Do Male Marijuana Plants Produce Seeds

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Rather than tossing them straight into the garbage bin on your next grow, learn what to do with your unwanted male cannabis plants. Knowing the anatomy of a marijuana plant is important for any grower. Learn to identify the different parts of a cannabis plant from the experts at Leafly. When it comes to cannabis, female plants produce flowers (or buds) and males produce pollen. Unless you plan on breeding, male cannabis plants…

5 Things You Can Do with Your Male Cannabis Plants

In the wide world of weed, the female of the species is more useful than the male. The marijuana plant is like many other plant species in the world. It needs both a male and female plant to reproduce (it is a dioecious species). Admittedly, there are self-pollinating cannabis plants (i.e., monoecious plants). In general, however, most marijuana plants express female or male-specific sex organs.

It is the female plant that produces the buds we dry, cure, and use. As a consequence, the average weed garden is populated by female plants only. It is considered marijuana growing 101 to discard and destroy male plants as soon as you uncover their growth. If you don’t, they will pollinate the females. Their seeds end up in the bud and reduce the amount of THC found in the plant after harvest.

If you usually expel male plants from your cannabis garden, you are missing out! Contrary to what you believe, they do have a beneficial purpose to gardeners. They have several, and we outline five of them below.

EDITOR’S CHOICE – Homegrown CannabisCo

Homegrown CannabisCo are the masters when it comes to seeds. Offering a massive variety of cannabis seeds that are well categorized, not only does this company create a resource for superb quality options including feminized seeds, it also provides extensive growing information for those looking for some support along their journey.

1 – Breeding Cannabis

As a beginner, you have the option of cloning the mother plant and creating a ceaseless line of consistent buds from identical female plants. However, as you become more skilled, you will begin to find flaws with your bud. For example, you may want it to be more resinous and potent. Alternatively, you might love it if the flowering stage ended a bit sooner.

Fortunately, male cannabis plants are around to come to your rescue! As you know, their primary function is to breed seeds. When a male plant pollinates a female, it provides 50% of a seed’s genetic makeup. With this in mind, do some digging into the genetics of the males in your garden. Do they grow quickly? Are they highly resistant to mold and pests? If so, these positive traits can be passed on to boost the quality of new generations.

Since you can’t smoke a male plant to find out how good it is, you must go through a different process to find suitable genetics.

Here’s a 5-step guide to eliminating unwanted males and finding ideal plants for breeding:

  1. Get rid of early flowering or auto-flowering males as they are more likely to produce monoecious individuals.
  2. Remove any males that grow extremely quickly or are very tall. In general, these particular plants are best for producing fibers rather than flowers.
  3. Keep plants with large and hollow stems and get rid of any stems with too much pith (spongy white tissue). There is a link between stem type and THC content.
  4. Pick males with tight, dense flowers and get rid of any with a loose and airy structure.
  5. Focus on males with the best odor.

2 – Use Male Cannabis Plants to Create Hemp Fiber

When it comes to creating hemp fiber, there is no better option than male plants. This is mainly because of their firm and fibrous stalks. Males provide soft and fine fibers capable of weaving the most delicate fabrics. Weaving might not be top of your list of hobbies! However, it is still cool to note that male plant fiber is the best option when making hemp products. Examples include tablecloths and clothing.

3 – Concentrate Production

Don’t assume that male plants are entirely devoid of THC. Males are indeed far less potent than females. However, they still have THC, and thus, can have psychoactive properties. Male plants don’t produce buds, the same flower buds, anyway. But you can find cannabinoids in their flowers, leaves, and stems. You can also benefit from a gentle buzz by drying and pressing the pollen you find in a male plant.

Incidentally, male plants have a higher THC concentration in their leaves than females during the vegetative growth phase. By the adult stages, females have taken over and produce a far higher THC ratio. The main issue with males is their limited lifespan. Also, there are no techniques available to delay pollination and boost resin production. Perhaps that will change one day. For now, extract the existing resin and create hash oil, BHO wax, dabs, or other concentrates.

All you need to know…

4 – Male Weed Plants Can Enhance Your Garden!

Did you know that farmers have used marijuana plants as ‘companions’ for garden vegetables for centuries? Male plants, like females, produce terpenes, the aromatic oils found in weed that account for the delightful scent and taste.

