FEB 16, 2023 5:48 AM PST

What Is The Difference Between Male And Female Cannabis Plants?

WRITTEN BY: Helaine Krysik

Did you know that cannabis plants can be either male or female? Additionally, the differences between the two types of plants influence the cultivation process, as well as how the plants are used.

What are these differences?

Male plants produce pollen, which then fertilizes the female plants. In addition, male plants are typically not grown for their buds, as male plant buds produce tiny amounts of active cannabinoids such as THC and CBD. Males also tend to be taller, narrower, with fewer leaves, and more spacing between branches.

Female plants are grown for their resin producing flower, or buds, which house the plant’s active compounds, such as terpenes and cannabinoids like THC, and CBD. Females are the plants that producers, cultivators, and users choose for recreational and medical consumption. Female plants also tend to be more compact, thicker, and shaggier than males.

One can tell the difference between male and female plants within a few weeks of the plants sprouting, which happens early in their developmental stages, roughly around the six-week mark. When the sprouting begins, cultivators typically separate the males from the females to prevent pollination, which helps create better quality and potency of the buds in the females.

If the plants are not separated, then the females will become pollinated and produce seeds rather than the desired bud.

Additionally, to prevent pollination, it is not always sufficient to simply move the male plants to another area of the yard or grow facility. Pollen can easily carry on the wind, so female plants can run the risk of accidently becoming pollinated by male plants in the area.

Because of that risk, and since male plants are also full of nutrients, using them as mulch or fertilizer is a very popular option in the cultivation community.


Sources: Weedmaps, DEA Museum, Leafly

About the Author
Bachelor's (BA/BS/Other)
Helaine is a cannabis industry writer and marketing consultant. She has been active in the Illinois cannabis industry since 2020, and writes for a variety of national publications.
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