How to Identify Male and Female Cannabis Plants

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Cannabis plants work in a complex yet very interesting way. Unlike most flowering plants in its class, marijuana are naturally dioecious plants. This means that they carry separate units of males and female plants! If you are into cannabis growing for a long time now, you may have probably heard about looking into males and female signs in plants. Why exactly is this?

Suppose you start growing a fresh and healthy pack of weed seeds and leave them to cultivate for many months on end. Towards the end of the harvest, you notice that your cannabis plants have not produced any potent marijuana buds! What in the world happened? Well, it is no surprise to have your marijuana crops seemingly rendered useless for smoking due to the lack of knowledge about the male and female signs of cannabis.

Learn How to Identify Male and Female Cannabis Plants

Despite the widespread availability of feminized and autoflowering seeds, regular marijuana seeds never seem to go out of style. This is in addition to the rustic and extremely natural way that they grow and develop. The excitement that comes with regular seeds lies in the chances of ending up with male or female cannabis plants. 

Well, alright. Maybe having male cannabis plants isn’t such an exciting thing to look forward to in your gardens. But knowing the difference between male and female signs in your weed crop is a key part of using regular seeds!

The best time to differentiate cannabis sexes: 

During the early stages of a cannabis plant’s life, they will all look similar regardless of their genders. From the seedling stage all the way up to vegetative stages, there will be no evident male and female signs to differentiate them from one another. 

But once they finish up their vegetative stages, your cannabis plants will enter the pre-flower stage. During this time, they will start to produce what are known as pre-flowers, which are the cannabis plant’s reproductive organs and flowers.

It is during this time that growers will have the best shot at separating the males from females in their gardens! Anything later than this stage might cause some unwanted reactions in your crops. 

Male Cannabis Plants:

The male cannabis plant will produce pollen sacs that will appear as small, bulb-shaped structures. Like how other types of botanical organisms reproduce, male plants will generally release the pollen inside of these sacs. Carriers such as wind, rodents, other plants, and even gardening tools will all act as agents to carry these pollen grains and spread them all throughout a garden. 

Now, one of the most important highlights of a cannabis garden is the distinguishing male and female signs. A male cannabis plant will still produce marijuana buds, albeit with little to no THC levels. This means that you will need to smoke a lot more buds in order to get high from male cannabis. Male plants also do not produce any flowers.

So what exactly are they use for? Well, unlike females, the buds of male cannabis plants and buds will contain marijuana seeds that are often used for breeding and propagation. Along with pollination, male plants will have a big role in reproduction and crossbreeding.

Now, if you are not a cannabis breeder, then this may seem quite useless to you. In fact, it is quite common for your typical marijuana growers to discard and throw away these male plants as early as possible.

Female Cannabis Plants:

Female cannabis plants will sprout and develop pistils. These will look like round pellets that have hair-like strands emerging from one end. Pistils are the female cannabis plant’s reproductive organ and will generally work once they come into contact with the pollen of male cannabis plants. However, one other feature that is exclusive to female plants is the presence of sinsemilla, which are seedless marijuana buds for consumption.

The buds that sprout up from females will contain much more THC levels than the males. This makes them much more ideal for smoking and consumption. Buds and flowers that you purchase from local weed dispensaries or from any other shop are most likely females. This is because, people will usually smoke or consume through edibles, extracts, etc., female cannabis plants are more commercially produce than males.

Casual and everyday growers lean more towards females because of the purposes that they bring. This is why the use and cultivation of feminized and autoflowering marijuana seeds is much more common today. These seeds are aim at sprouting only female plants.

Why is it important to know the male and female signs?

It is a very common and, for a lot of growers, essential part of the cultivation process to differentiate your males from females. If you grow your cannabis plants using regular seeds, then your gardens will basically have a 50-50 chance of growing either male or female cannabis plants! Is this a good thing? Well, not really.

As we have said, male cannabis plants will eventually start releasing their pollen grains onto the whole cannabis gardens. If these pollen grains come into contact with the female plant’s pistils, then they will start pollinating.

However, once this happens, the female cannabis plants will also subsequently start producing marijuana seeds! They will lose their ability to come up with sinsemilla and will instead start producing seeds. As you can already tell, this renders the buds quite useless for consumption as they won’t contain as much THC as they should.

It also does not take much for the male cannabis plants to pollinate and spoil the resinous and potent buds of the garden. Having just one male plant in your garden is enough for it to cause the whole crop to convert into seed-bearing marijuana! Growers and users who particularly cultivate  cannabis seeds mainly for consumption. There will be much disappointment to find all of their female marijuana under contamination because of the males.

As such, it is nothing less than crucial to be able to distinguish the male and female signs in display by cannabis plants. Thankfully, there is quite an effective way to classify the sexes and genders of marijuana.   

When is the Best Time to Separate Your Plants?

When  you use regular seeds, growing them will essentially be the same from the germination stage all the way up to the vegetative stage. During this time, it is quite hard to determine a cannabis plant’s sex or gender. This is because they won’t really display and male and female signs that can help you distinguish them from one another. 

However, before entering the flowering stage, cannabis plants will pass through that is called the pre-flowering stage. It is during this time when the marijuana plants will start displaying male and female signs in their earliest stages.

What Do These Pre-Flowers Look Like?

