The Male Weed Plant: Identification and Uses
Now that medical and recreational cannabis has become legal, many states allow for home-growing your own cannabis. So taking your green thumb to the next level can be great.
Growing your own cannabis can be a fun DIY project or a chance to connect with the plant before you consume it. But what do you even do with a male weed plant?
If you’re new to growing cannabis, you may not know the importance of gendering your plants.
Male weed plants can severely interfere with your cannabis crop. They can take up valuable resources, lower your yield, and, if you did not know, they do not produce any consumable cannabis. Most of the cannabis you buy, whether in the form of flowers, edibles, or products, comes from unfertilized female plants. Like in Jurassic Park, you want all cannabis plants to be female.
Experienced growers will separate female and male weed plants unless they are looking specifically to crossbreed or cultivate seeds.
How Do You Identify Male Cannabis Plants?
Male weed plants have thicker, sturdier stalks and fewer leaves. They also tend to develop faster than female plants, so they can tend to grow taller.
It’s important to make sure you compare plants of the same species. This is because leaf counts and stalks can vary from cannabis breed to breed; for example, Indica plants have sturdier stalks than Sativa plants.
At the joint of the stem, you’ll see small pre-flowers develop. Both female and male cannabis plants will have pre-flowers. Male cannabis pre-flowers have small balls or bulbs. These are the sacks that release pollen. You’ll want to remove them as soon as you locate them, as male plants develop faster than females.
Male plants show their sex before female plants, which can be 7-10 days earlier in indoor plants or three weeks before female plants in outdoor plants.
To identify male cannabis plants:
- Look at the joints of the stem. Your plants will begin to develop small pre-flowers; look for bulbs or white hairs. Plants with small bulbs are male.
- Taller plants with thick stalks, fewer leaves, and taller stems can also tend to be male plants.
How Do You Identify Female Cannabis Plants?
Female cannabis plants tend to have thinner stalks, are shorter, and tend to have more leaves, especially up top.
Female cannabis plants also develop pre-flowers. Their pre-flowers tend to develop what looks like white or translucent hairs. These grow into larger pistils that are more visible in developed plants.
To identify female cannabis plants:
- Look at the joints in the stems for pre-flowers. Female weed plants have pre-flowers with small white-looking hairs. These will only grow over time.
- Keep an eye out for seed pods, as some cannabis plants can be hermaphroditic.
- Look for bushier plants. Female plants tend to have more leaves and thinner stalks.
Do Hermaphroditic (Both Sexes) Cannabis Plants Exist?
Some cannabis plants can have the sex organs of both female and male weed plants. This often happens when your plants are under intense amounts of stress.
Cannabis plants can at times self-pollinate. As a result, certain strains are more likely to develop hermaphrodite or “hermies.” This can often be caused by stress.
What cannabis stressors cause hermies?
- Damage to your plants
- Bad weather
- Too little water
- Nutrient deficiencies
- Light Changes in the flowering stage
If you see a plant with pollen sacks in some areas and pistils in others, you’ll still want to treat these like male cannabis plants.
These plants can still pollinate your crop and cause the same issues to your yield.
Why Do You Want To Separate Male And Female Cannabis Plants?
Male weed plants can be the enemy of any new cannabis grower. The reason: if even one male is present, it can lead to pollination.
What’s so bad about fertilization? Don’t you want more plants?
The issue with fertilized female cannabis plants is they are more likely to produce buds with seeds. Therefore, the bulk of their energy will be spent on creating seeds, so their buds have a lower THC content.
The goal when growing cannabis is to harvest sinsemilla, or “seedless” cannabis. These often have the highest cannabinoid concentrations that you seek when using and growing cannabis.
Additionally, if you’re growing cannabis for consumption, the male plants do not produce any buds.
Cannabis plants can self-pollinate. Like Jurassic Park, nature does find a way. But while female plants can self-pollinate, this inbreeding can decrease the potency and increase hermaphroditism in later generations.
Male cannabis plants are ideal for breeding, so if you are trying to cross certain plants to breed in certain terpenes or ideal CBD or THC levels, you’ll want to mate with male and female weed plants.
Are There Any Benefits To Male Cannabis Plants?
With all of the potential pitfalls of male cannabis plants, there are still a few benefits. There are a few benefits to growing male cannabis plants.
