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Herming: How female plants turn male Cannabis plants are gendered, or for the botanically-inclined, dioecious. Female plants are particularly prized because they form buds that are rich in Growing weed in an AeroGarden: the complete step by step guide with everything you need to know along with pro-tips by experimented growers. What are feminised seeds? Dutch Passion created feminized cannabis seeds Feminised cannabis seeds have been one of the most important contributions to the cannabis growing movement in the

Herming: How female plants turn male

Cannabis plants are gendered, or for the botanically-inclined, dioecious. Female plants are particularly prized because they form buds that are rich in cannabinoid content. For most growers, maintaining a crop free of male plants is critical to ensuring that female buds are not pollinated.

Like all plants, however, cannabis has an inherent drive to procreate by propagating seeds. One way that the plant achieves this is by herming, when female plants become hermaphrodite to self-pollinate. The tendency to herm means that growers must take extra care to minimize any stressors that may cause the plant to perceive a threat and change its sex.

What is herming, and why does it happen?

Herming can occur when female plants experience conditions of environmental stress. “Female plants don’t actually turn male, they become hermaphrodites,” says Bruce Perlowin , CEO of Hemp, Inc . and seasoned cannabis cultivator. “You have a female plant that develops both reproductive parts so it can pollinate itself.” A hermaphroditic plant, by definition, contains both female and male sex organs .

A hermaphroditic plant, by definition, contains both female and male sex organs. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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According to Perlowin, stress is the fundamental cause of hermaphroditic plants, or ‘hermies.’ “Some examples of stressors would be not enough water, too much water, not enough nutrients, or too much heat. It can happen at any time in the life cycle of a plant from a new plant to a very mature one,” explains Perlowin. The female plant will develop male flowers in response to stress, to ensure seeds are produced before the environmental trigger can kill the plant.

Other stressors that may incite female cannabis plants to become hermaphroditic include disruptions to the photoperiod, dramatic shifts in temperature, disease or pest infestations, the use of toxic pesticides, and physical damage from vigorous pruning.

Herming can also have a genetic component, with some growers viewing plants that are inclined to herm as genetically inferior.

“Herming can also definitely be a genetic problem, but it is not cultivar-specific,” says Perlowin. “You can get the same cultivars from different seed companies, and they will yield different results.” Reputable breeders are more likely to competently sort and select seeds from genetically robust plants with desirable traits.

How can growers prevent hermaphroditic plants?

The vast majority of cannabis growers cultivate the plant to produce sensimilla . Sensimilla refers to female cannabis buds that have not been pollinated by a male cannabis plant. Sensimilla is more potent than seeded cannabis as it contains greater concentrations of essential oils and psychoactive cannabinoids.

When female plants herm, or develop male flowers capable of disseminating pollen, the entire crop is at risk of pollination. Female flowers that have been fertilized by pollen will halt their development to produce seeds, limiting flower production.

Perlowin advises that growers who wish to prevent female cannabis plants from herming must be diligent throughout the plant’s grow cycle. For starters, purchase seeds from a reputable company or trustworthy breeder that understands cannabis genetics. While potential environmental stressors must be monitored and minimized, growers should also examine their plants every day for any unusual growth.

“With hemp and cannabis, you h ave to walk your fields or monitor your plants every single day to ensure that there are no hermaphrodites or pollen on the plants, as it will affect the rest of your grow,” states Perlowin. “It is surprising how fast something can go wrong so it is important to watch closely. If you don’t find these plants, you could be jeopardizing not only your crops, but also those of other growers .”

Finally, swiftly remove any male flowers that appear. If the plant has very few male flowers, those flowers can be removed, but the plant will need to be watched closely. Plants with many male flowers should be eliminated entirely.

“We found that it is better to remove the entire plant than cutting off the problematic branches,” explains Perlowin. “We do this by using a large plastic bag to cover the entire plant. Without shaking the plant, we move the bag down to the very bottom of the plant, seal it, cut the plant down at dirt level, then take it off the property.”

