Hermaphrodite Cannabis Seeds

Growing cannabis can be tricky, sometimes you don’t have a favorable climate and your plant starts growing buds and pollen sacs. What does that actually m “A single hermaphrodite can pollinate an entire grow room, rendering the cannabis flowers useless.” Learn more about hermaphrodites in the world of cannabis here. Do you know what hermaphroditism is? How to differentiate it from intersex? In this post we disclose those and other doubts…

What is Hermaphrodite Cannabis?

Growing cannabis can be tricky, sometimes you don’t have a favorable climate and your plant starts growing buds and pollen sacs. What does that actually mean and how to recognize them correctly?

1. What is A Hermaphrodite?

Hermaphrodite marijuana plants develop male pollen sacs and female flowers. While it is a natural feature of the cannabis plant, it is an undesired trait when growing cannabis for consumption.

There is a great chance to obtain a plant full of seeds which seriously reduces the quantity and quality of the final product. To understand why hermaphrodites (aka hermies) happen we need to be able to spot female and male plants first.

2. When Can I Start Looking For The First Signs Of Plant Gender?

The sex of cannabis plants can be determined by looking for the first signs of bloom on the plant. These are visible a few days to a week after you switch your light to 12/12 in photoperiodic plants and give your plant the sign to start flowering (or when nature makes the nights longer than 12hs). With autoflowers this happens 3-4 weeks into the vegetative stage, your auto will show signs of gender when it reaches maturity and is ready to start flowering.

3. Identifying Male Cannabis Plants

Male Cannabis plants are recognized by the formation of pollen sacs on the plant’s nodes (node is the part of the stem where branches grow from). This happens around the same time both in male and female plants, although male plants tend to develop their reproductive organs a bit faster. These male pollen sacs can be distinguished pretty easily. They look like small balls hanging from the side of the plant, instead of the upward-facing white hairs that the female plant produces.

When left to grow, these balls will eventually open up like a flower and release pollen into the air. The pollen is needed only if you’re trying to make your own strains or seeds. If you’re not trying to make your own crosses, having male plants in your garden may result in the pollination of all female plants. The buds will start producing seeds and this will hugely diminish THC levels and yield.

4. Identifying Female Cannabis Plants

Female cannabis plants are distinguished by the development of small white hairs (known as stigmas or pistils) on their nodes. After a while, the plant starts pushing out more and more of these hairs until they swell up from the bottom up.

This means the plant is now forming calyxes that eventually stack up to become the flower as we know it. These calyxes remain empty as long as the plant is not pollinated. When it does get pollinated, these calyxes will fill up to hold and protect the seeds.

5. How Do Hermaphrodites Look Like And What Causes Them?

Even if the seeds are feminized there’s always the chance they become hermaphrodite. This usually happens when plants experience excessive stress. When this happens, cannabis plants try to guarantee their survival, by turning hermaphrodites they can pollinate themselves and provide the seeds for the next generation.

This is a risk you take when growing not-so-good genetics, when you cultivate in a bad environment or when the strains are sensitive. Keep in mind that this is what some breeders do to develop strains. Note that sometimes doing this can make your strain prone or more sensible to stress, resulting in a genetic that is hard to grow.

6. How To Prevent My Plants From Becoming Hermaphrodites?

The only way to avoid this is to avoid stressing (ultimately turning your plants hermie) and to pay close attention to your growing environment. The following factors should be controlled:

Lighting

Abrupt light cycle or intensity changes can seriously stress your plant. Always try to slowly adapt your plant before changing light fixtures or when transferring from outdoors to indoors or vice-versa.

Watering

The excess or lack of water can stress your plant; if you overwater or underwater for a long time your plant will become stressed and ultimately resulting in it becoming a hermaphrodite.

Root damage

Root damage during transplantation can stress your plant, damaging the roots may trigger the survival instinct and your plant will start growing pollen sacs to survive.

Ambient temperature

The ideal temperature is around 27 celsius, growing in an extremely cold or hot climate will make your cannabis plants become hermie.

The correct time for pruning

Pruning aggressively especially during the flowering phase will seriously stress your plant. The best way to perform pruning is during the vegetative phase and even then do it slow and steady.

