How to Tell if Your Cannabis Plant is Male?

By Liam Noonan - 1/12/23

As a cannabis grower, one of the most frustrating experiences is discovering that a plant you have been nurturing for weeks or even months is a male. Male cannabis plants do not produce the buds that are so valuable for their high THC content, and they can also fertilize female plants, leading to seed production rather than sinsemilla (seedless) buds. 

In order to prevent this disappointment, it is important to know how to identify male cannabis plants as early as possible. Keep on reading to learn how. 

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What is a Male Cannabis Plant? 

Male cannabis plants produce pollen sacs whereas female plants grow buds. In other words, male cannabis plants are non-flowering. 

The most important part of the plant are of course the buds that house all of the valuable cannabinoids. This means males are often discarded to prevent pollination with the female plants in a grow. Females pollinated during the grow process end up yielding a smaller harvest because they transfer their energy from growing flowers to producing seeds. Male plants are still important for the breeding process, but pollinating is typically only done by advanced breeders.  

Some additional characteristics of male cannabis plants include: 

  1. Fewer leaves and the presence of pollen sacs
  2. Smaller concentrations of cannabinoids like THC & CBD
  3. Overall thicker stalks and branches
  4. Taller than female cannabis plants

Early Signs Your Cannabis Plant is a Male

diagram of male cannabis plant next to a female plant
 Image Courtesy of Herbie’s Headshop

1. Pre-Flowers Appear Early

One of the first signs that a cannabis plant happens to be male is if pre-flowers (small structures that will eventually turn into flowers) appear early on in the plant’s life cycle. Male plants tend to show their pre-flowers at the base of the leaves, while female plants show them at the nodes (where the branches and leaves meet the stem). Male plants may also tend to have more noticeable pre-flowers than female plants.

2. Pre-Flowers Are Elongated

Male cannabis plants tend to have more elongated pre-flowers. Female plants, on the other hand, produce rounder, more bulbous pre-flowers. If you notice that your plant’s pre-flowers are more elongated than round, you may have a male plant on your hands. 

3. Pre-Flowers Are Spaced Further Apart

Male plants tend to have their pre-flowers spaced further apart than female plants. If you notice that the pre-flowers on your plant are spaced further apart than usual, it could be a sign that your plant is male.

4. Pre-Flowers Are Less Developed

Male cannabis plants tend to have less developed pre-flowers than female plants. If you notice that the pre-flowers on your plant are smaller and less developed than usual, it could be a sign that your plant is male.

5. Pre-Flowers Lack Pistils

Female cannabis plants have pistils, which are small, hair-like structures that emerge from the pre-flowers. Male plants do not have pistils. It is important to note that these signs are not foolproof and that the only way to definitively determine the sex of a cannabis plant is to wait for the plant to show its flowers. If you do suspect that your plant is male, it is important to remove it from your grow room as soon as possible to prevent it from fertilizing any female plants.

Best Places to Buy Feminized Seeds Online 

Purchasing feminized seeds from a reputable source is the best way to prevent accidentally planting male plants. That’s because feminized seeds are specifically bred to get rid of the male chromosomes and only generate female plant genetics. 

1. I Love Growing Marijuana

2. Royal Queen Seeds

3. Seedsman

4. Sonoma Seeds

Male Cannabis Plant FAQs

1. Do Male Plants Produce Buds At All? 

No, male cannabis plants do not produce buds. They produce flowers that contain the male reproductive cells (pollen) used to fertilize the female plants.

2.  Is It Possible to Determine the Gender of a Cannabis Seed?

It is technically possible to determine the gender of a cannabis seed before it germinates, but that requires specialized equipment and is not always 100% accurate. It is much more common to determine the gender of a plant by observing its physical characteristics after growth begins.

2.  Can You Leave Male & Female Plants Together When Growing? 

It is generally not recommended to leave male and female cannabis plants close together when growing. This is because when the male plants release their pollen, it can fertilize the female plants, causing them to produce more seeds and less buds. 

This can greatly reduce the yield and quality of the harvest. It is recommended to separate the male and female plants early in the vegetative stage, so that the female plants can be protected from fertilization.

4. How Can You Reduce The Chance of Buying Male Seeds? 

You can reduce and even eliminate your chance of getting male seeds mixed up with your females by purchasing through a reputable supply and only buying feminized seeds. As mentioned above,  feminized seeds are bred to get rid of the male chromosomes and only generate female plant genetics.

5. What Exactly Are Hermaphrodite Cannabis Plants?

Hermaphrodite cannabis plants are those that have both male and female reproductive organs. These plants are capable of producing both pollen and flowers (or buds). This means that they can self-fertilize and produce seeds, even if there are no other male plants around. Hermaphrodite plants are often undesirable to growers, as they can lower the yield and quality of the harvest.

Hermaphrodite plants can be caused by a number of factors, including stress, genetics, and exposure to certain environmental conditions. When plants are under stress or exposed to certain light cycles, they can develop hermaphroditic traits as a survival mechanism. This allows them to reproduce even if no other suitable mating partner is available. However, this can also happen with some genetical traits that can be inherited from the parent plant.



We hope this guide helps you feel more comfortable when it comes to determining whether the weed plants you grow are male or female, the repercussions, and what to do if you end up with male plants in your grow. Stayed tuned for more articles and resources for growing cannabis at the Stoned Journal. You can also check out all of our additional educational articles to keep yourself informed on all things cannabis. 


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