Marijuana and hermaphroditism
What is a hermaphrodite marijuana plant?
Hermaphrodite marijuana plants develop both male and female flowers. While it is a natural feature of the cannabis plant, it is an undesired trait when growing marijuana for consumption, since there is a great chance to obtain a plant full of seeds, what seriously reduces the quantity and quality of the final product.
Hermaphroditism can have 2 origins: genetic and environmental.
Genetically, some marijuana strains are more sensitive to hermaphroditism than others. This can be explained by the genetic origins of the strain - Thai sativas, for example, usually reach a high percentage of hermaphrodite plants - or also by the technique used when producing seeds (GA3,...).
Regardless its genetic sensitivity, a marijuana plant can also become hermaphrodite by the influence of stress. When it feels that the flowering conditions are too hard, hermaphroditism is an effective and natural way to shorten this period, pollinating its female flowers with the pollen of a few male clusters (usually called "bananas").
Stress, that highly increases the risk of hermaphroditism, may have several causes, such as:
- Changes in the photoperiod, specially interruptions of the dark period during flowering
- Too much heat (>27°C aproximately), wrong environmental conditions
- Harvesting too late, when the grower misses the deadline for harvesting his/her plants
- Mechanical stress: broken branches, damaged roots, pruning during flowering,...
- Irrigation issues (lack or excess)
- Insects, mites, diseases…
- Thermal stress (irrigating plants with cold water…)
- Use of phytotoxic products (pesticides, fungicides...)
How to avoid hermaphrodite plants?
To avoid hermaphrodite marijuana plants, the main rule is avoiding any kind of stress during their flowering period, so we limit the risks as far as possible. Pruning and staking of the plants should be performed during their growth and/or pre-flowering stage (stretch), before the buds start developing.
In order to lower the chances to get hermaphrodite plants, you should: mantain good environmental conditions in your growing space, a perfect hygiene, regularly monitor your timers , check your plants for insects and mites, water them regularly with a balanced nutrient solution. At the end of flowering, carefully check the trichomes so you don't miss the harvest deadline.
When you have to decide which marijuana strains to grow on your next crops, carefully read any comments from other growers on the chosen strains, as well as seedbank advices and recommendations on them, so you have all the information about these seeds and can better avoid those strains with hermaphrodite traits in their genepool. Actually, if there are too many comments about the hermaphroditism of a specific strain, the breeder him/herself often withdraws it from the market.
Regular cannabis seeds are known for being less sensitive to hermaphroditism than feminized seeds, although this is not an axiom, we must carefully chech our plants for male flowers whatever the type of seed we are growing.
What to do when we find hermaphrodite marijuana plants?
As we mentioned before, it is very important to carefully check our plants for male flowers from the beginning of flowering. During the flowering period, these male flowers are easily observed due to their yellow colour and banana shape. We will also check for mites or insects, as well as molds, so we avoid the most common cannabis pests .
If a plant shows male and female flowers from the beginning of flowering, unfortunately we will have to eliminate it immediately from the growing space. Otherwise, it could pollinate the entire crop, transmitting the hermaphrodite trait to the offspring.
When the plant becomes hermaphrodite at full flowering, we have 2 options:
- If the plant only produces few male flowers, we can remove them with a pair of tweezers (sterilized with alcohol), spraying water on them - water sterilizes pollen - and then watching for new bananas.
- If the plant produces numerous male flowers, we should eliminate it from the growing space.
Finally, if a marijuana plant becomes hermaphrodite at the end of flowering, we should harvest it as soon as possible, before the male flowers release their pollen.
Did you find seeds in your cannabis harvest?
If you find seeds in your harvested buds and there is not any male plant near your growing spot, it is because there was at least one hermaphrodite plant in your crop. Those male flowers that were not removed released their pollen next to the female plants. Unfortunately, once pollinated the plant focuses its energy on producing seeds, instead of producing new flowers.
As we already mentioned, these seeds coming from hermaphrodite pollen will mantain this undesirable trait, so it is recommended not to grow them.
We hope that these tips will help you to efficiently detect hermaphrodite plants, so you can get the most out of your sinsemilla marijuana crop!!