Seeds 101: Sexing Your Sprouts


Ok, so you’ve found the perfect seeds and you’ve sprouted your plants. What’s next? If you’re growing from seed rather than from a clone, you’ll need to pay attention to the sex of your plants.


Female plants are what we typically cultivate for consumable marijuana. Male plants are often saved for breeding and seed creation purposes. Here’s a very simple way to sex your sprouts before they get too old.

Some may claim that they can tell whether a plant is male or female simply by looking at the seed. Is this actually possible? No.

Unless you specifically buy feminized seed, there is no way to tell whether or not your plant is a male or a female prior to early bud development. Both male and female seeds look exactly the same.

If you are growing from non-feminized seed, marijuana plants begin to show their sex around the 6-week mark. Typically, if you are collecting seeds that you have bred yourself, or if you purchase a pack of seeds from a reputable source, there is about a 50/50 chance that any given sprout will be male or female.

You will be able to tell the sex of the plant once it begins to “pre-flower”. Preflowering is when a small bud begins to form in the crux between a fledgling branch and the main stock. These buds will eventually grow to form the adult flowers.

The first and foremost way to tell whether or not your plant is a female is to watch for the development of pistillate hairs. When you pick up some dried bud at a dispensary, you’ve probably noticed the orange hairs that cover the dried flower. The bud of a growing female plant will begin to grow these hairs as soon as a flower begins to form.

These pistillate hairs are white while the plant is young and growing, but they’ll often turn dark orange or red once it matures and the flower is cut and dried.

In a young plant, look for a small bud with one or two long, white protruding hairs. These hairs are unique to females. So, if you see them, you’ll know that the plant will produce a potent, smokable flower as long as it remains unpollinated.

As female flowers mature, they grow to look like the flower we’re most familiar with finding in marijuana dispensaries. Male flowers, however, develop bulbous “pollen sacks” which make them easily identifiable.

Look for a tiny, tulip-like bulb without any pistillate hairs sprouting from the top. Once your plant begins to show signs that it is male, you should separate them from female sprouts. If you leave the two together the male plant will produce pollinate the female plant as it matures.

Once the female plant is pollinated, it will begin to expend energy producing seed rather than further developing its flower. This is great if you’re hoping to create and save your own seeds. But, if your goal is to get a great harvest from your female plants, you’ll want to avoid pollination.

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