How to Sex a Marijuana Plant: Guide for Beginning Growers

Helga Green
Helga Green

Helga Green, an enthusiast and researcher in the cannabis field, contributes her expertise to the AskGrowers blog. Her articles provide a comprehensive view of cannabis cultivation, health impacts, and educational information. Helga's works seamlessly blend practical advice for growing plants with broader information aimed at enlightening readers about cannabis. Her health-focused articles delve into the effects of cannabis on the human body, offering valuable knowledge to her audience. Helga's passion for the industry shines through in her informative and engaging content, making her a go-to source for anyone interested in the multifaceted world of cannabis.

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How to Sex a Marijuana Plant: Guide for Beginning Growers

Marijuana is dioecious, meaning it has 2 sexes on separate plants. Male plants develop pollen sacs when they enter the reproductive phase, while females produce flowers that accept the pollen. When weed matures, growers separate different sexes to prevent cross-pollination.

Female plants are the name of the game because they produce valuable buds that are rich in THC and used for medical purposes. Once fertilized, females shift their energy into forming seeds instead of producing THC and other cannabinoids. This leads to a smaller harvest and provides low-quality buds. On the contrary, when left un-pollinated, females develop more trichomes, trying to produce them as resinous and as large as possible to catch potential pollen in the wind. 

Read Also: How to Plant Marijuana Seeds: Secrets and Recommendations

Since trichomes are a source of critical chemical compounds, cross-pollination is not required unless cultivators need to breed or cross-breed cannabis. The identification of female and male cannabis plants is very significant because it allows growers to determine the gender in a timely manner, dispose of males, and focus on growing females.

How to Tell Difference Between Male and Female Weed Plant?

female and male cannabis plantsGrowers can identify the weed plant’s gender when it becomes sexually mature. In its early flowering stage, cannabis shows these traits by developing alternate branching and pre-flowers. Preflowers are early identifiers that appear before weed enters the reproductive phase. They are small versions of adult flowers that make sexing marijuana easy and help cultivators detect and remove males from the grow site. That’s why you’ll need to become familiar with weed’s anatomy to sex it out correctly.

Male and female pre flowers are located in the junctions between branches or stems. Usually, they appear on the top of the plant in the crook between the stalk and a fan leaf stem. The males show up sooner than the females, roughly 3–4 weeks after the plant germinates. Female plants can be identified in 4–6 weeks after germination. This allows growers to discard males before they pollinate females.

These are the steps for identifying male plants:

  • Inspect the plant. Usually, males have a thicker and sturdier stalk and fewer leaves than females of the same strain.

  • Check the growth points or nodes. A cannabis male preflower looks like a small ball (pollen sac) growing on the joint of the stalk. The pollen sacs resemble baby bananas. They release pollen and should be removed for higher yields.

  • Throw out this weed. Don’t try to tear the pollen sacs off by hand because missing one will ruin your crop. If you want to keep males for breeding purposes, put them in a separate grow room, and make sure you don’t bring pollen to the female room on your hands or clothes.

To spot early signs of female weed plant, follow these recommendations:

  • Female plants are bushier, shorter, and have more leaves than males, especially on the top.

  • Inspect the joint where the stalk meets the branches. You’ll see small, tear-shaped buds (bracts) with translucent hairs (pistils) coming from within. The bracts are more angular, and pollen sacs in males are rounder in structure.

Generally, marijuana plants can be either male or female, but occasionally, they may be hermaphroditic and grow both sex organs. Hermaphrodite cannabis plants can have both pollen sacs and pistils. These plants should also be treated as males.

Read Also: Which Weed Growing Method Is Better – Soil, Rockwool, Peat Moss, or Coco Plus Perlite?

Not all plants develop the same-looking organs, and early male-female cannabis plant identification may be tricky for some strains. You should wait until they develop to be entirely sure of your weed’s sex before getting rid of it. Even with feminized seeds that create close to 100% female plants, there are occasional errors. So, keep an eye on your garden and check every plant regularly to perform sexing cannabis in time. You may use a loupe/magnifying glass to get a better look. This process is pretty straightforward and will be easier when you gain more experience.

Can You Determine the Difference Between Male and Female Seeds?

female and male weed seeds

The statement that cultivators can determine female and male weed seeds by just looking at them is a myth. Also, gender cannot be identified by growth patterns but only by observation of reproductive organs once they develop. Nowadays, this topic is hot and entails a lot of discussions. Some forums state that female seeds are perfectly round, while males are not uniform and have craters on the shell. Others say that females easily roll across a flat surface, while males do not. Actually, these suggestions have nothing to do with the seed sex. If it were that easy, growers could simply purchase regular seeds and sort them out. Feminized seeds that maximize the likelihood of yielding female plants are still in great demand.

Read Also: How Long Does It Take to Grow Marijuana: Stages of Growth


The sex of marijuana plants can be identified before germination. In their early flowering stage, you can inspect the structure of preflowers that appear on the joints of the stalk. Male plants produce small balls, while females are distinguished by the appearance of buds with tiny white hairs.
A hermaphrodite plant develops both male and female reproductive organs and can fertilize itself. It may happen with cannabis as an outcome of stress (for example, poor genetics, nutrient deficiencies, or photoperiod disruptions). This weed forms pollen sacs and buds with pistils. Also, it has anthers located among buds. Unlike regular pollen sacs, anthers can fertilize female plants as soon as they appear. Cultivators treat “hermies” as males and discard them to prevent cannabis pollination. Note that there are strains that are true hermaphrodites and have this tendency in their genes.
Male cannabis plants don’t develop buds. They have pollen sacs that fertilize female buds and form seeds. Seedy buds are not highly rated because they provide cannabis of low quality and lower the potential crop. It is crucial to get rid of male plants to avoid pollination and to ensure the best quality of female buds. Growers interested in creating new weed plants or reproducing them can leave males undisturbed in their grow site.
Feminized seeds produce female plants with a ratio of 90%+. These seeds are created by breeding 2 female plants. Since there are no male parents in their genetics, all the resulting seeds end up being bud-producing female plants.
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