male cannabis pollen

Understanding Male, Female, And Hermaphrodite Cannabis

When you grow cannabis plants, they will either turn out as females, males, or hermaphrodites, meaning a hybrid of the two sexes. Knowing the difference between the three is vital to maintaining a strong growing operation, whether you’re planning on crossbreeding strains, maximising the yield of your female plants, or studying each of the types.

A guide to differentiating between male, female, and hermaphrodite cannabis plants.

  • 1. Why does it matter that cannabis is dioecious?
  • 2. Male vs female cannabis: What’s the difference?
  • 3. Hermaphrodites: When cannabis plants become monoecious
  • 4. How to identify different sexes of cannabis plants
  • 4.a. Identifying male cannabis plants
  • 4.b. Identifying female cannabis plants
  • 4.c. Identifying hermaphrodite cannabis plants
  • 5. Types of hermaphrodite cannabis plants
  • 6. How to avoid hermaphrodite plants in your grow room
  • 7. What type of cannabis seeds are good for breeding?
  • 1. Why does it matter that cannabis is dioecious?
  • 2. Male vs female cannabis: What’s the difference?
  • 3. Hermaphrodites: When cannabis plants become monoecious
  • 4. How to identify different sexes of cannabis plants
  • 4.a. Identifying male cannabis plants
  • 4.b. Identifying female cannabis plants
  • 4.c. Identifying hermaphrodite cannabis plants
  • 5. Types of hermaphrodite cannabis plants
  • 6. How to avoid hermaphrodite plants in your grow room
  • 7. What type of cannabis seeds are good for breeding?

From psychoactive cannabinoids to aromatic terpenes, cannabis features many traits that make it unique within the plant kingdom. However, the uniqueness of the plant doesn’t stop at the phytochemicals it produces.

See, the vast majority of plant species are monoecious, a term meaning they possess both male and female reproductive organs. These include edible plants, such as corn and squashes, that can readily fertilise their own flowers using their own pollen.

Cannabis belongs to a minority of species that are dioecious in nature, meaning they produce separate male and female plants. Specifically, it should be noted that only 7% of all angiosperms (flowering plant species) possess this rare and interesting trait.


Cannabis growers and breeders use this trait to their advantage, since it allows them to separate male and female plants. This enables them to prevent the flowers from becoming fertilised and going to seed, which results in better quality flowers, known as sinsemilla.

It also means cannabis growers have more control when it comes to crossing specific males and females together. They can choose two healthy and vigorous specimens, place them close together, and produce progeny that express certain traits.

Let’s take a deeper look into male and female cannabis plants. From there, we’ll see what causes some specimens to develop both male and female reproductive organs.


Male and female plants look identical during the seedling and vegetative phases. But, as they begin to transition into the flowering phase, plants finally begin to reveal their sex. During this time, females produce resinous buds loaded with cannabinoids, and males form sacs filled with pollen.

Female cannabis plants are the main focus of casual growers looking to harvest a personal stash. But, depending on their genetics, female plants can look drastically different from one another. Some remain small, producing dense canopies and significant lateral growth. Others grow in excess of 3m, produce massive harvests, and look more like trees than regular garden plants.

Despite their differences, all female plants share one thing in common: they produce flowers. These flowers, colloquially known as buds, possess small glandular structures called trichomes that produce cannabinoids such as THC and CBD.

Male plants, in contrast, don’t produce flowers. This makes them less valuable for growers seeking only buds. However, they do produce pollen sacs. These small vessels create the genetic material required to fertilise female flowers and create hybrids. This makes the males extremely important for breeding new cannabis strains.

It should also be noted that male pollen sacs and female flowers develop at the same point on the plant. Both structures emerge from nodes, the point at which branches meet the main stem. So, when you see buds starting to form on some plants, start looking for pollen sacs too.


Cannabis, like those who love it, doesn’t always stick to the rules, though. Sometimes, this dioecious plant species goes against the grain and develops both male and female reproductive organs. These specimens are known as hermaphrodites. Either genetic or environmental factors, or both, can cause plants to develop this unusual trait. Having both buds and pollen sacs, they end up developing the ability to pollinate and reproduce with themselves.

