Sexing Cannabis

Sexing Cannabis

Sexing Cannabis

Plants have several different ways to reproduce. The most common method is sexual reproduction. Plants that reproduce sexually with seeds are called angiosperms. Approximately 80% of green plants identified on earth are angiosperms, including cannabis. 

Plants can reproduce in a few different ways.  

Hermaphrodite plants consist of single flowers that contain both male and female reproductive organs. Tomatoes are a good example of a plant that is commonly hermaphrodite. In rare cases, cannabis can also be a hermaphroditic plant.  

Monoecious plants will produce two separate types of flowers within the same plant. Bananas are an example of a monoecious plant. 

Dioecious plants, like humans, have either male or female organs. Cannabis falls under this final category which means each cannabis plant has one or the other. It’s either male or female.

The sex of your cannabis plant plays an important role. Female plants are much more desired, as they produce the flowers (cannabis buds) that you consume.

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Do I Want Male Cannabis Plants? 

No, not usually. Removing the male cannabis plants from the garden enables the female plants to grow larger, seedless buds. These seedless buds are referred to as sinsemilla. The term sinsemilla is derived from the Spanish words “sin” (meaning “without”) and “semilla” (meaning “seed”). This is not a strain, just simply cannabis buds lacking seeds. It get considered the highest quality cannabis. 

The weed that we consume is produced by the female plant only. If there are seeds in your bud, that means there may have been some interference from a male plant nearby. 

Seeded bud typically means lower quality cannabis. If there are seeds in your bud that means a male plant has pollinated the female plant. Smoking cannabis that has seeds is typically harsh and unpleasant. However, even though it may be unpleasant, there is nothing wrong with smoking cannabis that had seeds in it.  We do not recommend smoking the seeds, but we are happy to eat them! Did you know that you could survive eating cannabis seeds only? They are a superfood. 

This does not mean that male cannabis plants serve no purpose. As a grower you might want to introduce male plants to your female plants in order to collect seeds to grow next year or to breed a new strain of marijuana.

You can guarantee female genetics by getting feminized seeds or obtaining clones. Clones are rooted cuttings from a cannabis plant. If the mother plant is female, the cutting (clone) will also be female as if has the exact same genetics. 

It’s important to determine the sex of your plant so you know to remove the males if your goal is harvesting flowers. Thankfully identifying the sex of your cannabis plant grown from a seed is a rather simple process.

Cannabis Plant Reproduction

Just like human beings, marijuana plants are dioecious. They have male and female plants, which contain both X and Y-chromosomes. Male plants contain the XY chromosomes combination, and the female plants contain the XX chromosomes. The males and females give a natural 50/50 split when they are reproducing.

Marijuana plants can also be hermaphroditic, where a single plant has both male and female genitalia, a pistil and stamen on one plant. The sex is not only determined by their genetic combination but also by environmental factors. This is why it is vital to know the distinguishing traits between male and female plants, which are unique characteristics to each farm.

Identifying Males And Females

Sexing Cannabis

You must know how distinguish the gender of your plants. It is usually difficult since marijuana plants do not reveal their gender in early stages.

So, why is it important to know? Well, the females produce THC, while males disrupt them from it. Therefore, it is essential to know the sex as soon as possible so that you prevent the males from fertilizing the females. Sinsemilla, females without seeds, give higher levels of THC, while males have minimal THC. Therefore, stopping pollination from taking place is the surest way to get high quality buds.

What Should You Look For?

Sexing Cannabis

When it comes to general differentiation between the two, males usually have flowers, and females have pistils. The males are taller. All cannabis plants have flowers at some stage in their life. Sometimes it is hard to tell the difference between the sexes by just looking at the plants’ height. Learn to check the flowers and pistils.

It may look simple, but telling the gender of a marijuana plant is a bit hard. This is difficult because cannabis plants do not show their sex until their maturity stages. Sometimes you cannot even tell the gender until the plants are mature enough for pollination. Waiting for them to mature so that you can identify the sex of your cannabis plants will be too late for you to get sensimilla buds.

What are hermaphrodite cannabis plants?

When a female plant develops both male and female sex organs, it is considered a hermaphrodite. This means your cannabis plant is now capable of producing pollen that can pollinate your entire garden. “Herming out,” as some call it, is something that generally happens when a plant becomes excessively stressed. Some plant stressors include:

  • Plant damage
  • Bad weather
  • Disease
  • Nutrient deficiencies

There are two types of hermaphrodite plants:

  • A plant that develops both buds and pollen sacs
  • A plant that produces anthers, commonly referred to as “bananas” due to their appearance

While both result in pollen production, true hermaphrodites produce sacs that need to rupture, while 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 stressors—indoors: high temperatures or light leaks are often the cause; outdoors: a snapped branch might be repaired and then turn into a hermaphrodite.

My Cannabis Plant is Male! Now What?


I hope you started a few extra seeds, and have plenty of ladies left to grow! Once you determine that you have a male cannabis plant, get rid of it. Again, unless you want pollination and seeds, it is best to cull the males as early as possible. Simply separating the plants isn’t enough. Even if you relocate the male plant to another part of your yard, the pollen can carry in the wind. There are stories of female cannabis plants becoming pollinated from neighbors growing several blocks away. 

However, the culled males don’t need to go to waste! One option is to chop up the male plant and use it to mulch other plants – much like we do with borage, fava bean greens, yarrow, and comfrey. You could also juice the leaves, which are full of nutrients. Heck, you could even steep the plant material in water to create a natural fertilizer as we do with stinging nettle. Finally, I’m sure your compost pile will welcome the male plant with open arms. Or would that be… with open worms? 

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