining two water-soaked paper towels.

Step 3

To create a dark, protected space, take another plate and flip it over to cover the seeds, like a dome.

Step 4

Make sure the area the seeds are in is warm, somewhere between 70-85°F.

After completing these steps, it’s time to wait. Check the paper towels once a day to make sure they’re still saturated, and if they are losing moisture, apply more water to keep the seeds happy.

Some seeds germinate very rapidly while others can take a while, but generally, seeds should germinate in 3-10 days. If it’s been two weeks and a seed hasn’t sprouted, it’s probably a dud and won’t sprout.

A seed has germinated once the seed splits and a single sprout appears. The sprout is the taproot, which will become the main stem of the plant, and seeing it is a sign of successful germination.

It’s important to keep the delicate seed sterile, so don’t touch the seed or taproot as it begins to split.

Transplanting germinated cannabis seeds

Once you see the taproot, it’s time to transfer your germinated seed into its growing medium, such as soil.

  • Fill a 4-inch or one-gallon pot with loose, airy potting soil
  • Water the soil before you put the seed in; it should be wet but not drenched
  • Poke a hole in the soil with a pen or pencil—the rule of thumb is: make the hole twice as deep as the seed is wide
  • Using a pair of tweezers, gently place the seed in the hole with the taproot facing down
  • Lightly cover it with soil

Keep a close eye on the temperature and moisture level of the soil to keep the seed happy. It’s very delicate at this stage. Use a spray bottle to water it—over-watering can suffocate and kill the delicate sprout.

Within a week or so you should see a seedling begin to grow from the soil.

Germinating cannabis seeds doesn’t always go as planned. Some seeds will be duds. Others will be slow and take longer to sprout. But some will pop quickly and grow rapidly.

This is the beauty of seeds—often, you can tell which plants or genetics will thrive right from the get-go. This will help you determine which plants you want to take cuttings from for clones or for breeding if you want to create a seed bank of your own.

How to sex a pot plant

Check out Johanna’s full video series on how to grow weed on Leafly’s YouTube .

As we’ve mentioned, cannabis is a dioecious plant, meaning male and female reproductive organs appear on different plants.

Because only female cannabis plants produce buds and you want them to focus all their energy on producing buds and not seeds, it’s important to identify and get rid of male weed plants so they don’t pollinate females. If females are pollinated, it will give you buds filled with seeds, making your weed harsh and unpleasant.

Cultivating males is important for breeders trying to cross new strains and genetics, but most people growing for buds will want to remove the males.

As mentioned above, you can skip the processing of sexing weed plants by growing with feminized seeds or clones.

If growing male and female cannabis seeds, they’ll start to show their sex organs, or “pre-flowers,” after 8-10 weeks from germination.

Cannabis plant sex organs appear on nodes, the points where branches grow off from the main stalk.

Males will have round balls—these will develop into pollen sacs, which will release pollen into the air when mature.

Females will have a round structure with long hairs—these hairs will develop into pistils, which will catch pollen in the air.

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.

Can I grow a seed I found in a bag of weed?

Finding a cannabis seed in your stash is not ideal, but we’ve all been there before. Although much less common than it once was, it still happens. Sometimes you’ll notice one when grinding down some flower, or you’ll see one pop, spark, and crackle from the heat of a lit bowl.

These are referred to as “bagseeds” and whether or not you can grow one will depend on where it came from.

Is a bagseed good or bad?

Seeds found in finished cannabis buds can develop for a number of reasons. For example, a male plant may have accidentally pollinated a flowering female during the growing process. But more commonly, they’re a sign of stress and can be attributed to high temperatures during the final stages of flowering or an exaggerated spike in climate or environment.

Seeds can also form in plants with genetic disorders or instability, like hermaphrodites—plants that develop both male and female reproductive parts. Generally, stress and genetic disorders are viewed as bad, so temper expectations with any plant you start from a bagseed.

But sometimes you get lucky and find a mature seed in some really nice herb. Strains like the legendary Chemdog wouldn’t be possible without adventurous smokers planting and proliferating the seeds they found in a bag of kind bud.

