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Male vs Female Cannabis Plants

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Marijuana Life Stages & Gender: Only Female Cannabis Plants Make Buds

Did you know there are both male and female marijuana plants? Yes, marijuana plants show gender, and the sex matters a lot to the grower.

That’s because only female plants produce buds. How do you grow female plants?

Regular marijuana seeds will be 50% male, and 50% female. That means half of the seeds will be unusable as far as growing buds.

One way around this is to purchased feminized seeds online. These seeds are available from all reputable online seedbanks, and the plants produced by these seeds are always female.

You can also make your own feminized seeds, but you have to start with two known female plants.

When do marijuana plants reveal their gender?

Cannabis plants go through two stages of life, the “vegetative” stage and the “flowering stage.”

They first go through the vegetative life stage, which you can sort of consider its “childhood” since the plant is only focusing on growing bigger and taller, and gender doesn’t matter. At the beginning of this stage you usually can’t tell what the plant’s gender is.

However, once the plant is about 6 weeks old, it will usually show signs of “pre-flowers” which will alert you to the gender before the beginning of the flowering stage.

Pre-Flowers usually reveal the gender around week 6 from seed

Otherwise you must wait for the flowering stage

Next, cannabis plants switch to the flowering stage which means they stop growing bigger and taller, and instead spend all their effort growing flowers (the buds we want are flowers!). The flowering stage is like the “adult” stage of a cannabis plant since at this point it’s only interested in adult stuff like growing their male and female parts, then pollinating 🙂 In the flowering stage, plants start growing buds or pollen sacs in earnest. The buds we want are female flowers, so growers generally only want to grow female plants.

Growers Want Female Cannabis Plants – These Produce Bud

Regular Marijuana plants reveal their gender in two situations:

After spending a long time in the vegetative stage – some strains/plants will show preflowers (pistils for girls and “balls” for boys) during the vegetative stage if they grow old enough, even when they are constantly kept under a vegetative light schedule. For example, clones can come from plants that are several years old, so you’ll see a lot of clones have female pistils showing, yet will not continue to flower any more than that until after they’ve been switched to a Flowering (12-12) light schedule

Otherwise, all remaining plants will reveal their gender in the first 1-3 weeks after lights are switched to 12-12, and plants enter the flowering stage of life.

Diagram Showing What Pre-Flowers Look Like
Male pre-flowers on left – Female pre-flowers on right

Female Marijuana Plant Pictures

Female marijuana plants take a bit longer than males to show their first signs after being changed over to flowering.

Female marijuana plants start showing one or two wispy white hairs where their buds are going to start forming.

They usually first show up where the main stem connects to the individual nodes or ‘branches’.

If a female plant is kept in the vegetative stage long enough (the length of time varies depending on the strain and conditions), then she will start showing the first sign of female hairs even before you move the plant into the flowering stage by changing the light schedule.

If you see wispy white hairs appearing on your plant like the ones pictured below, then you know you have a female plant.

Click on thumbnails for larger picture

In this pic, you can see white pistils emerging from the calyxes. Female pistils are white and wispy, never green.

This pre-flower doesn’t have a pistil sticking out at first, but the shape helps tell you it’s a female plant. If you’re not sure about gender after spotting a pre-flower, it’s a good idea to wait and see for a little while, just to see if a white hair appears (which means it’s definitely a girl)

Adult Female Cannabis Plant Pictures

Those buds turn into this!

Male Marijuana Plant Pictures

Male plants have grape-like balls which form and fill with pollen. The balls will first show up a week or two after changing the plants over to the flowering stage. If the male is allowed to continue growing, eventually these pollen sacs will burst open and spill pollen everywhere.

A small male pre-flower – this is what male plants look like when they first reveal their gender

These male pre-flowers are basically immature pollen sacs. When the plant starts flowering, they will grow and turn into bunches that almost look like grapes.

Click on thumbnails for larger picture

Uncertain pre-flower – ended up being female!

Sometimes it takes a day or two for a female pre-flower to release her first pistil, and the female calyx can look like the beginning of a pollen sac. Generally the more “pointy” ones tend to be female, but sometimes you have to wait and see a few more flowers to know for sure.

