male vs female cannabis - Understanding your Cannabis plant’s gender
Congratulations, it’s a girl! This is exactly the type of response cannabis growers want! Especially in the male vs female cannabis debate.
In the world of cannabis horticulture, there isn’t so much a battle for gender supremacy as there is a desire for a dominant self seeding plant species.
We’ll come on to the reasons why female marijuana plants are more desirable than male plants but first of all let’s take a look at the anatomy of a cannabis plant to give us a basic understanding of the subject.
What are the main parts of a cannabis plant?
All weed starts out equal… well, as far as seeds are concerned anyway. Regular cannabis seeds are produced in female cannabis plants and carry the male and female genetics.
As with all plants, when the seeds begin to grow they develop roots.
It is impossible to differentiate between male and female cannabis at this stage!
Feminized seeds have become very popular in recent years as a way to ‘guarantee’ that you will produce female plants.
There are 3 types of leaves that grow on Cannabis plants:
Firstly tiny leaves called cotyledon leaves are the first leaves to grow from the seed after germination.
Their main purpose is to capture light for the plant.
Finally sugar leaves are the small, resin-coated leaves that buds form around. Sugar leaves can be harvested alongside the bud and used for various other cannabis products.
Roots grow down from the main stalk of the plant into the soil. The main root is called the “taproot,” so called because it is shaped like a tap.
Roots are the lifelines of a cannabis plant, pulling water and oxygen into the plant so it can grow well.
The main stem, or main stalk of the plant grows straight up from the roots and gives a plant structure from which branches sprout off.
Cannabis breeders cut off the stem after about five nodes, to promote side growth, creating more bud sites.
This is why cannabis plants are often bushy and not always very tall.
Nodes of the plant
The plant’s nodes are the points at which the branches grow off the main stem, or one branch from another branch. To maximize the buds on a plant, nodes are important.
When determining the sex of the plant, pre-flowers will appear at the nodes.
Also known as “buds,” the flowers of a cannabis plant are where the magic happens. They contain the cannabinoids and terpenes that get you high or offer health benefits. Cannabis buds are the only places that high concentrations of these are found.
Female cannabis plants produce buds whereas males do not, this is why making sure your plant is female is pretty essential if the CBD or THC content is what you’re looking for.
Stigma and pistil
The pistil contains the reproductive parts of a flower, and the vibrant, hair-like strands of the pistil are called stigmas. Stigmas are the female reproductive organs and serve to collect pollen from males.
The hair-like stigma of the pistil starts as wispy white hairs and progressively darkens to yellow, orange, red, or brown over the course of the plant’s maturation. Their main role is in reproduction.
It’s hard to miss the resinous buds on a fully grown cannabis plant, this appearance is given by what we now know as trichomes.
Plants originally developed trichomes to protect against predators and the elements. These clear bulbous globes ooze aromatic oils called terpenes as well as therapeutic cannabinoids like THC and CBD.
How to determine the sex of cannabis plants
In essence the answer to the above question is quite straightforward. Female marijuana plants produce flowers and males produce small pollen sacs near the base of the leaves instead.
Male pollen sacs can be seen at the beginning of the flowering stage as the early growth of small sacs begins in male plants, flower formation starts to take place on nodes of the female plant.
Male plants pollinate females to initiate seed production, but the buds we consume come from seedless female plants—these are called “sinsemilla,” meaning “seedless buds.”
Cannabis breeders can ensure the sex of their plants by growing clones or the genetically identical clippings from a parent strain.
This is a more efficient way of guaranteeing an entire crop of harvestable plants. A grow room can be decimated by poor genetics found in feminized seeds that turn out to be regular seeds.
Male plants bear no use to recreational cannabis growers, other than to create different strains. However they are useful as hemp plants in the production of hemp fiber.
Vegetative stage vs Flowering phase
Marijuana has two primary stages of life; the vegetative stage and the flowering stage.
The vegetative stage begins when the cannabis seed starts to sprout and grow. It lasts around six weeks. At that point, the plant displays signs of pre-flowering and will enter into the flowering stage.
The vegetative stage is not dissimilar to the early stages of human life. The objective of the plant is to become bigger and stronger, solely concentrating on growth.
The sex of your plant is uncertain at this point.
Next the plant will start to pre-flower, entering into the flowering stage. At this point the plant has reached its optimum height and thickness and female weed plants will focus solely on producing buds and male plants will produce pollen.
Experienced growers will be able to manipulate environmental factors such as using high temperatures, optimum hours of light, and growing space to get the most potent buds from different plants.
Hermaphrodite Cannabis Plants
In rare cases, hermaphroditic plants can be found, these contain both male and female sex organs.
Hermaphrodite plants come into existence when weed plants become stressed. This could happen for a number of reasons including:
- Plant damage
- Bad weather
- Nutrient deficiencies
According to leafly there are two types of hermaphrodite plants:
- A plant that develops both buds and pollen sacks
- A plant that produces anthers, commonly referred to as “bananas” due to their appearance
While both result in pollen production, true hermaphrodite cannabis plants produce sacs that need to rupture; anthers are exposed, pollen-producing stamen.
Because this occurs when cannabis is under stress, it’s important to monitor plants after they have been exposed to plant stressors: indoors, high temperatures or light leaks are often the cause; outdoors, a snapped branch might be repaired and then turn into a hermaphrodite.
The other primary cause of hermaphrodite plants lies in its genetics—a plant with poor genetics or a history of hermaphroditic development should be avoided to protect your garden.