Marijuana seeds, in their purest forms, will look like black or dark brown pellets with a waxy coating and hard outer shell. While they may vary in sizes, all marijuana seeds will essentially look the same! This makes it pretty hard for growers who are sexing their cannabis plants. Without any clear cut indication of what gender your marijuana seeds will eventually turn out to be, your gardens may be at risk of growing male plants which can contaminate your gardens!
But let’s slow things down a little and not get ahead of ourselves. What exactly is the purpose of sexing plants? Why is it important to know the difference between male and female cannabis plants? Out of all the things that growers will need to educate themselves about, this is probably one of the most important ones! As such, it is crucial to take the time and familiarize yourself with sexing marijuana plants!
Male vs. Female Cannabis Plants: Proper Time for Sexing
Cannabis plants are generally dioecious plants (which we will get to discuss later) in nature. Simply put, this means that they will either come in male or female species once they break out of their shells and begin sprouting. We know that in today’s cultivation scene, the rise of feminized and autoflowering seeds are slowly causing the use of regular marijuana seeds to be impractical and undervalued.
However, this does not mean that regular seeds are phasing out! In fact, more experienced growers have started to appreciate the value that regular seeds hold. But these regular seeds, as they come in the purest form of cannabis, do pose the threat of producing male plants. Regular marijuana seeds will require growers to undergo sexing of marijuana plants. These will generally have an equal 50%-50% chance of turning out on any side of the spectrum!
When can I start sexing my plants?
Like we said in the above section of this article, the process of sexing your cannabis plants is practically impossible while they are still seeds. Because marijuana seeds won’t display any distinct features of either a male or female, you will have to plant and cultivate your marijuana seeds first to find out.
But when in their life cycles is it viable to start sexing them? The seedling and vegetative stages of a cannabis plant’s life isn’t the answer either. During these time frames in your growing process, they will only start developing the overall structure of the cannabis plants. This includes leaves, stems, branches, roots, and pretty much all the basic parts of a plant! As such, nothing will stand out in these phases yet.
Well then, what comes after the vegetative stage? Most people would agree that the flowering stage directly comes after your plants develop their frames and strengthen their roots. However, a small window in between the vegetative stage and the flowering stage exists! And it is called the pre-flowering stage.
Appearance of Pre-Flowers:
Around two week before your plants enter their flowering stages, they will go through what is known as the pre-flowering stage. During this short timeframe, the plants will start producing pre-flowers. Pre-flowers are tiny units you find in between the nodes of your marijuana crops. They eventually grow into the reproductive organs of the cannabis plants; namely, the pollen sacs (for males) and the pistils (for females).
Observing these pre-flowers is the earliest and most viable time to start sexing your marijuana plants! In order to avoid the maturing of pollen sacs and the eventual spread of pollen grains by the males, growers should religiously take the time to separate them!
The pre-flowers of male cannabis plants will look like the one in the picture above. As you can see, these pollen sacs, in their pre-flower forms, are characterized by the round, plump shape that will look like tiny batches of bananas. Within these pollen sacs, the pollen grains will start to develop which will eventually be used to breed via pollination.
Females, on the other hand, have pre-flowers called pistils. These have teardrop-shaped bases with long, hairlike strands sticking out of their tops. Many people are familiar with pistils as these usually grow in large amounts and circle the potent and resinous buds that growers are accustomed to. Once these pistils come into contact with the pollen grains extracted by the male plants, breeding and reproduction occurs.
Uses of Male and Female Cannabis Plants:
Pollen sacs, pollination, pistils, reproduction: these all sound like pretty normal plant processes, right? However, it is common practice for almost all growers of regular seeds to separate and discard the male plants from their gardens!
Female plants are mainly used for consumption. That’s right. Probably every joint you rolled or bowl you’ve packed was made from the potent marijuana buds from female plants. The seedless flowers of female cannabis, also known as sinsemilla, contain high doses of THC. These THC levels are housed inside the small, mushroom-like structures known as trichomes. They give the marijuana buds a sticky, resinous appearance. This is why female marijuana plants are so highly sought after by personal growers.