So don’t discount bud because it has a seed or two in it. While not ideal, it could be the origins of the next great weed strain.

Ask yourself a few questions to decide if it’s worth the time and energy to grow the seed.

Was the seed found in good weed?

If you don’t like the flavor, effects, or even the look of the bud, then it’s probably not worth growing.

Are you ready to grow?

Growing marijuana takes a certain level of commitment: time, energy, and financial resources, so be sure you can commit to the whole process.

Is the seed viable?

For a seed to be viable, it must be mature enough to have a completely formed genetic blueprint, and it must be strong enough to germinate and pop through its hard casing and sprout its crucial taproot.

There are a few indicators that will give you a sense of whether the seed is worth germinating.

  • Tiger stripes—dark stripes on the seed which resemble veins on a leaf are generally good
  • Solid shell—a seed should be able to withstand a little pressure when pinched between your fingers; if it crumbles or cracks, it’s no good

Immature seeds tend to be light in color and have a soft outer shell.

In some cases, even if a seed isn’t completely mature, there’s still a chance it could be viable. But often these are extremely weak, take long to develop, and express other unfavorable characteristics. Growers usually discard weak plants to free up space.

You might also find a mature seed that has been physically damaged through poor handling, like rough trimming. In those cases, it probably isn’t worth the effort to try and germinate the seed.

But if the seed you found looks decent, you might as well germinate it and see what sprouts.

Time to germinate

Viable or not, there’s only one sure way to find out if a bagseed will grow. If you’re simply curious to learn and not as concerned with the overall outcome, you can plant a couple of bagseeds outside and see what happens.

If you’re ready for a more serious approach, make sure you have the space for a proper garden and pop the seeds to see what fruit they bear.

Even if your seed sprouts fast and grows vigorously, it still has roughly a 50/50 chance of being female and producing buds, instead of turning out to be a male.

Remember, once a seed germinates, the real work begins. Sexing, selecting, vegetative growth, flowering, and the eventual harvest all lie ahead.

How to buy cannabis seeds

Cannabis seeds can be found on numerous online seed banks, but note that it is illegal to bring seeds into the US and Customs will seize any cannabis seeds that they find in packages or on a person. In legal and medical states, you may purchase seeds at a dispensary.

Will Hyde and Trevor Hennings contributed to this article.

Want to grow weed from seeds? Learn how weed seeds work, how to sex marijuana plants, and how to properly germinate your cannabis seeds.

Sexing Cannabis: How to Tell the Difference Between Young Male vs Female Cannabis Plants

Are you growing cannabis at home, but aren’t sure if your plants are male or female? Then you’ve come to the right place! This article is going to show you how to tell the difference between male and female cannabis plants to properly sex them.

In particular, I want to show you how we determine the sex of our cannabis plants while they are still quite young. It gets significantly more obvious as the plants begin to mature and flower. On the other hand, it can be a bit more tricky to sex cannabis plants in the early pre-flower phase, but it is definitely possible! We’ll also talk a bit about why it is important to determine the sex of cannabis plants, the difference between regular and feminized seeds, how we treat our plants up until the time we know their sex, and what to do with unwanted male plants.

If you’re new to Homestead and Chill, be sure to check out our other cannabis-related articles! We primarily grow outdoors, 100% organic, and aim to provide helpful information that is easy to follow – both for new and experienced growers alike. As a disclaimer, this article is intended for those who can legally grow cannabis at home.

DeannaCat standing amongst mature cannabis plants in various stages of flower. The evening sun is shining in through trees casting a warm glow.mshe is wearing a blue dress with a floral/plant pattern.

No boys allowed.

Feminized vs Regular Cannabis Seeds

If you are growing from feminized seeds, you shouldn’t need to worry about sexing your cannabis plants all that much. While not 100% guaranteed, there is only a very slim chance that a feminized seed will produce a male plant. About 1% in fact. In all of our years growing, we have never had a cannabis plant grown from feminized seed turn out to be a male – though we only grow a handful of plants per year. Folks who grow hundreds of plants could potentially end with a rare male now and then.