Of course, growers want to avoid this phenomenon if they’re aiming for the best flowers possible. We’ll dive deeper into what causes hermaphroditism and how to avoid it below.


The ability to determine plant sex as early as possible is a critical skill for cannabis growers. As you develop this eye for identifying plant sex, you will be able to prevent any accidental pollination.

  • The goal: find the males and move them out of your grow room or garden as quickly as possible. The sex of a plant becomes fairly obvious during the early flowering stage, but time is of the essence in that regard. The quicker you can identify and remove male plants, the more you reduce the chances of accidental fertilisation.


Growers identify plant sex by identifying pre-flowers, which are small structures that form at the nodes during late vegetation.

During the early flowering stage, take a stroll around your grow room or garden with a magnifying glass or jeweller’s loupe. Inspect a few nodes on each plant to see how far along into the flowering process they are. At this stage, you won’t see any obvious flowers or pollen sacs. Instead, you’re looking for young pre-flowers. Although these tiny structures look similar, they have distinct features that allow growers to tell them apart.

Male pre-flowers look like tiny green eggs or “balls”. These young pollen sacs will look smooth and won’t possess any fine hairs, or any distinct point. Later into the flowering stage, pollen sacs begin to form larger and denser clusters. They’ll become easy to identify with the naked eye by this point. However, pollen sacs usually begin to disperse their contents around 2–3 weeks after forming. Be sure to remove them from your space with haste if you don’t plan on crossing your plants.


Female pre-flowers also develop at the nodes. You can distinguish them based on one obvious visual characteristic: hairs. Female pre-flowers feature tear-drop shaped calyxes with small hairs protruding from the tip. These small hairs, known as pistils, are the sex organs of female cannabis flowers.

These protruding structures are designed to capture pollen, which leads to fertilisation. They stick out away from the flower to capture pollen from the air, and to await being brushed up against by pollen-covered insects.

Within a matter of weeks, these small pre-flowers swell into dense nuggets and begin churning out cannabinoid and terpene-rich resin. Since you the removed males and prevented pollination, your flowers will continuously produce resin until the end of the growing cycle.


Several factors can cause female plants to start to develop pollen sacs—or exposed stamens—alongside their flowers. This trait means that plants don’t need to rely on a nearby male to burst their sacs and fertilise them. As we’ll discuss in a bit, this is actually a savvy survival mechanism and a display of nature’s genius. However, hermaphrodites aren’t desirable in the grow room or garden. Now, let’s discuss both types and how to avoid the issues they cause.


Hermaphrodite cannabis plants come in two different forms: true hermaphrodites and “bananas”.

The former features distinctly male and female reproductive organs. Upon close inspection, you’ll notice pollen sacs occupying some nodes, and female flowers residing at others. When the pollen sacs rupture, the pollen will displace into the flowers, and the plant will effectively breed with itself. From there, it’ll go to seed and produce the subsequent generation.

“Banana” hermaphrodites get their name from their physical characteristics. Instead of producing separate organs, they develop a bare pollen-producing stamen within the female flower. This naked appendage drops pollen directly onto buds to ensure self-reproduction. These stamens share a similar shape and colour to a certain tropical fruit, hence their name.


Hermaphroditism stems from two major driving factors: stress and genetics. In regards to stress, hermaphroditism serves as a survival mechanism. If a plant experiences damage, heat, disease, or nutrient deficiencies, they start to freak out. Essentially, plants get the impression that their time is up. In a last-ditch attempt to reproduce, they decide to stop waiting around for a male and get the job done themselves.

To avoid this issue, try to maintain a stable environment in your grow room. Use a thermo-hygrometer to monitor temperature and humidity, keep your light schedule strict, and ensure your plants get all the nutrients they require.

Even if you have all of these bases covered, plants can still pollinate themselves due to poor genetics. Plants with a bad genetic history and too much genetic variation are prone to becoming hermaphrodites. For this reason, it’s important to shop with reputable companies that offer high-quality seeds with stable genetics.


