What’s the Difference Between Male and Female Cannabis Plants? A Cannabis Plant Sex Guide

It’s no secret that cannabis growing isn’t easy. There are so many factors at play, all of which can make the difference between an incredible harvest and a batch of sad bud. One of these factors is the presence of plant sex, AKA: male and female cannabis plants.

In this post, you’ll learn the important role plant sex plays in the growing process, why recognizing plant sex early is important, the roles of male and female plants, and how plant sex affects the growing process. You may even gather some botany trivia knowledge, too!

Plant Sex Recognition: Why Do Growers Care?

So, you’ve probably noticed by now that cannabis plants can be male or female. But, why is that important? 

Plant sex actually plays a crucial role in the growing process. In order for cannabis plants to produce seeds and reproduce, both male and female plants must be present. But, not all growers are worried about creating their own seeds. Some grows only work with all-female plants or only grow from all-female (feminized) seeds, focusing on maximizing harvests. Some growers like to experiment with plant breeding to create new cultivars, which require male plants.

Why Recognize Plant Sex Early?

There are a few reasons cultivators need to spot their plant’s sexes early:

  1. To maximize yield: Female plants produce the big, sticky cannabis buds we all know and love. In order to ensure a healthy harvest, female plants need to be isolated from the male ones.
  2. To avoid pollination: Pollination isn’t a bad thing if you’re trying to cross different cultivars. However, pollinated female plants will start to produce seeds. This diverts the plant’s energy from growing beautiful buds into making seeds instead, resulting in smaller harvests.
  3. For breeding purposes: In order to breed plants, you need to make sure you’ve got male and female plants present. Otherwise, you won’t be able to create new plants.

How to Tell Male and Female Cannabis Plants Apart

We know plant sex identification is important, but how can you tell a difference? Male and female cannabis plants have a few physical traits that distinguish them. Below you’ll find the characteristics of male versus female plants at different stages during the growing cycle.

Seed Stage

When cannabis starts as a seed, there is no surefire way to tell whether the seed will grow a male or female seed. Many growers will only grow feminized seeds that are guaranteed to only produce female plants. Feminized seeds come from genetic breeding practices that encourage plants to produce female-only seeds in their specific cultivar.

Pre-flowering Stage

In this stage, the best way to spot the difference is to look at how the plant is growing. Female plants produce hair-like structures known as stigmas or pistils. They usually appear white and fuzzy and mark the beginning of the flowering stage.

Male plants in pre-flowering produce pollen sacs which look like small clusters of little green balls where leaves meet the plant’s main stem. These sacs release the pollen that pollinate the female plants.

Later in the Grow

Past the stages above, it may be too late to identify plant sex before any pollination occurs. In general, male cannabis plants tend to have thicker stems and plant structures, as they are not focused on flowering like female plants are. Male plants also tend to produce fewer leaves and grow much taller.

Female plants tend to grow bushier, leafier, and fuller than males. They can be more fragile than male plants and may grow closer to the ground because of this. Most notably, they also produce the beautiful flowers that we are all familiar with.

The Roles of Male and Female Cannabis Plants

It may seem like female plants reign supreme in the growing world, but both plant sexes are important to cannabis growing as a whole.

Female plants are the primary interest of most growers because they produce the rich, resinous buds they are looking for. When female plants aren’t pollinated, they continue to grow the buds and increase in potency.

Male plants are usually looked over, but experienced growers who are interested in creating new cultivars can use them to produce new seeds and combine different cultivars to create something new. At the end of the day, male plants are important for ensuring there are plenty of seeds to go around.

Can You Grow Male and Female Plants Together?

In short: it depends on your goal.

If you’re growing male and female plants in the same room, you won’t get the luscious harvest you may be hoping for. Pollinated female plants produce buds that can be smaller, filled with seeds, and less potent. Growing them together does, however, allow for the fast multiplication of seeds so you can grow more and more plants. If you’re trying to grow a lot of plants and increase your seed count, this is the way to go.

If you’re trying to grow an incredible, potent harvest, you’ll want to separate the males from the females. This allows the females to be as potent and full-grown as possible without too many seeds in the buds. 

Male plants aren’t useless, though! In some industries, male plants can be used for their fibers and other materials thanks to their sturdy, woody stems. Unwanted seeds can also be used to make things like paper, textiles, biodegradable plastics, and more. In growing, male plants can help with soil improvement and pest control. The cannabis plant family is truly diverse in its uses!

Cannabis Plant Sex: Final Thoughts

So, there you have it – the ins and outs of cannabis plant sex! Knowing who is who in your grow is important for ensuring optimal harvests and ideal breeding conditions for every cultivator. 

We hope this post helped you learn more about the difference between male and female cannabis plants! If you have any questions, let us know on our contact page. Interested in purchasing some cannabis flower for yourself? Visit a Dreamz Dispensary near you at any of our locations across New Mexico. Check out our blog to learn more about cannabis and cannabis products, and take a look at our products to shop online and view our selection.