Okay, back to sexing cannabis.
If you are growing from feminized seeds, you shouldn’t need to worry about sexing your cannabis plants all that much. While not 100% guaranteed, there is only a very slim chance that a feminized seed will produce a male plant. About 1% in fact. In all of our years growing, we have never had a cannabis plant grown from feminized seed turn out to be a male – though we only grow a handful of plants per year. Folks who grow hundreds of plants could potentially end with a rare male now and then.
When to Sex Cannabis Plants
Feminized seeds are highly desirable to most growers. They’re efficient. It is almost sure-fire that you’re spending your energy and resources raising ladies. However, some growers accept or even prefer regular (unsexed) seeds! We grow a little of both.
However, the culled males don’t need to go to waste! One option is to chop up the male plant and use it to mulch other plants – much like we do with borage, fava bean greens, yarrow, and comfrey. You could also juice the leaves, which are full of nutrients. Heck, you could even steep the plant material in water to create a natural fertilizer as we do with stinging nettle. Finally, I’m sure your compost pile will welcome the male plant with open arms. Or would that be… with open worms?
In order to correctly sex cannabis plants, you’ll need to become familiar with their anatomy in general. Both males and females produce pre-flowers and flowers in the junctions between stems or branches. The very first pre-flowers show up in the crook between the main plant stalk and a fan leaf stem (petiole), usually near the top of the plant. The good news is, the males usually begin to develop and show sooner than females. I guess the idea is that the dudes want to have their pollen ready and waiting for when the ladies join the party?
Those who live in a state where marijuana is legal for medical or recreational use can sometimes find seeds at their local dispensary. However, online marijuana seed banks have significantly more strains available. Even individuals who live in some states where marijuana has not been made legal to use can purchase seeds online. Several states consider dormant seeds to be souvenirs, so it is legal to purchase and own the seeds as long as they don’t become high-THC plants.
Cannabis enthusiasts have been trying to find out how to determine the sex of a marijuana plant by the seed for ages. Unfortunately, there is no way to tell if the seed will produce a male or female plant by just looking at the seed. Regular marijuana seeds have a 50% chance of being female, so out ten seeds, growers can expect that 5 of them will probably produce female plants.
A lot of information can be gleaned from the texture and hardness of a marijuana seed. After visually inspecting the seeds, growers can pick them up and feel their shell for the following:
Do Marijuana Seeds Expire?
A mature, high-quality marijuana seed has a hard shell that can withstand the pressure of being squeezed between two fingers. Poor quality seeds will disintegrate when squeezed. If this happens, the seed was weak or dead and would not have grown a viable plant if it germinated at all.
Preflowers are the earliest sign of a marijuana plant’s gender. Between four and six weeks, nodes will develop at the joint where a plant’s stem meets the stalk. Female plants develop white hairs at the internodal joints while male plants develop rounded internodal sacs that fill with pollen.
Seeds can remain viable for three to ten years if stored properly, but more and more seeds will fail to germinate as time passes. Older seeds will take more time to germinate, so growers should use the float test before assuming the viability of their stored seeds. They can speed germination by soaking the viable seeds in water mixed with a few drops of hydrogen peroxide for 24 hours. It is important to watch them closely for signs of opening, as they will need to be removed immediately to avoid drowning.
While it is best to identify male marijuana plants by their pollen sacs as soon as possible to avoid accidental pollination, there is another way to determine a plant’s sex. If male and female seeds are planted at the same time, the male plants will grow faster and taller than the female plants. Additionally, male plants have longer stems with fewer leaves, making them look spindly compared to female plants.