Is it possible to make a male cannabis plant female?

Published Jun 6, 2019 10:07 a.m. ET
Credit: stevanovicigor

One of the most significant problems with ordinary seeds, when you are growing marijuana, is that the odds are simply not in your favor. For every seed you germinate only approximately 50% of them will be female, which is a significant issue since the male plants will not produce bud flowers and will contaminate an entire crop. This often results in a seedy yield, which dramatically decreases the product value and options available to the producer in terms of selling or processing. The majority of those with plenty of experience with growing marijuana will dispose of male plants the moment they show their sex which results in thousands of wasted growing hours, but what if there was a way that you could save them?

The difference between male and female marijuana plants

Male
A male cannabis plant will produce almost no bud flower, and its sole purpose is to provide the seeds to carry on the plant’s genetics. Males are easy to spot, as they produce small sacks of pollen instead of hairs in early growing stages.

Female
Female marijuana plants are necessary for those who are learning how to clone cannabis since they provide the very same genetics and sex with every cutting. They are much bushier and thicker because they deliver the colas that host the massive amounts of cannabinoids like THC and CBD. Females do not produce seeds unless they have been fertilized by a male.

Is it possible to make a male plant female?

The truth is that there is no guaranteed way to turn a male cannabis plant into a thick and healthy female, and this is for a few reasons. The first is that most marijuana plants that are assumed to be male are actually hermaphrodites, so it’s impossible to tell true males from the rest. The second is that sex of the plant is ultimately determined by its genetics, which is written in stone long before you even begin the germinating process. So no, there is no way to make a male plant female truly, but there are methods that can be used to force a male plant display female-like quality.

Who would this technique benefit?

Licensed producers and breeders must follow stringent conditions regulations and keeping a male plant inside of the facility could cause cross contamination as it released its pollen, which would ultimately destroy an entire grow. This method is not used by or recommended for those who are operating with such high stakes. Instead, it is something that can be tried by private people who are growing marijuana and end up with males that would otherwise be useless.

What does this technique do?

The goal of the method that is described here is to trick the cannabis plant into believing that it is a female. Think of the anatomy of a marijuana plant as you would with humans. People will often take hormone specific supplements like testosterone and estrogen to trick the body into displaying the physical characteristics of the opposite sex.

How to force a male plant to show female characteristics

The most critical thing to consider before trying this technique for yourself is that it will require using chemicals that can be harmful to both pets and people, so it is vital that the plants can be kept away from anyone and anything who might accidentally touch or consume some of the additives. Once you have a safe spot selected, you can begin the process, but it does require the application to be at a particular stage of growth, so it is no good for older already established plants.

  1. Grow a marijuana plant until it begins to display characteristics of a male like pollen sacks.

  2. Purchase one bottle of ethylene, which is a female marijuana plant hormone, as well as a pair of gloves and a face mask to protect yourself from any accidental inhalation of the substance.

  3. Sprinkle the ethylene overtop of the branches of the plant, focusing your attention on the leaves and stem joints.

  4. Set your lighting system to 12 hours of light per day, and patiently await the results. Remember, this will only work on real male plants, so if you have a hermaphrodite, it will not be nearly as noticeably effective.

Would this method have the same results if it was performed on a female cannabis plant?

Yes, it is much easier to trick a female into believing that it is a male than it is to do the opposite. Though there is no real reason that anyone would need to perform this experiment, if you were to use gibberellins which are male marijuana plant hormones instead of ethylene on females, the plants would almost certainly immediately begin to display male-like characteristics.

Can this technique be performed on a male marijuana plant clone?

It most certainly can, and some people swear by it, but the problem is that it should be completed while the plant is in it’s youngest stages, so to be successful, you likely won’t end up with very many clones.

How to clone cannabis plants for this method

Typically, you would want to wait until you have an excellent healthy female plant to harvest from, but cloning marijuana plants for this purpose will require much earlier intervention. Once the main plant begins to show signs of being a male, you can clone it by cutting off the small individual branches, dipping each one in an edible plant rooting hormone, and planting them into the soil. It is recommended to wait at least one week after cloning to allow the plants the chance to get established before applying the ethylene.

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