Growers identify plant sex by identifying pre-flowers, which are small structures that form at the nodes during late vegetation.
Of course, growers want to avoid this phenomenon if they’re aiming for the best flowers possible. We’ll dive deeper into what causes hermaphroditism and how to avoid it below.
Male plants, in contrast, don’t produce flowers. This makes them less valuable for growers seeking only buds. However, they do produce pollen sacs. These small vessels create the genetic material required to fertilise female flowers and create hybrids. This makes the males extremely important for breeding new cannabis strains.
IDENTIFYING FEMALE CANNABIS PLANTS
From psychoactive cannabinoids to aromatic terpenes, cannabis features many traits that make it unique within the plant kingdom. However, the uniqueness of the plant doesn’t stop at the phytochemicals it produces.
These protruding structures are designed to capture pollen, which leads to fertilisation. They stick out away from the flower to capture pollen from the air, and to await being brushed up against by pollen-covered insects.
Hermaphrodite cannabis plants come in two different forms: true hermaphrodites and “bananas”.
Cannabis belongs to a minority of species that are dioecious in nature, meaning they produce separate male and female plants. Specifically, it should be noted that only 7% of all angiosperms (flowering plant species) possess this rare and interesting trait.
True hermaphrodites, like male plants, need to be culled early to avoid having them pollinate your other females. Plants with mixed-sex buds, on the other hand, can be harvested.
Using a growing medium that is too acidic or alkaline is another big stressor for cannabis.
HOW TO DEAL WITH HERMAPHRODITE CANNABIS PLANTS
Cannabis plants need the right nutrients to produce great bud. Over/underfeeding can stress your plants, affecting their ability to develop properly and potentially increasing the risk of becoming hermaphroditic.
Hence, it goes without saying that you need to catch any hermaphrodite plants as quickly as possible. Some plants will show signs of hermaphroditism early on when they just start producing flowers. You’ll see these plants developing both male and female flower structures. These can form on different branches or on the same branch, and some hermaphrodites even develop both structures at the same bud site. These are called “true hermaphrodites”.
• Long flowering times
Now, is this good or bad? Well, that’s an interesting topic that unfortunately lies far outside the scope of this article. For the purpose of this read, it’s simply important that you realise that cannabis cultivation isn’t exactly “natural”, and that this can influence why some plants turn out hermaphroditic.
If for whatever reason you do spot hermaphrodite cannabis plants, all is not lost. You just have to act fast and be cautious. To avoid hermaphrodite cannabis plants from pollinating themselves, carefully remove the male reproductive organs that form on the nodes. You can do so by gently taking a pollen sac in between two fingers and twisting/pulling it off. Wash your hands thoroughly before you go near your female plants – you don’t want to cause accidental pollination because of your dirty fingers! This way you can still have a satisfying harvest from any hermaphrodite, without having to pluck the seeds from your buds.
The best thing you can do to guarantee you’ll grow female cannabis plants, is to purchase feminized cannabis seeds. In contrast to regular cannabis seeds, which will grow 50/50 males and females, feminized seeds guarantee for 98% to grow into female cannabis plants.
Male Cannabis Plants form small ball-shaped pollen sacs on their nodes
How To Prevent Stress From Turning Female Cannabis Into Hermaphrodites
Strong & Healthy Chocolato FEM (White Choco x Gelato)
Some cannabis strains are more sensitive to stress than others. Stress can arise from a number of sources, from overly enthusiastic pruning and topping to environmental factors like excessive temperatures, water shortage or surplus, soil acidity or overfeeding and lack of nutrients. It is good to know that cannabis is called a ‘weed’ for a reason: this is a hardy species with great natural resilience. Still, most cannabis seeds you can order online are crossbreeds cultivated for specific traits like taste or THC content. Years of crossbreeding and hybridization have created some strains that are more prone to stress than their natural ancestors.
The first paragraph of this article explains cannabis plants grow only one set of reproductive organs. Although there is still a ‘but’ to this. Because there always remains the possibility that female cannabis plants form male reproductive organs too. This usually happens when the plant(s) experience excessive stress. And in times of stress, they try to guarantee the survival of their species. Cannabis plants can do so by turning hermaphrodite, or ‘herma’ in grower terms.
The sex of cannabis plants can be determined by looking for the first signs of bloom on the plant. These are visible a few days to a week after you switch your light to 12/12 and give your plant the sign to switch from the growth stage to the flowering stage of its life cycle . Outdoors, the same signal is given by nature as soon as the days grow shorter than 14 hours after the summer solstice.