Whenever you sit down to enjoy a smoke, inhale cannabis vapor, or consume an edible, you owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the female cannabis plant. Only females provide the bud that is so rich in cannabinoids such as THC that we can all enjoy. As a result, most growers look for feminized seeds which only carry female genetics. You can rely upon such seeds to produce nothing but female plants.
In contrast, non-feminized (regular) cannabis seeds produce a yield where around half of the plants are male and half are female. Although male plants are useful for a breeding program, it is heartbreaking to have to throw away 50% of the plants at the end! Moreover, you are wasting a lot of time and space on plants you’ll ultimately have little or no use for.
It should be noted that there is a host of misinformation relating to feminized seeds and hermaphrodites (plants that show intersexuality). While more complex organisms typically have a specific gender, marijuana doesn’t necessarily follow this pattern. Cannabis is an odd plant insofar as it grows annually and also produces male and female flowers on different plants, but is also capable of producing flowers of the opposite gender under specific circumstances.
Furthermore, as it happens, this unusual situation is actually a survival mechanism, as it allows weed to reproduce while being both an annual growth plant and one that produces flowers of different sexes on different plants. Conditions such as physical damage, light cycle, and variations in temperature can cause a marijuana plant to become ‘intersexual.’ It is a response to adverse growing conditions; the plant is aware that it has a lower chance of reproduction.
Poor growing conditions significantly reduce the plant’s chances of completing a growing season, and it becomes less likely that a plant of the opposite gender will grow close enough to pollinate. When this happens, female plants may grow male ‘staminate’ flowers to produce pollen. They can also fertilize their own female ‘pistil’ flowers and produce seeds for next year.
How Early Feminized Seeds Were Created
In the modern era, growers utilize new technologies to feminize seeds and can produce a success rate of almost 100%! You won’t be surprised to learn that it was a little different at the beginning! Early attempts to feminize marijuana seeds involved the use of two female plants; one of which had hermaphroditic tendencies; in other words, a plant that tended to produce male flowers when exposed to stress.
The hermaphrodite was deliberately stressed via pruning or exposure to a poor light cycle as a means of encouraging it to produce male cannabis flowers. The pollen from these flowers would be applied to the other female plant. The main issue with the technique was that the pollen-donating female plants would often turn intersexual; a trait inherited by any feminized seeds created using this method.
As you will read later on, it is a lot easier to feminize cannabis seeds these days. First, let’s take a look at the difference between male and female cannabis plants.
Male vs. Female Cannabis Plants – You Have to Choose Female!
The trouble with naturally pollinated marijuana plants is that they tend to produce male and female seeds at around the same rate. As a result, there is only a 50% chance that you’ll yield a female plant from a regular cannabis seed. Ultimately, this means an extremely inefficient grow because you have to account for the likelihood that half your plants are going to be male.
Unless you are a breeder, a male plant is effectively useless, and too many of them will ruin your efforts to cultivate weed. You can circumnavigate the problem by planting twice as many seeds as usual in the knowledge that you’ll have to cull 50% of the crop. If you go down this route, you still need to identify male cannabis plants as soon as possible.
If you are a prospective grower, you already know that marijuana plants go through two life stages: Vegetative and Flowering. You could classify the Vegetative stage as a plant’s ‘childhood’ because it is only focusing on becoming bigger and stronger with no thought given to gender. You’re unlikely to have an idea of the plant’s gender for six weeks, because this is around the time when plants show ‘pre-flowers.’
Therefore, you will know a plant’s gender by the beginning of the flowering stage as long as you know what to look for. At this point, your plants will begin growing buds and pollen sacs. There is a difference between the pre-flowers produced by male and female plants, and once you become an experienced grower, you’ll quickly be able to tell the difference.
They form balls that look a little like grapes and get filled with pollen. You should be able to spot these balls within a fortnight of the flowering stage beginning. If you fail to detect the male plant in time, the sacs will burst, and pollen will cover the surrounding area.
It usually takes a little longer to spot a female plant after the start of the flowering stage. They begin by showing a wispy white hair or two where their buds will ultimately start forming. You should see these hairs where the main stem connects to the nodes. You can sometimes discover this initial sign if you keep the plant in the vegetative state for a little longer than usual.
There are a ton of pictures online that show you the white pistils growing out of the plant’s calyxes. Just remember, female pistils are NEVER green – they are supposed to be white and wispy.
Please note that there is a possibility of hermaphrodite plants which will have both sex organs. You need to remove such plants, because they will spill pollen and ruin your crop. When you find male and hermaphrodite plants, it is best to throw them out rather than looking to remove the buds by hand. You can keep a few males for breeding purposes, but otherwise, get rid of them!
Why You Should Grow From Feminized Cannabis Seeds
The most obvious reason to use feminized cannabis seeds is to take the guesswork out of growing. If you germinate regular seeds, half of them will be male plants that must ultimately be tossed away. When you feminize marijuana seeds, you can plan for a full and productive garden.
