If you’re a cannabis grower or want to become one, it’s essential that you’re able to identify male and female cannabis plants. Each gender has its own uses but allowing them to pollinate can cause trouble in your crop. To get the most out of your cannabis crop, we’ll examine how to tell the difference, how to avoid pollination, and how to get the most use out of both male and female cannabis plants.
Differences Between Male and Female Cannabis Plants
There are distinct physical differences between male and female cannabis plants. At around six weeks of growth, flowers will start to appear near the growth tips of the plant, where the stem meets the stalk. The flowers can either be round or somewhat pointed.
The round-shaped flowers (called pollen sacs) indicate the plant is a male. The more pointed flower appearance (called a calyx) indicates the plant is female.
It’s not unusual for the male plants to show their gender first. The female plants do take their time in showing their gender. It is also not unusual for a crop to produce hermaphrodite plants – plants with both male and female characteristics. These plants need to be removed from the crop to avoid pollination.
How to Sex Your Cannabis Plant
During the first few weeks after planting your seeds, the vegetative stage, your cannabis plants will build their root systems and will eventually become visible seedlings. The next stage of growth – flowering– is when the sex of the plants become more obvious.
When the plants have reached the flowering stage, the male plants will continue to grow pollen sacs until they burst. This allows for pollination – something you don’t want to happen in your crop. The female plants will grow a white, fuzzy hair-like stem called the pistil. The pollen sacs and pistils are the sex organs of the plants.
How to Avoid Cross-pollination And Why It’s Important
If you’re not carefully monitoring your crop during the flowering stage, you could miss out on identifying the males and hermaphrodites (herms) in the mix. Cross-pollination needs to be avoided if you want healthy, bud producing female plants. As soon as you identify the sex of your cannabis plants, be sure to separate them from one another.
Should a female plant become pollinated, the plant will target all its energy toward growing seeds rather than producing flowers and buds – the parts of the plant we want to harvest. This is why it’s critical to keep the males and herms away from the females once the flowering stage has begun.
What Are Feminized Seeds And Their Advantages
While regular seeds are not sexed and have a 50/50 chance of being female, feminized seeds are guaranteed to grow into female plants. Because the female plant is the one that produces the buds and flowers used in smoking cannabis, you’re better off guaranteeing yourself an all-female crop than having to screen your flowering crop with a magnifying glass every day to make sure no males or herms are in the crop.
When you have an all-female crop, the buds will grow larger and be much healthier than if your plants are exposed to pollination. If you’re growing to sell, you definitely want to keep your crop female.
Feminized seeds can be pricey, but if you’re going that route, make sure you purchase your seeds from a reputable dealer. Otherwise, you risk getting seeds that could become male or female.
If you’re growing outdoors and have neighbors who grow, you’ll still need to screen your plants to make sure your plants didn’t get pollinated by stray pollen carried to your plants by the wind.
How To Make Use Of Male Cannabis Plants
While most growers will simply eliminate the male plants in their crops, there are advantages to having some male plants.
To start, you could use male plants to breed your own unique strain of cannabis plants. When you’re growing to sell, having a unique strain that contains higher levels of THC (a higher high) will give you an advantage over other growers.
Also, have you heard of hemp clothing and jewelry? Those typically come from male cannabis plants. The fibers of the male are more flexible and softer than those of the female plant. There’s a growing market for hemp clothing, ropes, and various other products that can be made exclusively from male cannabis plants.
And no one said you couldn’t get high off a male plant. The flower and the leaves of the male plant have just as much THC content as in the female plant. You can dry the leaves, crush the flowers, and create a hash for joint rolling.
Lastly, if you don’t necessarily want to dump the plants, but you don’t need any more supply, male plants can be used in CBD products – these products are manufactured to remove the THC content and use the cannabinoids in teas, tinctures, oils, and creams.
CBD products are used by people with chronic health issues, chronic pain, or inflammatory conditions. The market is hot for CBD, and growing more so every year.
Knowing the difference between male and female cannabis plants is essential for growers with small, personal crops, or large farming operations. Watch for the growth of pods and pistils during the flowering stage and keep any males or herms out of your crop for superior female plant health.
Consider the option of buying feminized seeds to ensure the gender of your plants, but don’t give up on your males. Male plants are used for breeding, smoking, making clothes, and amongst other things. Take full advantage of all your plants by knowing which gender to keep for your optimal use.