While it’s quite natural to think that there are male cannabis plants and there are female cannabis plants, there are cannabis plants that may show both gender traits and characteristics at the same time. This is what growers and breeders call “hermie” which is short for hermaphrodite plants. And while it could be exciting to think that this kind of plant could pollinate itself, breeders think otherwise.
But how does hermies actually start in the first place? What could actually bring about hermies?
The role of stress in the production of hermies
Experts agree that the development of hermies actually comes from stress. All plants are affected by stress and cannabis plants are very vulnerable because of its unique plant physiology and characteristics. Stress could be from anything: from internal stress due to chemical imbalances within the plant to environmental problems like heat, light and more. A successful grower must understand all these to be able to avoid stressing their cannabis plants.
- Stress from irregular or inconsistent lighting
Cannabis plants feed on light to create their own food. Together with water and organic plant food, light coming from either natural or artificial sources are needed by cannabis plants to grow, bloom and yield good harvest. Therefore losing any of these factors can be detrimental to plant health and survival.
Inconsistent lighting, an irregularly lit room or irregular lighting is taxing to cannabis plants and this can lead to stress and the possible development of hermies.
- Stress from heat
Cannabis plants are used to heat but not prolonged exposure to heat which can cause stress and burns. This usually happens when a light source is placed very close to plants or if plants have stretched to reach a light source. Heat could also be detrimental to plants and this can happen when the grow room has become too hot. Not only will plants have to deal with stress but they also need to recover physically as well to be able to create better yield and good profits for growers and breeders.
- Stress from plant health
Cannabis plants are also similar to regular plants in such a way that these are also susceptible to many kinds of plant diseases. And with exposure to any fungus or bacteria comes top level stress. The plant has to neutralize these invaders in order to stay healthy and ready to grow and bloom. Still there are other reasons which can cause stress to plants. Nutrient deficiencies, pH imbalances and light burn can all be very stressful to plants.
Genetics and hermies
Stress could lead to the development of hermies however; the natural tendency of plants to become hermies can be due to genetics. There is a huge possibility that these plants will also yield offspring that also have hermaphrodite characteristics and this is not good. This is why breeders suggest destroying hermaphrodite plants as soon as these are spotted to prevent accidental pollination of all female plants of the lot.
Avoiding stress for cannabis plants
You can significantly reduce the risk of developing mixed-gender cannabis plants when you avoid all the factors that can cause stress to plants in the first place. Here are some tips that might help prevent stress for your precious plants:
- Always be consistent with lighting
Create a lighting schedule and stick with it. Most growers prefer a strict 18/6 schedule which means giving plants 18 hours of light and 6 hours of darkness each day. You can also opt to give your plants 24 hours non-stop lighting. Whatever choice you may have, do all you can to follow it to the T. forgetting your schedule can ruin your plant’s internal schedule and stress it out.
- Fix lighting issues and reflector issues
A reason for inconsistencies in lighting could be broken lamps, bulbs and reflectors. You must fix these otherwise you are only adding to your plant’s stress. Broken lamps as well as broken bulbs can make your plants too hot or too cold and can even make cold spots, Broken, torn or dirty reflectors could be inefficient and could cause areas inside the grow room to be cooler than the rest of the room.
The best course of action is to invest in a quality bulb and lamp like an HPS lamp or LED lamp and using the best reflector material like white paint, canvass and Mylar material. These reflective materials can improve the amount of reflected light back to your plants to ensure that these receive adequate lighting.
- Avoid too much heat, ventilate your grow room
Plants can also become dehydrated and this is very stressful to them. Even if they have some kind of passive watering system, a hot room is still a hot room. You must improve ventilation by adding a fan or an exhaust fan to improve temperature inside your grow room. Too much heat can be from the lamps or lighting, too much moisture and also heat coming from outdoor sources.
- Avoid crowding your plants to prevent stretching
Overcrowding plants in one small area can cause plants to stretch to compete with lighting and nutrients. Plants naturally do this so that they could survive. But stretching can be very stressful to plants and too much stretching just to reach a light source could burn plants and could break their stems and branches. Avoiding crowding can help prevent these.
- Choose healthy and durable seeds from a reliable dealer
Choose a reliable dealer that will give you healthy seeds that don’t have the tendency to be hermies or have extra gender characteristics. This tip will save you money and will also reduce your worries about growing hermies.
- Maintain pH and feed plants with the best organic food
Choose only organic plant food and maintain pH levels in the soil by using soil conditioning products. Adhere to a strict feeding schedule and keep a record of your plant’s health will help you keep an eye for hermies.