Remember, even in states where weed is legal to cultivate, there are set limits on the number of plants you can grow. In California for example, all adults aged 21+ are allowed to grow a maximum of six plants per household. If you use regular seeds, it is likely that three or even four (if you’re unlucky) of your plants will be males.
As well as taking up space, male plants also cost you time and resources. You won’t be able to tell a plant’s gender for weeks when using regular seeds, so you have no choice but to cultivate them until you can determine the gender of your plants. It is normal to discover the sex of a plant by the start of the flowering stage when you switch to the 12 hours of light-12 hours of dark schedule. By that time, you have used a lot of energy and nutrients on plants that you then have to throw away.
Why go through all of this hassle when you can feminize seeds and enjoy a near 100% success rate? It would be remiss of us not to mention the pros and cons of feminized seeds, as it is not an entirely ‘perfect’ solution.
Pros of Feminizing Cannabis Seeds
- Every plant will produce buds.
- A near 100% strike rate means you don’t have to be concerned about wasting space on plants that will eventually be removed from the growing area.
- There is no need to worry about watching plants at the pre-flowering stage to see if they are male or female.
- Without pollen sacs from male plants, there is no chance of pollination.
Cons of Feminizing Cannabis Seeds
- They are not a good choice if you aim to produce seeds, because they prevent the development of male seeds.
- You need male seeds to create an active breeding program if you want to develop new and exciting strains.
- Not every seller is reputable. You could still end up with seeds derived from a
- low-quality feminization process, which can become hermaphrodites.
How Are Cannabis Seeds Feminized?
You can purchase feminized cannabis seeds from reputable breeders. However, if there are none in your area, or if you fancy a challenge, you can try to make them at home. There is an element of luck involved when attempting DIY feminization, so don’t expect a success rate in the high nineties. Let’s take a look at a few of the most commonly used feminization techniques.
Although it is one of the more accessible options, it is a long way from being the most effective. It is a natural solution, but you are completely reliant on the marijuana plant to act. The idea is to keep the female plant in the flowering state for way beyond the ideal harvest time; this causes the plant to become stressed so it will create pollen sacs. Once the sacs appear, you can harvest the pollen.
As you can probably guess, it isn’t a very reliable method at all. Cannabis plants react differently to stress; while some strains consistently produce pollen sacs under duress, others don’t. Rodelization works best when you find a marijuana strain that reliably develops the sacs. The other problem is that you’re selecting for plants that are naturally hermaphrodite, so the resulting seeds could also go that way.
This form of silver causes a female plant to produce male pollen sacs and is far more reliable than rodelization. You can purchase colloidal silver or try to make it yourself using:
- A soldering iron
- Alligator chips
- A 9-volt battery and a connector
- Pure silver; you can use a coin or some wire for example
- Distilled water
Finding 99.9% silver is the big challenge in this DIY process, so it’s best to buy a colloidal silver solution from a reputable store. Whether you buy or create the solution, the next step is to select a female marijuana plant and mist it daily after it flowers with the silver. Continue this process until male pollen sacs begin to form. It normally takes anywhere from 10 to 14 days for this to happen, so be patient!
The pollen sacs that appear will swell and begin to open up once it is time to harvest. Keep spraying the bud sites each day until the sacs are ready. Once the sacs start to crack, collect the feminized pollen and use it to pollinate a female plant that has been in the flowering stage for at least two weeks.
Approximately six weeks after pollination, the female plant’s calyxes will become fat and swollen. This is a sign that you should harvest the seeds once they begin coming through. Congratulations! You have created feminized seeds.
Cloning a female marijuana plant is a cost-efficient option with a high success rate. Technically, you are not feminizing seeds, but you do receive female plants and buds. Although cloning is very effective, it only allows you to create a single strain time and again. That’s great news if you love the strain, but it doesn’t allow for experimentation.
Try Feminized Strains in Your Garden
As growing cannabis in the home is legal in several American states (please check your state’s laws for more information), the level of equipment and advice at your disposal is astounding. As you are only allowed to grow a relatively small number of plants in your home, don’t waste your allocation and garden space by risking regular seeds.
As a home grower, you can create feminized cannabis seeds by using colloidal silver. All it takes is a little patience, and you should end up with a garden filled with female plants. If you don’t mind using one strain only, it is a good idea to clone a female plant for guaranteed results.
If you don’t have the time, resources, know-how, or wherewithal, to create feminized seeds, you can easily purchase them off a reputable supplier such as Kannabia. They use high-quality equipment to all but guarantee feminized seeds, and they have created an impressive range of feminized genetics featuring award-winning strains. If you don’t use feminized strains in your garden, you are effectively growing a crop half-filled with plants you won’t use; and that is a severe waste of time, energy, and space.