When it comes to cannabis plants, females are the superior sex growing the buds we know and love. Male cannabis plants will grow pollen sacs instead of beautiful buds and are usually discarded so they do not pollinate the females. It is important to identify the sex of your plants, especially when growing with regular seeds to avoid males pollinating females and ruining your crop. A pollinated female wastes precious energy producing seeds instead of buds, and who wants to smoke seedy bud?
While males have their role in the breeding process, that is generally better left to the cannabis seed breeding experts. Males provide half the genetic makeup of cannabis seeds, although male plants alone will produce low THC content with low potency and are generally used only for producing seeds.
How to Identify Male Cannabis Plants
In general, males will grow taller than females, will have thicker stalks to support increased height, and will have fewer leaves.
1) Sex your plants around weeks 3-6 – Both male and female cannabis plants will look identical for about the first 6 weeks, until they begin to develop their sex organs which appear at the nodes (the joint where other branches of leaves come out from the stem). By the sixth week, pre-flowers will appear at the nodes with male plants showing growth of small sacs or clusters, or what looks like a small tear-shaped bud. These small sacs produce pollen, which is why males must be removed for a better crop.
On a female plant, you will see hair-like stigma protruding from these buds, while males will be bare, with no hair. These hairless sacs are the main indicator of a male plant.
2) Males will have sturdier, thicker stalks with fewer leaves – males will grow with a thicker stalk to support increased height and weight. They will also have fewer leaves than female plants.
3) Male plants show their sex first – male cannabis plants reveal their sex up to 10 days earlier than females when growing indoors, and as much as three weeks earlier than females for outdoor crops. It is important to check your plants regularly from July to September and be sure you’ve weeded out the males.
Be sure to check your plants regularly because if males are allowed to fertilize your females, they will severely lower your potential crop. Even one rogue male can wreck your entire harvest.
How to Identify Female Cannabis Plants
1) Look for fuller bodies of leaves – an easy indicator of female vs. male is a bushier body of leaves. Female plants of the same strain will be bushier and shorter, with more leaves particularly towards the top.
2) Check nodes for small hairs – look at the joints, where branches meet the stem, for small, translucent hairs coming out of the tear-shaped buds. Males will have the same tear shaped buds, or sacs, but without the hair, which also called a pistil.
3) Plants can be hermaphroditic – some plants can grow both male and female sex organs, pollen sacs and pistils. These plants should be treated as males and discarded. A “hermie” can ruin a small crop with pollen and should be removed like a male.
The pistil is there to attract pollen. If it gets pollinated from a male, it will get busy making seeds instead of big buds full of THC.
Remove and Discard Male Cannabis Plants
Only female marijuana plants produce enough THC for medicinal purposes, but they will not produce enough THC if they become fertilized. Identify the sex of your plants as early as possible, check your young plants daily until you are sure of the sex of your plants. Most growers will remove and discard the males, unless keeping them around for breeding. If this is something you have some experience with, be sure to keep the males far away from the females, in a separate room and be careful to not track pollen into the female room, from the male room. Pollen can be tracked on your hands and even on clothing and can easily pollinate the females if not extremely careful.
We recommend tossing the males, unless you have some experience with breeding. Now days, there isn’t much need to kick it old school and weed out males from a crop of regular seeds as feminized seeds almost always guarantee all female plants. Even when growing with feminized seeds, you should still carefully identify the sex of each plant to be sure.
Mosca Seeds offers regular photoperiod seeds, feminized autoflowers, and feminized photoperiod seeds in a variety of strains with cannabis cup award-winning strains and exciting new drops. Choose from “in da couch” indica, a sativa strain for a little more creative energy, or a blend for the best of both worlds. Check out our seed menu and remember to identify male vs. female cannabis plants when home growing for a successful crop!