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The Difference Between Male and Female Cannabis Seeds

Learning to tell the difference between male and female cannabis plants is a must for growers. If you don’t know the difference, the results could be a huge setback for your operation. For that reason, you must be able to spot the differences early on. Identifying plants is one thing, but the difference between male and female cannabis seeds is altogether different.

The cannabis plant is naturally dioecious, meaning female characteristics appear on some plants, whereas male traits appear on others. In some cases, cannabis plants can grow to be hermaphrodites, meaning male and female characteristics can appear on a single plant, but for the most part, cannabis seeds produce either male or female. The good news is you can choose which seeds to buy, taking the element of doubt out of the equation.

Male vs Female: Does it Matter?

The gender of your cannabis plants certainly matters depending on the purpose of your grow. If you’re looking produce cannabis for consumption, your plants must be female. Female cannabis plants flower to produce resinous buds. Those buds contain the highly-desired trichomes that contain the cannabinoids (THC and CBD) needed for both medicinal and recreational effects.

Male cannabis plants do not produce the buds utilised in cannabis consumption. They still produce an element of THC, but this is extremely low, so from an effect standpoint the female of the species is more deadly than the male. But male cannabis plants are precious for another reason – breeding new strains.

Rather than produce buds, male cannabis plants produce pollen sacs – and it’s those pollen sacs that are useful to breeders. These help with fertilizing female plants for creating new hybrid strains. If you find a male plant among your lot, move it away from the females, but consider holding on to it and experimenting with breeding your own cannabis strain.

pollen sacs

The Difference Between Male and Female Plants

The trouble with determining the gender of your plants lies in the time it takes before gender traits become visible. Male and female marijuana plants look identical during the seedling and vegetative stages, and gender characteristics don’t reveal themselves until the flowering stage. By that time, you’re already weeks into your operation, and discovering male traits can be a real setback at that point.

Determining the Sex of Your Cannabis Plant

Although it takes weeks for the gender to reveal itself, determining the gender is relatively easy. All you need is your eyes. At the end of the vegetative stage, your plants will enter the pre-flowering stage, and it’s at this point in the plant’s lifecycle, that you can begin to identify the sex of the plant. The good news is that males tip their hand a little earlier than females, giving you enough time to remove any males before your precious females begin flowering. By doing this, you avoid the risk of pollinating the females and turning them into seed producers rather than bud producers.

Sexing your cannabis plants involves keeping a close watch on them as the vegetative phase draws to a close and looking closely for signs of male sex organs. Look at the plant nodes – where a branch forms off the main stem or another branch forms off another branch. Male pre-flowers will show tiny green balls at the nodes; over time, these will grow and cluster. You’ll see what looks like tiny banana-shaped appendages forming. If you don’t plan on breeding, move them away from the other plants quickly, as, within 2-3 weeks, they’ll release their contents and begin fertilizing your females.

Sexing Female plants involves the same visual inspection, but you’re looking for the appearance of fine, wispy white hairs as the indication of female characteristics. These appear on the tiny thin protrusions called pistils and are a telltale sign of a female flower. During flowering, the calyx is the first part of the flower to develop, and it’s on these calyxes you’ll see the white hairs.

The Difference Between Male and Female Cannabis Seeds

It’s pretty easy to tell the difference between male and female cannabis plants, but what about cannabis seeds? Can you tell female seeds from male seeds?

Unfortunately, marijuana seeds have no defining characteristics that allow you to identify whether they will produce male or female plants. The only way to determine gender is by putting them through germination, planting them, and allowing them to grow. Then all you need is to inspect them at the pre-flowering stage.

Fortunately, this inconvenience can be avoided thanks to the advent of feminized cannabis seeds.

What Are Female Cannabis Seeds?

Female (feminized) cannabis seeds are selectively bred to ensure they only produce female plants. By achieving this, scientists in the 1990s changed the cannabis industry forever. By providing a method to pretty much guarantee flowering cannabis plants (99% of the time), growing cannabis was revolutionised overnight.

Feminized cannabis seeds are selectively bred to produce a high amount of cannabinoids. This means high THC content and greater potency, but there are benefits for the cultivator, too. Guaranteeing female plants eliminates the need to check the sex of each, with the bonus of being easier to grow. and by choosing these as the starting point for your project, you eliminate the risk of producing male cannabis plants. This streamlines the germination process and growing significantly.

If you’re new to growing cannabis and are looking for a starting point, carries one of the finest and most comprehensive ranges of feminized cannabis seeds available today. Simply use our strain finder and choose the feminized option when purchasing seeds, and you’re in business.

Hermaphrodite Plants

While choosing feminized cannabis seeds eliminates the risk of producing male plants, there is a small caveat – hermaphroditism. There’s always a chance that a small percentage of seeds could turn ‘hermie’ and develop the characteristics of both male and female plants. This makes a cannabis plant monoecious as opposed to dioecious, but there are steps you can take to avoid this anomaly.

Hermaphrodite cannabis plants cause stress, but stress causes hermaphrodite cannabis plants! By ensuring optimal environmental conditions, you can eliminate the chances of your plants turning hermie.

Factors That Can Cause Hermaphroditism in Cannabis

  • Genetics
  • Changes to the Light Cycle – especially interruption of the dark schedule
  • Too much heat
  • Too much water
  • Not enough water
  • pH issues
  • Over or underfeeding nutrients to your plants

These are just a few of the factors that can unduly stress your cannabis plant, causing it to turn hermaphrodite as a defence mechanism. It’s bad news for cultivators, but it’s a smart move on the plant’s part. Upon sensing high stress levels, the plant turns hermaphrodite so it may pollinate itself and reproduce, essentially keeping its lineage alive.

The best way to avoid the risk of hermaphroditism due to genetics is to always buy feminized cannabis seeds from a reputable seed bank like Seedsman only supplies seeds from quality to genetics, and knowing your feminized seeds are of the highest quality means peace of mind.

What Are Regular Cannabis Seeds?

Regular cannabis seeds are unlike their feminized counterparts, and the difference is in genetics. Regular seeds contain the chromosomes that enable them to be male or female, whereas feminized seeds contain only female genetics. If you’re looking to grow cannabis flower – in other words, buds – then feminized seeds are the ones to choose. But if you’re looking to dabble in creating new strains, regular seeds can produce male and female cannabis plants. This makes them ideally suited to a breeding project.

Regular cannabis seeds are free from any engineering, but there’s a 50/50 chance they’ll produce either male or female plants. Their strong genetics means a more stable base for creating clones, too. Regular seeds produce more vigorous plants with a greater ability to handle stress, often resulting in tremendous growth and high yields. Just remember, if you’re going with regular seeds and do not plan on breeding, remove any males from your grow area before they pollinate your female weed plants.

Cultivation information, and media is given for those of our clients who live in countries where cannabis cultivation is decriminalised or legal, or to those that operate within a licensed model. We encourage all readers to be aware of their local laws and to ensure they do not break them.

This post is also available in: French

Duncan Mathers