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Discerning between female and male marijuana plants is a very important aspect of successfully growing cannabis. Knowing if your marijuana plant is male or female enables you to create new genetics, and of course, grow great buds. When can you tell if your plant is male or female? Cannabis is scientifically called a dioecious plant, meaning male or female reproductive organs appear on different cannabis plants.

Apart from those wanting to breed a new strain, most marijuana growers remove all the males to allow females to produce seedless buds or sinsemilla. These are the resinous buds that appear on the dispensary shelf; they all come from female plants. To help you determine the sex of your marijuana plant, read on.

How to Tell the Difference Between a Male and Female Marijuana Plant

To tell the difference between male and female marijuana plants, it is wise to learn a bit more about genetics of the marijuana plant. Female genetics (meaning flowers with zero seeds) are guaranteed by the method of female clones and using only feminized seeds to grow your marijuana. However, if you’re growing with regular seeds, chances are you are unsure of the sex of your marijuana seed.

From the above, we know that determining the sex of your plant is vital to successfully growing cannabis. Sexing cannabis plants is not that difficult. Cannabis plants can show their sex early on in the growth cycle by what grows in between their nodes – the small areas where leaves and branches extend from the stalk of the marijuana plant.

The main differences between a male and female cannabis plant are outlined in the table below.

             Male characteristics                                       Female characteristics

·       Thicker stalk


·       Develops pollens sacks

·       Pollen sacks burst open and pollinate         other plants

·       Shows pollens sacks

·       Produces more seed

·       Thinner stalk


·       Develops stigma hairs

·       Stigma hairs develop into flowers

·       Shows little tear drop shaped leaves

·       Produces more flower than seed

Pollen sacs will develop on a male plant to spread seeds, whereas stigma hairs will develop on a female plant to catch pollen.

When to Look for Differences Between Male and Female Marijuana Plants

When marijuana plants are in the seedling stage, you have no way to tell which plants are male and which plants are female. You can see these differences several weeks before the flowering cycle, though. Most male plants have grown a pre-flower by the fourth week from seed, whereas female plants usually don’t show their pre-flowers until week six. Generally, vegetative plants reveal their sex around week six from planting from seed.

During the marijuana vegetative cycle, you can start to identify what are known as these pre-flowers. Pre-flowers may take a little longer depending on how quickly the sprouting phase occurs. By week six, you should be able to find the pre-flowers and confidently determine the sex of your plant.

How to Identify the Male Marijuana Plant

Generally, a vegging male plant will have a thicker stalk than its same genetic female. You can start to examine the nodes of the male marijuana plant around 4-6 weeks into growing and look for the early growth of small sacs on a male. Male plants have grape-like pollen sacks which form and fill with pollen. These sacks or seeds are likely to first show up a week or two after changing the plants over to the flowering stage.


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If the male is allowed to continue growing, his pollen sacs will burst open and spill pollen everywhere. Remember that removing males early on is very important for two reasons: it not only frees up space in your garden so females can grow bigger and stronger, but it prevents males from pollinating females. To help you identify male cannabis plants in your garden, have a look at the pictures below.


Marijuana Male Plant
male vs female cannabis plants 1
Marijuana Male Plant

How to Identify the Female Marijuana Plant

The female plants will start producing pistils around 6 weeks of age. Look to identify two bracts on a female, which will eventually produce hair-like stigmas. They usually first show up where the main stems connect to the individual nodes and branches.

If a female plant is kept in the vegetative stage long enough, she will start showing the first sign of female hairs even before you move the plant into the flowering stage by changing the light schedule. If you see wispy white hairs appearing on your plant, then you know you have a female plant.

The Hermaphrodite Cannabis Plant – a combination of male and female

In nature, it is possible for cannabis to be multi-gendered. When a female plant develops both male and female sex organs, it is considered a hermaphrodite. This means your cannabis plant is capable of producing pollen that can pollinate other plants. Plants generally become hermaphroditic when it experiences stress. Some plant stressors that lead to plants becoming hermaphroditic include:

Plant damage
Bad weather
Nutrient deficiencies
Why are cannabis plants male and female?

If you want to know more detail about the sex of a cannabis plant in genetic terms, this information will do. To briefly explain, each plant has two pairs of sex chromosomes, X chromosomes and Y chromosomes. The difference between male and female cannabis plants is that male plants have XY chromosomes and female plants have XX chromosomes.

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As with humans, there is a natural 50/50 division between males and female cannabis plants. When you grow from regular seeds, you will have a combination of male and female plants, and will need to distinguish between the two by using our methods as outlined in this article.

But How are Feminized Cannabis Seeds Made?

Simply put, most feminized seeds come from cannabis plants that have been treated in a manner that successfully inhibits male chromosomes. The most common method is to spray the plant repetitively with a chemical coined colloidal silver. Colloidal silver is technically non-toxic, but you still don’t want to smoke it! In this case, the plant is sacrificial – used only for the production of pollen and feminized seeds.

All in all, if you want to learn how to grow marijuana successfully and never be confused again as to whether your cannabis plant is male or female, feel free to join a cannabis growing school or institution.

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