Let’s talk about sexing your cannabis plant. That is, identifying if the plant is male or female. This can be a little tricky for those of you who are new to growing cannabis but with the tips in this article, it’ll make things much easier for you.
The cannabis plant is a dioecious plant. A dioecious plant is one where the male and female reproductive systems occur on separate plants. So, when your cannabis plant sprouts from the medium, it will be either male or female. How do you tell the difference? Well, if you’re just looking at the plant with a naked eye, you won’t be able to tell if the plant is male or female until the plant starts showing preflowers. Preflowers appear on the plant either late in the vegetation stage, or early flowering. Female preflowers look like hairs (these are called pistils) and male preflowers look like little balls (which turn into pollen sacs). Both form at the plant’s nodes.
Most growers only grow female plants and will quickly kill off any male plants. If there is a male and female plant in the same room, and the male’s pollen sacs open up, then the female plant can be pollinated. This will result in the female plant producing seeds inside its flowers (or buds). If this happens, then the female’s buds won’t get as big as they would without being pollinated. A female plant that hasn’t been pollinated (and therefore doesn’t produce seeds) is called sensimilla.
Now there are cannabis plants that produce both male and female parts on the same plant. These are called hermaphrodites (aka hermies). Hermaphrodites can be fully grown out, but the end result will be small buds with many seeds inside them. Due to this, many growers immediately kill off hemies upon identifying them.
Don’t confuse preflowers with stipules. Stipules are on both male and female plants.
Since it takes at a minimum of several weeks in order to identify if the plant is male or female, many growers are now turning to DNA sex testing. Once the plant sprouts from the medium, a leaf can be snipped off and sent to a lab to be tested. The lab will then look inside the nucleus of a plant cell for chromosomes. Females typically have two of the same kind of sex chromosome (XX). Males typically have two different kinds of sex chromosomes (XY).
The testing service that I personally use is Farmer Freeman. I’ve used Farmer Freemen DNA sex testing a few times and it has saved me time, space, water, and nutrients. Instead of growing the plant out for several weeks only to find out the plant is a male, I can now kill off males when they are still in the seedling stage. Click here for Farmer Freeman DNA Sex Testing
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