Fertilizers and pesticides

The excess of nutrients when the plant can’t take it may stress her out, there are some strains that react (and even need) heavy feeding, like our Tangie’matic.

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Dense nugs cooovered in trichomes. The aroma that comes off this strain is wonderful. Nice uplifting and motivating high.

The use of really strong and chemical pesticides can stress your plant easily, the best way is to prevent bugs, and if you need to look for natural solutions.

Healthy Growing Medium

Your growing medium is the home for all those ever-important roots. Since they are buried in the ground (unless you are growing with a full hydro setup), they are quite easy to overlook or even forget about totally. But low-quality growing medium can cause a whole range of issues for your plant, so always take your time with choosing high-quality stuff for that root ball to thrive in. Otherwise, the plant can become stressed, and hey presto, you’ve got a hermie on your hands.

Plagues

Any type of plague, like bugs or pests, can make your plant turn into a hermie. They slowly kill your plant until it reaches a point there’s no return. When it reaches this point, it will start growing pollen sacs to prevent her extinction.

Low-Quality Equipment

These days, the internet is flush with all types of crap marketed toward new cannabis growers. Ask any grower with a bit of time on their scorecard and they are sure to tell you to never skimp on your growing equipment. Sure, you can buy cheap stuff and hope for the best. And sure, maybe you’ll get lucky and not have any huge issues. But why take the risk of wrecking all that love, time, and effort you have put into your grow over a couple of hundred bucks? One single problem with any number of different pieces of equipment could cause the exact stress we are always trying so hard to avoid, so don’t cut any corners here. Only buy from reputable suppliers, and read the reviews before you hand over that hard-earned cheddar.

7. How Can I Save My Harvest When This Happens?

Remove Pollen Sacs

To avoid hermaphrodite cannabis plants from pollinating themselves, carefully remove the male reproductive organs that form on the nodes. You can do so by gently taking a pollen sac in between two fingers and pull it off. This is the only way to try to save your harvest. Sometimes your plant will continue to grow pollen sac and sometimes it will stop, it all depends on what is causing stress.

Either way, you should try to fix whatever is causing your plant’s stress. If you don’t, all the other plants in the grow space can become stressed and turn into hermies. You need to have in mind that even though you can still save your harvest, the flowers won’t be as potent and won’t yield nearly as much as normal.

Harvest Your Plant Early

If male flowers continue to appear, the plant will have to be cut down and harvested. You can still smoke the flowers but it will definitely not be as potent or as dense as it should be. If the grow space contains more than one plant, the hermie should be removed.

Eliminate the Plant

The hardest thing to do as a cannabis cultivator is to kill a plant, but there are some situations where this just might be the only real option. A single hermie plant has the real possibility to pollinate a whole crop, which would be an absolute disaster. Ask yourself what is better, killing a single plant or having your whole cropped pollinated? If your plant is only showing a few sporadic pollen sacks then sure, you can quarantine the plant and try to carefully remove the sacks. But, if it is covered in pollen sacks your best bet is to just eliminate it. If it has already reached a stage of flower maturity then don’t let them go to waste. Although they may not have the same potency as a female plant, there are zero reasons to just throw them out. As long as you have done a good job growing them up to this point they should still have a good old kick to them. Other than smoking them, you can use them to make a delicious batch of cannabutter or canna-coconut oil. The can be used to make rosin hash, bubble hash, or any other form of extraction.

8. In Conclusion

Hermaphroditism is what allows cannabis to keep on growing when it grows in harsh climates or places where it doesn’t have a good environment. Even though it is something really good for cannabis in nature, most growers don’t really benefit from hermaphroditism. For us, it means our harvest has a risk of being ruined so we need to provide the optimal growing environment for our plants. We can’t complain though, if it wasn’t for hermies, a lot of varieties would be already extinct now. If you’re dealing with hermies a lot you need to know what is causing your plants to stress. The most common factor is temperature.

