If you're interested in growing cannabis, determining the sex of your plant is a critical aspect in the cultivation process. Learn whether or not you can tell if a marijuana seed is male or female and more information about feminized seeds. Feminized marijuana seeds can streamline the growing process and ensure that cannabis cultivators get the most out of their hard work. Read all about the process here. Check out our article on How to Identify a Female Marijuana Seed. Click for more Grow at Home information from I49 Seed Bank. Weed seeds for sale online in the USA. 1-888-441-4949
Can You Tell if a Cannabis Seed is Male or Female?
W hen it comes to growing cannabis, sex is important. Not that kind of sex! We’re talking about the sex of the plant, and whether it is male or female. The reason for this is simple enough: only female seeds produce flower, also known as the buds you might have in your stash as we speak.
- Cannabis Seeds Explained
- What to Look for When Buying Cannabis Seeds
- How to Germinate a Bag Seed
- Understanding the Anatomy of a Cannabis Plant
Cannabis seeds can be male, female or hermaphrodites. Females produce the resin-secreting flower, and males make small sacs of pollen near the base of the leaves. Over the years, cultivators have learned that un-pollinated females (remember, males produce pollen) continue to make resin as they grow, and flowers that have not been pollinated are much more likely to produce high-potency cannabis. This is the basis of all modern medical and recreational cannabis cultivation, so determining the sex of a plant is highly important. But is there a way to know if a seed is female before growing?
Table of Contents:
- Determining if a Cannabis Seed Is Male or Female
- What Are Feminized Cannabis Seeds?
- Methods for Feminizing Cannabis Plants
- Separating Male and Female Cannabis Plants
- How Important is Your Plant’s Sex?
Determining if a Cannabis Seed Is Male or Female
The straightforward answer is that, if what you’ve got is a handful of unmarked seeds, it’s pretty much impossible to tell which ones are male or female. The only true way to tell the plant’s gender is to plant a seed, then wait for it to mature.
After a period of several weeks, the plant will begin to pre-flower, or form a small bud in the crux of a branch. One of the first signs your cannabis plant is female is the appearance of pistillates that are wispy and generally white in color. Male plants will instead produce pollen sacs that look rounded with distinct splits running lengthwise, a bit like a tiny crab claw. These are the structures that growers typically look for to determine a plant’s sex.
If you’re looking for more precise, science-based methods to tell your plant’s gender, there are several labs that can sex your plant right after germination – eliminating the lengthy (usually around 6 weeks) wait to learn its gender. Portland, Oregon start-up Phylos Bioscience is in the business of studying cannabis genetics, and they sell a “plant sex kit” that’s pretty simple to do, even for the folks that aren’t scientifically inclined. Simply press a cotyledon, or embryonic leaf, onto the kit’s filter paper and send it to their lab. They then test the leaf for the “Y” chromosome to determine its gender, just as would happen for a human male.
What Are Feminized Cannabis Seeds?
While it’s basically not possible to determine the sex of a seed from a random bag of seeds, a practice known as feminizing is quite popular. Feminized seeds are selectively bred to produce only female plants.
While the process is very effective, it’s not perfect. There’s a chance that a small fraction of the seeds produced via the feminization method will sprout hermaphrodites, which are still capable of producing pollen.
Despite the potential for ‘hermies,’ knowing your seeds are female from the beginning is probably your best bet.
There are many companies that sell feminized seeds, but buyer beware, do your research to make sure the seller is reputable, especially if purchasing online. Thanks to modern technology, most feminized seeds from reliable brands will be 100% female as advertised – but that doesn’t mean there aren’t people selling low-quality seeds out there.
Methods for Feminizing Cannabis Plants
If you have some experience growing cannabis and would like to bend a crop to your will to ensure that the seeds will be female, there are a few feminizing methods you might try. One such technique is to literally stress out a healthy female plant by interrupting the light cycle during flowering, called Rodelization Feminizing.
In the colloidal silver feminizing method, distilled water is mixed with pure silver and sprayed on female plants. This method works best when the plants are flowering. This results in pollen sacs being formed, which will allow the seeds to produce female plants.
Feminizing via the silver thiosulfate technique involves carefully selecting a nearly mature female plant, then spraying it with a 50/50 mix of sodium thiosulfate and silver nitrate. This triggers a gender change, from female to male. Place this plant back with the others to pollinate other female plants, and female seeds are created.
Separating Male and Female Cannabis Plants
As anyone with seasonal allergies can attest, it only takes a little bit of pollen to have a big impact. The reason that growers are so intent on weeding out male cannabis plants is that a single pollinator can negate an entire potential harvest.
How? The reason is that once pollinated, cannabis plants will cease devoting energy to growing flowers and will tell the existing flowers to stop producing resin, which translates to making less buds and less THC. That energy will be devoted to producing seeds instead. Think of the plant as a battery with a set amount of power. When that supply is spent in one area, it won’t be available for another.
