In the natural kingdom, in order for the reproduction of a species to take place, there must be a female organism and a male organism. It’s true that there are exceptions from this rule, but such cases are rare and exceptional. The same happens in the case of cannabis plants. Reproduction happens with the help of female and male plants. And for those that cultivate cannabis, reproduction is a highly important process, because, together with the gender of the plant, it can significantly impact the harvest. And a rich harvest is the dream of every cannabis grower.
In this present guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about the reproduction of cannabis plants and feminized cannabis seeds. Once you finish reading it, you’ll know how to set apart female and male plants, what to do to ensure an outstanding harvest, and how to identify those rare cases of “hermie” plants. If achieving great results is a goal for you, the details provided by this guide will certainly help out.
What are feminized cannabis seeds?
If you will ask most cannabis growers what their dream is, there are high chances that they will answer a garden filled with female plants only. It is an unpleasant feeling to have to throw away a plant you grew from a seed, just because you realize that it is a male plant. But, at the same time, when there are males there’s also the risk of pollination, which will reduce the quality of your yield.
Even if there’s just one male plant, the pollen produced by it can pollinate a good number of female plants. If you want to avoid this without having to throw away male plants, you need to seriously consider feminized seeds.
What are feminized cannabis seeds and how can they help?
Feminized seeds were created in order to allow growers to produce female plants. Thus, gender selection starts at the stage of seeds. When using such seeds, you can be entirely certain that no male plants will pop out.
However, feminized seeds could transform into hermaphrodite plants, which have the ability to fertilize themselves, without the need to have any males around. As you can tell, this is not a desirable scenario, but it is a possibility when using feminized seeds.
How can cannabis seeds be feminized?
When feminized seeds appeared for the first time, the method used for their feminization allowed the appearance of hermaphrodite plants more often than it happens today. But, with the passage of time, the feminization process was improved and today there are very slim chances for hermaphrodites to emerge, by using feminized seeds alone.
These days, cannabis breeders use rhodelization, which is a method used to make feminized seeds more stable. Thus, the risk for them to develop plants with both reproductive organs is significantly reduced. Rhodelization forces the seeds to grow into female plants, by using the power of silver. And, in most cases, the plants remain females even in harsh conditions.
Seeds that go through this process with silver are just as stable as regular cannabis seeds. At maturity, the plants will require pollination in order to produce seeds, as regular plants do. Also, the plants they will produce, through seeds, will also be stable. So, the process does not change the genes of the plant whatsoever.
Learn more about that in:
How do cannabis plants reproduce?
If you are interested in growing cannabis, this is among the first things you need to know. Reproduction is very important for the evolution of every organism out there and it’s no different when it comes to cannabis. Getting your hands on this kind of information and understanding how everything happens will certainly make a difference in your activity.
An essential piece of information is the fact that cannabis has separate male and female plants. In other words, you won’t find male and female reproductive organs on the same plant, as commonly met in the vegetal world.
Cannabis is special because the species features female plants and male plants, so they are separate individuals, just like in the case of humans. However, it is worth mentioning that hermaphrodite individuals can occur in the case of cannabis plants. In this case, both male and female reproductive organs will be found on the same plants.
Why is it important to tell a female from males and have the ability to identify hermaphrodite plants? Cannabis plants require more than just the presence of males and females in the same room to make reproduction happen.
The environmental factors surrounding the plants are also extremely important and will impact the process. Also, some plants are more desirable when looking to obtain a satisfying yield than others. So, knowing how to tell the plants apart, based on their sex, is a must if you want to be a successful cannabis grower.
Signs that will help you identify the gender of your plants
Although it may seem daunting to differentiate male plants from female plants, there are clear signs that will help you out. However, you will have to keep a close eye on your plants, especially when they are around the desired height and ready to finish their vegetative period.