Hermaphrodites

Hermaphrodites: A word derived from the names of the Greek deities Hermes and Aphrodite; hermaphrodite is meant to convey the presence of both sets of reproductive organs. Cannabis, as some unfortunate growers may know, can develop this trait if stress occurs in sufficient quantities. A single hermaphrodite can pollinate an entire grow room, rendering the flowers useless. Light stress is the most common culprit, in which light leaks and broken timers can spell disaster! Check for any holes in your sealed grow room, and ensure timers are operating correctly to spare yourself this pain. However, hermaphrodites are the objective for some gardeners. Hermaphrodites are an essential aspect for the production of feminized seeds. In this case growers will spray a solution of colloidal silver on their plants during the first weeks of the flower cycle. The silver solution interrupts the production of female reproductive organs leaving a hermaphrodite. These plants are then left to self-pollinate and produce seeds that are 99.9% female, while maintaining the genetic traits of the parent.

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Hermaphroditism in Cannabis plants. So, what now?

Among cannabis plants we can find dioecious and monoecious specimens, that is, individuals that only show a defined sex and others that contain flowers of both sexes in the same plant. Originally they were all monoecious, as is the case with almost all varieties of industrial hemp as well as the vast majority of vegetables on the planet.

In the past this was not a problem, because cannabis was used for making fibres and the seeds were eaten, so every plant was valid. Then they started smoking the flowers after removing the seeds, as well as producing hashish centuries later, and they soon realized that female plants were much better for these purposes, or that they barely showed any male flowers.

It was the human hand that began to isolate the best females for its own use, and by selection and crossing the dioecious traits were fixed in some pure varieties. From the best stable Landraces came the first hybrids, and from them most of the polyhybrids we know nowadays. The vast majority of cannabis seeds nowadays are of well-defined sex, but there are still genetics that can show hermaphroditism and this is what we will see here. What is a hermaphrodite cannabis plant and what can we do with it?

Meaning of Hermaphrodite

I guess we’ve all been there at one time or another, we have arrived to the crop and among all the plants we saw something strange. Something that you do not expect, a plant that has strange things in the buds and when you approach to see it well your predictions are confirmed, it is a hermaphrodite sex flower, but what is hermaphroditism?

The definition of hermaphrodite in marijuana plants means specimens containing both sexes in the same flower. This process is also called Monoceia. This can be a big problem if you want to smoke the buds, because male flowers normally pollinate female flowers and your buds will contain seeds. So, is hermaphroditism bad? It is for us, although we have to understand that sometimes it is a positive reaction that the plant shows on certain situations.

Picture showing the different sexes of cannabis plants*

⭐ Types and causes of Cannabis Hermaphroditism

  1. Genetic
  2. Environmental stress
  3. Culture Stress
  4. Overmaturity
  5. Chemical agents
  1. The most common cause of weed plants showing hermaphrodites is genetic. As we saw before, the ancestors of all the current varieties were hermaphrodites, but they have been working over the years to stabilize their sex. Many times plants contain hermaphrodite genes in a recessive way, that is, some specimens may not show it, but these same specimens may pass it on to the offspring. It is also the case of varieties that always show pure females when grown optimally, but can end up showing male flowers in stress situations.
  2. Environmental stress hermaphroditism is quite common too, but in this case it has to do with Darwin’s theory of evolution. It may seem like a negative thing, since it can ruin your crop, but it is actually a system of adaptation to the environment, since it happens when the female plant perceives that it can die due to environmental irregularities, so it produces male flowers to self-pollinate and procreate as soon as possible.
  3. Crop-induced stress can be caused naturally or by the grower himself/herself. Pure Afghani genetics have minimal water requirements, because they are used to dry and unfertile soil, and when you try to grow them in a rainy area they often show hermaphroditic signs. It also happens the other way around, of course, if you bring a Mexican to Afghanistan it’s normal for it to get stressed out too and it can end up hermaphroditing. This can be seen very well with some hybrids when they are over-fertilized, or when they suffer from water stress due to drought, excess irrigation or an inadequate PH in the nutrient solution.
  4. Hermaphroditism caused by over-ripening can be suffered by 90% of today’s commercial cannabis varieties. It is a kind of survival system of the plant, which when it perceives that its death is near and has not been fertilized, creates some male flowers to self-pollinate and try to continue with the lineage. There are many sexually stable females that endure many types of stress without showing any hermaphroditic signs, but in the case of over-ripening they end up producing hermaphrodite flowers.
  5. Cannabis has the ability to reverse or invert its sex thanks to certain chemicals. This is because there are some elements that have the capacity to inhibit the ethylene production of the female specimens, and therefore show male flowers capable of producing pollen. An example of this type of hermaphroditism is STS which is used to produce feminized seeds. Plants reversed with silver thiosulfate, colloidal silver or other chemicals, we call them hermaphrodites, although they are not really like that, because when they start to generate male flowers they stop producing female flowers, so maybe we could call them sequential hermaphrodites or just intersex plants.
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Image of an intersex cannabis plant, where you can see a female flower next to a male one*

