Cannabis plants are not gender neutral. There are female plants, from which the actual bud flower comes. Male plants produce the pollen. However, the cannabis plant is a bit odd in this respect. Female plants can turn hermaphrodite in certain circumstances - meaning they are both male and female. This happens in a situation where the plant is highly stressed, and fears for its ongoing survival. It becomes both genders as a last resort to self-pollinate and continue to spread seeds.

CANNABIS IS FROM BOTH MARS AND VENUS

Regular cannabis seeds are usually about 50% male and 50% female. The female plants produce bud cannabis. Male plants produce seed pods. They can also produce tiny amounts of THC via trichomes on the leaves. However, if you are not growing your cannabis as a science experiment don’t mess with male plants. It is a waste of time.

Obviously, particularly to the non-expert, all seeds look alike. That is why it is so important when growing cannabis, to buy seeds from a dealer or seed bank. While the plant is in the early stages of growing, it is also impossible to determine gender.

There is only one more problem. Cannabis plants can be both male and female in the right circumstances.

hermaphrodite plants comparison male and female pre-flower cannabis

CANNABIS AND THE SEXES

Cannabis is actually much like other plants - with most having this ability. In essence, female plants have the ability to develop male characteristics. This usually occurs thanks to environmental stress. Plants will develop male characteristics at a certain point in the grow cycle in an effort to ensure seeds are produced before the stressor can kill the plant.

Such stress includes changes to hours of darkness during flowering, dramatic changes in temperature, drought and physical damage.

There are other environmental factors which can stress a plant into a sex conversion. This includes as a reaction to insects or disease. It can also occur with the use or overuse of certain kinds of pesticides and fungicides.

However, this tendency is also considered to be a sign of inferior plants. A good mother plant will not show signs of hermaphroditism even when subjected to this kind of stress. All cannabis can turn, but high-quality genetics will resist the urge the most.

As in the human world, hermaphrodite plants are considered a bit strange. In the cannabis one, they are dreaded. Breeders suggest removing such plants from a grow. The reason? They could create accidental pollination of the buds. If a pollen sac from one of these plants is allowed to come in contact with the buds of other plants, those buds will stop developing. They will instead, produce more flowers and seeds.

WHEN DO CANNABIS PLANTS SHOW GENDER?

The first sign of gender appears at the V shape on the plant where stalk meets stem. The plant will develop little green shoots or pre-flowers here. The plant may show pre-flowers when in the vegetative or growing stage. This is also more the case when the plant is a clone.

However, there are other ways to find out if any of your plants are hermaphrodites. The first is to check the kind of flowers they produce. The second comes at the end of the growing process. However, it is important to check before you grow the next time. If you find seeds in your harvested bud and you know you have no males, you have a hermaphrodite plant.

cannabis pre-flower illustration

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

The first answer is an established breeder. The best way to start with an all-female crop is to buy the feminized seeds from an established source.

However, since this is a problem that will not disappear during the growing process, here are some guidelines for checking your grow.

Female plants take a bit longer than males to show signs of gender after flowering. The plants begin to develop a few wispy white hairs where the buds will soon grow. These flowers begin to form between the stalk and stem. Female pistils are always white (never green).

Male plants literally have grape-sized “balls” of pollen. The balls will show up about a week or two after the plant has entered the flowering stage. They also produce a growth that is a distinct yellow colour and look a bit like bananas.

If the male is allowed to continue growing, the pollen sacs will burst open. The pollen they spill can contaminate your other plants.

Hermaphrodite plants have both male and female flowers. That is also why it is so important to remove them.

female calyx cannabis

ISN’T THIS LIKE ROCKET SCIENCE?

While it sounds complicated, it really isn’t. Growers who start with the right seeds and maintain a healthy grow environment do not have many problems. For this reason, however, it is important to watch your cannabis plants.

It is fairly easy to spot the difference in buds as the plants mature. That is also why it is generally a good idea to grow more than one plant – even the first time. Observation, practice and patience are the keys to a good and healthy grow. Feminized seeds produce femal plants 99% of time, and should one turn hemaphrodite, simply take care to remove it.

 

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