The reason you should be extra careful at this point is the goal of obtaining “sinsemilla” female plants. The sinsemillas are actually female plants without seeds, with buds that contain a much higher level of THC. Male plants, on the other hand, will have a lower level of THC.
So, at one point, all the cannabis plants in your garden will have some sort of flowers. Still, this doesn’t mean you should allow all of them to flower. You will find out why later on in this guide.
Male cannabis plants
Male cannabis plants tend to grow taller than females and they also reach maturity faster. If you notice plants that are growing faster than the rest, reaching a taller stature, then you could be dealing with male cannabis plants.
As a general rule, male plants reach maturity two weeks sooner than female plants. This explains why some will be taller than the rest at some point.
Male plants grow faster and taller so they can be ready to pollinate the female plants once they too reach maturity. Also, male plants can begin their flowering phase up to one month earlier than the flowering period of female plants. Thus, you’ll get clues about their gender faster. Here is what you need to look for:
- Male plants have a straighter figure;
- They will feature a lower number of flowers compared to female plants;
- The flowers will develop in the top part of the plant, from where pollen can be spread easily;
- Male flowers appear like green clusters of closed petals;
- In the spot where a leaf is connected to the main stem, small buds will appear, looking like a miniature bunch of bananas;
Female cannabis plants
Female cannabis plants are easier to differentiate from males because their sigs are more visible.
Also, the flowers of female plants bloom later than those of males. So, if you notice some plants flowering faster than others, those are most certainly male plants, as it takes longer for female flowers to bloom. Of course, there are other signs indicating a female plant:
- In the node area on the stalk, from where branches shoot, you should notice stigmas; the stigmas are like small buds with two thin antennas coming out;
- The flowers, once they open, will have white, cream, or yellow color, compared to the green color of male flowers;
- Their pistils have a whitish color and feature a hairy-like aspect, as they are meant to catch the pollen falling from male plants;
- The stem is slightly shorter in terms of height and presents a higher number of branches than male plants, or at least the branches appear closer to one another;
Other signs that confirm the gender of a plant
The way plants develop
Up to a point, all plants will look the same. They will have the same height and shape. But, as you found out earlier, a male will start growing faster than females. This is why they will be taller and have a longer stem, with fewer branches on it.
Because they have to grow taller, they won’t invest too much energy into growing too many branches. This particular sign is not guaranteed to help you separate males from females. But it will let you know what plants to keep an eye on.
Female plants that are not pollinated will produce buds with higher levels of THC. This is why finding out the males before they spread their pollen is useful for your yield. Thus, if you notice signs indicating male plants as soon as possible, it is worth keeping an eye on their development.
Look for further signs that prove you’re dealing with a male plant, before taking any decision. Also, female plants remain shorter and will appear bushier, due to a higher number of branches they produce.
Check to see how the seeds have sprouted
Did it occur to you that the way seeds sprout may give you a clue to their gender, later on? This is not a method backed up by science, but according to experienced cannabis growers, it has a success rate of up to 90%. It doesn’t hurt to try and it will definitely give you a heads up.
How to use this method?
Well, you will have to keep an eye on seeds once they start germinating. If the young plant sprouted through the top or bottom of the seeds, there are high chances it is going to be a female plant. If the plant sprouted on the sides, then you may end up with a male plant.
Bear in mind that such predictions are not accurate, so you should not rush into drawing any conclusions. What you can do is to write down your findings and suspicions, further documenting the development of your plants. Give them the chance to grow and show other signs of gender before reaching a conclusion. You will eventually find out if your suspicions were true or not.