Marijuana plants go through 2 life stages: Vegetative and Flowering

Quick Key to Light Schedules For Photoperiod (Non-Autoflowering) Strains

This key breaks down some of the terms used in the article below such as “24-0″ or 12-12”

Vegetative – Indoor cannabis plants kept on these light schedules will display only vegetative growth

18-6 – 18 Hours Light / 6 Hours Darkness each Day
24-0 – 24 Hours Light / 0 Hours Darkness each Day

Flowering – Indoor cannabis plants on this light schedule will start growing flowers (buds)

12-12 – 12 Hours Light / 12 Hours Darkness each Day

* Most indoor growers use a timer to turn their lights on and off automatically.

The first stage, “Vegetative” begins when they first sprout, at the beginning of their life.

Most growers give their plants 18-24 hours of light a day during the vegetative stage.

When a plant is about half the final size you want it to be, you should change it over to the “Flowering” stage.

The second life stage, “Flowering,” is the stage your plant will remain in until harvest..

You get marijuana plants start flowering (making buds) by changing your light schedule to 12-12.

That means you use an electric timer to automatically shine your grow lights for 12 hours a day, with 12 hours of uninterrupted TOTAL darkness during the plant’s “night period.”

Marijuana plants should reveal the first signs of their gender within 2-3 weeks after being changed to 12-12.

How Light Schedules Affect Marijuana Life Stages

Marijuana plants have an internal process where they can detect how long they receive uninterrupted darkness each day.

In the wild, as the days get shorter and nights get longer, the marijuana plant “realizes” that winter is coming and will start budding/flowering as it approaches the end of it’s lifecycle.

When growing marijuana outdoors, a grower doesn’t need to do anything to induce flowering because the sun will take care of things on its own. All you need to do is make sure your plant isn’t directly under a street light or other light source, so that the plant receives complete darkness at night.

However, when growing marijuana indoors, a marijuana gardener will have to “fool” their plants into thinking winter is coming to induce flowering and kickstart the creation of buds.

This is done by changing the plant’s light schedule to 12-12, where the weed plants gets 12 hours of light a day and 12 hours of total darkness.

It’s easier to ensure the plant gets the 12 full hours of darkness each night when the start and end time for your lights to turn on and off is exactly the same each day. This is why most growers end up getting a timer to turn their lights on and off automatically.

I tend to set my timer in flowering to shine line from 7pm-7am. This gives me time to check on my plants at night when the lights first come on, and I can also check them quickly in the morning before I go to work. It also keeps things cooler since the lights are on at night. Some people (like myself) also get discounts on electricity that’s used at night.

But ANY 12 hour dark period will work, as long as you prevent your plant from getting light leaks during their “night.”

In fact, with marijuana plants, the length of night period, not the length of day period, seems to make the biggest difference. This makes sense if you consider that in the wild, a stormy or cloudy day could shorten the light period a plant receives, but few things in the wild will interrupt the darkness of night.

This has been experimentally verified by some out-of-the-box thinkers. They gave marijuana plants different amounts of light and dark, then watched what happened.

What they found is that a marijuana plant will stay flowering as long as she gets 12+ hours of darkness on a regular basis. The length of day period didn’t seem to matter at all. In fact, you could give plants 12 hours of dark followed by 24 hours of light, on a regular basis, and plants would continue to flower as long as their darkness was uninterrupted for 12 hours at a time.

Check out my marijuana grow light guide for more info about picking out the right grow lights for your situation!

Photoperiod dependent strains vs. auto-flowering strains

So all strains of cannabis that respond to light in this way (where the light period effects what stage they’re in) are called “Photoperiod dependent” strains.

“Auto-flowering” marijuana strains pretty much ignore how much light they get each day. Generally you don’t run into these unless you buy them particularly from a cannabis seed bank.

Marijuana plants have a gender: Is my plant Male or Female?

(Some marijuana plants can also be hermaphrodites, which means they display both male and female parts on the same plant)

Most growers prefer to grow female plants, as only female plant produce buds/flowers.

Note: Once the plant is about 6 weeks old from seed, it will usually show signs of “pre-flowers” which will alert you to the gender before the beginning of the flowering stage.

Pre-Flowers usually reveal the gender around week 6 from seed, or you can wait until the plant switches to the flowering stage.

