What to do with a Male Marijuana Plant: Four Options

By Trevor Hennings, Leafly

Have a male marijuana plant, but you’re not sure what to do with it? Here’s four possibilities .

Unlike most flowering plants, cannabis is unique in that it requires both a male  and female plant to reproduce. While hermaphroditic (self-pollinating) cannabis does exist, the plant most commonly expresses male- or female-specific sex organs.

Female cannabis plants produce the large, resinous buds that are dried, cured, and consumed. For this reason, females are typically the only plants you’ll find in someone’s cannabis garden.

Male plants are commonly regarded as useless and discarded. While pollination by males is essential for producing more cannabis plants (unless working from clones), it’s a process that is generally best left to breeders so growers can focus on producing consumable seedless buds called sinsemilla. 

Do male plants truly belong in a compost bin, or could they serve a more beneficial purpose to gardeners? Surprisingly, there are more uses for male plants than one might think.

1. Breeding

The obvious function of male cannabis plants is for breeding seeds. When pollinating females, males provide half of the genetic makeup inherited by seeds. Because of this, it’s important to look into the genetics of the male plants. Their shape, rate of growth, pest and mold resistance, and climate resilience can all be passed on to increase the quality of future generations.

2. Hemp Fiber 

When it comes to hemp fiber, the male cannabis plants produce a softer material while females are responsible for producing a coarse, stronger fiber. The soft fiber from the male plants make them more desirable for products like clothing, tablecloths, and other household items.

3. Concentrate Production

It may come as a surprise that male plants can be psychoactive in nature—though much less potent than females. The plants do not produce buds, but small amounts of THC can be found in the leaves, stems, and sacs, which can be extracted to produce hash or other oils. 

4. Garden Enhancement

Cannabis plants offer more benefits in the garden beyond bud production. Both male and female cannabis plants produce aromatic oils called terpenes, which are associated with pest and disease control. Since males also produce terpenes, you may consider including your males in a vegetable or flower garden (as long as they’re well separated from any female cannabis plants). Dried material from cannabis plants have also been used to produce terpene-rich oils that are applied to repel insects and pests as natural bug sprays.

Additionally, cannabis plants are deep rooting plants with long taproots. Taproots are known for their ability to dive deep into the ground and break apart low-quality soil, allowing for moisture and nutrients to infiltrate and improve the soil quality. These taproots also help keep the soil in place, thereby preventing nutrient runoff and loss of soil during heavy rains. 

Humans are largely focused on female cannabis plants, and rightly so. But it’s important to acknowledge and cherish the characteristics of the male cannabis plants as well. Females may produce the buds we know and love, but by limiting diversity of the males, we could be losing out on potential benefits we do not yet understand. Specific males could have compounds we are unaware of that might play significant roles in how females develop, or how cannabis as a whole develops in the future.

If attempting to capitalize on any of the above benefits without the intent to breed, keep in mind that cannabis pollen is extremely good at traveling long distances, determined to find a female. It helps to have a solid understanding of how pollen works and travels before you embark on any of these alternative uses so as not to accidentally pollinate your own plants or a neighbor’s.

6 Tips for Sexing Your Marijuana Plants

By Robert Bergman, ILoveGrowingMarijuana.com

One of the most annoying things about growing marijuana is that you have to accurately determine the sex of your plant.plant Many growers want to keep their female plants from being fertilized because it is the only way to ensure sinsemilla buds. These buds don’t have seeds and they will have ample THC by the time the harvest comes around. Even then, many marijuana growers just like to get the males out of the garden because they don’t produce that much THC. Determining the sex takes a subtle attention to detail and quick action. Below are a few tips for sexing marijuana plants.

1. Look at the growth patterns. During vegetative growth, every plant, regardless of sex, will start to flourish. As the plants age, however, you will begin to notice subtle differences in their sizes. Some marijuana growers have even noticed certain signs early on that can help you determine the sex. Females tend to have more complex branching when they progress from the seedling stage to the vegetative stage. Males, on the other hand, tend to be slightly taller and less filled out. Of course, the last thing you want to do is pull plants out at this early stage, but this can help you get an idea so you know which plants to watch later on. (Note: marijuana plants grown indoors under artificial light don’t usually exhibit these tendencies).

2. Males mature faster than females. This is one of the most common ways to determine sex on sight. Males will generally reach sexual maturity about two weeks before females. The males will start to grow rapidly and they will be taller than their female counterparts. They will also have these “false buds” which are actually pollen sacs. The reason the males grow taller is so that the pollen can drop down on to the female reproductive organs. This occurs whether you’re growing marijuana indoors or outdoors.

3. Males have flowers, females have pistils. Obviously, all marijuana plants have flowers at some point, but, if you can’t differentiate between male and female just by height, then flowers and pistils are good indications of sex. Those false-bud, pollen sacs will eventually open up to form little yellow or white flowers. Any female plants will not have these. Instead, they will have hairy, whitish pistils that will be sticky enough to trap the pollen dropped from those flowers. If you wait this long to identify the sex of your marijuana plants, then it’s probably too late to get any sinsemilla buds. Even so, you can still remove the male plants to make room for the continued growth and cultivation of the female plants.

male
Male marijuana plant.
female
Female marijuana plant.
hermaphrodite-marijuana-plant1
Hermaprodite marijuana plant

4. Clone the marijuana plants to determine sex. This is really the only foolproof way to determine the sex before the plants achieve maturity. You simply have to take a cutting from any number of plants. Place this cutting into potting soil and let it grow on its own for a few days. Then, force flowering with a 12-hour period of darkness and 12-hour period of light (the clones must be separate from the host plants). Because the clones share the exact same DNA as their host, they will have the same sex. Once the clones go into the flowering stage, it will be easy to determine their sex and the sex of their hosts. Make sure you keep track of which clone came from which host so you don’t get things mixed up.

5. Identify where the plant sprouted during germination. Although it might seem a little strange, some marijuana growers have discovered a method that helps them sex the plants just after germination. If the sprout comes out of the top or bottom of the seed, it is generally a female. Side sprouts generally turn out to be male. While this hasn’t been scientifically studied, growers who have used this method report a 90% success rate. Even so, you shouldn’t use this knowledge as absolute fact. Let the plants grow a little and try to notice any distinctly male or female signs. Don’t just throw away the marijuana  seeds if they sprout out of the sides. Instead keep track of your predictions so you can make an informed decision later on.

6. Sometimes, you’ll have hermaphrodites. Growers can occasionally end up with some hermaphrodites which are basically plants that exhibit both male and female reproductive capacities. These can be difficult to determine right away because they can send you mixed signals. Hermaphrodites can also come about as a result of environmental stress, making their sex increasingly hard to determine. If you start to notice flowers and pistils on the same plant, try pruning off the flowers to ensure that the marijuana plant doesn’t self-pollinate (or pollinate other surrounding females). Read more about male, female and hermaphrodite marijuana plants.

Have you had any strange or successful experiences with sexing your marijuana plants? Let us know in the comments below. Also, let your friends in one these details by sharing the article on Facebook, Google+ or Twitter.

 

Last thing: if you buy feminised marijuana seeds, you do not have to sex them at all. No weeding out male plants.