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Marijuana plants have distinct genders – they can either be male or female. The sex of the plant determines its utility, and for those cultivating cannabis, identifying the gender of their plants as early as possible can be a crucial step in the process.

Understanding Marijuana Plant

Marijuana, or cannabis, is a plant that naturally falls into two primary categories, male and female. Though they come from the same seed, the two genders are notably different and serve distinct purposes.

Why Identifying Sex Matters

Female cannabis plants produce the large, resin-secreting flowers that are dried and consumed. For growers who are interested in cultivating plants for these flowers, eliminating the male plants is crucial as they can pollinate the females leading to seeds. On the other hand, male plants are often grown for breeding purposes.

Pre-flowering Signs

Identifying the sex of your cannabis plant before flowering can save you a lot of time and effort. Let’s dive into the different characteristics of male and female cannabis plants.

Identifying Male Plants

Male cannabis plants develop round balls—these are the pollen sacs. Even before the plant starts flowering, you may notice these sacs forming where the branches connect to the stem. They appear as small round nodes and are a clear sign of a male plant.

Identifying Female Plants

Female pre-flowers, in contrast, appear as tiny bracts with hair-like stigma peeking out. The bracts are minuscule, teardrop-shaped nodes. The stigma, or the hair-like strands, tend to be white or cream and are an early sign of a female plant.

Time of Sexing the Plant

Generally, you can start sexing your marijuana plants about three to six weeks from germination. Some strains will show sex earlier, and others may take a bit longer.

Common Mistakes

A common mistake is confusing the early pre-flowers for buds in female plants or confusing the pollen sacs of the male plants for buds. This can lead to growers allowing male plants to mature, unintentionally leading to a seeded crop.

Tools for Identification

A magnifying tool can be handy in detecting the pre-flowers early. With the help of a magnifying glass or a jeweler’s loupe, you can identify the tiny formations at the nodes of the plant.

What to Do With Male Plants

If you are growing cannabis for consumption and you find male plants, the best course of action is to separate them from the females. This prevents pollination and thus, seed production.

How to Care for Female Plants

Female marijuana plants require care and attention to thrive. Once you’ve identified a plant as female, it’s essential to provide the right conditions for flower production. This includes appropriate lighting, watering, and nutrient provision. Keep an eye out for any signs of disease or stress in the plants to ensure a bountiful harvest.

Cloning and Sexing

An alternative method of ensuring a female crop is to clone from a known female plant. Cloning essentially creates a genetic copy of the mother plant, thus guaranteeing female offshoots.

Identifying the sex of a marijuana plant before it begins to flower is an essential skill for any cannabis grower. While it can be somewhat challenging at first, over time, it becomes easier to spot the differences between male and female pre-flowers. Remember, successful cannabis cultivation largely depends on your ability to identify and isolate male plants to prevent pollination unless breeding is your intended purpose. Remember to care for your female plants to ensure a plentiful yield.


What is the easiest way to identify the sex of a marijuana plant before flowering?

The easiest way is to look at the pre-flowers that appear at the nodes. Males develop round balls, whereas females develop small bracts with hair-like stigma.

Can the sex of a marijuana plant change?

Under extreme stress, female marijuana plants can turn into hermaphrodites and start producing pollen. This is a survival mechanism to self-pollinate and produce seeds.

What happens if a male marijuana plant pollinates a female?

If a male plant pollinates a female plant, the female plant will start producing seeds, reducing the amount of usable cannabis flower.

When can you start sexing a marijuana plant?

Generally, you can start sexing your marijuana plants about three to six weeks from germination. The timing can vary based on the strain.

How to ensure a fully female crop?

Cloning from a known female plant is an assured way to have a completely female crop. Otherwise, careful monitoring and removal of male plants as they appear can maintain a female crop.