How can you tell a male plant from a female plant?

To a non-expert grower, all cannabis seeds look alike. The gender of cannabis plants becomes more readily apparent when the plant approaches the flowering period .

Author Robert Connell Clarke’s book Marijuana Botany An Advanced Study: The Propagation and Breeding of Distinctive Cannabis presents clear instructions for differentiating male and female plants. The gender of a cannabis plant is located at the nodes along the main stem.

Male plants can be identified most easily when they begin flowering. The flowers initially appear as a curved claw shape, which soon differentiates into a flower bud containing five radial segments. As the flowers develop, pollen sacs emerge that almost look similar to small bunches of grapes. Eventually, the sepals of the pollen sacs will open to release the pollen.

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“When you see a pollen sac, you will know that a female plant is turning male,” says Perlowin. “Oftentimes, you can tell before the pollen sack becomes a problem. You should examine the plant from the very bottom of the plant to the top. It is easy to spot when the pollen sacs are at the top of the plant, but be sure to examine if there are pollen sacs at the bottom.” Male plants additionally grow taller than female plants as they mature and have thicker stems and fewer leaves.

Female plants are generally shorter, denser in foliage, and broader than their male counterparts. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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Female plants usually take several days longer than males to develop pistils or female sexual organs. The pistils look like small green seed pods and have white v-shaped stigmas, or thin hairs, which extend from them. Female plants are generally shorter, denser in foliage, and broader than their male counterparts.

Can you turn a male plant female?

The sex of a plant is determined by its genetics before germination even begins. With the sex genetically encoded, there is no way to make a male plant female, or a female plant male. There are techniques that can be used, however, to encourage a male plant to display female characteristics. These techniques require the use of chemicals, such as ethylene , to prompt a hormonal response from the plant.

Elevated levels of female hormones in male cannabis plants can trigger female flowering development. The technique is more effective when applied to male plants that have not yet formed mature flowers. It’s also vital to bear in mind that many male marijuana plants are hermaphroditic plants, and distinguishing true males can be very difficult.

Can you clone a female from a male?

A true female cannabis plant cannot be cloned from a male plant. Cloning is a process that is used by breeders to make genetic copies of robust, healthy female plants, reducing the guesswork that sometimes accompanies cannabis cultivated from seed.

For growers who wish to grow female cannabis plants from seed, the availability of feminized seeds can significantly streamline the growing process. Feminized seeds occur as a result of inducing a female plant to herm, then fertilizing another female plant with the pollen. The pollen from the ‘hermie’ contains only female chromosomes, so that no true males can result from the seed.

How to Grow Weed in your AeroGarden

Miracle-Gro AeroGarden™ is an exciting hydroponic system. You can grow fresh herbs, lettuce, tomatoes, year-round, in the comfort of your home.

You may be wondering: Is it possible to grow weed in an AeroGarden? And is it worth it? The short answer is Yes.

In this guide, I’m going to show you everything you need to know to grow weed your AeroGarden™ successfully including the best practices, the material needed, and exclusive pro-tips by experimented growers.

The best part? It will pay for itself in only 2 or 3 grows in weed value!

Table of contents
1. The Best AeroGarden Models For Weed

At the time I wrote these lines, the available models are; Sprout, Harvest, Classic, Bounty, and Farm family. To grow weed successfully, you will need a garden with 24 inches of growing height capacity and a powerful grow light panel.

So here are the AeroGarden models I recommend:

The AeroGarden™ Classic 9 is one of the most powerful models. It comes with a 45-watt LED full spectrum growth light and a growing height extendable up to 24 inches.

The Classic 9 also includes a touch screen control panel that makes things very easy and fun to control!

Classic 9 Bounty model has been replaced recently by a new design and this one is now obsolete but still one of the best to grow weed.

The most recent AeroGarden Bounty comes with a 40-watt grow light. The Bounty Elite (WiFi and Alexa Compatible) comes with a 50-watt grow light and both have 24 inches of growing height capacity.

