How to Tell the Sex of Marijuana Plants


Marijuana is a dioecious plant, meaning there are visible differences between male and female plants. So how to tell the sex of marijuana plants? Unsurprisingly, flowers are produced by female marijuana plants while pollen is produced by male marijuana plants, which will fertilize flowers. Like most other plants, pollen is released into the air or carried by pollinators to flowers and those flowers or buds will produce seeds.

how to tell the sex of marijuana plants?

Female marijuana flowers, which people also call buds, contains the component tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Male plants, on the other hand, cannot produce flowers, so there is an almost non-existent level of CBD in male plants and there is nothing to consume, so most of the time we want to get rid of them.

Most people grow marijuana plants for their flowers. They also want to separate the male plants and female plants, because seeded flowers are disgusting to smoke and consume, as well, seeds generally make flowers less potent since when flowers start producing seeds the plants have less energy to produce THC.

That all said, growers may still want male plants in their garden if they plant to reproduce their favorite plants. Since marijuana is a dioecious plant, its seeds inherit half of their genetics from their mother plant and another half from their father plant, making offspring crossbred plants, so growers can combine their two favorite plants together for something special.

Whether you’re a new grower or a mature grower, you will need to keep male plants out of your garden, so it is important to spot the difference between male and female marijuana plants. How to tell the sex of marijuana plants? First, we need to think about the stages of growth:

Stages Days (non-autoflower)
Germination 3 to 10 Days
Seedling 2 to 3 Weeks
Vegetative 3 to 16 Weeks
Flowering 8 to 11 Weeks


During the early stage of growth like germination or the seedling stage, you likely won’t be able to tell the difference between male and female plants. However, you should be able to tell the difference by a few weeks into the vegetative stage, and gender becomes obvious when it gets into the flowering stage—you don’t want to wait that long since the males will probably have already pollinated the females. Ideally, you would like to know the gender early in the vegetative stage.

Marijuana Plant Gender in the Vegetative Stage (Sex of Marijuana Plants)

During the vegetative stage, a cannabis plant starts to grow its root and increase in size. Around week four to week six of growth, marijuana plants will start to grow pre-flowers. These flowers show that the plant is female. On the other hand, male plants will start to produce pollen sacs at this same time. So what is the difference?

Male pollen sacs are small green balls that are hard and round and dense. Female flowers are about the same size but have two white hairs—pistils—that sprout from the center of the sphere, and the spheres are not as hard or dense as the males. Females also have a pair of stigmas that collect the pollen spread by the males. We recommend using a magnifier or jeweler’s loupe to help you identify sex at this stage.

how to tell the sex of marijuana plants?

Marijuana Plant Gender in the Flowering Stage

When the marijuana plants enter the flowering stage the sex of marijuana plants will be easy to identify.

Male marijuana plants produce pollen sacs. When the sacs open, they will release pollen that looks like powdered sugar. Female marijuana flowers look different than other flowers. Contrary to most of the flowers we see in gardens, marijuana flowers have a core made of tiny leaves; they’re not soft nor do they have open petals. These thin leaves look like sugar crystals, they are called sugar leaves.

Identifying Hermaphrodite Cannabis Plants

Marijuana plants can sometimes be hermaphrodites. Hermaphrodite marijuana plants produce both male pollen sacs and female flowers. Occasionally, hermaphroditic plants appear because of genetics, but most of the time, it is because the plant is under some type of stress: root rot, excess heat, and malnutrition can lead to marijuana hermaphroditism.

There are two kinds of hermaphroditic marijuana plants: true hermaphrodite and mixed gender. A true hermaphrodite plant has male and female sex organs but in different areas of the plant. Mixed-gender marijuana plants have yellow sex organs called anthers, and these are usually grown by females that will still produce pollen and will pollinate nearby flowers.

Regardless of the type of hermaphrodite cannabis plant you find in your grow room, it is best to remove it and treat it like a male plant rather than a female plant since it still can pollinate your other females. And if you decide to breed a hermaphroditic plant with a female plant you have a good chance of getting more hermaphroditic plants in the future.

To Sum Up

So we’ve broken down how to tell the sex of marijuana plants, so examine your plants carefully and make sure you’re growing just what you want.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us!

And be sure to check out our other blog posts for useful tips on becoming a great grower!

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