Now consider that a single male plant can spread its pollen to an entire room of females.
If a grow is accidentally pollinated, that means the resources that were spent to bring the plants to that stage — the water, soil, electricity, fertilizers, not to mention the price of the seeds themselves — will have been wasted growing weed that can’t be smoked.
All of those male plants will have to be carefully separated from the grow space and destroyed, or else the growers risk another disastrous accidental pollination. It takes minuscule amounts of pollen to pollinate a plant, so growers must take extensive precautions to eliminate potential contamination. In addition to helping mitigate other contaminants, this is one of the main reasons that many workers will don full-body suits when working in a grow room, ensuring that accidental pollen exposure is kept to a minimum.
How Important is Your Plant’s sex?
How much time you want to spend figuring out the sex of your cannabis plants really depends on how much time and energy you’d like to devote to growing your own marijuana. If you are a medical cannabis patient or caregiver, for example, and need to know what kind of cannabis you are getting every time to keep a reliable supply, buying feminized seeds from a trusted seller is the way to go. It may even be worth it to have your plants tested for sex before they mature. However, if you have some time, consider yourself a green thumb, and want to experiment with your grow, you could simply plant your seeds and see what comes up. Happy growing!
What are your thoughts on feminized seeds? If you’ve used them before, how did it go? Share your experiences in the comments below.
Erin Hiatt is a New York City-based writer who has been covering the cannabis industry for more than six years. Her work – which has appeared in Hemp Connoisseur Magazine, PotGuide, Civilized, Vice, Freedom Leaf, MERRY JANE, Alternet, and CannaInvestor – covers a broad range of topics, including cannabis policy and law, CBD, hemp law and applications, science and technology, beauty, and psychedelics.
Erin’s work and industry insights have been featured on the podcasts The Let’s Go Eat Show, In the Know 420, and she has appeared as a featured panelist on the topic of hemp media. Erin has interviewed top industry experts such as Dr. Carl Hart, Ethan Nadelmann, Amanda Feilding, Mark A.R. Kleiman, Dr. James Fadiman, and culture icons Governor Jesse Ventura, and author Tom Robbins. You can follow her work on LinkedIn, WordPress, @erinhiatt on Twitter, and @erinisred on Instagram.
What Are Feminized Cannabis Seeds?
This article is sponsored by Kannabia Seed Company, an award-winning cannabis seed company headquartered in Spain. Using only the highest quality genetics on the market, their grower-oriented approach has made cannabis cultivation simple and satisfying for growers of all skill levels for years.
Anyone who’s ever savored a joint owes their enjoyment to the fruits of the cannabis plant, but moreover, to the female of the species. That’s because only female cannabis plants produce the cannabinoid-rich flowers that deliver the flavors and effects consumers look for.
This is why many North American growers are turning to feminized seeds—cannabis seeds that carry only female genetics, and can be relied on to produce only female plants. By creatively applying technologies to seed feminization, modern breeders like Kannabia can ensure female genetics in seeds with a nearly 100% success rate.
Male vs. Female Cannabis Plants
A bud of Diesel Glue grown from Kannabia’s feminized seeds. (Courtesy of Kannabia)
Cannabis plants that are pollinated naturally or with traditional breeding techniques can produce both male or female seeds. These are known as regular seeds and, as in most species, they occur with about an even split between the two sexes. That means cannabis cultivators starting with standard seeds have about a 50% chance of yielding a female plant from each one.
As a result, growing cannabis from regular seeds isn’t very efficient—it’s akin to running a bakery that has to throw out every second loaf of bread. Growers working from regular seeds have to account for the fact that roughly half of their plants could be males. While those plants are of some value to breeders, folks growing for flower won’t find much to like in them, and too many male plants can spoil a grow.
Traditionally, the solution to this has been an inelegant one, with many cultivators planting at least twice as many seeds as they hope to harvest with the assumption that about half of them will be useless. However big a harvest you’re looking for, using regular seeds means you’ll have to plant twice that many seeds.
Why Grow From Feminized Cannabis Seeds?
Cultivators depend on feminized seeds for efficient growing cycles. (Courtesy of Mr. Sticky Farm)
There are numerous advantages for growers who start their garden using feminized seeds. By removing the guesswork of germinating regular seeds, feminized seeds streamline the growing process, saving space and time.
That efficiency is key for medical cannabis patients and hobby growers. Since most cannabis regulations limit plant counts, growers cultivating a small crop of cannabis for personal use want to ensure they’re getting the most out of their grow.
Male plants don’t just take up space in a garden, either. They can also sap time and resources from growers. When male and female plants are both present, growers need to cultivate both until their sexes are clear. While some strains will show early signs of their sex before flowering begins, most cannabis plants don’t begin to express their sex until they start to mature past the vegetative stage.
