Sexing Marijuana Plants: How To Tell Male From Female Cannabis

By George January 27, 2019
Cannabis plant male pre-flower

Cannabis and humans have a lot in common. Not only does the human brain have natural cannabinoid receptors, but both humans and marijuana are also split into two genders. However, the coexistence of different marijuana genders in indoor gardens is not quite as smooth as their mammalian counterparts. That’s why sexing marijuana plants (learning to recognize their gender) is one of the most essential skills for weed cultivators. If you are not careful, male plants can destroy your crop and radically diminish the quality of your weed.

Below, we’ll go over a few of the most effective methods for sexing marijuana plants. By the end of this article, you’ll know why male marijuana is bad, how to tell the sex of your plants and what to do with your male spawn.

Girl Power: Why Female Cannabis Plants Are More Valuable Than Male Plants

In the weed world, women most definitely rule. Only female marijuana plants that are separated from males can produce the highly sought-after seedless sensimilla buds. These unfertilized buds have significantly higher concentrations of cannabinoids, especially THC (the cannabinoid that gets you “high”).

But why does that happen?

To understand the entire process better, you have to think of the whole cycle of marijuana as a living organism. It sprouts, feeds and grows with the sole purpose of reproducing when it reaches maturity. A marijuana plant in full bloom is nothing more than a plant that is ready to get “impregnated” with the next batch of seeds.

Female plants that aren’t busy with producing seeds should yield higher potency buds. All of the energy that would’ve gone into making new seeds is diverted into creating more of the cannabinoids marijuana users enjoy, such as THC and CBD.

The pollen secreted by male flowering plants can fertilize all female plants in the vicinity. As soon as that happens, it’s pretty much game over. Unless you are an extremely lucky stoner, you’ve probably tasted seedy buds, so you know how bad it is. Whether you’re growing marijuana to use recreationally or medicinally, you need to prioritize cultivating females to produce the strongest yields.

Sexing Marijuana Plants: How To Tell Males From Females

Unless you bought a pack of feminized seeds, you have a 50/50 shot of your cannabis seeds turning out to be boys or girls. Even then, there is still a chance of your plants turning male, especially if the seeds are low quality. The important thing is to identify early indications of male plants and remove them from your garden as soon as possible.

When Do Cannabis Plants Reveal Their Gender

Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing whether a seed will grow to be male or female. That is because contrary to mammals; marijuana plants do not show their gender until the late vegetative or early flowering stage. Usually, a plant will start showing its pre-flowers 5-6 weeks into sprouting or 1-2 weeks into flowering. To induce flowering on a plant, simply reduce the amount of grow light intake.

Identifying the pre-flowers is the key to a successful purge of the males before they pollinate your girls! We have included many images for you to consult, but you’ll notice male reproductive organs are shaped like tiny balls, while females look like pistils. It will take a couple of takes before you become an expert on this, but male and female pre-flowers actually look different if you look closely. You can wait until their organs have developed more, but don’t take your sweet time doing it: these balls might burst at any moment!

Examine The Nodes

The most reliable method you could use for sexing marijuana plants is examining the nodes. As your plants grow, keep close tabs on the areas in-between each plant’s branches and main stalk (aka the nodes). This is where the plant’s reproductive organs (aka the flowers) are located.

Usually, you could start to see these node formations about two months into a marijuana plant’s development. It’s important to keep detailed tabs of all your marijuana plants and to remove males immediately if you’re not interested in creating more seeds.

Female Marijuana Plants

The first few weeks after changing to flowering are crucial to identifying the gender of your plants. Female marijuana takes a bit longer to show its preflowers, but when it does, you will see tiny white hairs protruding from the nodes. That’s where the bud is going to form. If you are the kind of grower who likes to keep their plants on the vegetative stage for a long time (more light than darkness), these indicators will appear even earlier.

Here are some examples of female pre-flowers (pistils):

Male Marijuana Plants

Cannabis pre-flowers can easily be confused, especially when they are immature. Adult cannabis plants are easy to spot: they have grape-like balls which form and fill with pollen. However, if you notice this on your garden, it might already be too late. The key is to identify the pre-flowers as soon as possible.

Here are some examples of male pre-flowers:

Secondary Gender Indicators

While the node method is the most reliable way to determine a plant’s sex, there are a few other features you should look out for. First, male marijuana plants have a thicker stalk versus female plants. Male marijuana plants also tend to be taller and have fewer leaves than female plants.