If you want to try breeding, you’re going to need regular cannabis seeds, and Royal Queen Seeds offers a premium range. In contrast to feminized seeds that produce only female specimens, regular seeds offer a 50% chance of the plant being male or female.

These seeds provide breeders with an army of males and females to experiment with. Cross the very best specimens together to create your own unique strains that match your taste. However, if you’re growing for nothing but buds, you can still use them for their stable and trusty genetics. As you may know, regular seeds provide excellent mother plants to produce clones and amazing yields. You’ll have to spot male plants, but the payoff will be more than worth it.

Cannabis plants can be male, female, or hermaphrodites. Knowing the difference can make or break your cannabis operation. Find out their differences inside!

The Ultimate Guide To Cannabis Pollen

Pollinating your own cannabis plants allows you to create your own new strains or develop feminized lines of your favourites. You might create the next big thing! Here’s what pollen is all about.


Sources Of Pollen

Cannabis is dioecious, which simply means it produces both male and female plants. The male plants produce a pale yellow pollen, which fertilises female plants to create seeds for a new generation. Pollen production is essential for breeding, whether it be to continue a strain’s lineage or to create novel hybrids. Pollen can be obtained in two different ways; either from genetic males, which have XY chromosomes and produce regular seeds, or from females with XX chromosomes that have been manipulated to produce pollen, which is where feminized seeds come from.

In the wild, cannabis is wind-pollinated, which is why the pollen is extremely fine—enough to be carried by the air. In a controlled environment like a grow room, pollen for breeding is carefully collected from male plants, and females are hand-pollinated. Letting a male have its way with a whole crop of females will produce a lot of seeds, but buds will have no recreational or medicinal value. This is desirable in commercial hemp industry as hemp seed is an invaluable product, but it’s anathema to the marijuana producer.

Males Need Their Own Space

When breeding cannabis, males need to be kept separate from females at all times. This will at very least involve a separate grow space indoors, although keeping males in a greenhouse outdoors is highly recommended. Once true males are identified, or created as with feminization, they need to be cared for just as much as females to ensure production of healthy plants. Male flowers develop in loose clusters and begin as pods that mature and swell over time. When they are ready, they literally burst open to release the pollen from internal structures called anthers.

Big Things From Small Plants

Depending on how much pollen is needed, male plants really only need to be kept small. Each single male flower produces copious amounts of pollen, with only a few flowers providing enough pollen for any domestic breeding operation. To save space, once a breeding male is identified in the grow room, clone it; once the clone is well rooted, set it straight to a 12-12 light cycle. The same rule applies to cloned females for feminization. These small plants will produce more than enough pollen for any domestic use.

Harvesting Pollen

Watch plants closely as the male flowers develop. When pods have swollen fit to burst, turn the air circulating fans off. Pollen will easily be blown around the grow environment and lost, or desired genetics might get mixed up when making a number of strains for breeding. In a still environment, pollen will simply drop away from the opened flower onto the leaves where it can be dusted off and collected. Even after the pod has opened, enough useful pollen will still be attached to the anthers. Gently remove the pod and tap onto a piece of clean paper—you will see a little pile of pollen.

Upon gaining a bit of experience making males, it is possible to squeeze the unopened flower just before it’s ready to open itself and extract all the pollen. This requires experienced timing as pollen needs to mature properly to be viable. Forcefully opening a flower too early will only lead to frustration as the pollen will not be potent enough to fertilise a female.

If possible, use pollen the moment it is collected. It will be at its most potent and fertilisation is guaranteed.

How To Use Your Pollen

Using pollen is easy. Simply use a soft brush, Q-tip, or the tip of a clean, dry finger to dab onto female pistils. Females that are at least 21 days into flowering are ripe for fertilisation; pistils are long and still white, and the calyx has developed properly. If fertilised too early when the calyx is not properly formed, seeds will not develop fully and will be small, white, and non-viable.

It is only necessary to fertilise a single bud on a female plant. However, it is also quite possible to fertilise several buds on the same plant with different strains of pollen, or to use a single breed of pollen on several different strains of females. Keep obsessive track of who’s who in your cannabis zoo.