After 2-3 weeks of the 12-12 light schedule, most marijuana plants will reveal the first signs of their gender (they either are a female plant and start growing buds, YAY! or they are a male plant and start growing balls, NO!).

Why do I not want male marijuana plants?

Only a female marijuana plant makes flowers/buds that contain a usable amount of THC. Male marijuana plants only make pollen sacs that they use to fertilize the females. Most growers will throw away any male plants that they encounter to keep them from fertilizing the female plants. If your female plants do get fertilized, they will use all their energy to produce seeds instead of making buds. This is good if you want seeds, but you will run into the same problem since half of the seeds will also be male.

If you would like to start a breeding program to make your own hybrids, I recommend using a method that creates all-female (feminized) seeds so that you don’t waste time having to identify and throw out male plants.

Getting clones of female marijuana plants or buying feminized seeds online from a seed bank are other ways you can ensure that all your marijuana plants are female.

If you don’t have a choice of seeds, and some of your seeds may be male (like if you just found seeds) than you will want to get your plants to reveal their gender right away so you don’t have to waste time and energy on male plants.

For most marijuana strains, the male plants don’t produce usable amounts of THC, so most growers toss them on sight. Unfortunately, 50% of all regular seeds will become male plants.

These male plants can also impregnate your female plants, which causes them not to produce as many buds, so unless you’re breeding, destroy male plants as soon as you notice them growing grape-like balls where their buds would normally be.

A vigilant grower can carefully watch their plants and remove males when they develop the first signs of pollen sacs.

How to identify female plants if starting out with regular bagseed?

You don’t have to wait for the flowering stage! Below we’ll share two tactics growers use to identify gender in the vegetative stage.

Tactic 1: Preflowers let you identify plants in week 3-6 from seed

Pre-Flowers reveal the gender of your plant by around week 6 from seed, and as early as 3 weeks from seed for some plants.

In this area you’ll find pre-flowers nestled where the “joints” of the plant are.

Tactic 2: Taking a clone and flowering it

The following method can help you identify gender for plants that are taking a while to show their pre-flowers.

If you’re just growing 1, 2, or 3 plants, it can be heartbreaking to find out all your plants are male, and you need to start over in order to make buds.

When marijuana plants are seedlings (or when they’re just seeds), there’s no way to tell which plants are male and which plants are female.

You have to “wait and see.” Male marijuana plants develop pollen sacs (look like little balls or nuts). Female marijuana plants start growing white hairs that develop into the marijuana buds (sensimilla) that contain THC and other cannabinoids. Lots of pictures of male and female parts above.

However, you may want to be more proactive and get rid of the male plants before they enter the flowering stage so you don’t have to waste the time and energy in caring for plants that you will eventually get rid of. If so, then you can use to following technique to identify and remove all the males from your grow.

How to Determine Sex of a Marijuana Plant

You can wait until your plants naturally show the first signs of their gender and then remove all the males, but that means you have to watch the plants closely. You also will waste time and energy growing plants only to find out that some or all are male and have to throw them away. If you want to be more proactive and get rid of all male plants right away, then use this technique.

Take a clone from the unverified marijuana plant

Label both the clone and the mother plant so you know which clone came from which corresponding mother. If you don’t label them clearly, then all your effort will go to waste!

Once the clones have established roots, change just the clones into flowering mode by providing them with a light schedule of 12 hours on, 12 hours off

The clones should start revealing their gender in a week or two. Males will start developing balls and females will start developing white hairs. Click on the pictures below to see some examples of male and female plants.

Once you have determined the gender of your clones, you should make sure you throw away any corresponding male plants.

Learn about marijuana life stages and gender. When does the plant start flowering? How can you tell if your plant is a boy or a girl? What…

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Marijuana

Weed, pot, Mary Jane, ganja, bud – what do these terms have in common? They’re all slang names for marijuana.

What is marijuana?

Marijuana is the product of the dry, shredded flowers, stems, seeds, and leaves of the hemp plant Cannabis sativa or Cannabis Indica. All forms of marijuana contain the mind-altering chemical “THC” (short for delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) which is the main ingredient. There are also as many as 400 other chemicals in marijuana, including cannabadiol (CBD), which is responsible for some of marijuana’s beneficial effects.

How potent (strong) is marijuana today?