Although these features are essential to examine, please don’t use these methods as a substitute for thoroughly inspecting the nodes. These indicators should be used to strengthen your conviction whether a plant is male or female after your node inspections.

What To Do If You Find Hermaphrodite Plants

As you’re checking your marijuana plants’ nodes, you might come across a few plants that have both male sacs and female strands. No, you’re eyes aren’t deceiving you; that’s a hermaphrodite marijuana plant.

There’s a good reason why “herming out” isn’t an uncommon phrase in the marijuana growing industry. Hermaphrodite marijuana plants aren’t as common as male or female plants, but they aren’t unheard of. Since hermaphrodite plants will release pollen, you need to treat them the same way you would handle male plants.

Where Do Hermaphrodite Plants Come From?

Usually, a hermaphrodite plant develops because it has been exposed to too many environmental stressors. Some of the most common causes of hermaphrodite plant development include

    • Excessively high temperatures
    • Broken stems
    • Light leaks during flowering.

If environmental factors weren’t the cause, then it’s most likely the seeds you planted were genetically predisposed to become hermaphroditic.

Ways To Get Womanly Weed

The easiest way to ensure your plants will always become female is to purchase specialty seeds from renowned seedbanks. Due to the high demand for female marijuana plants, it’s not hard to find feminized seeds online or in specialty stores. By purchasing these seeds from vendors with high standards, you won’t have to worry about male marijuana plants getting in the way of your cultivation process.

Another way you could ensure you’ll only produce female plants is to get into cloning. It might sound complicated, but cloning is far too common in the marijuana growing world.

When people clone a marijuana plant, basically they cut off a few of the mother plant’s mature branches and transfer them to another pot. Eventually, these trimmings should take root and express the same genetic material as the original plant. Of course, it’s more complicated than that, but you get the gist. Generally, it pays off to make friends with fellow growers who could supply you with a cutting from their prized strains 😉

If you don’t buy feminized seeds, clone your female plants, or purchase clones, then you’ll just have to keep a close eye out for any males or hermaphrodites in your batch.

Is Manly Marijuana Good For Anything?

Males have a terrible reputation in the marijuana world, but that doesn’t mean they’re entirely useless. Indeed, if you’re really into gardening, you’ll appreciate the many pest-repelling and root-enhancing benefits of macho marijuana plants.

Both male and female marijuana produce special oils that are often referred to as terpenes. One of the major uses of terpenes is to get rid of unwanted insects in a garden.

What Can I Do With My Male Marijuana Plants?

Here are some things you can do with your discarded male plants, besides throwing them in the trashcan:

    • Placing a few male marijuana plants by any fresh veggies, herbs, or flowers in your garden could help provide an all-natural form of pest control.
    • Another benefit of planting male marijuana plants in your garden is that they have incredibly long taproots. These taproots naturally get rid of bad soil and help to stabilize good soil during downpours.
    • Some marijuana cultivators also point out that male marijuana plants can produce a fair amount of cannabinoids.
    • While not as potent as their female counterparts, it’s still possible to extract edible oils from these plants and make cannabutter. That’s right; male marijuana plants can end up spicing up your next dish!
    • Let’s not forget the main use of male plants: to breed new seeds with females. Most people who are growing marijuana for consumption at home, however, tend to purchase seeds from experienced breeders or get into cloning. If you want to, however, you could use your male plants to breed with your females. Try your best to choose the sturdiest males and females in your batch to increase the odds their seeds will be healthy.

Quick Tips On Sexing Marijuana Plants

    • Plants will show their first signs of gender in late flowering or early flowering periods. Check carefully for the pre-flowers forming on the nodes between the main stalk and the branches.
    • Taking clones from developed female plants is the only way to be 100% sure that your plant will be female.
    • If you are not careful with your grow and put your plant into too much stress, it might turn into a hermaphrodite and pollinate itself.
    • If you have no patience or time to waste looking at your plants, here is a useful technique to expedite the sexing process:
      • Take a clone from any plant you want to check;
      • Label both of them so you can associate them later;
      • Put the newly rooted clone directly into a 12/12 light schedule
      • You should see the first preflowers within a week. Depending on the results, either keep or get rid of the mother plant.

The Birds And Bees Of Weed

Sexing marijuana plants usually isn’t too difficult, but it takes new cultivators a while to get a handle on. As long as you keep good records and inspect each plant’s nodes closely, you should easily spot the differences between these male and female plants. If you have any doubts about what sex your plant is, then you could always look up HD images of marijuana online! Don’t you just love technology?

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