Male cannabis plants generally get a bad rap in the cultivation world. For a fact, majority of growers have gotten accustomed to spot the ‘maligned males’ early on and toss them out so that their precious ‘female jewels’ cannot be pollinated.
To be completely frank, the poor image that’s been circulating around male plants is something they don’t quite deserve. So before you toss them out, understand what some of their special attributes are and how they can prove to be a lot more useful than you might think.
Think Twice before Discarding those Male Cannabis Plants
The male plant is not only much maligned but often misunderstood. Most growers go to great lengths to identify the male ones and then terminate them on sight – which might make sense in a sinsemilla garden. But, before you hastily root out those males the moment they mature, you might want to consider some of their unique characteristics – some of which may quite pleasantly surprise you.
Even though male plants aren’t as resinous as the sinsemilla female ones, fully developed males carry a fair amount of cannabinoids. Here’s a kicker: contrary to popular belief, male plants will yield a generous amount of pollen if left to grow fully. Kicker number 2: male plants grow a lot faster and taller than female ones, and even mature faster.
So if you ever think that you’re dealing with a ‘bad situation’ owing to too many male plants, think again. If you’re ‘unlucky’ enough to see every seed in your yield going male, think again! Give them the sinsemilla crop treatment and gaze in astonishment at the amount of pollen they produce. And yes – pollen does get you really ‘high’.
Understanding Cannabis Plant Sexes
The cannabis plant is ‘dioecious’ in nature, meaning that it has unique male and female counterparts, which is not the case with 80% of plant species. However, hermaphrodites (self-pollinating male plus female) cannabis does exits, particularly when growing in poor-quality soil or subjected to other environmental and/or climatic stresses such as sudden and marked changes in temperature, physical damage, drought or dramatic changes to the day/night cycle during flowering.
There may be other environmental factors that can lead to hermaphroditism, such as a natural reaction to disease or insects, or the overuse of specific kinds of fungicides and pesticides. However, it must be borne in mind that this tendency can also directly point to inferior quality plants. For, a good-quality, well-bred mother plant will usually not display signs of hermaphroditism, even when faced with environmental stresses.
Hermaphroditism can be a good thing because it ensures survival when conditions are not optimal or sometimes downright harsh. However, as in our own world, hermaphrodite cannabis plants are seen as somewhat strange – in fact, many breeders dread them and suggest getting rid of them right away – reason being that they may lead to accidental bud pollination.
This is important to understand because in cases where a pollen sac from a hermaphrodite plant comes into contact with other plant buds, those buds will seize to develop – instead, they will produce simply more seeds and flowers, which is counterintuitive. Therefore, if self-pollination is allowed to continue, it can result in deterioration in the overall health of several generations of plants to come.
So the question is – how do we identify gender of the cannabis plant? Take a look at the ‘V’ shape on your plant where the stalk meets with the stem. The first sign of gender usually appears here. During the vegetative (growing) stage, your plant will most like show ‘pre-flowers’ – this is especially true in cases where it is a clone.
It’s also important to know if your plants are hermaphrodites. This can be done in a number of ways – the first of which is to determine what kind of flowers are being produced. So the next time you cultivate your cannabis plants, always check to make sure they are not hermaphrodites – seeds in your harvested buds where no males are found, is a sure sign that they are.
For the most part, females take a while to show their gender after the flowering stage has transpired, as opposed to males. Females develop wispy white hairs, which signal the sight of the buds that will soon grow. Female cannabis plants typically form between the stalk and stem. You’ll also notice that female pistils are never green but a clear white.
Male plants are characterised by their grape-sized pollen which look like almost perfectly symmetrical balls. These will spur in about 7 days or more, after your plant has entered the flowering phase. The growth they produce has a very distinct yellowish-white hue and somewhat resemble bananas.
Male cannabis plants have the ability to produce generous quantities of fine pollen which can be easily scattered by the wind. Take a closer look and you’ll see 5 yellowish-white petioles – these are responsible for protecting the anthers housed inside which, in turn, transport the pollen on their surfaces. Once the pods are mature, they ‘pop’ open to reveal swollen anthers which release their pollen.
Female plants contain highly receptive pistils which are bathed in sticky resin – this allows them to snag the fine pollen. After pollination, the pistils run dry, die and fold back as the seed starts to form. In about 6 weeks, the seeds will flourish which is marked by the calyx splitting open.
What to do with Your Male Plant – 5 Common Uses
There may be times when you want your bud to be more potent and resinous – or you may prefer to see the flowering stage ending sooner than the usual cycle.
This is one of many scenarios where male plants prove particularly useful. We already know that their main role is to breed seeds, right? But did you also know that every time a male pollinates a female, it lends at least 50% of the seed’s genetic blueprint? Keeping this in mind, it pays to learn a thing or two about male cannabis plant genetics that are in your garden.
For instance, can they easily resist pests and mould? How quickly can they grow? If the answer is in the positive to these two questions alone, you have enough grounds to pass on these favourable traits to further the quality of new cannabis generations.
Since male plants can’t be smoked to determine their quality, here’s how you will look for the ones with good genetics – these 5 steps will not only help you get rid of the undesirable males but also find the ideal ones for breeding:
- Get rid of the autoflowering or early flowering males; they tend to produce hermaphrodites
- Remove males that have a tendency to grow unusually fast or taller than the others; these types of males are ideally suited to producing fibres and not flowers
- Hold on to the ones that have large and hollow stems; toss away stems that have too much spongy white tissue (pith)
- Pick male plants which have yielded tight and dense flowers; discard those that have a loose and airy makeup
- Male plants with the most prominent odour are the best quality ones
Male cannabis plants boast strong and fibrous stalks – they’re perfect for creating hemp fibre. What makes males special for this purpose is their ability to provide soft and fine fibres which in turn provide for the finest fabric weave.
Even if making fibre isn’t something you’re particularly interested in, male plant fibre is still ideal for hemp products like clothing and tablecloths.
Good Companions for Garden Enhancement
Smoking cannabis isn’t the only way to get good use out of them. One of cannabis plants’ defences includes aromatic terpenes which work brilliantly to repel pests. Therefore, it’s a superb companion plant.
Place a few male plants strategically between your vegetables and keep them free of pests without the need for harsh and harmful pesticides.
For large gardens, you can have a dedicated space just for male cannabis plants. However, you’ll need to keep them at a distance from the female ones. To cut down the risk of inadvertent pollination as much as possible, plant sunflowers which act as a natural barrier between the male and female cannabis plants.
So as it turns out, there’s no need to discard your male plants just to avoid accidental pollination – otherwise, you’re wasting perfectly smokable cannabis.
Delicious and Healthy THCA Juice
I’ve you’ve never consumed raw cannabis juice, here’s your chance. The cannabolic acids in cannabis juice, such as CBDA and THCA, provide the same health benefits as compared to medical marijuana consumed in conventional ways.
Conveniently, male plants have the same cannabinoid concentration as their female counterparts. So you can enjoy a healthy juice full of cannabinoids, without fearing a ‘high’.
By holding on to your male plants, you’re actually supporting the herb’s sustained genetic survival. It’s all too easy to ignore the significance of male plants just for convenience’s sake, but in doing so, some strains may become extinct down the line.