Feminized seeds are highly desirable to most growers. They’re efficient. It is almost sure-fire that you’re spending your energy and resources raising ladies. However, some growers accept or even prefer regular (unsexed) seeds! We grow a little of both.

Why grow regular cannabis seeds? Well, maybe a particular breeder or strain you want to try only carries regular seeds. Some growers feel that the feminization process is unnatural, and prefer to kick it old school by growing regular seeds only. Some enjoy the gamble and challenge. Whatever the reason, when you grow cannabis from regular seeds, the odds of getting all lady plants are not in your favor. You will end up with some males. Therefore, you need to learn to sex your cannabis plants! Also, we always start several extra “regular” seeds – assuming a 50/50 chance that some will be culled because they are male.

How are feminized cannabis seeds made?

Curious about how feminized seeds are created? In a nutshell: most feminized seeds come from cannabis plants that have been treated and altered in a manner that inhibits male chromosomes. The most common method is to spray the plant repetitively (daily or more) with colloidal silver. Other chemicals and compounds can be used too, but are far less accessible. Colloidal silver is technically “non-toxic”, but you do not want to smoke it! Thus, the plant is sacrificial – used for the production of pollen and seeds only.

Repeated colloidal silver treatments cause repression of the plant’s ethylene, which is the stuff that creates male flowers. Instead, the treated female plant will grow pollen sacks full of FEMALE pollen (XX rather than XY). Then breeders use the female pollen to pollinate female flowers, resulting in the development of all-female seeds.

Another way to create feminized cannabis seeds is called rodelization. It is a more natural but unreliable method, and less frequently used by breeders. Near the end of a growing season, an un-pollinated female cannabis plant will sometimes produce pollen sacks in a desperate attempt to pollinate herself. That pollen can be used to try to create feminized seeds, but because ethylene hasn’t been repressed, may also result in male seeds.

Okay, back to sexing cannabis.

Why Sex Cannabis Plants? The Role of Male and Female Plants

For the most part, the average home grower wants female cannabis plants. The ladies are the ones that produce the fattest, most resinous and most potent flowers – aka buds. Male cannabis plants are only desirable if someone wants to breed cannabis and save seeds (which is a whole other topic for another day). Even then, the grower will want to spot the difference between the male and female plants and separate them early on, unless they want free cross-breeding and pollination between many types of stains.

Not only are the males less desirable, but male cannabis plants interfere with the quality and production of your female plant. Males grow pollen sacks, and produce pollen. When a female cannabis plant becomes pollinated by a nearby male, her energy shifts into producing seeds.

Like most things in nature, female cannabis plants have a biological drive to reproduce. After the deed has been done, she will sit back and relax. While a pollinated female cannabis plant WILL still develop decent size buds, they are usually lower quality and contain less THC and other desirable cannabinoids. Not to mention, they’ll be full of seeds. When left un-pollinated, a female cannabis plant’s flowers (buds) will continue to swell, develop more trichomes and become increasingly resinous. She is trying to get as sticky and large as possible to catch pollen in the wind. That sweet sinsemilla – aka unfertilized, seed-free cannabis.

A hand holding a cannabis cola or flower that is hanging downwards due to the weight of the branch. The trichomes are visible in the sun and most of the pistols have turned brownish orange aside from a few that are still white.

Swollen, sticky sinsemilla

When to Sex Cannabis Plants

Our goal here today is to learn how to tell the difference between male and female cannabis plants early on, so you can get the males away from the females as soon as possible! It will help protect your lady plants – but also spare you the wasted time, resources, and energy of tending to male plants that you don’t intend to keep.

