Elevated levels of female hormones in male cannabis plants can trigger female flowering development. The technique is more effective when applied to male plants that have not yet formed mature flowers. It’s also vital to bear in mind that many male marijuana plants are hermaphroditic plants, and distinguishing true males can be very difficult.
Like all plants, however, cannabis has an inherent drive to procreate by propagating seeds. One way that the plant achieves this is by herming, when female plants become hermaphrodite to self-pollinate. The tendency to herm means that growers must take extra care to minimize any stressors that may cause the plant to perceive a threat and change its sex.
Female plants are generally shorter, denser in foliage, and broader than their male counterparts. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Can you turn a male plant female?
Other stressors that may incite female cannabis plants to become hermaphroditic include disruptions to the photoperiod, dramatic shifts in temperature, disease or pest infestations, the use of toxic pesticides, and physical damage from vigorous pruning.
Male plants can be identified most easily when they begin flowering. The flowers initially appear as a curved claw shape, which soon differentiates into a flower bud containing five radial segments. As the flowers develop, pollen sacs emerge that almost look similar to small bunches of grapes. Eventually, the sepals of the pollen sacs will open to release the pollen.
A true female cannabis plant cannot be cloned from a male plant. Cloning is a process that is used by breeders to make genetic copies of robust, healthy female plants, reducing the guesswork that sometimes accompanies cannabis cultivated from seed.
When female plants herm, or develop male flowers capable of disseminating pollen, the entire crop is at risk of pollination. Female flowers that have been fertilized by pollen will halt their development to produce seeds, limiting flower production.
Your germination problems are also due to the fact that they were bagseed. It’s usually compressed and stored in a way that kills the seed. Seeds need to be stored in a cool, dry place to stay viable.
Bagseed plants are notorious for self-pollinating (hermiphrodite) late in flowering. Generally, the outdoor commercial weed isn’t pollinated with males (which are culled), but by hermi-females that are harder to see. This results in hermi-seeds. It’s very hard to find a reliable female from bagseed.
There’s nothing wrong with growing some bagseed. Hopefully you got some decent smoke and learned a lot. In the future, any seeds you buy from a breeder are going to seem like a breeze!