The Female vs. Male Marijuana Plant: A Complete Guide

Male Marijuana Plant

Who on earth needs a male marijuana plant when it can’t give you potent buds — that’s what many an inexperienced grower is thinking. Even though the female marijuana plant has stolen all the spotlight, that doesn’t necessarily mean the world would be a better place without male cannabis. After all, we still need the seeds to grow other cannabis plants.

Without any question, both plants are needed (and we shall expand on this later). They undergo the same marijuana plant stages and seem identical until they start to develop buds, which reveal the plant sex. We’ll provide you with tips for easy plant identification to help you recognize the male cannabis plant before it gives you any trouble.

So, let’s see how the whole growing and harvesting process goes, how you can distinguish marijuana sex, including the hermaphrodite weed plant, and if there is any way to turn things around by changing male plants into females. Moreover, if you’re stuck with more males than you accounted for, they can be put to good use too. Therefore, read on!

Male and Female Marijuana Plant Growth

Let’s start from the beginning, shall we? All marijuana plants are created equal. Of course, there are still differences regarding cannabis species, as well as the famous Indica vs Sativa rivalry. At any case, THC content aside, all marijuana plants go through two distinct stages regardless of marijuana sex:

  • Vegetative
  • Flowering

In the first one, plants tend to spend all their resources on growing as tall and as strong as they can. In the latter, plants develop flowers. Now, there are two options for how the flowering process may end up for the female weed plant:

  • It gets pollinated by the male plant and develops seeds which can be used for eating or reproduction.
  • It doesn’t get pollinated, so it “only” grows into big, cannabinoid and terpenes rich flowers that we all love.

Obviously, to get the most out of your harvest, you want to avoid pollination at all costs. Naturally, it’s good to have male and female marijuana plants to continue the species. Approximately 85% of the seeds will germinate, so you would need three regular seeds for one female plant or two feminized seeds, and so on.

When Can You Tell If Your Plant Is Male or Female?

As a matter of fact, there are three possible answers to this, depending on the cannabis growth stages.

Before Planting

Differentiating between plant gender is possible even before you get your very first marijuana seedlings. You just need to buy feminized seeds. These should provide you with female offspring only. They can be purchased online, or you can develop them. Make sure you find a reliable supplier though.

Before the Flowering Stage

6 weeks — this is how old a plant usually is when you can tell the gender.  How to tell if your plant is male or female before flowering isn’t too hard. You just need a good eye, and a lot of patience to look for the pre-flowers — the small buds that grow on the stalk, right between the nods. Male and female pre-flowers sure have their differences, as you can see from the following image:

Male Marijuana Plant - Male Pre-Flower

Male plant — when they’re super tiny, it’s really challenging to tell male buds apart, but watch them form a shape closely. Even when they’re very small, male marijuana plant buds will take a round shape and look like small balls (how appropriate). Small, fertile sacks, getting ready to one day burst wide open and send the pollen flying towards the female flowers.

Female Marijuana Plant - Female Pre-Flower

Female plant — the pre-flowers look rather different. They are round at the bottom (between the nods), but female preflowers before pistils are a tad pointed at the top. On the other hand, pistils are telltale signs of a female cannabis plant, which are quite easy to recognize. You know those white, pale, yellowish, sticky strands that contain all the lovely CBD and THC? They first start off quite modestly, as wispy, white hairs. The male plant will never ever have a white hair sticking out of the ball, while the female bud is bound to develop it.

Bear in mind that the pre-flowering stage is not easily estimated. For this reason, you should inspect your plants frequently for those early signs of a male plant developing and eliminate the pollen sacks. Additionally, plants may begin flowering on their own if they’ve been in the vegetative stage long enough.

During the Flowering Stage

You know what to expect once you change your lighting schedule to 12–12. You want your precious babies to start flowering and bring out that sweet CBD and terpenes. If they’re grown outside, cannabis plants will begin flowering in accordance with the amount of sunlight.

Generally, the flowering stage occurs 1 or 3 weeks after the lighting schedule is changed.

Male Marijuana Plant - Male Flowering Stage

The male marijuana plant will show its true nature sooner than the female, so be alert. Usually, the pollen sacks appear one or two weeks in the flowering stage. They will look like small grapes at this point.

Female Marijuana Plant - Female Flowering Stage

The female plant is now ready to shoot out some pistils, so you’ll have no doubts that you’ve got yourself a lady.

By the way, what matters most during the flowering process is the 12 hours of darkness. The absence of light is a more relevant indicator for the plant to begin its flowering stage than the presence of light. As long as you keep those 12 hours with zero light, your crops will prosper.

What to Do If the Male Weed Plant Has Released Pollen?

A nightmare of every cultivator. When you notice pollen on the leaves (it looks like yellow powder), you could try misting the surrounding female plants and any area the pollen might have fallen onto before removing the plant. The damage has been done already, but the consequences are hard to tell. You may be in time, and in luck. Then again, your marijuana girls may have been pollinated already.

Sounds like there’s a lot of work to be done if you’ve got plenty of cannabis plants. Is it worth it? Yes. Are the consequences of not getting rid of the male pot plant disastrous to your harvest? Without a doubt, yes. Take for instance the case from 2016 when Oregon CBD lost over $8 million due to unplanned pollination from their neighbors. As a result, they got unusable THC-rich buds, instead of the CBD potent ones. From then on, the company uses primarily sealed greenhouses.

What to Do If You Have a Hermie?