Learn more about:
Cloning the plants will give you full control over their gender
If you want to be sure of the plants’ gender right from the start, the only certain method that will get you there is cloning. Because cloning assumes using a plant that is already mature, you will already know the sex of the clones. So, there’s no guessing around this method and you’ll have precisely the gender you want. As you may suspect, cloning means getting a cut fragment out of a mature plant. There’s no need to worry about harming the plant because if you do it right, there are no risks involved. Also, the method is simpler than it may sound. Just make sure to respect the following steps:
- Choose a healthy, mature plant for cutting;
- Select the fragment of plant that you are about to cut;
- Cut the fragment by using a sharp tool that was previously disinfected;
- Put the cut fragment into potting soil;
- Make sure the soil is sufficiently moist, to encourage the growth of roots;
- Grow the plant by respecting the same rules as with the rest of the cannabis plants;
- Flowering can be forced on the clone after just a couple of days of growth, by using the 12-12 light schedule;
You should keep track of clones and their hosts, knowing which came from where. This way, you will not have issues knowing the gender of each of your clones. Because the clone has the same DNA as its host, it is a method that usually works and the clones will end up having the same gender as the host.
However, even it is a rather simple process, it can be quite troublesome and top results are not guaranteed. Just think about the fact that the clones need to adapt quickly and grow roots, just to be forced into flowering. You should know that mature plants can also be forced into flowering, so you don’t need clones for this process.
Learn everthing about Cloning Cannabis here:
The connection between flowering and reproduction of plants
The plants are ready for reproduction once there are mature and have their gender fully developed. You need to know that this process is all about because both flowering and reproduction will influence your culture and yield. The better you understand these processes, the more you will be able to control your cannabis culture and obtain high-quality results.
The formation of flowers on female plants
When it comes to female plants, the stigmas are the formations responsible for the plant’s reproduction. The stigmas are the female version of pollen, and the interaction of these two leads to the reproduction of the plant. But before stigmas appear on the plant, the cola emerges.
The cola is actually a cluster containing several buds. This forms at the junction of the main stem and its branches, in the upper half of the plant. The cola contains a number of pistils, which, in their turn, contain the previously mentioned stigmas.
The buds of female plants are the ones preparing the female flowers for pollination. When the buds open, the female plants are in bloom and are ready to be fertilized by the male plants. As the cola grows, it stretches and forms the buds. The buds, as well, produce flowers at their top.
From the flowers, long pistils emerge, pushing the stigmas even further. This is how the female plants are getting ready to catch the pollen that will fall from above, scattered by male plants, which grow taller.
So, as you can see, the male plant grows taller while the female plant stretches its flowers and stigmas to capture the pollen. Everything has an order in the natural world that makes things work right.
It is worth mentioning that pollination can happen regardless of the color of the stigmas. In certain conditions, the color of the stigmas can change, but that’s not an indicator that the plant has become infertile. Even if the stigmas die, like after heavy rain in the case of plants grown outdoors, pollination can still occur.
Which part of the flower produces the precious resin?
If you have basic knowledge about cannabis plants, you probably know that resin is the most prized good offered by these plants. The precious resin is produced by female plants, during their flowering process.
If you take a closer look at a female cannabis flower, you will notice thin “hairs”, called trichomes. These “hairs” are responsible for the production of resin, which will be found on nearby flowers and leaves.
To get the resin, you will have to handle the buds with extreme care. This substance is quite fragile, as it forms in the shape of tiny balls connected by a minuscule neck. So, if you treat the buds roughly, there are high chances for these resin balls to break and fall on the ground, instead of being harvested by you.
Details about pollination
As a cannabis grower looking to enjoy a good yield and precious buds, one thing is certain and that is the fact that pollination must not happen. If it does, the flowers produced by the female plants will begin to change and lose part of their value to a cannabis user. Let us explain more, so you’ll understand why you need to keep female flowers away from pollen.
When the male flower is mature, it will release pollen granules with the purpose of reaching the stigmas produced by the female flowers. When this happens, the small pollen granule will fall into the pistil, reaching the egg waiting for it inside. The union of the pollen and egg will produce cannabis seeds.
You should understand that the cannabis plants, both males and females, were made to increase their chances of pollination. Out in nature, this increases the chances of the species to survive, through the production of new plants.
