How To Determine The Sex Of A Cannabis Plant

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Written by Joseph Okonofua on 11/06/2022.
Data Last Updated: 06/10/2024.

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How To Determine The Sex Of A Cannabis Plant

If you’re a cannabis plant enthusiast and you’ve grown your own marijuana plants before, then you probably already know that it’s possible to determine the sex of a cannabis plant. But what exactly is this all about? How can someone tell if their cannabis plants are male or female? What are the distinguishing features to look out for? And how can they do this in the first place? That’s what we’ll be covering in this article.

As with most living things, the strength, potency, and flavor of the cannabis plant are dependent on its sex. Depending on your goal, the male, female or hermaphrodite marijuana plant may be the best cultivation option.

The gender of a cannabis plant determines what it is used for. For instance, female plants are great for medical and recreational use. Cannabis breeders employ male cannabis plants to produce seeds and to cultivate the plant to produce better plants through selective breeding. Also, some terpenes generated by male cannabis plants, such as pinene and limonene, serve as helpful crop insect repellents.

Substantial knowledge and effective determination of the sex of the cannabis plant promote its health and industrial applications. Whether your main goal is to grow THC and CBD-rich strains of cannabis for personal or commercial use, knowing how to determine the sex of a weed plant places you on a different level of perfection. If you live in California, this will help you maximize the law’s provisions, which permit adults of at least 21 years to grow up to six recreational plants at home. The law is different if you are a medical marijuana patient or if you are growing for commercial purposes.

How to tell the sex of marijuana plants

Blindly growing your cannabis plant without being able to determine its sex can be both disappointing and challenging. To accurately tell the sex of your growing weeds, you have the following options to choose from:

DNA testing

DNA gender testing involves using specialized test kits or employing the services of plants gender testing lab. It is possible to detect male cannabis plants using DNA-based testing weeks before they display any outward sex traits. The genetic acid used for the procedure can be extracted from any plant leaflet. The result is fast and reliable.

DNA testing

Determining the gender of your marijuana plant using chemical testing is an excellent option if you do not have enough experience. DNA tests can determine the gender of any particular plant from as early as seven days old, helping you to significantly reduce the risk of many male plants developing unexpectedly in your greenhouse.

Analyzing the plant’s features

The features of the cannabis plant are another tool that can help us determine the sex of the cannabis plant. A careful preflower examination will help you detect the presence of the distinguishing features in the young budding weed plant. In addition, the smell is another salient feature to look out for. This is one of the things that you should be doing regularly. Cannabis preflower is slightly different in male and female plants. 

Analyzing the plant's features

Steps to identifying Female weed plants

Female cannabis plants are the most desired sex by weed growers. This is because of its high THC content leaves. Here are a few things to watch for when you’re out and about.

To begin, the smell of female cannabis plants is sweet and fruity smells. Female cannabis plants tend to have more leaves which are smaller in size than their male counterparts. They produce flowers that grow in clusters.

Also, female cannabis preflowers usually appear slimmer than their male counterparts and grow from the stem. The bottom of the flower is thin and does not have a ball shape, or the ball shape is barely visible. These preflowers are actually very small and start appearing when the plant is about 4-6 weeks old. Inspecting the plants with a magnifying glass or your phone camera is a good way to find early buds on the stem.

General Characteristics of a female Cannabis Plant

  • Thin stalks
  • Abundant leaves
  • Fine transparent hairs in white or orange
  • V-shaped pistils (calyx)
  • Male plants are shorter.
  • Buds made of resin 
  • It has a stigma that captures pollen from the air in order to start seed development in the ovule. 

How to Determine Male weed plants

In general, male cannabis plants have pollen sacs and stamens, while female cannabis plants have ovaries and pistils. Male plants are taller than their female counterparts because they carry more weight on their lower branches. The shape of a male’s leaves is also different from that of a female: males tend to have more narrow-pointed leaves than females do. Male cannabis plants also have higher levels of phytocannabinoids and cannabinoid concentrations in their leaves. 

How to Determine Male weed plants

Male preflowers are rounder, smaller, and lack trichomes, pistils, and hairs. They have a bulkier form and usually grow out of big fleshy bulbs. These preflowers start appearing very early (3-4 weeks). Hermies also start growing male flowers, and you will notice them when the transition happens. It may occur at nearly any age. Hence you need to check the greenhouse regularly and closely inspect individual sprouts to identify male weed plants as early as possible.

General Characteristics of a Male Cannabis Plant

  • Strong, thick stalks
  • Few leaves
  • Their preflowers lack trichomes
  • Shorter than female plants
  • Their pollen sacs produce green and white flowers

Hermaphrodite weed plants

Hermaphrodite weed plants

This is often the nightmare of most cannabis growers. Hermaphrodite weed plants, popularly known as hermies, are weed plants that possess both male and female features. They display both kinds of preflowers on their stems. Pollinated female plants do not produce THC and accumulate CBD, which is not good if you plan to use marijuana for recreational purposes. Therefore, it is recommended to remove hermaphrodite sprouts in order to avoid pollination of your female weed plants.

Factors that increase the risk of Weed plants turning Hermaphrodite

A variety of factors are responsible for hermaphroditism in weeds. See some of them below:

Environmental stress: Female and male plants require a very specific environment to strive. When environmental stress is too much, plants start developing traits of both genders. 

Temperature: Higher temperatures (above 85F) may cause the transition. Inappropriate lighting devices can heat the environment to such temperatures.

Excess light:  Too much light of over 40000 lumens per square meter, as well as excess red light, may stress out plants and lead them to become hermaphrodites. 

Humidity: You also should pay attention to watering. Low humidity and insufficient water supply put additional stress on cannabis plants.

Optimal conditions for Growing Weed Plants

Optimal conditions for Growing Weed Plants

Marijuana is not an overly sensitive plant and strives in many environments. However, various factors significantly affect the concentrations of cannabinoids and even the gender of a plant. Both male and female plants will grow better in suitable conditions. 

  1. It is recommended to keep the temperature within the 70-85F range
  2. Also, cannabis requires between 40 and 50% relative humidity values. You can spray water to reach the water concentration in the air more quickly.
  3. It is essential to provide enough water to the plants during root development. The strength of roots dramatically affects how much water and nutrients a plant can utilize over the course of its life.
  4. Good ventilation is also necessary. Proper ventilation in your grow room will prevent artificial lamps from overheating the room, meaning that temperature control will depend on both heating and ventilation.

Essential Facts on Cannabis Cultivation seeds and equipment

Essential Facts on Cannabis Cultivation seeds and equipment

  1. Whether you want to start breeding your own strains of cannabis or prefer homemade marijuana, it is important to get high-quality seeds from a trusted supplier. Note that you cannot identify the gender of seeds on your own, so purchasing seeds from people who know how to produce female seeds is critical to the success of your endeavors.
  2. Knowing the difference between male and female cannabis is extremely important for people who want to grow marijuana at home for personal use. This is because pollinated and male cannabis plants do not produce enough THC and CBD.
  3. When it comes to recreational and medical use, growing male weed plants is a waste of time. 

Tools Every Weed Grower Should Have 

Tools Every Weed Grower Should Have 

  • Chemical tests;
  • Hygrometers;
  • Thermometers;
  • Good magnifying glass;
  • Pots;
  • Lighting;
  • Heating;
  • Watering Equipment. 


Following the guidelines above, you will be able to determine the sex of your marijuana plant accurately. Female cannabis plants yield aromatic THC and CBD-rich buds. Male cannabis is ideal for producing your own strains, producing tea, and hash. So, depending on your needs, follow this guide to make the most of your weed-growing experience. Cheers! 

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