Cannabis plants are beautiful, to say the least, they are a plant that can grow anywhere in the world that is warm in the summer and cool in the winter. You can fake these conditions indoors too. If you are a fan of this luscious green plant, you will be aware that there are male and female plants and that they don’t both produce smokable marijuana.
Female plants are rich in THC, the weed you buy for your personal pleasure comes from a female plant. The male plants are good for cross-breeding and pollinating your plants, but that is about it.
Having a male plant growing amongst your crop will actually contaminate your plants making the weed you produce lower quality. There is no way of knowing if a seed is going to grow a male, female or hermaphrodite plant, so distinguishing the sex of the plant that has started to grow is the first step in growing a high-quality product.
Female cannabis plants are the ones you need to focus all your energy on as these will eventually yield you those gorgeous, THC packed buds. Females should be kept separate from the male plants from the very moment any sex characteristics start to develop. This is because female cannabis plants that are pollinated will be full of seeds that make the taste of the weed rather bitter and lower in THC.
Fun Fact: It is thought that THC is only produced by female plants to protect their seeds from getting ruined in the hot sun.
Here is what to look out for when identifying a female plant;
- Once you have artificially prompted your plant to begin to bloom, it will take a week for any sex charictoristics to begin to show. You can artificially start this process by making day and night 12 hours long.
- You will start seeing stigma (tiny white hairs) growing from where the branches grow from the stem, this is the first sign that your plant is female.
- These are called calyxes, over time they grow more and become the smokable bud flowers that we all know and love.
It is just as easy to distinguish male plants early on as it is female plants. You will have plenty of time to see if there is a male plant growing amongst your plants, well before it can do any damage to your crop.
- Again, it will take a week or so to see any signs from a male plant. Male plants might actually start showing a day or so later than female plants as they develop sexual characteristics slower than females.
- A male plant will start to grow little balls in the place where the branches grow off the stem (nodes).
- These balls grow to become the pollen sacks that fertilize female cannabis plants.
It is important to separate male plants from the females before the male develops any further. The reason you sometimes find the odd seed in your weed is only a result of the female plant being pollinated. Seeds are not good because the female plant pours all of her energy into growing the seed and not in producing THC and CBD, thus reducing the quality of the end product.
Hermaphrodites are quite rare, they actually only occur when the cannabis plant is under extreme pressure. If your plant starts to show signs of being a hermaphrodite, you should reassess how you are growing them. Are they growing at the right temperature? Are they receiving sufficient light?
Cannabis plants only become hermaphrodites if they are made to feel like they won’t get pollinated, therefore they will have no choice but to pollinate themselves. The signs are easy to spot. A hermaphrodite plant nodes will grow both pollen balls and Calyxes.
Making a Male Plant Female
Unfortunately, this isn’t actually possible to do. There is no way of changing the plant’s DNA to make it female if it is male. But just like every cloud has a silver lining, there is something you can do. You can make a male plant think it’s a female, therefore showing female characteristics. Here is how to do it;
- You will need a face mask, gloves and a bottle of ethylene before you begin the process.
- Start the blooming process by switching to 12/12 cycle.
- Wait a week until the plants start to show sexual characteristics.
- Separate the male plants from the females.
- You will now need to put your protective equipment on and get your ethylene out. Ethylene is the hormone produced by a female marijuana plant.
- Put the ethylene on the male plants branches, stem joints and leaves.
If you want a female plant to act like a male, you will need to do exactly the same steps as above, using gibberellins which is the male cannabis plant hormone instead of ethylene.
Making a Hermaphrodite Plant Female
It is not recommended to keep hermaphrodites in a crop of females, even once you have completed the following steps to make the plant female, as there is always a risk of it re-growing male sex organs. To make the plant female you must;
- Carefully remove the male pollen buds from the nodes.
- Do this by twisting and pulling off the pollen balls gently so that you do not disturb or damage the female part of the plant.
- Keep an eye on the hermaphrodites, if you do not notice a male pollen sac regrowing it can pollinate the rest of your plants and result in a crop full of seeds.
So there you have it, you can indeed make a male plant female. As long as you stay vigilant and check your crop for pollen sacs regularly the male-turned-female crop may even yield you buds that are as good as the ones that come from your female crop. Happy growing!