Thus, pollen can last for several days in a row, in a variety of environments. Female plants will also do their best to increase the chances of pollination. They will invest energy into growing longer pistils, with the hope they will manage to catch some pollen.
However, the pistils will not live forever. Once they reach their maturity, they will start to die, which means that the stigmas will also fade away. At this point, pollination is not possible. But, when the pistils die, the production of resin slows down gradually as well. In a short while, the trichomes carrying the resin balls will break as well.
Slowly but surely, the plant will begin to die, heading toward the end of its life. This should not scare you, as the degradation of pistils happens gradually, giving you plenty of time to collect the harvest.
What are auto-flowering plants and what are their advantages/disadvantages?
If you did some research about cannabis plants, you probably came across the term “auto-flowering” plants. They are indeed different than regular plants, which flower at the end of the summer when days are getting shorter and nights to have more hours. So, in this case, light is the factor that triggers the flowering process. This is why regular cannabis plants require a 12-12 light schedule to start flowering.
Auto-flowering plants, on the other hand, are not influenced by light. Even if they receive 24 hours of light per day, they will still enter their flowering stage.
Why opt for auto-flowering plants? These plants are ideal for those living in areas where the weather is unpredictable or where there’s no real winter. Also, they are great for anyone looking to enjoy more than one harvest per season. This is due to the fact that these plants will go on with their growth and flowering cycle regardless of light.
For beginners, these plants could be a great way to start because they offer a harvest fast and there is no need to identify the gender of the plants. These plants are ready for harvest in about 10 weeks, so the process is far quicker than regular cannabis plants.
Also, they are smaller and can be easily grown indoors or in small spaces. However, they will not raise the quality standards of flowers that flower regularly. They can be fun to have, don’t need too much attention, will provide buds to harvest, but the quality won’t be the best.
Learn more about:
Why should pollination be avoided?
Earlier in this guide, we talked about sinsemilla plants, which are female cannabis plants without seeds. In order to avoid the production of seeds, you will have to pay extra attention to the flowering process.
Why do some cannabis growers prefer sinsemilla cannabis plants?
Because the plants are not investing in the production of seeds, their energy goes elsewhere. Thus, it was noticed that cannabis plants that don’t make seeds produce instead of a larger number of trichomes.
This means more resin and more potency. Under these circumstances, it’s no wonder people prefer doing things this way. So, in the case of sinsemilla plants, pollination is utterly avoided.
The plants will invest more energy in its buds
When pollination happens, the buds will use their energy to create seeds. If this doesn’t happen any longer, this energy will be invested in the production of flowers. And when more flowers are produced, more trichomes will also appear. While seeds are needed for the survival of the plants, cannabis growers appreciate the plant’s resin more.
If you want, you can select several plants for seed production, but prevent the rest of the culture from this process in order to obtain more resin. Resin is very important if you plan to smoke cannabis, as resin provides the flavor, strength, and effects that make cannabis so appreciated.
So, when seeds are not produced, the flowering area is gradually covered by trichomes rich in resin.
Growing sinsemilla plants can be quite difficult
Even it is may seem simple, it is not that easy to prevent pollination from happening. This is why growing sinsemilla plants can be a challenging task. This makes this type of plants more expensive, together with their quality degree, which is higher than the average.
The reason experienced cannabis growers choose this plant is because female plants can be pollinated by male plants even if they are a mile away. So, it’s best to completely separate female plants from male plants. And this means not just to move them slightly further away.
Also, errors may occur when trying to determine the sex of the plants. One or several male plants may escape your eyesight and that could compromise the entire culture.
Of course, pollinated plants don’t mean you won’t have a harvest. It means that the quality of your harvest will be lower in this case. If this happens, there’s no need to panic or freak out. Mistakes happen and they are part of the learning process. Next time you’ll be more careful when it comes to your plants, without a doubt.
You should know that accidental pollination may occur, even when it is not desired. One flower or plant pollination does not mean the end of your crop. A plant has several other flowers, so a few seeds is not such a great deal.