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Terpenes, especially pinene and limonene, are also excellent for pest and disease control. With this in mind, you can introduce male plants in vegetable or flower gardens. Make sure they remain far away from female cannabis plants!

You can use dried material from male plants to create a terpene-laden oil. Use this oil to keep insects and other pests at bay.

In the old days, farmers would allow up to two vigorous male marijuana plants to grow. They knew to keep them well away from the females, and placed them at the far end of the garden. They also made sure that the plants were sheltered from the wind.

Next, they planted corn, sunflowers, or beans between the two plant genders and enjoyed healthy crops with a few seeds in them. There were just enough seeds to grow the following year’s crop without reducing that year’s THC content.

Also, cannabis plants have long taproots that can dive deep into the ground and break apart low standard soil. As a result, nutrients and moisture can infiltrate and improve quality. As a bonus, taproots keep the soil in place and ensure there are no issues with soil loss and nutrient run-off during spells of heavy rain.

5 – Delicious, Healthy, Nutritious THCA Juice

Have you ever tried raw cannabis juice? It appears as if the cannabolic acids (specifically THCA and CBDA) in weed juice have many benefits. Indeed, they provide many of the same benefits as marijuana consumed in other ways. Male plants have the same concentration of these potentially healthy juices as their female counterparts. Therefore, you can drink the juice, enjoy a dose of healthy cannabinoids, and not worry so much about getting high.

Final Thoughts on Male Cannabis Plants

Most marijuana growers throw away their male plants as a matter of course. We think you shouldn’t be so hasty. Females produce the buds that allow us to either get high or benefit from the apparent medical properties of weed. However, male plants are far from being useless.

As well as providing you with a healthy juice, males make for ideal garden companions. They are great for making clothes from hemp fiber, are necessary for breeding, and you can use them in concentrates.

Do you intend to benefit from one or more of the uses outlined above? If so, remember that cannabis pollen is capable of traveling a long way to fertilize a female. Make sure you keep your crop protected!

EDITOR’S CHOICE – Homegrown CannabisCo

Homegrown CannabisCo are the masters when it comes to seeds. Offering a massive variety of cannabis seeds that are well categorized, not only does this company create a resource for superb quality options including feminized seeds, it also provides extensive growing information for those looking for some support along their journey.

Marijuana plant anatomy and life cycles

The cannabis plant has several structures, many of which we can find on any ordinary flowering plant species. Cannabis grows on long skinny stems with its large, iconic fan leaves extending out from areas called nodes.

Cannabis really stands out in its flowers—or buds—where unique and intricate formations occur: fiery orange hairs, sugary crystals, and chunky buds enveloped by tiny leaves.

The life cycle of a marijuana plant

There are 4 stages in the life cycle of a marijuana plant:

  • Germination (3-10 days): When the seed sprouts and pops out of the soil
  • Seedling (2-3 weeks): After germination, when the plant develops its first cotyledon leaves
  • Vegetative (3-16 weeks): The immature or juvenile stage, when a cannabis plant grows its stalks, branches, stems, and fan leaves
  • Flowering (8-11 weeks): When a weed plant starts producing buds

Parts of the cannabis plant

Cannabis seeds

Seeds are produced in female cannabis plants and carry the genetics of a male and female. Seeds need to germinate to sprout and will grow a taproot, which will become the main root that anchors the plant.

Cotyledon leaves

These are the first leaves to grow from the seed after germination. They usually come in pairs, and seeing them is a sign of successful germination and that your plant is on its way to growing healthy and strong.

Cannabis roots

The roots grow down from the main stalk of the plant into the soil. When growing from a seed, the main root is called the “taproot.” Roots are the lifelines of a cannabis plant, pulling water and oxygen into the plant so it can grow healthy and strong.

Mycorrhizae, a beneficial fungus, can be added to soil to improve root systems.

Marijuana plant stem

The main stem, or stalk, of a cannabis plant grows straight up from the root system and supports all lateral branches. The stem gives a plant structure and stability.

Often, growers will top, or cut off, the stem after about five nodes, which forces the plant to grow out laterally more, creating more bud sites.

Branches

Branches grow out of the main stem and support fan leaves and buds. Growers often train a cannabis plant by topping branches to create more bud sites.