Keeping in mind that every strain and grow set-up (e.g. indoors, outdoors, daylight hours) creates varying circumstances, most cannabis plants begin to pre-flower as early as 4 weeks after germination. By week 6, the pre-flowers begin to reveal their gender and you should be able to identify the sex using the tips to follow. Once the plants go into full flower (8 to 10 weeks on average, for a natural outdoor grow) the differences between male and female plants will be glaringly obvious. We’ll talk more about exactly what each sex looks like in a moment.

Until we can tell the sex for sure, we continue to treat the plants equally. We start our seeds in small 4-inch nursery pots. About two weeks after germination, we pot the seedlings up into an approximately two-gallon (trade size) “sexing pot” like these BPA-free nursery pots. This enables everyone to continue to grow in a happy and healthy manner for several more weeks*. Then, once we can surely tell the difference between the male and female cannabis plants, only the ladies move into their forever home – 15 to 25 gallon grow bags full of recycled organic living soil. To learn more about our soil recipe and how we maintain it, see this article.

*Note that our feminized seedlings go from a 4” pot to an 8” pot, and then more quickly into large grow bags, using less soil in the potting-up process.

A hand is holding a young cannabis seedlings that is in a small pot. In the background there are two young cannabis plants in two different sized plastic pots and two cannabis plants that have been planted into 15 gallon grow bags. You want to determine the cannabis sex before you plant it in its forever home.

This little girl (or boy) is far too young to tell, but needs to be potted up soon. The two in plastic pots in the background were determined to be male and culled the next day. The two on the left in grow bags are definite females (one from feminized seed, and one we sexed from regular seed).

How to Tell the Difference Between Male and Female Cannabis Plants in Pre-Flower

In order to correctly sex cannabis plants, you’ll need to become familiar with their anatomy in general. Both males and females produce pre-flowers and flowers in the junctions between stems or branches. The very first pre-flowers show up in the crook between the main plant stalk and a fan leaf stem (petiole), usually near the top of the plant. The good news is, the males usually begin to develop and show sooner than females. I guess the idea is that the dudes want to have their pollen ready and waiting for when the ladies join the party?

Cannabis anatomy, courtesy of the Colorado Cannabis School

Look for plant pre-flowers at the higher stalk/branch junctions, as described above. If needed, use a jeweler’s loupe to get a better look! That is the same magnifying tool commonly used to examine trichomes and determine plant readiness for harvest. Then, locate the stipule, which is a leafy pointed flap that protrudes from the junction. Don’t confuse that for a pre-flower! The cannabis sex parts are located just behind the stipule. Behind the pre-flower sex parts, taller growth tips will emerge – future auxiliary branches that produce buds.

Identifying a Male Cannabis Plant

Very early, the male pre-flower (early pollen sacs) simply looks like a more round version than the female pre-flower part. It is often referred to as a “spade”, like the spade suit in cards – squatty with a bulbous bottom and very slight tip. As it becomes slightly larger, the male pre-flower resembles a ball at the end of a stick. The male pre-flower is called a staminate. Then, the staminate eventually develops into a long hanging sack of baby bananas – the pollen sacs. Hopefully you can ID and cull the males before they get to this stage.

A close up image of a male preflower that resembles a ball on the end of a stick. The preflower is circled I. white and the bottom of the image has text that reads,

A 4-5 week old male cannabis plant in our garden, showing his stick and ball. Note that this is a really early and obvious example. Most of the other males in this age group show a round ball, but protruding less and more nestled flat against the stalk.

Close up image of male flowers that are starting to protrude fro. the main stalk of the plant. The flowers are more pronounced with larger balls forming.

A more advanced male pre-flower, courtesy of Dr. Weedly (We never let our males get this far to photograph)

Male flowers at an advanced stage, there are now many male flowers protruding from crooks in the main stalk, they resemble bunches of bananas hanging from the plant. Pollen will soon be dropped from these flowers.

Did someone order a banana hammock? The male flowers are about to open and shed pollen, if they haven’t already. Photo from Green Cultured

Identifying a Female Cannabis Plant

In contrast, the very early female cannabis pre-flowers are more ovate in shape: pear-like, but with a longer slender pointed tip. That is called her calyx. Extending from the tip of the calyx may be a pair of pistils, or white hair-like protrusions. However, please note that not every female cannabis plant in pre-flower produces pistils.