In case you suspect accidental pollination or simply want to make sure it didn’t happen, check your plant for calyx rings that are swollen. They are located below the stigmas and will be a confirmation that the pollination happened. If so, you can choose to pick the seeds or simply let them be. No matter what you choose to do, you will still enjoy a nice harvest.
Learn more about:
You may want to hold onto several seeds
Let’s say you came across a cannabis strain that tastes wonderfully or is capable of providing the effects you’re looking for. In this case, you may want to keep some seeds for your future crop.
Having seeds may allow you to enjoy continuity when it comes to growing cannabis, without having to buy seeds all the time. At the same time, if you’re growing several strains of cannabis at once, trying to figure out which one is best, the seeds will give you the chance to do some selection. So, it may be worth allowing several plants to produce seeds.
Once the seeds are ready, make sure you store them in adequate conditions. If the seeds will get spoiled, they won’t germinate and you’ll end up having unpleasant surprises when you’ll want to start a new crop.
Also, it is recommended to label the seeds and pay extra attention when they germinate into plants. The idea is to see which seeds were most productive and sprouted into healthy plants.
You see, growing cannabis is a journey that requires a lot of experimentation, information gathering, and collecting personal experiences. After a while, you’ll be able to know what works best and what strains and methods provide the most desirable results.
Why female plants are most prized?
When growing cannabis plants, it is extremely important to identify the sexes and know which is what. Without this knowledge, you will never get a satisfying yield and quality results. Even if you start out small, with just a few plants, you need to handle this kind of information right.
Even if female plants reach maturity later than male plants, once they reached this stage, it is fairly easy to identify them. They have clear, distinctive marks that set them apart from the rest. Considering that they are the ones producing those resin-rich buds, it is easy to understand why they are favorized.
Many cannabis growers usually choose to completely remove male plants, avoiding the risks of pollination and ensuring the survival of female plants only. Is this the right thing to do? Well, before throwing away male plants, you’d better seriously consider whether you need seeds or not. Without male plants, the production of seeds is impossible.
They will clearly let you know when they are getting ready to enter the flowering stage. Before developing any flowers, they will grow two whiskers at the junction of the main stem with a branch. These whiskers will appear like being covered with tiny white hairs. This is where the buds will form, later on.
Male plants don’t have these whiskers, as they have only a cluster of tiny sacs, green and without any hairs on them. Once the whiskers emerge, the buds will appear very soon. Once you see whiskers growing in pairs at the base of branches, it is a confirmation that you’re dealing with a female plant.
Learn more about:
- Cannabis Seedlings Care – How to care for Marijuana Seedlings
- How to germinate Cannabis seeds – Weed seed Germination
What to do with male plants?
If you discover male plants in your garden, you may feel sorry for the plants and wonder whether there’s a better way for them. After all, you don’t want pollination to happen, but it’s so sad to toss a plant that is perfectly happy.
Well, there is good news in this case, as there are alternatives for the plants that turn out to be males. Here are some great uses of male plants:
Turn them into plant-based fibers
Cannabis plants, regardless of their gender, can be used for the making of plant-based fibers. However, the fibers provided by male plants are softer and more suitable for making blankets and clothes. So, instead of throwing male plants, this is a good option to consider. Just put them in a separate room if you want to avoid pollination.
Keep them for producing seeds
If you want to do the selection process on your own or avoid buying seeds every time you want to start a new crop, you’ll need male plants for seeds. You don’t need too many plants to obtain a sufficient number of seeds for the next generation.
So, select a few males and females that will be used for reproduction only. Of course, you can always use clones, as it is easier. However, clones tend to be quite fragile at first and not all of them will successfully grow roots. Besides this, growing plants from seeds, seeds you produced on your own, is more exciting than using clones.