A node is a point at which a branch grows off of the main stem, or one branch from another branch. Fan leaves and buds can grow on some nodes, but not necessarily all.

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When determining the sex of a cannabis plant, pre-flowers, or the beginnings of male and female sex organs, will appear at the nodes.

The space between nodes is called “internodal spacing” and will give you a sense of whether a plant will grow tall or short.

Check out Johanna’s full video series on how to grow weed on Leafly’s YouTube .

Fan leaves

Fan leaves are the large, iconic leaves of the cannabis plant. They capture light for the plant and typically have little-to-no resin and are usually discarded when trimming.

Sugar leaves

Sugar leaves are the small, resin-coated leaves that buds form around. Sugar leaves are usually saved as “trim” during harvest and can be used for pre-rolls, extracts, and other cannabis products.

Flowers

Also known as “buds,” the flowers of a cannabis plant are the fruits of your labor. They contain the cannabinoids and terpenes that get you high or offer health benefits. Flowers only grow on female cannabis plants and must be dried before consumption.

A cola, also called a “bud site,” refers to a cluster of buds that grow tightly together. While smaller colas occur along the budding sites of lower branches, the main cola—sometimes called the apical bud—forms at the top of the plant.

Bract and calyx

A bract is what encapsulates the female’s reproductive parts. They appear as green tear-shaped “leaves,” and are heavily covered in resin glands which produce the highest concentration of cannabinoids of all plant parts.

Enclosed by these bracts and imperceptible to the naked eye, the calyx refers to a translucent layer over the ovule at a flower’s base.

Stigma and pistil

The pistil contains the reproductive parts of a flower, and the vibrant, hair-like strands of the pistil are called stigmas. Stigmas serve to collect pollen from males.

The stigmas of the pistil begin with a white coloration and progressively darken to yellow, orange, red, or brown over the course of the plant’s maturation. They play an important role in reproduction, but stigmas bring very little to the flower’s potency and taste.

Trichomes

Despite their minute size, it’s hard to miss the blanket of crystal resin on a cannabis bud. This resin is secreted through translucent, mushroom-shaped glands on the leaves, stems, and calyxes.

Plants originally developed trichomes to protect against predators and the elements. These clear bulbous globes ooze aromatic oils called terpenes as well as therapeutic cannabinoids like THC and CBD. The basis of hash production depends on these trichomes and their potent sugar-like resin.

Male vs. female marijuana plants

Cannabis is a dioecious plant, meaning it can be male or female, and the male and female reproductive organs appear on different plants. What’s in your stash jar now are the flowers of a female marijuana plant.

Female plants produce the resin-secreting flower that is trimmed down into the buds you smoke, and males produce pollen sacs near the base of the leaves. Male plants pollinate females to initiate seed production, but the buds we consume come from seedless female plants—these are called “sinsemilla,” meaning “seedless.”

Growers can ensure the sex of their plants by growing clones or the genetically identical clippings from a parent strain. Feminized seeds are also made available through a special breeding process.

How to determine the sex of a marijuana plant

Cannabis plants show their sex by what grows in between their nodes, where leaves and branches extend from the stalk. Pollen sacs will develop on a male plant to spread seeds and stigma will develop on a female to catch pollen. You can see these differences weeks before they actually start serving their purposes in the reproduction cycle. These are known as “pre-flowers.”

Pre-flowers begin to develop four weeks into growth, but they may take a little longer depending on how quickly the sprouting phase occurs. By the sixth week, you should be able to find the pre-flowers and confidently determine the sex of your plant.

Examine the nodes of the plant and look for either the early growth of small sacs on a male, or two bracts on a female, which will eventually produce the hair-like stigma.

Female marijuana plants

Females are the prizes of cannabis plants—they are the ones that grow the buds that we all know and love. Anytime you see a picture of a cannabis plant with buds, you are looking at a female plant.

Female cannabis plants receive pollen from males to produce seeds, which will carry on the genetics of both plants to the next generation.

However, cannabis is primarily cultivated for buds, not seeds, so the practice of growing sinsemilla, or “seedless” cannabis, is prevalent today: Females and males are grown separately, or males are even discarded, to prevent pollination. This allows female plants to focus their energies on bud production instead of seed production.

