If you’re growing cannabis at home, it’s common to be unsure of whether your plants are male or female. When it comes to male vs female weed plants they are different in several aspects, vegetative and flowering-wise – and each have their own purpose.
As a cannabis grower or aspiring one as such, it’s important to know the difference between males and females for several reasons that will be discussed. This article will tell you all you need to know about male vs female weed plants in order to reach your growing goals.
Why Sexing Your Plants is Important
Cannabis plants show gender, and it matters a lot to the grower – but why? Generally, the average grower wants to grow only female cannabis plants, because they are the ones that provide big and beautifully potent buds. Why else is it important to know the difference?
- Male cannabis plants are only desirable if you want to breed cannabis and save seeds, which is a topic on its own! The point is, you will want to spot the difference between the male and female plants and separate them early on, unless you want free cross-breeding and pollination between different strains to get a new strain.
- Beyond breeding purposes which cannot be covered in this article, it is generally conceived that male cannabis plants interfere with the quality and production of female plants.Male plants grow pollen sacks that will easily pollinize a hectare of female plants if you don’t separate them in time.
- While a pollinated female cannabis plant will still develop decent size buds, they are usually lower quality and contain less THC – in addition to a plethora of seeds. All is lost not in such a case, however, as you can use the seeds to grow again and perhaps breed a new strain. As long as the female is left un-pollinated, her buds will continue to grow and increase in potency.
- The reason for the above is because she is trying to get as sticky and large as possible to catch the attention of pollen in the wind. It should make sense at this point that if you’re growing from feminized seeds, you need not worry about sexing your cannabis plants, as the chances of a feminized plant to produce male seeds is highly improbable.
Female Plants Highly Desirable
Based on all the above, we conclude that feminized seeds are highly desirable, and investing in them is an almost sure-fire way to achieve success. However, regular seeds have their own place in the growing space.
In any case, to summarize, when it comes to male vs female cannabis plants, you want to know what is what for the following reasons:
- To prevent pollination and production of unwanted seeds
- For the purposes of breeding new strains
- To grow wonderful, fat, and seed-free resinous buds
With that said – and knowing the ins and outs of male vs female weed plants, the next thing to learn would be when to look for the first signs of sexing. This brings us to the next section.
When to Look for Gender Developments
Cannabis plants go through two stages of life, called the vegetative and flowering stages, respectively. During this first (vegetative) stage, the plant is only solely focused on growing bigger, stronger and taller, and gender doesn’t matter until it does.
So, when does it start to matter? Seeing that you can’t tell the sex of a plant at the beginning, you have to wait and see.
Wait until the plant is about six weeks old until you start to look out for signs of pre-flowers. These will help you identify the gender before the beginning of the flowering stage. Male and female pre-flowers are different, but sometimes it’s hard to tell which is which. In that case, you’ll just have to wait until they develop into more robust flowers.
How to Identify Female Cannabis Plants
After being changed over to flowering mode, female marijuana plants take slightly longer than males to show their first signs of identity. But when they do, they show a few wispy white hairs where their buds are going to be. Look for where the main stem connects to the individual nodes or branches to see the first signs.
In the later stages of a female plant’s vegetative life, and before the flowering stage, she will start showing the first sign of female hairs with the start of a light schedule change. If you see wispy white hairs appearing on your plant, you’re in luck.
Characteristics of Female Weed Plants
To summarize, here are the main characteristics of a female cannabis plant:
- Vegetative: Thinner stems than male counterparts
- Leaves: Bushier than males
- Flowers: Develops white pistils and white hairs
How to Identify Male plants
Male plants are identified by their grape-like pollen sacks which are filled with pollen. These sacks initially show up a week or two after changing over to flowering stage.
If the male is granted freedom to continue growing, these pollen sacs will burst open and spill pollen everywhere. And by everywhere, we mean all over any nearby females.
Very early on, the male pre-flower, or early pollen sack, is more rounded than the female pre-flower part. Also referred to as a spade or staminate, this male indicator eventually develops into a long hanging sack of pollen. Hopefully you can identify and outroot the males before they get to this stage.
Characteristics of Male Weed Plants
To summarize, here are the main characteristics of a male cannabis plant:
- Develops pollen-sacks filled with pollen
- Develops a lot of seeds
- Grows stronger and faster than females
Male vs Female Weed Plants: Other Notable Differences
Aside from the more obvious differences in the flowers of male vs female weed plants, there are a few other characteristics between the two that can be noted. In many cases, male cannabis plants tend to be lankier than females. They also grow faster.
Male plants may be tall, narrow, have fewer fan leaves, and longer spacing in-between branches – also known as greater inter-nodal spacing. On the other hand, female cannabis plants are usually more compact and generally bushier than males.
What to Do with Male Plants
Unwanted male cannabis plants in your benevolent garden need not go to waste. One option is to chop up the male plant and use it to mulch other plants – much like we do with borage, fava bean greens, yarrow, and comfrey.
You can also juice the leaves and make a smoothie packed with nutrients. Heck, you could even steep the plant material in water to create a natural fertilizer. Finally, your compost pile will certainly welcome the male plants with open arms.