As soon as you start a small cannabis growing firm or want to grow some plants for your personal use, you're naturally interested in healthy, productive plants. One of the cornerstones of cannabis farming is understanding the gender of plants you've managed to grow; each of them possesses specific characteristics and has a distinct value for the cannabis production industry. So, here is a guide on male vs. female cannabis plants to help you out in the growing process and maximize your chances for growing a good harvest of smokeable buds.
The Dioecious Nature of Cannabis
In most cases, plants do not possess gender characteristics, meaning that each standalone plant can fertilize itself and continue its existence via seed dissemination and self-replication. This protective feature for ensuring species survival is inherent in the majority of existing plants, while a tiny percentage thereof is created dioecious. The same goes for cannabis, as there is a clear distinction of a male vs. female weed plant in the environment. Thus, cannabis plants of male and female gender need to be located next to each other for the sake of fertilization, which can be used to the growers' advantage or cause them inconvenience. On the one hand, a skilled grower may quickly remove male plants from the grow room once they start revealing their gender signs to avoid pollination (the primary interest of cannabis growers is in non-fertilized buds that female plants produce). On the other hand, growers interested in new species creation and crossbreeding of different cannabis strains can hand-pick two plants, a male and female one, and create conditions for their pollination and effective seeding. To achieve any of these goals, one should understand the essential gender characteristics of cannabis plants and take timely measures to propagate or, on the contrary, avoid flower pollination during the flowering period.
Let’s start with the male cannabis plant. Its primary distinguishing trait is the sack with seeds emerging at the plant's node, where the side branches join the main stem. These sacks are round and homogeneous in texture, emerging at the same period as female sex characteristics on the female plants.
What does a male cannabis plant look like? Here is an image showing the male plant with seed sacks to help you tell the difference. There is not much variety in the male cannabis plants uses. These plants don't produce flowers that can be dried and smoked, but their primary value is contained in the seeds they have in the sacks, available for storage or live pollination of a female plant. Thus, if you're interested in breeding a new strain or ensuring that your cannabis plants produce a new healthy generation of plant offspring, you can isolate a pair of plants of your interest for adequate pollination. In all other cases, growers tend to minimize pollination risks in their garden or grow room by ousting males during the flowering season. By removing these plants from the garden, the grower can save their bud harvest.
Now it’s the turn of a female cannabis plant. Its gender characteristics are also displayed at the plant's node and emerge during the same gestation stage. The female plant is easy to identify by the thin white hair on the nodes, referred to as pistils. These pistils are created for capturing the pollen and fertilizing the flowers for further self-reproduction. Thus, the grower's task is to prevent pollination if they want to preserve the flowers in a smokable state.
As one can see, bud collection is the primary of the female weed plants uses, which means that the growers are predominantly interested in preserving female flowers non-fertilized. It’s never possible to know what gender your plant will develop, especially if you grow cannabis from seeds. Thus, it’s vital to keep track of gender formation early during the gestation period so that you can take proper measures for bud preservation. Cannabis strain breeders can also use female plants for targeted fertilization with specific male plants, thus ensuring that they achieve the expected result.
Importance of Early Cannabis Sexing
Once you have a harvest of cannabis plants in your plant room approaching its flowering period, the process of sexing your plants becomes essential. It means that you need to inspect all plants with a magnifying glass to tell the first signs of male or female gender and separate the items.
Experienced growers can detect the gender signs of plants in advance, much earlier than the plants enter the flowering stage. These signs can be identified in the pre-flowers of both male and female species. Male plants have tiny, smooth cylinders that will further grow into seed sacks and a stick-shaped node formation next to them. The whole structure is termed “stick and ball” by the growers, suggesting that this plant needs to be eliminated from the grow room as soon as possible. Female plants can be distinguished by a tiny calyx in the form of a teardrop, with small white hair protruding from its tip. These initial signs become visible several weeks before the flowing stage, so an expert grower can take measures to divide genders and preserve both seeds and buds for further use.
As you can see, the gender of cannabis plays a vital role in the process of growing and can make or break your harvest. If you're interested in buds only, invest time and effort in early cannabis sexing and separating male species to prevent pollination. If you're an avid breeder, use this knowledge about cannabis plant gender to produce new potent strains. Good luck!