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Sexing Cannabis

Cannabis Entourage Effect

If you’ve ever dug into the world of homegrown cannabis plant cultivation, you’ve almost certainly discovered that cannabis grows as either male or female plants.  If you are growing your cannabis to produce those tasty buds like the ones you purchase at your favourite cannabis store, knowing whether your plant is male or female is crucial information.  This is simply because only the female plants are capable of producing potent buds.  Every strain of cannabis you’ve ever purchased would have come from a female plant.  So, the question you are most likely wondering is, how in the world can you tell what sex your cannabis plant is?


What is Sexing Cannabis

Sexing cannabis is determining whether the cannabis plant is male or female.  As the plant gets older, the sex becomes more apparent, but when the cannabis plants are in their early stages of development, the differences are much more difficult to identify.  Sexing cannabis properly is a crucial step to growing your own cannabis for ingestion.


How to Determine the Sex of a Cannabis Plant

Identifying if a cannabis plant is male or female is quite obvious as the plant develops, however, there are ways to identify them in their vegetative stage of development too.  The key to sexing the cannabis plant in this early stage is to look at the plant’s pre-flowers.  Pre-flowers can be seen in male plants at approximately 3-4 weeks and in female plants at 4-6 weeks.  They are extremely small so it’s recommended to use a magnifying glass to help you locate them in the plant’s nodes.  The cannabis pre-flowers are located right at the base of the leaves where the male plants display a pollen sac, and the female plants begin to show a tiny bud and pistils as seen in this excellent diagram from Leafly.  The pollen sac on the males are there to develop pollen in order to fertilize the female plants who in turn will develop seeds in their buds.  The stigma on the female plants catch the pollen from the male cannabis plants to initiate fertilization.  This is why it’s important to remove any male plants you have before they fertilize the female plants who in turn will produce seeded buds instead of seedless buds.  You may also hear seedless buds referred to as sinsemilla which translates to “without seeds”.


Mixing Male and Female Cannabis Plants

When both a male and female cannabis plant are present, fertilization occurs.  The male plants develop and release pollen from their pollen sacs, while the female cannabis plants catch that pollen on their stigma and fertilize their buds.  The fertilization process develops seeds inside of the buds which eventually drop onto the soil and begin the growth of new cannabis plants.  In order to grow cannabis for smoking or ingestion with a potent THC content, female cannabis plants must not be fertilized.  This encourages the female plant to continue to grow buds without the seeds.  This is why sexing your cannabis plants is so important.  One male plant can ruin your entire crop.


What is a Hermaphrodite Cannabis Plant?

It is possible for a cannabis plant to have both male and female sex organs.  A hermaphrodite cannabis plant is something to keep your eyes peeled for as you may mistake it for a female plant, but a hermaphrodite plant can pollinate your other cannabis plants.  A female cannabis plant can become a hermaphrodite by genetics, or if the plant is put through stress such as deficiencies in nutrients, poor weather, disease and damage to the plant itself.  It’s very important to take care of your cannabis plants to ensure they are not subjected to any of these stresses.


Can You Tell the Sex of Cannabis by its Seed?

Unfortunately, there is no way of determining the sex of a cannabis seed.  However, there are feminized seeds which ensure that the plant will be a female.  Feminized seeds are produced by creating the hermaphrodite process in a female plant, which in turn pollinates itself.  The seeds it produces are feminized and will grow into a female plant like its mother.


Can You Clone a Cannabis Plant?

Cloning is an excellent way to ensure you are not only growing the female sex of cannabis, but that you are getting the exact same varietal.  Cloning is done by taking a clipping of an existing cannabis plant, nurturing them until they begin to grow roots, and then planting them.  This method removes the process of sexing your cannabis and allows you to focus on growing a happy, healthy female plant.


Can You Smoke Male Cannabis Plants?

Male cannabis plants do contain low quantities of THC, so you could in fact smoke the plant and feel a high.  However, since the THC levels are so low, you would have to smoke a lot more male plant to feel its effects.  This is why buds from unfertilized female plants are used for cannabis products meant for ingestion.  They have a much higher concentration of THC which allows the user to consume less to feel high.


Growing your own cannabis is a very rewarding experience.  Even more so, when growing your own cannabis from a seed.  Now that you know how to identify the sex of both male and female cannabis plants, you’ll be able to separate them at their pre-flowering stage in order to allow your female plants to flourish, producing plenty of tasty buds for your harvest.