How To: Identify Male or Female Plants

Knowing how to properly sex a marijuana plant and determine whether it is a male, a female, or a hermaphrodite is an important skill for any grower to have. This is because it is only the females of the species which produce the flower that are coated in cannabinoid-rich trichomes.

Males, on the other hand, produce very little of the desired cannabinoids that both recreational and medicinal users look for. Hermaphrodites may produce some potent flowers but, like males, they are almost always removed from the grow room as soon as they are spotted so that they don’t pollinate any of the surrounding female plants.

Before you head out to nix your garden of any males and hermaphrodites, you need to know what you are looking for first. Keep a close eye on your plants so that you only grow females to maturity.

Female Plants

smokingpagoda-female-marijuana-plantTo identify a female plant, you need to look at the spaces between the leaves and stems. After a few weeks into flowering you should start seeing some “pre-flowers.” On a female cannabis plant these will look like little tear-shaped growths, called “calyxes,” surrounded by small white hairs known as “pistils.” A female plant will also be shorter and stockier than a male, with nodes and leaves that grow closer together. 

Male Plants

smokingpagoda-male-marijuana-plantMales can be identified by looking in the same area, in the spaces between the leaves and the stem. They produce clusters of little green pollen sacks that look sort of like bunches of grapes. After a while these sacks will open. This means that the pollen has been released, so make sure to remove your males before this happens.

Males tend to be much taller than female plants, and almost always have considerably thicker stems. They also have fewer leaves and bigger gaps between branches. If you are growing only one strain, then there is a good chance that any taller, ganglier plants are males.

Hermaphrodite Plants

Some plants are genetically predisposed to become hermaphrodites, while others may turn hermaphroditic due to stress. A hermaphrodite plant will develop both male and female sexual characteristics such as pistils and pollen sacks. A female in its last few days of flowering may begin to develop a few male flowers, but this shouldn’t be any cause for alarm as these will not produce pollen.

Why Should Female Plants Remain Unpollinated?

Growers prefer to keep their female plants unpollinated so that the plant can put its energy into producing cannabinoids instead of producing seeds. Some growers and marijuana users claim that there is little to no difference between the bud from an unpollinated and a pollinated female. But there is a very good physiological reason for why an unpollinated female will likely be more potent.

Since the goal of any female marijuana plant is to produce seeds, an unpollinated female will work to make more sticky trichomes in an effort to catch more pollen. If you have no males or hermaphrodites in the grow room, this will result in thick and high-potency buds.