Cannabis plants develop pre-flowers which will look different based on their sexes. For male plants, they will produce little green bulbs that will eventually grow into the pollen sacs. Females, on the other hand, will also grow tiny-shaped bulbs with some hair-like structures protruding from the tops.

You will be able to observe these pre-flowers by taking a close look at the nodes where the branches intersect with the main stem. Because they may be quite small, you can always use a magnifying tool to help you see them more clearly. Remember, this is still an early stage of a cannabis plant’s life! 

Save your plants!

Once your plants start displaying some growth signs of their pre-flowers, one can simply pluck out and discard the male cannabis plants. However, if you do it in a later time, make sure to be extremely gentle! Even just the slightest pressure could be enough to release the pollen from inside the sacs. Opting for feminized and autoflowering seeds is also a much more modern and easy way to avoid males.

However, keep in mind that male plants have a lot of uses other than breeding and propagation. While they do not contain ideal amounts of THC, other cannabinoids such as CBD and CBN are present in them. These may be extracted and used for medical purposes. The different plant parts of males may also be used for teas, fibres, and other uses!

Monoecious vs. Dioecious Plants: What’s the Difference?

You might be wondering what the terms monoecious and dioecious mean. They may come off as big brainy words but their concepts are actually quite simple. Additionally, it is important to familiarize yourself with monoecious and dioecious plants in order to fully understand a cannabis plant’s behavior!

Monoecious Plants:

Monoecious plants refer to those cannabis that carry both the male and female reproductive organs within the same plant. This is quite a common characteristic for botanical species, most especially for those that have flowering produce. Within a monoecious species, growers will notice two different types of flowers growing from a single plant. However, in some cases, they will contain reproductive organs but no male and female signs of flowers (such as algae and moss). 

 Some examples of monoecious plants include: pine trees, oaks, corn, pumpkins, and tomatoes

Dioecious Plants:

Dioecious plants, on the other hand, are a lot more similar to us human beings. These plants are usually separated as either a male plant or female plant, depending on the reproductive organs that they carry. Cannabis plants are generally dioecious in nature, which growers can observe through the use of regular marijuana seeds.  

Apart from cannabis, some other examples of dioecious plants are papaya, spinach, kiwi, palms, and asparagus

What are Hermaphrodite Plants?

As we have said, cannabis is a dioecious type of plant in the sense that it has a 50-50 chance of sprouting either male or female cannabis plants with regular seeds. However, there are some cases wherein the surrounding properties and growing conditions will subsequently trigger the cannabis plants to actually convert and carry monoecious qualities. This is what we refer to as hermaphroditism

Hermaphrodite plants are actually the same as monoecious plants. They are a more detailed quality of monoecious plants that allows certain species to possess both the pollen sacs (males) and pistils  in separate nodes of one single cannabis plant. Other times, they produce small structures known as bananas which will, in fact, look like miniature bananas.

What causes hermaphroditism?

Hermaphrodite plants manifest themselves due to two main reasons: environmental conditions (stress) or genetic structures. While the thought  of hermaphrodite plants may seem foreign, it is actually a rather common behavior among agricultural products. However, it is also one of the most dreaded qualities that you can have in your weed crop.

The cannabis plant’s genetic structure also influences their  hermaphroditism. If a strain has poor genetics that were developed with low standards, then they have a higher chance of developing hermies. Also, any plant that you might have that has any hermaphroditism, although cured, will most likely carry those genetics to future crops. While it is unclear how, sativa strains are also said to be more prone to hermaphroditism.

As for the environmental conditions, hermaphrodite plants often manifest themselves as a result of cannabis being exposed to stress. Stress is felt when your gardens are exposed to uncomfortable conditions and less than ideal climates. Damages and cuts, overheating, or climates that are too cold will all bring unwanted stress to your plants. Sometimes, the lack of nutrients or presence of pests and diseases will also stress your plants.

How to Prevent and Cure Hermaphroditism

Hermaphroditism is definitely a very complex behavior that may come off as astonishing to some growers. However, it is best to avoid having them in your cannabis crop. Because they will contain pollen sacs from male plants, they also pose the risk of contaminating your gardens.

You can prevent the production of hermaphrodite plants by maintaining a comfortable and stress-free environment. Indoor setups are great for this because you will be able to have full control over the growing conditions and climates of the area. Additionally, you will have much lesser worries about natural calamities and pests infesting your gardens.

Another very effective way of avoiding this is by using feminized and  autoflowering seeds. Obviously, the chances of sprouting males and hermies are much higher when using regular marijuana seeds. Because of the genetic structure that they carry, feminized and autoflowering seeds will rarely produce these. It is however, still possible especially if they are bred with low quality standards.

If your cannabis plants happen to already have hermies, you should try saving them before it is too late! With a pair of sterilized tweezers, carefully locate the bananas and/or male pollen sacs and very carefully pluck them out! Using your hands is a very dangerous method as the pressure could spray out pollen grains. Carefully investigate your plants and make sure that not even one pollen sac or banana is left in your gardens. 

Overall, it is quite easy to see how important the genders of cannabis are. Despite the increasing popularity of feminized and autoflowering seeds, it is hard to see regular seeds ever going out of style. As such, familiarizing yourself with male and female signs in cannabis plants is a great way to ensure the best output possible! It may be hard to distinguish them at first. But with a few more grows, you will surely be able to tell them apart quite easily!

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