Cannabis plants grow as either male, female or hermaphrodite in gender. What are the differences between each gender and how do you tell them apart?
When the plant is somewhere between 4-8 weeks from a seed it will enter the “pre-flower phase.” In this phase, signs of the plants sex will begin to be observable.
Though the sex is observable in this window it may be difficult to identify with 100% certainty. If this is the case, feel free to wait a few more weeks until the second week of flowering for identificationto be more easily determined.
For both male and female plants, gender signs will begin to form at the internode. This is where the base of the branches/stems meet the main stalk.
How to Identify Female Plants
At the internode, female plants will produce a cylax and eventually two pistils.
The cylax is a pear or teardrop shaped node that, eventually, will produce two white, hair-like strands called pistils.
These will be what eventually grows into the plants “buds” or flowers.
How to Identify Male Plants
Males can reach sexual maturity up to two weeks before female plants.
They will develop round pollen sacs in the internodes and there will no pistil growth.
If the plant is allowed to reach full maturity, these sacs will eventually rupture. When they rupture, they dispense the plant’s pollen through open-air pollination. This initiates reproduction (seed creation) with neighboring female plants. Reproduction can be detrimental to your grow.
If seed harvest or breeding is your end goal, then one or two male plants should be carefully selected and kept to breed with selected females.
Once pollinated, females will transfer the majority of their stored energy to seed production as opposed to THC production.
If harvesting buds is your end goal, then male plants should be removed from the female plants as soon as possible.
[PRO TIP]Pollen can be harvested from males and stored in the freezer for up to one month.
How to Identify Hermaphrodite Cannabis Plants
When female plants are put under stressful conditions they will produce male pollen sacs. This is done for self pollinations to further the species.
This can happen when the flowering light cycle of the plant is interrupted, the plant is damaged, has a lack of water/ nutrients, or disease.
Once this process begins, the plant will not only pollinate itself, but also any neighboring female plants. Any plants in proximity of the pollen release are affected; thus, signaling the reproduction process.
As with males, when bud harvest is your end goal hermaphrodite plants should be removed from the other females as soon as pollen sac growth is identified.
The creation of hermaphrodite plants is also known as rhodelization.
This can be a way some growers try to forcefully produce “feminized” seeds(seeds that are 95% female). It is not advised due to the hardship on the plant. Rhodelization has a low likelihood of completion and the will produce a less than ideal genetic makeup of future generations.
It also nullifies a potential bud producing female while not being effective, efficient, or sustainable. For consistent and sustainable female production, cloning would be a more suitable alternative for continuing known genetics.