This change occurs when the photoperiod, or amount of light and dark that the plant receives, changes to 12 hours of light and 12 hours of dark. In outdoor gardens this change can happen naturally with the seasons or, in more controlled environments like indoor gardens, by human intervention using light timers.
Once those plants are old enough, growers have to go to the trouble of actually determining their sex, monitoring each individual plant to ensure any males are removed before they can pollinate their female counterparts.
Growers can avoid spending weeks nurturing plants with only a 50% chance of expressing as female and maximize the space and plant count in their gardens by using feminized seeds from suppliers like Kannabia. These specially-treated seeds increase the probability of producing a female plant to 99%.
How Are Cannabis Seeds Feminized?
Treating cannabis seeds with a silver thiosulphate solution can ensure the resulting plants are females. (Courtesy of Kannabia)
There are a few techniques that can produce reliably feminized seeds. One classic method is stressing out a healthy female plant by interrupting its light cycle during flowering. While that works to an extent, the more common and controlled method is to spray down female plants with a collodial silver or silver thiosulphate solution. This method makes it possible to control the sex of a plant without any genetic tinkering or modification.
Both substances are a blend of water and fine silver particles, and they work in largely the same fashion. The silver solution impedes the production of ethylene, a hormone involved in flowering. The result is a female plant, but one that produces male flowers with pollen sacs. Since those pollen sacs develop on a plant with only female genetics, female genetics are all they carry. When those flowers pollinate another female plant (one untreated by silver solutions), the resulting seeds are nearly certain to be female.
Treating plants with a silver thiosulphate solution results in seeds that will produce feminized plants nearly 100% of the time, and Kannabia’s breeders have found this method to be the most effective way to maintain the stability of the seeds and future feminized plants.
Feminized Varieties to Try in Your Garden
Using feminized seeds can make it easier for home growers to cultivate strains like Russian Doll. (Courtesy of Kannabia)
Growing cannabis in your home is legal in an increasing number of states and provinces throughout the United States and Canada. To make starting a home garden easy, growers can start with feminized seeds for many popular strains from providers like Kannabia.
“In our search to find new genetics, Kannabia paired us with their feminized Russian Doll seeds,” say growers at Canada’s BlueSky Organics. “Every seed germinated, and now that we are in the late vegetative stage, these plants have an extremely hardy trunk preparing themselves for some massive buds.”
If you have more questions about strains or seeds, keep digging through Leafly’s resources. And to learn more about the variety of feminized seeds available to you, visit Kannabia’s website to see its full line of feminized genetics, including strains like Diesel Glue and the award-winning Mataro Blue.
Promotions are offered solely by Kannabia Seed Company. Terms and conditions may apply—contact Kannabia for full details.
How to Identify a Female Marijuana Seed
Ask any experienced grower how to produce a hardy marijuana plant and they will say to start with a seed for a good strain. Lighting, soil, nutrients, and water play large roles in the final yield, but starting with a high-quality seed gives growers the best genetics with the highest potential yield possible. Most people find their first seed mixed in with marijuana, but most of these seeds are low quality and may grow to be male plants. The best way to get high-quality seeds is to purchase them from a reputable marijuana seed retailer.
Characteristics of a Quality Marijuana Seed
Quality marijuana seeds have specific characteristics that set them apart. Unfortunately, they can be difficult for consumers to find since most growers avoid seed production in their plants at all costs. Even when a rogue seed is present, it rarely grows mature enough to germinate. Though it is challenging to identify a quality seed for even the most experienced growers, it is vital to be able to do so when using seeds to grow marijuana. Below is an overview of the characteristics of a high-quality seed.
There are several visual indicators that can give a person an idea about the quality of a marijuana seed. Some details are easy to spot while others take a higher level of scrutiny.
A high-quality marijuana seed has a dark color, typically a shade of brown, grey, or black. It should have tiger-like stripes or spots on the entire surface of the seed. If the seed is green or white, it is immature and is not likely to germinate. In the rare circumstance that an immature seed germinates, it takes much longer than it would for a mature seed.
Good quality marijuana seeds have a waxy coating around the shell. This is easy to see if the seed is held up to the light because the shell will have a slight sheen.
Size & Shape
The largest seeds are the best ones to grow. It is easier to pick the largest ones if there are several to compare side by side. Growers should look for the most symmetrical seed that is round or shaped slightly like a teardrop. Underdeveloped seeds are small and have an asymmetrical shape.
A lot of information can be gleaned from the texture and hardness of a marijuana seed. After visually inspecting the seeds, growers can pick them up and feel their shell for the following:
Poor quality seeds have weak shells that are damaged easily. These seeds will have cracks or splits on them that expose the inside. The best seeds have a smooth exterior with few anomalies.
