How To Sex Your Cannabis Plant

Understanding how to sex your high potency hemp plants is one of the most important aspects of producing cannabis of excellent quality. It may appear to be a difficult concept at first, but it’s really easier than you’d believe. Cannabis is dioecious, which simply means that separate male and female flowering individuals exist within each plant. Understanding this aspect of cultivation is crucial to reaching your desired harvest, so it’s essential to know how to sex a cannabis plant.

Cannabis plants can be identified as male or female from the time that they first sprout from a seed. Upon witnessing the first signs of sexing your cannabis plants, you will notice that separate male and female flowering plants exist within each individual. Understanding the difference between feminized and regular seeds is key:

  • Feminized cannabis seeds are devoid of the male chromosome that is present in ordinary seeds. If you’re looking for juicy buds, feminized is the way to go. Make sure to keep in mind that 100% female seeds are just a marketing trick. Watching out for pollen sacs is still of paramount importance.
  • Regular seeds, on the other hand, produce both male and female plants. Pollination is bound to happen, so buy regular seeds if you don’t particularly care for pollination or, of course, if your intention is to breed.

Reproduction in Cannabis Plants

Reproduction of cannabis plants can occur through two methods: self-pollination and cross-pollination. The first occurs when a male pollen sac separates from the plant and releases thousands of tiny pollen granules into the air, which is carried by wind or gravity toward a female plant where they can germinate to produce seed. Upon fertilization, the seed begins to grow into a new plant that will inherit its genetic material from each of its parents.

Cross-pollination occurs when pollen is transferred within the same species using methods other than wind or gravity. Here are some ways that can happen:

  • When male pollen sacs are physically disturbed and release their pollen into the air.
  • When male pollen sacs are transferred to the female flowers via hands, insects, clothes, tools, or animals.
  • When a grower attempts to identify their plant as male or female before it is mature enough to be accurately identified. Once a cannabis plant reaches its flowering stage it can be correctly identified as either male or female through observations of its sex organs.

While a plant will produce both male and female flowers, only the female flowers will actually produce high-quality buds. Thus, if your intent is to harvest pollinated bud, you should prevent males from entering any flowering areas of your grow site. This can be done by keeping your plants in an enclosed area far away from any male plant that may be carrying pollen.

If you want to produce seeds, on the other hand, it’s best to let males pollinate your female flowers. However, this will affect your overall harvest as many of the flowers generated by a pollinated female plant will not mature fully and will eventually fall off before reaching full maturity.

Why Sexing High Potency Hemp Plants Is Important?

Knowing how to sex your high potency hemp plants is important because it will help you distinguish between male and female plants, which in turn will help you get your practices aligned with your goal. If you want to produce juice buds, it’s best to cull the males before they are able to pollinate your females. Letting them grow will decrease your yield, so it’s best to remove them as soon as you notice their sex organs.

A pollinated female pot plant would devote most of its energy to reproduction (i.e. seed production), resulting in a lot fewer flowers and a shorter bloom period.

How To Distinguish Between Male and Female Cannabis Plants?

There are several differences between male and female plants, the most obvious of which is that males do not produce buds. In fact, their only purpose is to fertilize those from a female plant. It’s important to note that you should never smoke any part of a male as it will cause temporary discomfort at best. If you want leaf matter for juicing, just avoid tearing the male flowers and collect them by hand.

Here are some additional male characteristics:

  1. Buds are basically absent.
  2. The leaves of a male cannabis plant take on a much darker shade than those of female plants. Male stems also contain thicker fibers than their female counterparts.
  3. Male cannabis plants rarely grow taller than 3 or 4 feet.
  4. Male cannabis plants are much more likely to display hermaphroditic characteristics, meaning their sexes are not clearly defined. The most common expressions of this condition include flowers containing both stamens and pistil as well as the growth of both female and male sex organs on the same plant.

Female cannabis plants are easily distinguishable from their male counterparts as they produce buds and flowers, not pollen sacs. Here are some characteristics of a female cannabis plant:

  1. The leaves of a female cannabis plant take on a lighter shade than those of males, with the color usually transitioning from light green to a reddish hue once flowering sets in. The leaves often display an orange or red tone with hints of purple.
  2. Females have a more developed root system in comparison to males, making them less likely to fall over during the flowering stage.
  3. Female plants are recognizable by their spherical clusters of tightly-packed flowers. These will grow in large numbers at branch internodes and along the main stalk once they start to flower.
  4. The flowers of a female cannabis plant are very sticky and viscous, causing them to shine like dewdrops in the sunlight when they’re ready for harvest. Tip: These shiny globules often contain high concentrations of trichomes that give this part of the bud its well-deserved reputation as one of the most potent in the plant kingdom.

Do Feminized Seeds Prevent Fertilization?

The short answer is no. Given the fact that purchasing feminized seeds doesn’t guarantee that you’ll end up exclusively with female plants, they really do not pose an obstacle to fertilization. The chance of getting just female high potency hemp plants is very high, but make sure to remove any pollen sacs if they appear. The only surefire way to fully prevent fertilization is to use an indoor grow room with air cleaners or a greenhouse.

How Do You Define Hermaphrodite High Potency Hemp Plants?

A hermaphrodite cannabis plant is one that has both male and female characteristics. This occurs when the plant becomes stressed, usually at a young age. Because it’s not clear whether or not these plants are actually trying to express their masculinity or femininity, they can create some very precarious growing situations.

If you leave the plant to continue its development, it could end up pollinating itself and other nearby female cannabis plants. It’s also possible for these hermaphrodites to fertilize male high potency hemp plants, which is not only a waste of space but is downright dangerous because male pollen sacs contain high concentrations of Potency as well as other cannabinoids.

Top Tips For Sexing High Potency Hemp Plants

Coming To Terms With Growth Patterns

Regardless of its gender, every cannabis plant matures throughout the vegetative stage. This is when you can determine whether your plant is male or female. If it’s tall, lanky, and exhibiting minimal branching with only a few leaves, it’s probably male. If this is the case, you’ll need to take additional steps to ensure that your crop is free of fertilization.

Cloning Speeds Up The Process

Cloning is the quickest approach to begin sexing your high potency hemp plants before they have fully bloomed. Once the plant has been cut and transferred to a new root system, you will begin to see its true gender within just a few days.

The Way Germination Occurs

Some experts say that you can begin sexing high potency hemp plants as soon as the seeds germinate. To accomplish this, they advise you to look for where the plant sprouted from—the side (male) of the seed, or the top (female).

Purchase Auto Seeds or Feminized Seeds on Our Website! 

If you’re looking to buy autoflowering cannabis seeds or feminized cannabis seeds, check out our inventory! We stock seeds from Barney’s Farm, Dutch Passion, Green House Seeds, Amsterdam Genetics, and Soma Seeds.



Mo Smyth, BSN, RN Cannabis Nurse Educator