The amount of THC in the plant has a lot to do with how strong or potent the marijuana is. The more THC, the stronger the marijuana. Today’s leaf marijuana has a much higher concentration of THC than ever before. While low concentrations of THC (2-4%) might have a relaxing effect, high concentrations (12% or higher) can have the opposite effect and may cause people to feel agitated, paranoid, anxious, and it can even cause hallucinations.

Other important things to know: the amount of THC in marijuana can be different depending on the type of plant, which part of the plant is being used, where it was grown and prepared, and finally, how it is stored. Marijuana is typically smoked as a “joint” (cigarette), a “blunt” (hollowed out cigar made of tobacco leaves), in a pipe, or a bong. Marijuana, or concentrated THC extracts or oils, can also be vaporized and inhaled (“vaped”), mixed into foods, or brewed as a tea.

The strongest forms of the marijuana plant are: Vaping “pods”, sinsemilla, hashish and hash oil and other cannabis extracts.

eCigarettes have become very popular among youth during the past 1-2 years. As more states have legalized “medical marijuana” and recreational use of marijuana, vaping cartridges or “pods” containing very high concentrations of THC have become available for sale to adults. However, they inevitably find their way into the hands of youth as well. These have been associated with a recent rash of severe chemical pneumonias resulting in acute respiratory failure and some deaths across the U.S.

Sinsemilla – is made from the female marijuana plant and does not have seeds, yet it has a high concentration of THC. Sinsemilla contains about 10-30% of THC.

Hashish – is made from the resin of the marijuana plant and is one of the strongest parts of the plant. Hashish contains about 10-20% of THC.

Hash oil – extracts are the most potent (strongest) part of the plant. Super strong hash oil extracts are also called “wax,” “dabs,” “budder,” “crumble,” and “shatter.” These are made by removing THC from the marijuana plant in an oil form. Hash oil extracts are extremely potent and according to a recent research study, they may contain as much as 80-90% of THC.

What happens when someone smokes marijuana?

When someone smokes marijuana, the THC travels through the lungs and into the bloodstream. When it reaches the brain, THC connects with the nerve cells that affect memory, concentration, perception, mood, and pleasure through the brain’s reward pathway. This is what is called a “high”. Powerful memories of intense high are implanted into the amygdala, part of the brain’s limbic or “survival” system, which can cause intense drug cravings for months, years or even for the rest of your life.

Within a few minutes of smoking, a person may experience a combination of the following:

  • Dry mouth
  • Loss of coordination and sense of balance
  • Feeling giggly and laughing a lot
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Feeling relaxed
  • Trouble thinking or concentrating/slowed reaction time
  • Red/bloodshot eyes
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Increased appetite
  • Acute anxiety/paranoia

The way marijuana affects a person depends on how strong the THC content is, how it is being used, whether alcohol and/or other drugs are being taken at the same time, as well as a person’s reaction to it.

Keep in mind that other drugs can be mixed in with the marijuana without the user knowing beforehand. If there are other drugs mixed in, the effects may be more intense.

Are there other effects I should know about?

Yes. Because the chemical THC directly affects the brain, marijuana can cause problems that can last for days, or even weeks, including:

  • Trouble thinking/concentrating
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Distorted perception (sensing things in an abnormal way)

THC also upsets coordination, balance, posture, and reaction time. This can lead to problems while playing sports and doing activities that require your full attention and quick thinking, such as driving.

Research studies have shown that drivers with THC in their bloodstream were about twice more likely to be responsible for a fatal crash than drivers who had not used alcohol or drugs. Drivers with high levels of THC in their blood were 3-7 times more likely to be the responsible party in a car crash involving others.

THC can harm the developing brain of a fetus (unborn child) if a pregnant woman uses any form of marijuana. THC also passes through breastmilk and can be harmful to an infant.

Researchers have reported cases of “cannabis hyperemesis syndrome” in some people who use marijuana regularly. Symptoms include severe vomiting and stomach pain which usually stops when the person stops using marijuana altogether.

Long-term marijuana use can have many negative effects as well.

