Perlowin advises that growers who wish to prevent female cannabis plants from herming must be diligent throughout the plant’s grow cycle. For starters, purchase seeds from a reputable company or trustworthy breeder that understands cannabis genetics. While potential environmental stressors must be monitored and minimized, growers should also examine their plants every day for any unusual growth.
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.
How can growers prevent hermaphroditic plants?
“When you see a pollen sac, you will know that a female plant is turning male,” says Perlowin. “Oftentimes, you can tell before the pollen sack becomes a problem. You should examine the plant from the very bottom of the plant to the top. It is easy to spot when the pollen sacs are at the top of the plant, but be sure to examine if there are pollen sacs at the bottom.” Male plants additionally grow taller than female plants as they mature and have thicker stems and fewer leaves.
Female plants are generally shorter, denser in foliage, and broader than their male counterparts. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
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.
Hermaphrodites happen when the cannabis plant gets stressed. If she senses death is near, she will start developing the other sex to guarantee the survival of her species. This allows her to pollinate itself, producing seeds without the need for another plant.
The cannabis plants can be both Monoecious and Dioecious, although it is mostly found with separate sexes, you can and you will see Monoecious cannabis (hermaphrodites) in nature and even in your growing space.
1. Male Cannabis Plants
Pollen is used to create seeds. In nature, pollen allows the cannabis plants to perpetuate its species.
Pollen is produced by male cannabis plants and contains the male gametes. To produce seeds, a male plant needs to pollinate a female plant. This is how breeders produce new genetics, this way new terpene profiles and types of high can be achieved.
Just like female cannabis plants, male plants also flower but they don’t produce buds. Male cannabis plants develop pollen sacs that release pollen when they reach maturity.