Hermaphrodites add to the confusion as they produce both male and female organs. This is what it looks like:

Hermie with Male and Female Organs

As you can see, you can’t tell if it’s a male or female pot plant as it has both pollen sacks and buds with wisps. Another type of hermaphrodite produces anthers, aka “bananas”. These are pollen-producing stamens:

Hermie with “Bananas”

There are several reasons why hermies may appear in your garden:

  • Poor genetics
  • Buying seeds from an unreliable supplier
  • Stress exposure — the reasons vary, from changeable weather conditions, which you can’t affect in any way, to cultivation issues which were your responsibility (applying a suitable fertilizer, watering, introduction of hormones, etc.)
  • Delayed harvest time — patience is a virtue, but not if you are putting off the harvest so as to get a bigger yield. Not respecting female weed plant stages will cause you trouble with cannabis girls developing balls of pollen.

You can’t always prevent hermaphrodites from appearing, but it’s essential to spot them in a timely manner. Should you realize you have a hermaphrodite among your plants, take immediate action. First, tend to it only after you’re finished with the rest of the plants. Otherwise, you may spread the pollen. Secondly, you can use tweezers to get rid of the pollen sacks. Alternatively, a hermaphrodite can be isolated and moved to a different section, or you can cut out the problematic branch.

Male Marijuana Plant Uses

What to do with male plants? This marijuana sex has a very negative image, but it’s far from useless. Here are the potential uses:


A bit obvious, right? Of course, if you’re using the plant for breeding, see about its genetics. For instance, what is the plant’s resilience to pests and mold, whether it is sensitive to climate change, etc.

Good Hemp Fibre

Both male and female marijuana plants can be used as a source of fiber, but the quality is different. Male fibers are more resistant, thinner, and softer, which makes them perfect for making high-quality textiles, such as bed linen or towels.


Can you make edibles with male plants? Yes, of course! Despite the fact that they have less THC than the ladies, male plants still have some THC left in their small leaves. If you find it to have too low a concentration for you, then try making some hashish and you should be satisfied with the result.


Cannabidiolic acid present in juice made from fiber-type cannabis inhibits the migration of breast cancer cells, according to research. It is rich in nutrients as well. Male vs female cannabis plant when it comes to cannabidiolic acids? The amounts are almost identical.

Pest Repellent

You may have heard a rumor about how the males make for great companions? We vouch it’s true! Dried leaves can be used for this purpose, or you could strategically plant a few among your vegetables to keep them pest-free. The terpenes in cannabis will do their thing and keep them off. No harmful pesticides needed.

In addition, if you wish to make the most of this male vs female weed plant rivalry, you can isolate the males with sunflowers. You get to keep them, and your cannabis girls will be safe from any accidental pollination.

Soil Improvement

Cannabis plants are known to have long taproots. That means the roots can break into low-quality soil, allowing it to accept more air, oxygen, and nutrients. What’s more, they prevent the land from eroding as well.


The battle of the sexes in our world is nothing compared to what happens to cannabis. Admittedly, this is a female plant’s world, as they are very much desired for their luscious buds. On the other hand, males do not produce buds. It is possible to get high even from a male marijuana plant, but that requires making a concentrate or an edible.

All things considered, though, male weed has proved itself useful in numerous ways, so think twice before eliminating every single boy plant from your field.


How to make a male plant female?

With the help of hormones and chemicals. Don’t consider doing it unless you have the proper conditions to change the plant sex.

The chemicals needed are harmful to people and pets, so the male plant should be isolated properly. Pay attention to cannabis growth stages. This can only be done when the plant is young enough.

When you notice small balls of pollen sacks appearing, get yourself a bottle of ethylene (female plant hormone), a pair of gloves, and a face mask. How to make a male plant female isn’t too complicated if you remain safe. Sprinkle the ethylene all over it, and take great care that the leaves and stem joints are well-covered. With a 12–12 lighting system, the results should manifest themselves.

Do all plants have genders?

The majority of plants are hermaphrodites, i.e., they have both male and female sex organs. Others are dioecious, which means they have separate sexes. Marijuana or cannabis belongs to the second group, though some pot plants may be hermaphrodites too.

Can a female plant turn male?

Yes, it can. The process is pretty much the same as when you turn a male plant female. In fact, it is easier to treat a girl with male hormones and turn it into a male than vice versa. Only now you have to use gibberellins instead of ethylene for it to work. As you can imagine, hardly anyone performs this experiment.

When do male plants pollinate females?

It happens a week or two after the flowering stage has started. Remember, mala plants mature sooner than females. You can spot them more easily that way, so it’s mainly your fault if your female plants begin to grow seeds instead of buds.

4 thoughts on “The Female vs. Male Marijuana Plant: A Complete Guide

  1. Hi

    I’m still not completely sure how to tell male from female plants. I have a plant that has definitely produced seeds but it has the white stringy thingys on the (buds?) I’ll study the pictures but could ude some help. Thanks

    1. Hi Andy! It’s hard to tell without actually seeing the plant, but we’ll try. What you described sounds like a female. The only other thing would be to check if all of them look alike, i.e. that you don’t have a hermie. Indeed, it’s much easier to tell when the plant is in the pre-flowering stage.

  2. I have a problem that has nothing to do with plants. I’ve been growing for almost 40 years and have great luck with plants but I can’t get high any more. First smoked in 1969 and enjoyed the hell out of it, but a couple of years ago…pfft! Nada.
    Nobody knows what to do. Some people say I need to clean out my system because I smoked too much, but that’s crap. I go for months and months without smoking because it’s a waste of time.
    I’d love to be able to smoke the bud I grow so I know how good it is…

    1. Hi Andrew,
      So sorry to hear about this. With so much experience in the field, I suppose you have tried every method possible (detoxing, using new THC-high strains, etc.). According to some research, high levels of stress or anxiety may prevent getting high. I hope we get more comments by someone who has been in your situation as this is quite a challenge to live with.

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