Males and females are usually only pollinated when crossbreeding plants or creating new strains.

Early signs of a female cannabis plant

A few weeks into the flowering stage, sex organs will appear on a cannabis plant at a node, between the main stem and a branch. The female reproductive organs look like an oval with white hairs coming out of them, which are pistils.

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If you’re not quite sure, let the plant grow for another week or so and check again.

Male marijuana plants

Male cannabis plants grow pollen sacs instead of buds. Male plants are usually discarded because you don’t want them to pollinate the females, which will produce seeds—no one wants to smoke buds with seeds in it.

Males are important in the breeding process, but that is generally best left to expert breeders. 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.

Early signs of a male cannabis plant

To spot a male weed plant, check the sex organs at a node, between the main stem and a branch. The male organs will look like a round ball—these will develop into pollen sacs.

If you’re not sure if it’s a male or female yet, wait a week or so and check again. At this early stage there isn’t much risk of a male pollenating your crop.

What can I do with male cannabis plants?

Male plants can also be used for:

  • Hemp fiber—males produce a softer material, while females produce a coarser, stronger fiber. The soft fiber from males is more desirable for products like clothing, tablecloths, and other household items.
  • Concentrate production—males do have some THC and can be psychoactive, but much less so than females. Small amounts of cannabinoids can be found in the leaves, stems, and sacs, which can be extracted to produce hash and other oils.

What are hermaphrodite cannabis plants?

The rare hermaphroditic plant contains both female and male sex organs. These plants can sometimes self-pollinate, but this is typically bad as it will create buds with seeds and also pass on hermaphroditic genes.

“Herming out,” as some call it, is something that generally happens when a plant becomes excessively stressed. Some stressors include:

  • Plant damage
  • Bad weather
  • Disease

There are two types of hermaphrodite cannabis plants:

  • A plant that develops both buds and pollen sacs
  • A plant that produces anthers, commonly referred to as “bananas” due to their appearance

While both result in pollen production, true hermaphrodite cannabis plants produce sacs that need to rupture; anthers are exposed, pollen-producing stamen.

Because this occurs when cannabis is under stress, it’s important to monitor plants after they have been exposed to stressors: indoors, high temperatures or light leaks are often the cause; outdoors, a snapped branch might be repaired and then turn into a hermaphrodite.

The other primary cause of hermaphrodite plants lies in its genetics—a plant with poor genetics or a history of hermaphroditic development should be avoided to protect your garden. If you notice any pollen sacs or anthers at any point, remove the plant from your garden immediately to prevent pollination of female plants.

Marijuana plant anatomy FAQ

What are the first leaves called on a cannabis plant?

Flowering plants, including cannabis, have baby cotyledon leaves which appear shortly after the seed germinates, or sprouts. These embryonic leaves help the plant get started.

How soon can you tell if a cannabis plant is male or female?

Sex organs will appear on a plant within 2-3 weeks of flowering.

When do male cannabis plants pollinate female plants?

Male pollen sacs usually open up and spread pollen via the air 4-6 weeks after they begin flowering.

How does weed grow buds?

When cannabis plants experience a reduction in light, either after the summer solstice when growing outdoors, or manually when growing indoors, they will begin the flowering stage, when buds are produced. Flowering typically takes 7-11 weeks, depending on the strain.

What do I do with a Male Cannabis Plant?

When it comes to cannabis, female plants produce flowers (or buds) and males produce pollen. Unless you plan on breeding, male cannabis plants will release pollen into the growing area and produce unwanted seeds in nearby female flowers. Cannabis flowers with seeds are usually lower in potency and less desirable. Male plants in a flowering room should removed as soon as they are identified.

You will only get a male cannabis plant is you grow from a non-feminized seed. In today’s world, if you get a clone from a trusted friend or local shop, they will always grow to be a female plant. Male and female plants can be easily identified in early flowering by looking for the following characteristics below:

Male cannabis plants have stamens and female plants have calyxes. To the untrained eye, an early calyx and stamen can look quite similar. As the cannabis plant begins to mature, multiple stamens will begin to appear on the males and the females will have pistols emerge from their calyxes. Over time the stamens will fill with pollen and eventually open, releasing it into the growing environment. Once a plant shows clear male characteristics, it should be removed from the flowering area and potentially used for future breeding projects.

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