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How to Tell the Difference Between Male and Female Marijuana Plants

February 14, 2020
green leafed plant


Marijuana is scientifically known as Cannabis sativa. In its unmodified form, it provides a psychoactive experience to users. The marijuana plant can be harnessed to offer outstanding medical benefits to patients suffering from different forms of chronic diseases. 

Already, in the US, marijuana is the second most commonly used drug of choice after alcohol. Legalization of marijuana in some states in the United States has led to more exposure to the cannabis plant. Cannabis farmers are able to understand more about how the plant works now that they can grow it legally.

Growing your own Marijuana plant? Check out A Pot for Pot’s Complete indoor weed growing kit!

Marijuana has male and female plants

The marijuana plant is peculiar in that there are both male and female plants as well as hermaphrodite plants. The Cannabis sativa plant is a dioecious plant meaning each plant will produce either male or female reproductive abilities.

Most plants are typically monoecious in nature which means that they have two types of flowers on the same plant so they can self-pollinate. The hermaphrodite marijuana plant has both the male and female reproductive organs.

It’s important to distinguish between the male and female plants in order to have a good crop of marijuana. When the male and female plants are grown together indiscriminately, cross pollination will occur resulting in seeds. 

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Cannabis plants with seeded buds are generally considered to be of inferior quality because the seeds make the resulting smoke from the dried plant harsh with an unpleasant aftertaste. 

Male and female plants are only left together if the grower wants to create a new strain of cannabis. They also allow pollination to occur in order to harvest seeds for their next crop. As a rule, growers prefer to weed out male and hermaphroditic plants to prevent pollination. 

The female plants that are left on their own tend to grow larger and their seedless nature allows the resulting marijuana crop to have higher levels of THC, with smoke that’s easier to consume for the user. The seedless buds are commonly referred to as sensimilla. 

One can tell the difference between male and female cannabis plants by the growth between their nodes. 

Related: How to make medical-grade marijuana oil

The characteristics of male marijuana plants

a male marijuana plant on a sunny day 

The male marijuana plant is the main producer of pollen, which the female needs in order to naturally reproduce. They’re also used in the creation of seeds, especially when the marijuana grower wants to create their own strain of cannabis. They have

  • Pods that release pollen with the appearance of small flowers
  • Thicker stalks
  • Fewer leaves on them

The sturdier stalk is instrumental in providing support to the male plant as it grows taller than the female. Male cannabis plants show their sex earlier than females. 

The characteristics of female marijuana plants

The female marijuana plant is characterized by bulbs with translucent hairs on them occurring between nodes. They also have slimmer stalks and are much shorter in height compared to male plants. They tend to spread horizontally rather than vertically when growing. Female plants have

  • Fuller, broader leaves
  • More leaves at the top of the plant
  • A pistil - Not present on male plants, the pistil consists of the stigma and ovule where the stigma appears as an antenna at the top of the plant. It aids the plant in getting pollinated.

Some females can also have male parts meaning it will have both the male pods with pollen in them and the female bulbs with the translucent hairs. These are to be treated as males because they will ruin the crop.

Related: Smell-proofing your indoor marijuana grow room

What can you do with the male cannabis plant?

Male plants aren’t completely useless to the grower. One can use them for:

Hemp fiber

Hemp fiber 

Male cannabis plants produce softer hemp fiber while the females produce the coarse variety. Their fiber is excellent for making clothes, furniture fabric, tablecloths, and other house based fabrics because it’s easy to manage and clean.


Both plants produce terpenes, which are aromatic compounds found in the cannabis plant and are used for pest control. Having a male in a garden separate from the females enriches the soil with these aromatic compounds, naturally infusing it with insect repellent. 

Also, male cannabis plants have taproots, which are very deep roots. Their roots are useful in breaking apart the soil allowing nutrients to enter it. When the roots are established they also help hold the soil in place preventing any nutrient loss.


Male cannabis plants provide the pollen needed to fertilize the female plant if the end game of the grower is to obtain seeds for planting. The seed will occur in a bud in the female and can be harvested for the next planting season. 

If the male plant is from a particularly robust strain, the grower will end up with a superior crop as qualities like resilience, pest resistance, and mold resistance are passed on to the new batch.

What can you do with the female cannabis plant?

 a woman smokes weed on her porch 

Smoke it

Female plants have higher concentrations of THC compared to the male, making them the ideal plant to harvest for making cannabis products. They have cola, which refers to the large row of buds at the top of the plant. The cola contains the flowers, stems, and leaves of the plant which are rich in cannabis components.  The cola only grows in female plants and offers the best of the marijuana plant.


The female can be fertilized to yield seeds for the next planting season. Female cannabis plants concentrate on creating seeds when fertilized at the expense of creating THC, which is why the males are removed from the garden. 

Making concentrates

Female plants are used to make potent concentrates compared to the males and hermaphrodites. Some of the favorite concentrates include hash oil, CBD products, shatter, and powders.

Related: Rare Cannabis Strains 2020

a colorful female marijuana plant 

Benefits of the male plant

Males are an essential component in the continuity of the cannabis plant. They provide pollen for pollination and can be used to create new strains.

Disadvantages of the male plant

It can corrupt an entire crop by pollinating all the females. Once a female is fertilized it doesn’t produce THC.

They also don’t produce flowers, only seeds, which accounts for their low THC levels.

Benefits of the female plant

It provides some of the best medical and recreational marijuana because of its high THC levels. This compound is concentrated in the flowers.

Disadvantages of the female plant

They typically come as one feminized strain which makes them susceptible to disease and bugs with time.

Related: The Fastest way to dry weed


Cannabis plants reveal their gender in six weeks. The period before those six weeks they all look the same. However, depending on the environment where they are growing, whether indoors or outdoors, they may show their gender sooner or later.

For more tips on how to grow, cure, and harvest weed visit A Pot for Pot! Looking to grow your own small marijuana plant? Check out our complete grow kits!

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