When growing cannabis, many people start to feel panicky when it comes time to determine the sex of their male and female cannabis plants.
This fear is because it can potentially destroy a crop, resulting in seed-filled buds instead of beautiful and smokeable flowers from female plants.
That’s the last thing a grower wants when they put all the energy into growing cannabis seedlings or clones.
We’ll go through how to determine the sexes and what is best to do with the male and female cannabis plants once you figure out which are female plants and male plants.
Keep on reading to learn the difference between the two and compare male vs female weed plants.
What Do Male Cannabis Plants Look Like?
At first look, male plants and female plants can be a bit hard to distinguish from each other. But, if you look closely, about three-six weeks into the flowering stage of the plant, you will find signs of pre-flowers in the females and pollen sacs at the nodes on the stalks of the male plant.
Nodes are the point in the marijuana plant where the stem and leaves meet the stalks. You will see what some refer to as the “balls” of male plants.
Male plants will form these pollen sacs, whereas female plants produce pistils, also known as female reproductive organs. These pistils are what will eventually develop into flowers as the plants grow.
The flower (bud) is where cannabinoids like Delta 9-THC are highly concentrated. And that is why most people choose to grow female over male plants.
But male cannabis plants have their own purpose in the ganja growing world. Although male cannabis does not produce bud, 50% of a plant’s genetics will come from male cannabis plants.
So, if you are developing a breeding plan for your cannabis plants, growing male plants with strong stalks and plentiful root structures is beneficial. This way, you can create more vital and potent female cannabis plants down the road.
The male plants also usually exhibit higher levels of phytocannabinoids in their leaves than in the female cannabis plant. This is a very desirable characteristic for breeding.
Did you know that male cannabis plants are edible too? You can consume the leaves of the male in smoothies, salads, and other healthy treats.
You won’t get high. However, if you have a lot of plant material, you can decarb for some psychoactive potency, which is perfect for making a batch of cannabutter.
Also, if you have enough plant material, you can make hash with the male cannabis plant. Though their cannabinoid content is lower than female cannabis plants, the trichomes on the fan leaves of the male plants are excellent for making hash.
To make hash, you need heat and pressure. The traditional way of making hash does not involve solvents. Instead, you use a silkscreen, take the male cannabis plant’s material, and rub it on the screen to separate the trichomes.
You then scoop the kief (trichomes) into molds, heat them, and press them into blocks or spheres, just as you would for male or female plants. It will be less potent than kief from female plants, but it is still as tasty and will make you feel relaxed at the very least.
At the end of the day, you don’t need much Delta 9 THC to get high. However, if you want to feel like you’re in space you’ll need to stick to hydro bud from a feminized seed.
What Do Female Cannabis Plants Look Like?
Male and female cannabis plants look similar. But instead of pollen ball-like sacs of male cannabis plants, the female plants produce flowers. These flowers are the buds we smoke and have turned into concentrates, edibles, topicals, etc.
When growing female plants, people are usually looking for buds. So, to prevent cannabis seeds from forming, male plants are kept away from female cannabis plants to avoid pollination.
This way, the female cannabis plants do not produce seeds and instead put all their effort into growing flowers.
Female cannabis that has not been fertilized is called sinsemilla, meaning “seedless.” They will have something resembling the pollen sacs of the male, but instead, you will see tiny hairs called pistils emerging from them. After a while, these hairs will cover the entire flower.
After a few weeks into the flowering stage, you will be able to see the pre-flowers sex organs on the nodes between the primary stem and a branch.
If your plants are grown indoors, you can sometimes identify and separate the males from the female as early as three weeks as the plants grow.
Females contain the highest concentration of phytocannabinoids and terpenes in their flowers, which is why they are the more desirable sex of the cannabis plant. That’s why you can purchase “feminized” seeds, which usually yield a crop of 100% female plants.
However, you can still end up with rogue male cannabis plants, so make sure you check your male and female plants consistently.
When you are checking the joint of the stalks of your female cannabis plants, look for tiny, translucent hairs that come out of a small, tear-shaped bud tucked in the joint. These are the female cannabis plants’ pre-flowers. You may also see new branches and groups of leaves growing as well.
Male VS Female Cannabis Plants
Male Plant Tell-Tale Signs
Male cannabis plants have tell-tale signs that you can look for to determine the difference between the sex of your male and female plants.
- Thick stalks
- Sturdy stalks
- Taller than female plants
- Pollen sacs that form white and green flowers
- Fewer leaves than in females
Female Plant Tell-Tale Signs
Female cannabis plants have their own physical traits to distinguish them from male plants.
- Slender stalks
- Many leaves
- Fine translucent hairs in orange, sometimes white
- A protective layer called a calyx
- Shorter than male plants
- Resinous buds
Grow Females Away from Male Plants
Once you’ve identified the male and female cannabis plants, remove the male cannabis plants and either store them separately for cross-breeding or use them to make hash.
The reason you should separate them is that once a female is fertilized, she will not produce as much THC and will stop producing flowers. Instead, the female plant will start putting all its effort into creating seeds.
By not separating the male and female cannabis plants you will ruin your crop of smokeable bud.
Even trace amounts of pollen from male cannabis plants will trigger this reaction. So if you do decide to keep the male plants, avoid cross-contamination.
Don’t go handling the male cannabis plants and then handle the females. You should change your clothes, gloves, and even shower if you must.
You do not want any pollen from the male cannabis plants reaching the female cannabis plants. This is why so many people decide to throw the males into the trash. Keeping a male for breeding is all and well. But it only takes a small amount of pollen to fertilize the female.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to tell if a cannabis plant is male or female?
Starting three weeks into the flowering stage, which occurs between July and September for most growers, start attempting to sex your plants. Plants grown indoors can begin showing signs of their sex this early. Look for the difference between male and female cannabis.
Check the nodes. Look for fine hairs sticking out from oval-shaped protuberances. If you see these hairs, then it is a female. You may also start seeing new growth alongside these pistils.
Male cannabis plants, on the other hand, have more rounded ball-shaped pollen sacs that grow at the juncture between the stock and the branches,
You may see yellow pollen on these sacs, which means it is time to separate the male and female cannabis plants immediately before cross-contamination occurs. One male can pollinate female plants in a 5 km radius if grown outdoors.
Another thing you need to look out for is hermaphrodite plants. These will show the sex organs of both male and female cannabis. So in one part, you may see the pollen sacs, and in another, you will find pistils.
“Hermies,” as they are sometimes referred to, can also be disastrous to your crop. Their pollen sacs will be able to fertilize your females. There is really no need to keep these plants as they generally have poor genetics and will only turn out with the same problems as their mother.
However, you can still smoke the bud. It just will not be as potent. In general, it’s better if you use the hermies to make concentrates.
Hermies are often created due to poor lighting, insufficient nutrients or watering, or other damage as the plants grow. So if you have a lot of hermies, you might want to reconsider your growing methods.
Can you make edibles with male cannabis plants?
Yes, you can use males for THC-enriched cannabutter. Although it will be less potent than females, the males still have some THC and are psychoactive.
Small amounts of cannabinoids can be found in the plant’s sacs, stems, and leaves. The males have an even higher concentration of THC in the leaves than females during the vegetative stage.
Also, you can make cannabis juice as well. Don’t use the bigger fan leaves and thicker parts of the stalks so the liquid doesn’t turn out bitter.
You can steep the plant matter as a tea or blend it for a thicker juice. This way, you reap the benefits of the THCA and CBDA without the side effects.