How to determine plant gender

Did you know plants have genders?

Cannabis Plant Gender

What do plants, humans, and animals have in common? They all have genders.

The desirable sex for cannabis is female since they produce the buds that contain the compounds sought most often for their medical and psychoactive properties. The relationship between the female and male cannabis plant needs to be understood, and the ability to recognize the differences are crucial to the grower.

I hope to help you understand these relationships, how to identify the sex of the plant and why any of this matters.

Boys will be boys girls will be girls.

Male cannabis plants don’t produce buds they produce pollen sacs, their sole purpose is being a pollinator. Female cannabis plants produce buds, think of the bud as a womb for the seeds. Buds produce pistils which look like hairs they also produce resin a natural adhesive that makes the pistils sticky to capture pollen.

Why do I care?

The most valuable part of a marijuana plant is seedless high potency buds. Assuring the maximum yield requires removing any male plants to avoid pollination of the buds which will create seeds and diminish resin production. The resin which contains THC continues and even increases production the longer a female goes without pollination. The resulting seedless high potency buds provide the value most growers are seeking.

Not sure if you’re a boy or girl? 

So how do we know who is who when they all look so similar? With experience, it is possible to quickly determine if a marijuana plant is a male or female. There is a preflower stage within about a month from germination the plants will develop small leaves that have subtle differences between the sexes.

Preflowers in female plants are longer than male preflowers, and they are slender growing from the crotches of the plant as seen on the left side hand of this articles photo. Male preflowers create a leaf that is more similar to a ball growing on a short stalk as seen on the right-hand side of this articles photo.

Missing the signs in the preflower stage isn’t a big deal. When the light cycle goes to 12-12, the female flowers will generate more and more pistils that will be easy to identify as buds. The Male plants will develop what many call dingleberries, the pollen sacs will become obvious, and the plants begin to look very different.

Wait a minute this plant has features of males and females.

Sometimes a plant will display features from both sexes. You may find a plant or plants that are generating pistils and pollen sacs together. These plants are called hermaphrodites several factors can cause a plant to become a hermaphrodite.

Factors that can cause a plant to become a hermaphrodite include.

  • seeds that are hermaphrodites from the start
  • severe changes in the PH levels of water or soil
  • inconsistent timing or the disrupting of the light cycle
  • harvesting too late or too long after the growth cycle has completed.
  • failure to achieve temperature control and consistency

Hermaphrodites will pollinate themselves as well as females.

If you do notice a hermaphrodite remove it from your females as soon as discovered. Isolate the plant or use tweezers to remove the features and continue to grow the hermaphrodite with the females. If you choose the latter option make sure you remove all the male parts and recheck them after ten days to remove any male organs you may have missed or have grown since the prior removal.