Growing cannabis can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it’s important to know how to properly identify the sex of your plants. Sexing marijuana plants is crucial to ensure a successful harvest and maximize your yields. In this article, we will explore how to determine the sex of your cannabis plants, why it’s important and how to distinguish between male and female plants. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced grower, understanding the sex of your cannabis plants is a fundamental step in producing high-quality buds.
Feminized vs regular seeds
Male cannabis plants are in the grand scheme of things worthless unless you’re breeding your plant with a different strain since only female plants produce the high-THC buds that most growers are after. With that being said, knowing which seeds you’re growing from is an important step to determining whether your plants will be male or female.
Regular cannabis seeds are produced by crossing a male cannabis plant with a female cannabis plant, resulting in seeds with a 50/50 chance of producing either a male or female plant. On the other hand, feminized cannabis seeds are created by manipulating the genetics of a female cannabis plant to ensure that it produces only female seeds.
The benefits of using feminized cannabis seeds are clear. When you grow feminized seeds, you can be confident that every plant will be female. With regular seeds, you have to keep an eye on your plants and remove any male plants before they have a chance to pollinate your female plants.
If you accidentally let a male plant pollinate your females, you’ll end up with a crop of low-THC, seedy buds that are no good for smoking. Because feminized seeds eliminate this risk, they are the go-to choice for most commercial and home growers alike. However, feminized seeds tend to be more expensive than regular seeds, which is something to keep in mind if you’re on a tight budget.
It’s also important to note that not all strains are available in feminized form. Some of the newer, more unique genetics are only available in ‘regular’ form, so if you’re looking to grow these newer strains, you need to be ready to test their sex as early as possible to ensure they’re female (more on the best way to do that below).
Why sexing cannabis plants is important
Sexing marijuana plants is an essential part of cultivating a successful cannabis garden. It’s important to determine the sex of your plants early on so you can remove any male plants before they have a chance to pollinate your female plants. Pollination of female plants by male plants can result in a reduction in the quality and potency of your cannabis harvest.
Female plants are the ones that produce the resinous buds that we all know and love, while male plants produce pollen sacs that are responsible for fertilizing female plants to produce seeds. If male plants are allowed to pollinate your female plants, the resulting buds will be full of seeds and have lower levels of THC, making them less potent and less desirable. By removing male plants early on, you can ensure that your female plants produce the highest quality and most potent buds possible. Additionally, sexing weed plants can also help you plan your garden and ensure that you have the right number of plants for your space and goals.
When to sex cannabis plants
The right time for sexing marijuana plants varies depending on the growing conditions and the genetics of the plant. Generally, cannabis plants start showing their sex during the pre-flowering stage, which occurs after the vegetative growth stage and before the flowering stage. This is usually between 4-6 weeks after planting the seed. At this point, it is important to examine the plants closely and look for signs of male or female sex organs.
How to tell the difference between male and female cannabis plants
While cannabis plants all look similar, there are a few physical tells to determine whether or not your plant is male or female. Firstly, look at the plant’s nodes. Nodes are the points on the stem where branches and leaves grow, and they are where cannabis plants will show their sex. Male plants will develop small, round balls called pollen sacs or staminate flowers at the nodes, while female plants will develop long, white hairs called pistils or pistillate flowers. These hairs will grow out of a small, tear-shaped calyx and will eventually develop into a dense, resinous bud.
Secondly, examine the shape of the plant. Male cannabis plants tend to have a taller, skinnier appearance with fewer branches than females. Their leaves are often thinner and more elongated, with less pronounced serrations along the edges. Female plants, on the other hand, tend to be shorter and bushier with more branches and wider leaves. Their leaves are often more rounded with more prominent serrations.
Lastly, pay attention to the smell. Male cannabis plants do not produce the same resinous aroma as females. Instead, they emit a pollen-like odor that is less pungent and less desirable. Female plants, on the other hand, produce the strong, skunky odor that is commonly associated with cannabis.
Telling the difference between male and female cannabis plants requires attention to detail and keen observation. Look for nodes, examine the plant’s shape, and pay attention to the aroma. With practice, you’ll be able to spot the difference between male and female plants at a glance.
Identifying a male cannabis plant
Male cannabis plants can be visually distinguished by their tall and skinny appearance. They have fewer branches than their female counterparts and their leaves are often thinner and more elongated, with less pronounced serrations along the edges. At the nodes, male cannabis plants will develop small, round pollen sacs or staminate flowers, which are typically green and grow in clusters. Many growers compare them to a bushel of upside down bananas. These pollen sacs will eventually burst open and release pollen into the air, fertilizing nearby female plants. Male cannabis plants do not produce the same resinous buds as female plants, and instead, they emit a pollen-like odor that is less pungent and less desirable.
Identifying a female cannabis plant
On the other hand, we have female cannabis plants. Female cannabis plants have a shorter, bushier appearance with more branches than their male counterparts. They have wider leaves with more prominent serrations along the edges. At the nodes, female cannabis plants will develop long, white hairs called pistils or pistillate flowers, which grow out of the small, tear-shaped calyx. These pistils will eventually develop into a dense, resinous bud rich in THC. Female cannabis plants produce the strong, skunky odor that is commonly associated with cannabis, which is an indicator of their potency. Overall, female cannabis plants have a more robust appearance and emit a more potent aroma than male plants, making them the preferred choice for growers looking to cultivate high-quality buds.
Identifying sex earlier using cannabis sex testing services
If you don’t want to wait for your plants sex organs to appear after about 6 weeks, you can save lots of time, money, and stress by getting your plants DNA tested via third party. DNA-based testing services can identify male plants much earlier than traditional visual inspections in as few as two weeks or after the second set of leaves develop.
It can cost up to $20 to grow a cannabis plant for the 6 weeks it takes for it to display its organs. By identifying male plants early on, growers can optimize their resources, canopy space, and labor by removing the males and focusing on nurturing the female plants. However, DNA testing is also helpful if you’re interested in breeding your plants and making new strains. You can skip the need to care for seedlings by getting them genetically tested to guarantee they’re female.
Farmer Freeman is a DNA sex testing service provider that can test the plant from only the cotyledon leaf, which is the first leaf that grows after sprouting from seed. This means the plant’s sex can be determined as early as 5-7 days from germination, depending on the rate of growth.
Learning to distinguish between male and female cannabis plants is an essential skill for any cannabis grower. You can use the information above to help you identify and remove male plants to prevent pollination, which can lead to lower-quality buds. Knowing the difference between males and females will also help you select the best female plants to cultivate, ensuring a higher yield of potent, resinous buds. By understanding the visual differences between male and female plants, you’re well on your way to a successful, high-quality harvest.
All photos provided courtesy of BreedBros, specialists in the art of cannabis breeding.