They can be easily processed into hash
While the THC levels are lower in male plants, they still have it in every part. Male plants are indeed not suitable for smoking, but their leaves, stems, and other parts of the plants can be used for the making of other cannabis products. Cannabis can be used in very many ways, not just for smoking, so there’s a chance for male plants to exploit the THC they have.
They can be used as a protection for your garden
If you have a vegetable garden, for example, male cannabis plants can be great sentinels for the garden. Because these plants contain terpenes, they have the power to keep pests and diseases at bay.
All you need to do is to create a protective fence around your garden made out of male cannabis plants. You can also use the plants to obtain terpene oil, which is an organic pesticide you can use on your garden to discourage the presence of pests.
What are hermaphrodite cannabis plants?
When it comes to the natural world, one of the greatest battles out there is for the survival of the species. Every species, whether it’s about plants or animals, wishes to do its best to produce future generations. The same rule applies to cannabis as well.
In some instances, the plant chooses to become a hermaphrodite, to maximize reproduction and the appearance of new plants. So, a hermaphrodite cannabis plant is a plant that will develop both reproductive organs.
In other words, you will be able to see clusters of buds and whiskers on the same plant. Thus, the plant will end up producing pollen and female flowers with stigmas as well. Growers may not like them, but we have to admit that they are a great mechanism meant to ensure the success of the species.
Why do plants turn into hermaphrodites?
What pushes cannabis plants to turn into hermaphrodites? This transformation is usually a response to stressful environmental factors. When the plant realizes that the environmental factors are improper for reproduction or when pollination is less likely to happen, it may choose to walk on this path. So, this can happen before the plant begins its flowering stage.
It is good to know that a plant is not firm on gender when it comes to producing flowers. If needed, the plant will change its mind when getting ready to produce flowers. As a general rule, cannabis plants will produce flowers of one single gender. But, in some cases, a plant can present both flowers in the end. What pushes a plant to do this? This is a list of factors that can influence and appearance of hermaphrodites or “hermies”:
- The light-darkness schedule presents a set of issues;
- The light to which the plants are subjected may be too bright;
- Temperatures that have higher values;
- Deficiencies when it comes to nutrients;
- Problems with the pH values;
- Insufficient water or its absence for longer periods;
- Plants that have a poor genetics background;
- Feminized seeds, especially if the resulted plants are used for making clones;
Different types of hermies
It is worth mentioning that there are different types of cannabis hermies. There are plants that feature more female flowers than male flowers. In this case, if you remove the male flowers the plant will continue functioning as a female plant.
There’s the case where the number of female flowers is equal or almost equal to the number of male flowers. These are the kind of hermies most likely to pollinate themselves. And then there are the plants with a higher number of male flowers. These hermies will work as male plants.
It is important to know what kind of hermie you have in your crop, so you will know what measures to take. For instance, true hermies will feature round pollen sacks, just like in the case of male plants. This type of hermie will also present female reproductive organs on the same stem.
Banana hermies, on the other hand, have the sacks shaped by a bunch of bananas. This type of hermies starts out as female plants at first, which, due to stress factors, shift to the male side.
Banana hermies are more dangerous than other hermies because their pollen sacks don’t need to open in order to release pollen. The “bananas” are actually bear male reproductive organs, so as soon as they appear, they will start releasing pollen.
This is why by the time you notice them, it may be too late, as pollination already occurred. Also, the banana bunch may have a yellow or lime green color, so they may display a different color than regular pollen sacks.
What to do with hermies?
When having hermies around, the risk is that they will produce more hermies if they pollinate themselves. So, in most cases, it is best to remove them completely. This is especially recommended for banana hermies, which can pollinate a good number of plants in their vicinity.
However, it is also possible to prune a plant instead of throwing them. If you’re dealing with regular pollen sacks that need to open in order to spread pollen, removing them entirely will solve the matter.
This way, you allow only female flowers to continue developing on the plant. Just make sure to cut out the pollen sacks before the have the chance to pop open.