A mature, high-quality marijuana seed has a hard shell that can withstand the pressure of being squeezed between two fingers. Poor quality seeds will disintegrate when squeezed. If this happens, the seed was weak or dead and would not have grown a viable plant if it germinated at all.
How to Determine the Quality of a Marijuana Seed
While seeing and feeling a marijuana seed can give growers a lot of information, it is not always accurate. Even the best-looking seeds can be duds, especially if they have been frozen. Below are a few things growers can do to better determine the quality of their seeds.
Germinate the Seed
The most obvious thing a person can do to show seed quality is to germinate the seed. If the seed sprouts within 5 days, it is a viable seed. It will still take time to find out if the plant will be male or female and whether the strain is high quality.
How to Germinate a Marijuana Seed
The traditional way to germinate a seed is to bury it one-quarter inch deep in moist soil and watch it closely for a sprout. A freshly germinated seed has a very fragile root that is easily damaged when the seed is transplanted. This method allows the seed to germinate without root interference.
Another common way to germinate marijuana seeds is by wetting a folded paper towel or cotton pad and placing the seeds inside of it. It is important not to get the paper towel or cotton pad too wet or it could drown the seeds. Growers should check the seeds after a few days to see which have taken root.
Perform a Float Test
The float test is a more scientific approach to determining the quality of a seed. The test involves filling a drinking glass with spring or distilled water and placing the seeds inside of it. Allow the seeds to soak for one to two hours before determining quality.
After the time has passed, seeds that float can be considered poor quality and discarded. Seeds that have sunk to the bottom of the glass are healthy, high-quality seeds. Once the test is complete, the seeds need to be germinated right away. Their shells will be soft from soaking in the water and will not survive storage.
Source Them Well
The simplest way for growers to ensure they have high-quality seeds is by sourcing them from a reputable seed bank. These companies specialize in breeding a variety of marijuana strains and producing seeds that, with the right care, grow into viable, high-yielding plants. Growers can choose a variety that meets their requirements for potency and desired effects and be sure they are getting seeds that produce the plant they want.
Using an Online Marijuana Seed Bank
Those who live in a state where marijuana is legal for medical or recreational use can sometimes find seeds at their local dispensary. However, online marijuana seed banks have significantly more strains available. Even individuals who live in some states where marijuana has not been made legal to use can purchase seeds online. Several states consider dormant seeds to be souvenirs, so it is legal to purchase and own the seeds as long as they don’t become high-THC plants.
Do Marijuana Seeds Expire?
Many growers who have numerous marijuana seeds need to store them long term if they want to germinate them in the future. However, seeds need to be kept in specific conditions to remain viable. They should be stored in a cool, dark, and dry room, much like the environment in which growers dry their harvested marijuana.
Germinating Old Seeds
Seeds can remain viable for three to ten years if stored properly, but more and more seeds will fail to germinate as time passes. Older seeds will take more time to germinate, so growers should use the float test before assuming the viability of their stored seeds. They can speed germination by soaking the viable seeds in water mixed with a few drops of hydrogen peroxide for 24 hours. It is important to watch them closely for signs of opening, as they will need to be removed immediately to avoid drowning.
Can You Tell if a Marijuana Seed is Female?
Cannabis enthusiasts have been trying to find out how to determine the sex of a marijuana plant by the seed for ages. Unfortunately, there is no way to tell if the seed will produce a male or female plant by just looking at the seed. Regular marijuana seeds have a 50% chance of being female, so out ten seeds, growers can expect that 5 of them will probably produce female plants.
What Does a Male Cannabis Plant Look Like?
When growing marijuana, it is important to identify male plants as early as possible. Just one male plant can pollinate an entire field, so it is critical that male plants are removed before they develop pollen sacs. There are certain signs that a young marijuana plant is male, including the following:
Preflowers are the earliest sign of a marijuana plant’s gender. Between four and six weeks, nodes will develop at the joint where a plant’s stem meets the stalk. Female plants develop white hairs at the internodal joints while male plants develop rounded internodal sacs that fill with pollen.
While it is best to identify male marijuana plants by their pollen sacs as soon as possible to avoid accidental pollination, there is another way to determine a plant’s sex. If male and female seeds are planted at the same time, the male plants will grow faster and taller than the female plants. Additionally, male plants have longer stems with fewer leaves, making them look spindly compared to female plants.
Quality seeds are not often found in the bottom of a bag of dried marijuana, but there are ways for growers to ensure they are getting the best seeds available. With a keen eye and a reputable seed bank like i49.net, growers will have hardy, high-yield plants that make them proud of their hard work. Seed banks provide quality marijuana seeds in a variety of strains not typically available from other sources, and many of them can guarantee that the seeds will be feminized and thus produce female plants.
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