Male cannabis plants are normally seen as something undesirable, at least if you ask the average cannabis grower. No one wants their precious crop accidentally pollinated and then ruined, as we’ve learned will happen if we don’t separate the males from the females early on. This negative stigma and the hassle associated with male plants are the reasons that feminized seeds have gained popularity. It’s true, they do make things easy on the grower.
CAN YOU SMOKE MALE PLANTS?
Male plants also make good ingredients in the kitchen. Decarboxylate your plant material and use it to infuse moderate levels of cannabinoids into drinks, cakes, and savoury dishes by whipping up a batch of cannabutter.
If you have a rather large garden, you can potentially locate a dedicated space for your male plants. Keep them as far from your females as you can. You can further help reduce the risk of accidental pollination by planting sunflowers to create a natural barrier between your males and females. This allows you to cultivate incredible, smokable cannabis, without having to toss your male plants in fear of accidental pollination.
Allowing a male plant to grow to the stage where it produces cannabinoids will put your female plants at risk. If the male releases pollen and fertilises the female flowers, the plants will cease resin production and start producing seeds instead. Therefore, the risk far outweighs the benefits of smoking male plants, unless you have no other choice.
Two signs indicate a plant is hermaphroditic. The first and most obvious sign is if the plant grows both male pollen sacs and female buds. The second sign is the appearance of anthers, known colloquially by growers as bananas or “nanners.” Anthers have a curved shape, are typically yellow or lime-green, and appear among buds. Unlike regular male pollen sacs, these anthers can fertilize the female plants as soon as they emerge, so they must be immediately trimmed or removed to protect a female crop.
If you’re growing cannabis from feminized seeds, or seeds that have been cultivated to produce only female plants, the plants should grow to be exclusively female. With non-feminized or regular seeds, approximately half the plants will turn out to be male.
Maintaining a crop of exclusively female plants prevents the possibility of male plants fertilizing female plants, leading to seed production. Fertilized female plants don’t create as much cannabinoid content as unfertilized females. When a female bud is fertilized, the plant’s energy and nutrients are directed to creating seeds, rather than forming THC-rich buds. Seedless female buds are known as sinsemilla and are celebrated for their longer bud-producing life and higher THC levels.
How can you tell the gender of a seed?
Hermaphrodite plants, or “hermies” as they are sometimes known, grow both male and female sex organs. Some cannabis cultivars such as Thai Sativa are true hermaphrodites with the tendency to express hermaphroditism in their genes. However, hermaphrodite plants generally occur as an outcome of stress, such as photoperiod disruptions, nutrient deficiencies, or disease. It’s vital to check female plants carefully to ensure the buds are female, and there are no male flowers that could result in the plant fertilizing itself.
There are other morphological differences that distinguish males from females. The male plant frequently grows taller than its female counterpart and has thicker, sturdier stalks to support its weight. Male plants also have fewer leaves than female plants, which tend to be shorter and bushier.
In the pre-flowering phase, the main giveaway of a female plant is the appearance of fine, white hairs known as stigmas protruding from tiny tear-drop shaped buds. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Home cultivation represents a sure-fire way to become intimately familiar with cannabis. Many novice growers are surprised to learn that cannabis is a dioecious species, which means that it produces gendered flowers. In times of stress, cannabis can also become hermaphroditic, displaying both female and male sex organs.