Difference between hermaphrodite and intersex

We usually call all plants containing both sexes hermaphrodite and it’s actually like this. But we must differentiate between those that produce both female and male flowers separated in different areas, which would be intersex ones, from those that form male and female flowers in the same bud.

➕ How to take advantage of a hermaphrodite plant?

The best thing you can do when you detect a hermaphrodite plant in your crop is to carefully remove it so as not to spread the pollen in case it has opened the flowers. But that doesn’t mean that you have to cut it down and throw it away, because sometimes you can get some use out of the plant.

Some specimens can take out 1 or 2 male flowers and nothing else, it happens sometimes with pre-flowers, in the fourth or fifth knot usually, that can be taken out and the plant will continue to flower as a female many times. It is convenient to keep an eye on these specimens if they are mixed with other females, in case at some point they take out some little banana (male flowers that come out in some hermaphrodite buds).

There are also some hermaphrodite plants that can take out a few small bananas in a bud, visible and that can be removed with tweezers. In these cases it is also better to separate them carefully and, depending on the development of the buds, choose whether to bring forward the harvest or keep them under supervision until they finish their cycle. Once you’ve removed the bananas, you can use that weed like any other.

If it is a plant that shows signs of continuous hermaphroditism during the first weeks of flowering, it is best to cut it directly if there is a danger of pollination of other females. If this happens to you, you should know that you can use the plant to make rubbing alcohol, for example. However, if you have to cut it with a more advanced flowering stage, I suggest you try to make BHO, because if the buds already have resin I feel that this is a better way to take advantage of a hermaphrodite.

And if they are seeds from a hermaphrodite plant, can I use them?

One of the factors that influence hermaphroditism is the genetic as we saw before, it is one more inherited characteristic that runs from generation to generation. Therefore, seeds that come out of hermaphrodite marijuana plants have a good chance of also being hermaphrodite.

Sometimes we find some seeds among the whole harvest of a plant, which usually come from self-pollination, they are the so-called S1. This happens when a little banana comes out and fertilizes a small area of a bud, so only a few seeds come out, sometimes only one. These seeds are feminized and very similar to the plant from which they come out, they always come out female, but they are always prone to produce some male flower between their buds as well.

How to avoid that a plant becomes hermaphrodite?

This is not always possible, because there are some varieties that have it very marked, intrinsic. But there are many others that only have a tendency to hermaphroditism, or a greater ability to produce flowers of the opposite sex. This tendency has a lot to do with the ability of genetics to withstand stress, those that are sexually pure, very few, endure much more stress without showing changes in their sex. If you want to stop them from showing it, consider the following factors:

  • Don’t go crazy with nutrients
  • Check the pH and regularly calibrate your meter
  • Daytime temperature around 75º F. (24º C.) and at night around 64.5º F. (18º C.)
  • Keep the crop clean, pests also stress
  • Strict photoperiod and no illumination of the plants during the night period
  • Don’t delay the harvest, you know that over-ripe ends in hermaphroditism
  • Be careful with phytosanitary products, some are very strong and can stress the plant
  • Don’t put too many plants in too little space, root stress is also bad

✅ Conclusion

You’ve seen that hermaphroditism in cannabis is not a bad thing in itself, even if it bothers us. At least you know how to handle it and how you can take advantage of these plants in case this happens. I hope you liked this post, and if so, I’d like you to share it.