Seeds & Genetic Diversity
The clearest benefits of having male cannabis plants are to yield seeds. While you may choose high THC bud over seeds to grow strains for generations, you will want to have naturally grown seeds.
Male weed plants guarantee biological diversity and keep your plants from being too inbred, which can affect your yield over generations.
Pest Control & Disease Prevention
Male cannabis plants also have higher concentrations of the terpenes pinene and limonene which can help in pest control and disease prevention.
Male Weed Plants: Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Use Male Cannabis Plants?
While there isn’t as much THC and CBD in male cannabis plants as in female plants, some cannabinoids and terpenes are still available.
Unlike female cannabis plants with THC and CBD in their buds, male cannabis plants tend to have more cannabinoids in their leaves than in their flowers.
These male plants can be used to make concentrates of THC or CBD.
You can even juice your male cannabis plants to make a juice rich with cannabinoids that are not super psychoactive.
Male cannabis plants can also be harvested for hemp fiber. The cannabis plant has been renowned for the versatility of hemp, and while it may not be as exciting as marijuana, it can still be utilized.
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Can Male Weed Plants Grow Buds?
While male cannabis plants grow preflowers, they do not grow actual buds. Therefore, they not only do not have as high concentrations of THC or CBD as female plants, but they can also negatively affect your harvest overall. Fertilization will cause your plants to focus their energy on developing seeds, which cuts down on the THC levels of the buds of your female plants.
Do Male Weed Plants Grow Faster Than Females?
Yes. Male plants not only grow and will develop faster than female plants. This can be 7 to 10 days with indoor plants or as much as three weeks with outdoor plants. In addition, male plants tend to grow taller because they develop so much faster.
When Can You Tell Whether A Weed Plant Is Male Or Female?
You can begin sexing your cannabis plants within 1-2 weeks for males and 2-4 weeks for females. It is when the pre-flowers or nodes develop.
What Happens If You Don’t Separate A Male From A Female Plant?
You run the risk of fertilization if you don’t separate even one male plant from your crop of female plants. It is because male cannabis plants release pollen.
That pollen will launch the female plants into the process of producing seeds. It means the buds will slowly become filled with seeds, and the plant’s priority will be creating seeds that can cause lower THC levels in your harvest.
Can I Grow Mostly Male Weed Plants To Use As CBD Mixture?
While male cannabis plants have some CBD, female plants still have significantly higher amounts of THC and CBD. You can find alternative uses for male plants rather than throwing them away, but female cannabis plants will always be best for all your cannabis growing needs.
What Are The First Signs To Watch Out For To Determine Whether Some Of Your Weed Plants Are Male?
The first sign to watch out for male weed plants is to keep an eye out for taller plants. Since male weed plants develop faster male plants can tend to be taller.
Keep an eye out for the small sacs that will develop along the joints where the stem meets the stalks. These sacks are pre-flowers that also have pollen sacks.
Can You Smoke Male Weed Plants’ Leaves?
You can smoke male weed plants, and even the pollen has THC. The dilemma is that you will have to smoke many more plants to provide the same effects as female plants. Also, just because they contain THC does not mean that you necessarily should.
The more effective way to cultivate the cannabinoids from male weed plants is to create concentrates or hashish from the plants.
Your relationship with male weed plants will vary whether you’re a brand new home grower or a bit more experienced. That being said, it’s still important to be able to identify them to decide how you want to use them, if at all.
One male plant could impact your whole harvest. Hopefully, thanks to this guide, you can keep your growing efforts effective while also finding a use for those pesky male plants.
Make Sure Your Marijuana Grow is Legal – Get a Medical Marijuana Card Today!
Unless you live in a state where recreational marijuana is legal, you may want to consider getting a medical marijuana card so your grow is 100% legal! Check out your state’s qualifying conditions and apply for a medical marijuana card online right now! Our team of Medical Marijuana Doctors is available in every state with legal medicinal marijuana.
And make sure to check your state’s individual laws before you start growing! Every state – even the ones with legal recreational cannabis – has certain limitations on the size of your marijuana grow operation.
This article is reviewed by Dr. Anand Dugar, an anesthesiologist and pain medicine physician. He is also the founder of Green Health Docs. Graduating from medical school in 2004 and residency in 2008, Dr. Dugar has been a licensed physician for almost 20 years and has been leading the push for medical cannabis nationwide.