  • Brain development: When marijuana is used beginning in adolescence, people may have lasting changes to connections in the brain related to thinking, memory, and learning.
  • Mental health problems: Studies have shown that people who use marijuana on a regular basis have an increased risk of schizophrenia. Marijuana use has also been linked to mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal thinking.
  • Respiratory problems: Marijuana smokers can develop many of the same breathing problems as people who smoke cigarettes. These problems include daily coughing, wheezing, more frequent chest illness, and an increased risk of lung infections such as pneumonia.
  • Heart problems: Researchers have found that there seems to be a connection between heart attacks and strokes caused by marijuana use. Marijuana use has also been associated with an increased risk of death among people who have already had a heart attack.
  • Social problems: Marijuana use, particularly when started in adolescence and when heavy, is associated with lower academic and career success, relationship problems, and lower life satisfaction.

Is marijuana addictive?

You may have heard that you can’t become addicted (otherwise known as dependent) to marijuana, but that’s not true. People think this because marijuana withdrawal symptoms are more subtle than the dramatic “drug sick” withdrawal symptoms seen in opioid dependence. Marijuana withdrawal symptoms include mood and sleep problems, irritability, low stress tolerance, restlessness, and lack of pleasure. Dependence on marijuana is also called “marijuana use disorder.” When people use marijuana over a long period of time and try to stop, they find life without marijuana to be too difficult. In fact, it’s estimated that 1 in 6 people who start using marijuana in their teens will become addicted to it. People who are addicted or dependent on marijuana have similar withdrawal symptoms as those who are addicted to nicotine. Withdrawal symptoms can last for months after stopping marijuana use completely.

If using marijuana can harm you, why do people do it?

Even though research shows that there are many negative effects from using marijuana, some people choose to use it anyway. This may be because of the effects such as relaxation and euphoria (intense happiness) that they feel while using it. The truth is that even though something may feel good, it doesn’t mean it’s good for you.

Reasons people use marijuana may include:

  • Feeling social pressure because many of their friends (or siblings) are using it.
  • Using it as an escape from problems in their lives (family, school, etc.)
  • Thinking it’s cool because they hear popular songs about it, and see it used by actors in the movies and on TV

I’ve heard that marijuana can be used as medicine – is that true?

The FDA (Federal Food and Drug Administration) has approved pills that contain THC for cancer patients (who have nausea and vomiting) and for patients diagnosed with AIDS (who have a low weight and/or no appetite). Research is being done to find out other possible uses and forms of THC and other cannabinoids (chemicals from the cannabis plant that act on a certain type of receptor in the brain). A person must have a prescription to get it. Companies that make certain medicines are working to develop safe, standardized medications with the Cannabidiol (CBD) compound.

I’ve heard a lot about marijuana on the news. What are the legal issues involved?

Thirty-three states have legalized “Medical Marijuana” for people with certain chronic, debilitating conditions such as cancer, HIV and multiple sclerosis. To purchase it, you must have a doctor’s certificate. Twenty-seven states have decriminalized marijuana possession (small amounts) and 10 states have legalized recreational use of marijuana for adults aged 20-years and older. It remains illegal for those under age 21 in all 50 states.

The consequences vary, but usually include:

  • Paying a fine
  • Jail time
  • A criminal record (which can hurt your plans for college and employment)

What about drug testing?

Many employers test for drug use during the hiring process, and some have ongoing random drug screening. Marijuana users may not be able to get a job because of their drug use, or they may lose their job if a test comes back positive. The same is true of sports teams. If you test positive for marijuana, you might not be able to play, or you could get cut from your team and have to pay a fine. A urine test may be positive for days to weeks after marijuana use. How long depends on how often a person had been using the drug prior to the test.

How do I know if I have a problem with marijuana use?

Some signs that you may have a problem with or be addicted to marijuana include:

  • You can’t control the urge to use it
  • You use it before school and other activities
  • You drive while high
  • You specifically seek out people who use marijuana and place yourself in situations where it will be available
  • You continue using marijuana even if it has a negative effect on your schoolwork, relationships, sports, or other activities

How can I quit using marijuana?

If you want to quit using marijuana, the most important thing to do is speak with a trusted adult who can assist you so you get the help you need. There are treatment programs that focus on counseling and group support, and there are programs designed especially for teens. Ask your health care provider for a referral.

Center for Young Women’s Health Parents Clinicians About Us Donate Marijuana Weed, pot, Mary Jane, ganja, bud – what do these terms have in common? They’re all slang ]]>