How To Determine the Sex of a Marijuana Plant

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How To Determine the Sex of a Marijuana Plant

How To Determine the Sex of a Marijuana Plant

How To Determine the Sex of a Marijuana Plant

Sexing Cannabis – A Quick Step by Step Guide

Want to make the most out of your home-grown marijuana plant? Just get well-equipped with knowledge and skills before embarking on cannabis harvest.

The first thing you need to know is that you’ll need to grow female cannabis plants as they not only produce the coveted buds you’ll need for medical purposes but also have higher THC content compared to their male counterparts.

So, you should sow only feminized cannabis seeds and, if you buy clones, learn how to sex marijuana plants early. This article details a comprehensive guide on “how to determine the sex of a marijuana plant”.

1. Male Vs Female Weed



Marijuana or weed plants exhibit sexual dimorphism, meaning they are dioecious plants and show distinct characteristics that differentiate male and female plants. To tell the sex of marijuana plants, it is essential to understand these distinctions.

Female marijuana plants produce flowers or buds, which contain the coveted components tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). On the other hand, male marijuana plants do not produce flowers and have negligible levels of CBD, so the male plants are typically removed from cultivation.

Most cultivators focus on growing female cannabis plants for their high-quality flowers. Separating male and female plants is crucial, as pollinated (seeded) flowers are unappealing to smoke or consume, and the presence of seeds reduces the potency of plants to produce THC.

However, you may intentionally keep male weed plants to propagate your favorite strains. As marijuana is a dioecious plant, its offspring inherit half of their genetic material from the father plant and the other half from the mother plant, resulting in unique crossbred plants, so you can combine two favorite plant strains to produce something special.

Regardless of your experience level, you must prevent male plants from infiltrating your home-grown garden. Thus, it is mandatory to discern between male and female marijuana plants. To determine the sex of your marijuana plants, it is important to consider their different growth stages:

  • Germination – 3 to 10 days (non-autoflower)
  • Seedling – 2 to 3 weeks
  • Vegetative – 3 to 16 weeks
  • Flowering – 8 to 11 weeks

During the early stages of growth, such as the germination and the seedling stage, it is difficult to differentiate between male and female plants.

However, after a few weeks into the vegetative stage, the distinctions become visible, and their gender becomes obvious during the flowering stage. Waiting until the flowering stage can be risky, as male plants may have already pollinated the females by then.

It is preferable to tell the gender of marijuana plants in the early vegetative stage.

2. Sexing Males, Females, & Hermaphrodites – An Overview

To determine the sex of a marijuana plant, you must look between the nodes. The nodes are where the leaves and branches extend from the stalk. To spread seeds, pollen sacs develop on male plants. To catch the pollen, the stigma will develop on a female.

You can start to see the differences between male and female plants, even before they begin making use of their various reproductive organs. Plants that haven’t quite reached maturity are what we call “pre-flowers.”

Four weeks into growth, plants will become pre-flowers. Some can take a bit longer, however, though it depends on the sprouting phase and how quickly it occurs.

If anything, you should be able to find pre-flowers by the sixth week with confidence to determine your plant’s sex.

To do so, look at the nodes and check to see if there are small sacs beginning to grow or two bracts. If you find sacs, it’s a male. If you find bracts, it’s a female. Meanwhile, you can also encounter the case of hermaphrodites with both male and female organs.

3. Female Marijuana Plants

Female Marijuana Plant

Female Marijuana Plant

Female marijuana plants are what most people are after, as these are the ones that have buds. If you ever catch yourself looking at a picture of cannabis with buds on it, know that you are staring into the eyes of a gorgeous female plant.

To produce seeds, female cannabis must receive pollen from male plants. They will then use this pollen to carry the genes onto the next generation.

Because people use cannabis for the buds rather than the seeds, the process of growing seedless cannabis (sinsemilla) is very popular today. More often than not, growers will cultivate males and females separately. To prevent pollination, some growers will get rid of males completely, allowing females to focus on the production of buds rather than the production of seeds.

