Male Cannabis Plants: Why Do Growers Discard The Males?

Any good marijuana grower separates the male plants ♂️ from the female plants ♀️ — but why is this so important? Here’s a short masterclass on cannabis gender.

By Piotr Kuzniewicz Last Updated: August 31, 2023
Last Updated: August 31, 2023

If you want to enjoy high-volume harvest and top-shelf cannabis flowers, knowing when to separate male plants from females is critical.

Marijuana is a dioecious plant. In plain English, it means it produces both genders on separate plants. 

While both are necessary for making new cannabis strains and prolonging the lineage of the existing ones, they shouldn’t be grown together if you’re looking to get really good bud.

For good weed, only the girls matter — most growers quickly destroy male plants as soon as their sex is revealed.

This article will help you distinguish between male and female cannabis plants. You’ll learn what they are, how to use them, and when to remove males from females if you’re growing weed for consumption.

Male Cannabis Flowers

What’s The Problem With Male Cannabis Plants?

Male cannabis plants don’t produce cannabinoids. You can’t get high from these plants. 

Instead of growing dense, resinous flowers like the females, they develop pollen sacs designed to pollinate the female flowers. The fruit of that love is new seeds.

This is the problem right here. 

When a female plant spends its energy making seeds, it isn’t putting that energy into THC, CBD, or other valuable cannabinoids.

Male cannabis plants are surprisingly effective at getting their pollen over to the female flowers. The pollen consists of very fine dust that can travel on air currents, clothing, gardening equipment, and your hands.

If it gets into the female buds, it will significantly reduce both the yield of the harvest and its quality. 

Most growers don’t want to take the risk, so they take the tie to carefully weed out all the males before moving into the flowering stage of growth. 

The only time male plants have a place in the garden is for breeding. 

Since male cannabis plants make up 50% of the strain’s genes, breeders emphasize the need for strong  “fathers” when making new cultivars. Some growers specialize in male-only plants and then sell the pollen to other breeders who don’t want to risk cross-contaminating other grow rooms. 

Males also boast higher cannabinoid levels in their leaves. If you have a resinous male plant with decent roots — you’re laying strong foundations for breeding high-quality offspring.

Not to mention that male plants help protect females against natural predators through the release of pheromones and other insecticidal constituents.

The Cannabis Matriarchy: Female Cannabis Plants

If you grow weed for the sake of using it for medical or recreational purposes, you’ll want female plants 100% of the time. Female plants grow the resin-coated bud — the powerhouse for all therapeutic compounds in cannabis, such as cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids.

The vast majority of cannabis products, such as hashish, concentrates, edibles, and topicals, are made from female cannabis flowers.

You can use male plants — especially their leaves — to make hash, but it’s not very efficient. You’ll have to grow a lot of plants to get just a little bit of hash.

What Are Hermaphrodite Cannabis Plants?

Sometimes, you may stumble upon cannabis plants that grow both pollen sacs and female flowers.

If that’s your story, you may have hermaphrodite plants. Whether or not you’ll have any hermaphrodites depends on the chromosome makeup of your plants and the growing conditions.

Cannabis is highly reactive to stress. Any type of light modification or environmental stress may produce hermaphrodites as a result of trying to protect the females against these deteriorative conditions.

If you notice male flowers appearing at the end of the flowering period, don’t worry — they won’t have enough time to pollinate the female.

Not to mention that such seeds are even more likely to grow hermaphrodites, so you can throw them away.

How to Use Male vs. Female Cannabis Plants

First, you need to determine what type of grower you are.

Do you grow cannabis plants for their resinous flowers so that you can smoke or vape them — or do you make cannabis-infused products?

Or are you focused on breeding new strains and preserving the genetics of your favorite lineage?

If you lean toward the first type, you’ll need female plants — and just that. Male cannabis plants don’t produce such flowers. They give you the seed, which can be useful for the breeder — but not if you want to enjoy the signature cannabis experience.

Growing females together with males involves the risk of pollination, and that can destroy your yields.

On the other hand, cannabis breeders need decent genes from males to guarantee the high quality of “newborns.” 

Bottom line? You don’t need males to grow resinous buds, but you need them to ensure the top quality of the female seed — which is impossible to achieve with poor genetics.

Types of Cannabis Seeds

There are two types of cannabis seeds you can get from a seed bank:

  • Feminized seeds these seeds only produce female plants, making them better for inexperienced growers who can’t yet distinguish between the cannabis sexes. They also include most auto-flowering strains.
  • Regular seeds — they can grow both female and male cannabis plants, so you’ll need to separate them at some point to prevent pollination and losses in yields.
Cannabis Seeds

How to Identify Male Plants

Now it’s time to learn the ins and outs of separating the gentlemen from the ladies. It’s not rocket science; all you need is a pair of healthy eyes.

The first four weeks of growth are essential for spotting pollen sacs. At first, they might look too similar to the “pre-flowers” on the female — but in the sixth week, you should be able to determine the gender.

Female Cannabis Plant

When Should You Remove Males From Females?

The moment you can tell the difference between the pollen sac and pre-flowers is when you should take action. 

Just make sure the pollen sac and pre-flower are mature enough so that you don’t accidentally remove female plants from your garden.

The best indicator that you’re looking at the pre-flower is when you see two white hairs coming out from the calyx.

Long story short, be patient, observe, and take notes.

Tips for Growing Male & Female Cannabis Plants

Here are a few handy tips if you’re growing weed from regular seeds:

  • To maximize the yields of cannabis flowers, get rid of male plants as quickly as possible; doing so will help you avoid unwanted pollination in your females.
  • Improve your plant’s metabolism by ensuring small cycles of humidity and drought; this way, they will show their sex earlier than usual.
  • Use flowering stimulants 10 days before flipping lights indoors to increase the formation of new flowers.
  • Don’t disturb your weed’s dark cycle. The main factor causing hermaphroditism in weeds is by interrupting darkness; this can cause small male plants to occur if your particular strain is genetically predestined to become a hermaphrodite.

Final Thoughts On Male vs. Female Cannabis Plants

You need both cannabis genders for growing new strains. Without either of them, we would’ve lost access to this versatile biological tool.

However, not all cannabis growers are interested in plants that grow pollen sacs (males) — and their lens focuses on those that can grow resinous buds (females).

At first, it can be difficult to tell the difference between male and female cannabis plants, especially at the early flowering stage.

If you grow weed for its flowers, the best way to ensure there are no male plants in your garden is to buy feminized cannabis seeds. They will grow only female plants to make sure you end up with a decent yield of high-quality weed.