If you are growing marijuana for medicinal purposes, you need to know how to identify female and male marijuana plants. Almost all growers prefer female marijuana plants because only females produce the coveted buds needed for medicinal purposes. Male plants have low potency and THC content compared to the female plants, and they are kept to mostly produce seeds.
Identifying Male Plants
1Look thicker, sturdier stalks with fewer leaves on male plants. A male plant, compared to a female plant of the same strain, generally has a thicker stalk. That is because it gets taller than female plants and needs to be able to support the weight. They also have fewer leaves than female plants.
2Check your plants regularly from July to September to sex them. If male plants are allowed to pollinate, they will severely lower the potential crop of your female plants. That’s because, once fertilized, female plants spend energy producing seeds instead of THC, leading to a smaller harvest. If you are growing indoors you will likely be visiting your plants regularly, so the following checks should be easy to do.
- You need to check every plant to determine if it is male or female, as one rogue male can wreck your harvest.
- In general, male plants show their sex 7-10 days (indoor) or 3 weeks (outdoor) before female plants.
3Check the joints on the stalk for male flowers. The little balls that grow on the joints of the stalk (where the other branches meet the main stalk) are the main indicators of male plants. These flowers release pollen and need to be removed for a better crop.
- If you’re trying to create new plants or reproduce, you need to leave these balls undisturbed.
- Female plants will have these bulbs too, but will also have long, translucent hairs on them. If you only see 1-2 on a plant, wait and see if more develop before cutting them.
4Know that hermaphroditic (both sexes) plants exist, and should be treated as males. Marijuana plants can grow both sex organs. If you see any of the tell-tale male buds, you should trim them like you would a normal male plant. They will still release pollen that can ruin your crop.
- “Hermies” are generally undesirable plants, and they can ruin a small crop with their pollen if you’re not careful.
5Throw out or remove male plants unless you specifically want seeds. Once you’ve determined a plan is male, you need to get rid of it or it will ruin your crop. Do not try and remove the buds by hand, as missing even a few will significantly decrease your crop. While most growers simply throw the plants out, a few keep them around for breeding purposes. If you do, put them in a separate room from the females, and make sure you don’t track pollen in from the male room to the female room on your clothes or hands.
Identifying Female Plants
1Let the plants grow for roughly six weeks before sexing them. Marijuana plants, male and female, will be identical in the first 6 weeks of life. It is only after they’ve begun developing their sex organs later on that you’ll be able to differentiate them.
- You can purchase “feminized” seeds as well, which usually create close to 100% female plants. However, there are occasional errors, and you should still keep a close eye on your plants to make sure there are no rogue males.
2Note fuller bodies of leaves, when compared to males, on a grown female plant.If you’re trying to sex mature plants, one of the easiest indicators is how bushy they get. Male plants have thicker, sturdier stalks and very few leaves. A female of the same strain will be shorter and bushier, with more leaves, especially near the top.
3Check the joints for of the stalk for small, translucent hairs. Once the plant has matured enough, a female will begin flowering. At the joints where the branches meet the main stalk, you’ll see small, translucent hairs, known as pistols, coming out of a small, tear-shaped bud tucked in the joint. Frequently, there will also be “growth tips,” which are new branches and groups of leaves, growing as well.
- Male plants will have the small buds (pollen sacs) but will not have the associated hair growing out of it.
- Plants can grow both pollen sacs and pistols. If it does, it is hermaphroditic and should be treated like a male.
4Separate your females from any males, as only females create buds. Only female plants will produce enough THC to be used as medicine, but they won’t create much if they become fertilized. The pistol is meant to attract pollen. If it gets it, it will create a seed, and all the plants energy and nutrients will be spent making seeds, not making big, THC-full buds. Your female plants are the only ones that will produce a crop, but only if they stay away from the males.