One of the few reasons someone might choose to allow pollination is during crossbreeding or new strain creation.

4. Male Cannabis Plants

Male Cannabis Plant

Male Cannabis Plant

While you might discard males due to their seed-bearing nature, they are also very important in the breeding process. As with most species, males provide females with half the genetic makeup.

Looking at the genetics of a male plant is very important when determining what kind of characteristics you want your plant to have. Some sought-after characteristics include pest resistance, mold resistance, fast growth rate, and climate resilience. The beauty of these traits is that they are often passed down to the next generation.

5. Hermaphrodite Marijuana Plants

Sometimes, cannabis plants can exhibit hermaphroditism, meaning they develop both male pollen sacs and female flowers. This is often due to plant stress, such as genetic factors or adverse conditions like malnutrition, root rot, and excessive heat.

There are two main types of hermaphroditic weed plants: true hermaphrodites and mixed-gender plants. True hermaphrodites have both male and female sex organs, usually located in different areas of the plant body.

In contrast, mixed-gender cannabis plants have yellow sex organs called anthers and are usually grown from female plants that can still produce pollen, leading to pollination of nearby flowers.

Regardless of the specific type of hermaphrodite cannabis plant discovered in your indoor or outdoor farm, you should treat it as a male plant rather than a female plant. This approach is essential because hermaphroditic plants have the potential to pollinate your female plants.

Additionally, if you want to breed a hermaphroditic plant with a female weed plant, you will probably get more hermaphroditic plants in future generations. Therefore, it is best to remove hermaphroditic plants from your home-grown cannabis garden to avoid unwanted pollination and maintain the desired characteristics of your female weed plants.

6. 10 Quick Tips on How to Sex Cannabis Plants

10 Quick Tips on How to Sex Cannabis Plants

10 Quick Tips on How to Sex Cannabis Plants

1. Allow Your Plants to Grow for 6 Weeks before Sexing Them: During the initial 6 weeks of their growth, cannabis plants, both male and female, look identical. You need to wait for them to develop their sex organs before differentiating between them.

Meanwhile, you can sow “feminized” seeds, which usually produce close to 100% female weed plants. However, occasional errors can occur, so you should closely monitor your plants to ensure there are no rogue males.

2. Look for Thicker Stalks with Reduced Foliage: Male marijuana plants, compared to female plants of the same strain, generally have thicker and sturdier stalks. This feature is necessary to support their tallness and bear their weight. Additionally, male plants usually have fewer leaves compared to their female counterparts.

3. Regularly Inspect Your Plants Between July & September: Allowing male marijuana plants to pollinate can significantly reduce the potential yield of your female plants. When fertilized, female plants allocate energy towards seed production instead of THC, causing a smaller harvest.

If you are growing weed indoors and visiting your plants regularly, you can conveniently perform the following checks.

Examine each plant individually to identify any male specimens, as even a single male can adversely affect your harvest. Typically, male marijuana plants reveal their gender 7-10 days (indoors) or 3 weeks (outdoors) before female plants.

4. Examine the Joints on the Stalk: The small balls that develop at the points where branches meet the main stalk serve as primary indicators of maleness in weed plants. These flowers release pollen, so they should be removed to enhance the quality of your crop.

If your intention is to grow new plants or go for reproduction, it is important to leave these balls undisturbed. Female plants may also have these bulbs, but they also exhibit long, translucent hairs. If there are only 1-2 bulbs on a plant, wait to see if more develop before you remove them.

5. Treat Hermaphroditic Plants as Males and Remove Them: Marijuana plants have the capacity to develop both male and female sex organs. If you find any characteristic male buds, trim them as you would with regular male plants.

You should avoid hermaphroditic plants (hermies) as they can jeopardize your crop yield. Also, be careful not to transfer pollen from the male area to the female area through your hands or clothing or hands.

6. Look for the Fuller Leaf Structure: When determining the gender of fully grown marijuana plants, one of the easiest indicators is their bushiness. While male plants exhibit thicker stalks with minimal foliage, female weeds of the same strain tend to be shorter, bushier, and full of foliage (leaves).