Male plants, on the other hand, are mainly used for breeding and seed production. Unlike females, their flowers contain numerous seeds. Also, while males may also contain a number of trichomes around the seed-filled flowers and leaves, they won’t have THC levels that are nearly as high as females! Let;s get one thing straight: yes, you can smoke male plants but they won’t really get you high. As such, their main purpose lies in breeding and reproduction of strains.
Once a male plant starts pollinating, female plants around them will have pistils that come into contact with these pollen grains. If this happens, the female plants will subsequently lose their ability to produce sinsemilla! In its place, females will start producing seed-filled flowers instead. Not only will the female buds lose their potency and THC levels, they will also stop producing consumable buds. This will leave your gardens practically useless if you are a grower who leans more towards bud consumption.
What to Do With Male Plants:
Most casual cultivators will discard their male cannabis plants. This is basically the only way to avoid having your female plants coming into contact with pollen grains during pollination! Now, it is quite evident as to why the sexing of marijuana plants should be done at the earliest stage possible. This saves them from losing their potency and keeps growers from wasting their money on expensive weed seeds!
There are many more things that you can do with male cannabis plants. If you are a cannabis seed breeder and producer of strains, then male plants would not be as bad to you as for most people. Additionally, the leaves and roots may be used for coming up with cannabis tea. The stems contain rich fibres that can be used for industrial purposes as well! Male cannabis plants aren’t all that useless. They still hold a lot of value if you know what to utilize them for!
Hermaphrodite Plants: What Are They?
Dioecious vs. Monoecious:
Now that we are familiar with sexing male and female cannabis plants, let’s talk about another phenomenon that regular marijuana seeds bring! We are talking about the development of hermaphrodite plants. As we have said, cannabis plants are dioecious in nature in the sense that they have separate plants for males and females.
However, there may be cases wherein your marijuana plants will suddenly convert into monoecious plants. This means that, in a single plant organism, they will carry both a male and female plant’s reproductive organs.
This monoecious “transformation” is also labelled as hermaphroditism for cannabis plants. And as unusual as it may sound, it is actually a pretty common thing to experience especially for growers of regular marijuana seeds! Do hermaphrodite plants need sexing as well? Yes, they do!
Hermies, as many people would call them, can come in two different types. One version of them will produce pollen sacs and pistils. The other one would produce what is known as anthers or bananas, as they will look like a tiny hand of bananas! Either way, these can also pollinate just like males would.
Where Do Hermaphrodite Plants Come From?
Hermaphrodite plants will basically result from either genetics or stress. It is believe that sativa strains will have a higher chance of coming up with hermaphrodite plants. While we are not sure if this is back-up by scientific evidence, there is no harm in erring on the side of caution. Furthermore, regular marijuana seeds are practically the only types of seeds that will pose a high risk of developing hermaphrodite plants.
On the other hand, stress is the more common factor that decides if your plants start herming out in your cannabis plants. Things such as heat stress, breaks and damages, nutrient burn, over/underwatering, and even cold weathers may boost the probability of hermaphroditism in your gardens.
What Should I Do With Hermies?
The treatment of hermies are generally the same as male plants: discard them! However, they will still contain female reproductive organs. So, the best thing to do is to take a pair of tweezers and ever so lightly pluck out the male pollen sacs from the nodes that they grow from!
You must be extremely cautious when doing this as the pressure from squeezing the pollen sacs may lead to the pollen grains spraying out!
All things considered, it is fairly safe to say that sexing marijuana plants is an essential step for growing regular marijuana seeds. Not a lot of growers would be looking forward to shouldering the risk of having their male weed plants pollinate all over their gardens.
As such, it is important to read about how you can avoid the maturing of male plants and the development of hermaphrodites! Cannabis plants will demand a substantial amount of your attention and efforts. While it may be time consuming, it will truly be worth it!