A close up image a female preflower or calyx with a pistil coming out of the top. Look for preflowers when determining your cannabis sex.

One of our fine young ladies of the 2020 season.

A four way image collage showing the difference between cannabis sex. The first image shows a close up of one of the nodes on the plant, coming out of the crook of the main stalk and auxiliary branch is a smaller rounded, spade like male preflower. The second image shows a close up of a male preflower that is sitting atop a stem. The third image shows a close up of a female preflower calyx, it has the shape of a pear. The fourth image shows a female preflower that has a white pistol or hair coming out of the top of the female preflower.

If you are still unsure of the sex of your cannabis plant, wait to make any drastic decisions! Yet if you’re fairly certain, consider some of these other common differences between male and female plants. Perhaps it will help you more confidently make a decision.

Other Common Differences Between Male and Female Cannabis Plants

Aside from the clear-cut flower differences, there are a few (potential) trending characteristics between male and female cannabis plants. In many cases, male cannabis plants tend to be more gangly. They may be tall, narrow, have fewer fan leaves, and longer spacing between branches – also referred to as greater inter-nodal spacing. On the flip side, female cannabis plants are usually more compact and bushy than males.

Please keep in mind that these traits are not guaranteed, and shouldn’t be the only way to sex cannabis plants! Variations among strains and phenotypes can lead to all sorts of crazy things. The general plant structure simply may help give you a clue if you’re on the fence.

My Cannabis Plant is Male! Now What?

I hope you started a few extra seeds, and have plenty of ladies left to grow! Once you determine that you have a male cannabis plant, get rid of it. Again, unless you want pollination and seeds, it is best to cull the males as early as possible. Simply separating the plants isn’t enough. Even if you relocate the male plant to another part of your yard, the pollen can carry in the wind. There are stories of female cannabis plants becoming pollinated from neighbors growing several blocks away.

However, the culled males don’t need to go to waste! One option is to chop up the male plant and use it to mulch other plants – much like we do with borage, fava bean greens, yarrow, and comfrey. You could also juice the leaves, which are full of nutrients. Heck, you could even steep the plant material in water to create a natural fertilizer as we do with stinging nettle. Finally, I’m sure your compost pile will welcome the male plant with open arms. Or would that be… with open worms?

A three part image collage, the first image shows the tops of three 25 gallon fabric grow bags that are heavily mulched with a variety of plants. The second image shows a close up of the mulch which shows a variety of yarrow flowers, lavender flowers, horsetail, and others. The third image shows another close up image of mulch that contains fava bean plant material, horsetail, and yarrow.

Who knew mulch could be so sexy?
Need a chill pill, minus the pill? Check out favorite organic full-spectrum CBD oil – NuVita! Use our affiliate code “DEANNACAT3” to save 10% any time. With less than 0.3% THC, it is non-psychoactive and legal in the US. The orange label is great for anxiety, stress, inflammation, and pain – anytime. The CBG (white) has some added power against inflammation, IBS, nausea, and cancer cell growth. CBN (black) will help you sleep more soundly while also easing tension, perfect for bedtime use.

And that is how you determine the sex of cannabis plants.

In closing, I hope this article is interesting and useful in your homegrown adventures. Please feel free to ask questions in the comments below, and spread the cannabis sex love by sharing this article. Even if you like to grow mostly feminized seeds, don’t you find this stuff fascinating? I sure do. Thanks for tuning in and nerding out with me a bit. Best of luck this growing season!

You May Also Like

A close up of a hand holding four stalks of just-harvested turmeric, with the yellow orange lobes of turmeric rhizome

How to Grow Turmeric in Containers, in Any Zone!

September 13, 2019

All About Monarchs: How to Attract, Raise, & Release Monarch Butterflies

April 23, 2019

Learn how to tell the difference between male and female cannabis plants, so you can properly sex your cannabis in the early pre-flower stage.