7. Examine the Joints Small, Translucent Hairs: Once your crop has reached maturity, female plants will begin to flower. In the joints where the branches meet the main stalk, you will observe pistils or small, translucent hairs emerging from a small, tear-shaped bud nestled within the joint. Additionally, you might notice “growth tips,” which are new branches and clusters of emerging leaves. Male plants have small buds or pollen sacs in these areas but will lack the hair growth.

8. Look for More Ovate Flowers: Identifying a female marijuana plant can be done in its early pre-flower stage. Female pre-flowers are more ovate in shape, resembling a pear with a slender, pointed tip called the calyx. From the calyx, you can notice white hair-like protrusions called pistils. It’s important to note that not all females in the pre-flower stage will have pistils.

9. Use Height as an Indicator of Cannabis Gender: Height can be a useful method to identify male and female marijuana plants. During their vegetative stage, female plants develop complex branching systems, appearing fuller and wider, while male plants grow taller and spindlier with fewer leaves and branches. These features are more noticeable in outdoor-grown plants and provide cultivators with insights on which plants to monitor closely.

Male plants undergo a growth spurt towards the end of their vegetative stage, resulting in a significant increase in their height. This relative tallness facilitates the scattering of pollen from male plants to nearby females. Assessing their height during the vegetative stage is a reliable way to determine the sex of your cannabis plants before they flower. Watch out for little white flowers preceding pollen sacs to confirm future male plants.

10. Use Cloning to Sex Your Marijuana Plants: Cloning is a reliable method for determining the sex of cannabis plants before they mature. If you take vegetative cuttings and grow new plants from them, the clones will have the same sex as the parent plant.

However, when dealing with an entire farm, it is important to track the origin of each clone to identify and remove male plants from the crop. To accelerate the sexing process, you can induce flowering in the clones by using a light cycle of 12 hours of light followed by 12 hours of complete darkness.

Here you should note that sexing weed clones in this way is not possible with auto-flowering plants.

7. FAQs about Sexing a Marijuana Plant

7.1. Can you tell the sex of a marijuana plant?

Yes, you can. For the accurate identification of male and female plants, you will need to wait for about 6 weeks. During the first six weeks of their growth, the male and female marijuana plants will look identical.

7.2. How can you tell if a marijuana plant is male?

There are certain physical markers on the body of a marijuana plant, which can help you to tell if a cannabis plant is male. For example, if your plant has thicker, sturdier stalks, fewer leaves, and male buds or flowers, it would be a male cannabis plant.

7.3. How to differentiate male and female marijuana plants in detail?

Just read this article, as it provides a detailed guide on how to differentiate male and female marijuana plants.

7.4. How can I tell the sex of my plant?

You can use physical markers to tell the sex of your marijuana plant. For example, in addition to the obvious differences in their flowers, there are several notable features that can help distinguish between male and female weed plants.

Often, male marijuana plants exhibit a more slender and elongated look. They are usually taller, with a narrower structure, fewer fan leaves, and greater spacing between branches (internodal spacing). In contrast, female marijuana plants usually have a more compact and bushy growth pattern compared to their male counterparts.

8. Conclusion

To tell the sex of your marijuana plant, it is crucial to understand the physical distinctions between male and female plants. Female plants produce buds with higher THC content, making them more desirable for medical purposes. Observing different growth stages and physical indicators such as pollen sacs for males and pistils for females can help tell them apart.

Separating male and female cannabis plants is important to prevent unwanted pollination and maintain potency of your crop. Cloning can also aid in identifying and removing male plants from your indoor or outdoor farm.

9. Further Assistance

Further Assistance

Further Assistance

If you need further assistance with sexing your marijuana plants, reach out to us here at Big Daddy Clones. We can also provide healthy male or female clones of your desired strain. If you want to buy your first batch of clones, we are here to help.

For any questions, give us a call at  877-262-6192 today!