After a minimum of 45 days, a fully formed seed will be seen splitting the calyx seam, and is thus ready for harvesting. Dry plants as normal, and after 7 days, put seeds in a dry, cool place to dry properly for 4–5 weeks, then plant as desired.

The Importance Of Storing Cannabis Pollen Correctly

Pollen is needed to fertilise female cannabis plants and produce offspring. Breeding cannabis, and creating a stable strain, is no easy task, but it is highly rewarding. If you have found the perfect male candidate but are still searching for a female counterpart, it is vital that, in the meantime, you store your pollen correctly. Doing so will ensure that when you do find a female cannabis plant with the right flavour, aroma, and bud density, you can begin crafting your masterpiece on the right foot.

Storing pollen is relatively straightforward as it can remain stable for several months (even years)—provided the right steps are taken. Before we cover off some ideal containers for storing pollen, it is essential to understand the impact of moisture. Allow moisture to take hold of your prized pollen, and you can kiss goodbye to the next cannabis cup winner (it doesn’t hurt to dream big).

Moisture Is Your Biggest Enemy

To guarantee moisture doesn’t wreck your pollen stash, the first step is to ensure it’s completely dry before transferring it to your chosen container. Place your pollen in a cool, dry area with low humidity and spread thinly on the surface of a table or worktop. Ideally, you want temperatures to remain between 20–22°C (68–72°F) during the drying process. If humidity creeps up while your pollen is drying (around 40–50% RH), put a desiccant or silica gel pouch in with your pollen to soak up any moisture from the air.

Once pollen has been prepared and placed inside a container, move it to the fridge. Keep your pollen in the refrigerator for 2–3 days (with a silica pouch) before storing in the freezer. This is to ensure that temperatures lower gradually and the drop doesn’t cause a buildup of moisture. As long as there isn’t any moisture lurking inside your container, some growers claim pollen can be stored, without damaging its integrity, for up to 6 years!

When you finally need your prized pollen, follow the same procedure as above, but in reverse. Again, this is to make sure that temperatures rise slowly. As a budget option, if you cannot get hold of silica gel packs, rice is a simple alternative. Before transferring the pollen to a container, fill said container with a small layer of rice. The rice grains will work in a similar way to silica, pulling moisture from the surrounding air.

Choosing The Right Container

With the proper techniques outlined, all we need to do now is pick a suitable container. Thankfully, Zamensia has you covered with options to suit every budget.

• Holy Seeds Bank Pollen

Holy Seeds Bank offers an exclusive range of expertly harvested pollen. Not only do you have the advantage of stable genetics, but the entire Holy Seeds range ships in special protective packaging. The pollen can be stored using the steps listed above, without needing to transfer it to another suitable container. The packaging supplied by Holy Seeds Bank is also reusable, should you decide to try crossing several different mother plants—just make sure everything is labelled so there is no cross-contamination.

• Stashbox Tightvac Mini

Small, discreet, and airtight, the Stastbox Tightvac Mini set is another perfect choice for storing pollen. Easily affix labels to the outside so you can keep track of your breeding exploits, or use the coloured lids as a means of identification. Either way, these containers are large enough to accommodate pollen, but small enough that they won’t take up valuable space in your freezer.

• Weed Curing Jar

Available in a range of sizes, the glass mason jars available from Zamnesia are the cost-effective choice for storing pollen. For only a few euros, you get extra-thick glass construction and a rubber seal with a galvanised bracket to keep things 100% airtight. Not only are our Weed Curing Jars perfect for storing pollen, but once you’ve harvested your chosen mother, you can use the jars for curing your newly created super buds!

Pollen For Your Pleasure

Pollen is the ideal way to produce your own seeds at home. Whether you are feminizing a favourite strain to ensure female plants every grow, or creating entirely new hybrids, by combining the characteristics of your favourite plants, it is quite possible to create the next big thing in cannabis breeding. Just look at strains like Gorilla Glue, Cheese, GSC, and Critical, each of which changed the course of cannabis history forever with their groundbreaking genetics.

Creating and using your own cannabis pollen allows home-growers to become home-breeders! Find out more with our informative guide.