Just like us humans, our plants actually have sexes that can be distinguished from one another. The sexes of these plants, especially in cannabis, play different roles and will create different results when it comes to their buds. Though this does sound interesting, being able to identify the sex of your plants is crucial, depending on what produce you are after as a grower.
These sexual characteristics in plants cannot be seen as early as getting them in a pack of regular seeds, and will usually appear a little bit later as they transition from their vegetative state to their flowering stage. Cannabis plants are described as dioecious, meaning they can produce two types of reproductive organs: male and female.
However, the sexes are not only limited between males and females but can even develop into a cross between the two known as hermaphroditism. Sounds cool, right? Well, not as cool as you think, though.
What Is Hermaphroditism?
Hermaphroditism in cannabis plants has been an ongoing problem among growers as this can affect their yield, especially if the hermaphrodite is growing around other plants. Cannabis developing into a “hermie” can be caused by several problems or needs in the plant that are not meant – living in such conditions can actually signal the plant to produce these sex traits. But growing hermaphrodites can actually be avoided to keep your buds safe and to keep your harvest fruitful.
So to start off, how can you tell the difference between a male, a female, and a hermaphrodite? And what is each sex responsible for in cannabis growing?
Spotting the Difference: Female, Male, Hermaphrodite Cannabis
Female cannabis might usually go unnoticed since this is the sex that is usually marketed to users and growers. Female cannabis plants are those that produce those fragrant, flavorful buds to smoke, as their flowers are rich in THC and CBD content thanks to its cannabinoids and terpenes.
You can tell that a plant is a female by taking a close look at their nodes – the spot where new leaves branch out. Female cannabis will sport bracts on this area covered in white hair. More of this white hair will begin to appear when the calyxes grow out, which serves as the sac to protect the seeds, the cannabis offspring. The calyx will only bear seeds when they are pollinated. Without pollen, they grow into the sought after aromatic buds users and growers have come to love.
Male cannabis plants are responsible for producing pollen. When the pollen reaches a female, this will activate the production of seeds in the female’s calyxes. A male cannabis plant can be easy to tell apart from its female counterpart.
By looking at the nodes, you will see small balls growing out; these balls are the pollen sacs. When these sacs bloom, they release pollen that can be easily spread out by the air and can fall into the calyces of a female for seed production.
A hermie cannabis plant will share both the sex traits of a male and female – both white hairs and the balls or pollen sacs. Since both of these traits develop around the nodes, the plant is capable of pollinating itself, thus producing seeded buds instead of actual flower buds that you can harvest and smoke. Growing hermaphrodites are only often ideal if you are after more seeds to grow with, but if you need fresh, potent buds, this can be a sign of several problems your plant may be experiencing.
Behind the Cause of Hermaphroditism
There are some reasons as to why your plant can grow into a hermaphrodite. Knowing the causes is a good way to prevent having a hermie growing around your garden.
- Using Manipulated Seeds
When checking around for seeds, you would want to grow; it is best to go with those that have been well-reviewed and produce great results. Seeds that might have been harvested from crossbreed cannabis plants that may not be compatible can produce seeds that can grow into hermies later on.
- In the Genes or a Genetic Defect
Meanwhile, some cannabis plants might just have hermaphroditism that is inborn or the result of a genetic defect. Hermaphroditism can be present in some cannabis strains or is caused by cross-breeding two incompatible strains. A hermie mother plant can pass this trait to her clones, but even cloned cannabis can develop hermaphroditism even without any existing hermie traits in their genes.
- Coming Out Late
Since the sex traits of cannabis plants will appear during the flowering phase, you may only notice that your pant is actually a hermie when it’s too late. The pollen sacs may also develop when a plant has been in the flowering phase for too long. This will leave the buds to be overripe and look for pollen to develop seeds. This may signal the plant to grow male flowers or pollen sacs to pollinate itself in order to produce seeds.
- Being Under a Stressful Situation
Putting your cannabis under a lot of stress can result in developing hermaphroditism. Unstable conditions and other practices that may be deemed unhealthy for the plant will induce its hormones to produce male and female flowers just to be able to survive. Temperatures that are too hot or cold, a changing light cycle, mediums and fertilizers, and even not getting enough water to contribute to creating a hermie in your garden.
Preventing Hermaphrodite Developments
If you want to save your buds and keep them for good smoke, you will need to avoid growing hermies around. Do not feel so hopeless or worrisome of growing them since you can take action to prevent a hermaphrodite and have healthy and happy cannabis plants around.
- Purchase seeds from a trusted seller or dealer.
Check reviews from other growers and carefully read the description of the seeds you are about to purchase. Do not purchase seeds that might have been manipulated or have originated from hermaphrodite plants. It is best to use feminized seeds since these produce female cannabis plants that promise potent buds and good yield.
- Do your research.
Get to know the strains of cannabis you are considering to grow. If you see that they can grow into hermaphrodites, it would be safer to avoid them instead.
- Provide proper care to your plant.
Make sure you follow growing instructions and give it enough light, warmth, and water. Avoid pruning too often and using fertilizers and boosters that may have chemicals that are too strong and harm the plant’s growth or cause it to grow hermie traits as a side effect. Sticking to what is advised to grow your plant may be better trying other practices or products on your plant unless it is proven to enhance results
What to Do with a Hermie Cannabis Plant
If you want to keep the seeds from your hermie, or just see how it will turn out as it grows its buds, it is best to keep it away from your female cannabis plants. While some advice to simply pull off the pollen sacs, this may damage the plant and release pollen that can spread to your females.
Carefully remove the sacs with tweezers while they are still small and have not bloomed to avoid pollen from spreading. If kept in a pot, move it away gently to avoid shaking out the pollen. Others would often just kill the hermie, but you can keep it in a separate spot if you plan to venture into making your own seeds to grow. Just make sure the females and hermaphrodites are segregated and keep an eye for any signs of hermaphroditism developing in your cannabis so you can fix it right away.
As troublesome as it may sound, you can still do something about a growing hermie in your garden or avoid it completely. It will be worth it for you to read on the strains you want to grow, where to purchase the best seeds, and giving your plant the best-growing environment to avoid hermaphrodite development. Also, keep in mind the differences between a male and female, which can be quite easy to spot thanks to their distinct traits. With careful decision making and your time and effort, you can grow healthy plants and enjoy their fruitful yield when harvest time arrives.