Finally, the bigger models available are the AeroGarden™ Farm family with 60W of dual LED power and 24 inches of growing height.

2. Weed strain and seed type for the AeroGarden

Since the maximum grow height is only 24 inches (when the LED panel is fully deployed), it’s crucial to choose a strain that will stay small and compact.

Some strains can grow big plants that are not suited for the AeroGarden small reservoir. The strains also determine the effects and medical attributes.

2.1 Cannabis seed types

Autoflowering seeds are perfect for beginners because they grow very quickly and stay smaller. Also, there’s no need to change the light cycle to induce the flowering stage, and you will get only female plants.

Some strains can take only 10 weeks from seed to harvest.

On the other hand, yields are usually smaller with autoflowering seeds and most have a lower THC percentage.

Feminized seeds are also great, they allow growers to apply training techniques that aren’t recommended for auto and they can be cloned.

You will have to change the light cycle from 18/6 to 12/12 to trigger the flowering phase. Increased darkness hours tell the plant the fall is coming and start creating buds.

Key takeaway: Feminized seeds give more control to the experienced grower while autoflower seeds grow faster and are suitable for beginner grower.

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2.2 Recommended marijuana strains for the AeroGarden
    – (Hybrid) – (Hybrid) – (Indica) – (Indica) – (Hybrid) – (Hybrid) – (Hybrid) – (Hybrid) – (Indica) – (Hybrid) – (Hybrid)
3. The shopping list

Now you have your AeroGarden™ and your seeds, you will need the material below, and the optional list will help to have more yield out of your grow.

3.1 Required
3.2 Optional products

Cannabis, like any other plants, needs calcium and magnesium.

Your tap water may have calcium and magnesium in small concentrations, but likely not enough.

If you’re using distilled water, you will need to add a Cal-Mag solution to your water as they are essential secondary nutrients for healthy plant growth.

Botanicare Hydroguard® is well known for their unique beneficial bacteria that help to increase root mass and health.

Pro-tip:

In my installation, I have added an external air pump with an air stone to make more bubbles in the root zone. This helps to prevent roots rot, and bring more oxygen to the roots.

The external pump also helps to reduce the usage of the AeroGarden™ built-in pump. The water temperature will stay low, and you will be able to keep an optimal temperature (between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit).

On the top of the AeroGarden reservoir, you will find two water/air ports with rubber plugs that you can remove.

They are the same size as the standard aquarium airline tubing. Just place the tubing inside one of them and put the air stone in the center of the bowl.

4. Nutrients and the importance of pH

Important: don’t use the provided plant food that comes with the AeroGarden™. This will not work, and you will lose your time and seeds.

I use General Hydroponics Flora Series, and I always have great results with these nutrients. Some other popular alternatives are Advanced Nutrients and Botanicare.

Your AeroGarden™ Bounty holds approximately 4 liters of water. I pour this amount of water into a big stainless steel mixing bowl. Let the tap water sit for 24 hours to become chlorine-free or use distilled water.

Now it’s time to add nutrients to the water. Begin with half of the recommended dosage by the manufacturer.

If you’re using GH Flora Series, take a look at this fully-tested nutrient schedule.

4.1 pH control

The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14. The pH of the AeroGarden™ solution should be between 5.5 and 6.5.

So I target 6, and I check with the pH pen tester every day and make the required adjustments with pH buffers (do not use pH up and pH down in the same solution).

In the vegetative phase, the pH tends to go higher, and in the flowering stage, it tends to go lower. Keeping the pH in the target zone is essential. Out of this zone, the cannabis plant may be unable to absorb some nutrients, and this leads to nutrient deficiencies.

If the pH fluctuates a lot or is out of control for a long time, your plant leaves will become distorted especially in the new growth areas.

This can be reverted, but the affected leaves will not return to normal appearance.

Key takeaway: pH problems can slow the growth of your cannabis plants and lower your yield.

4.2 Total dissolved solids (TDS) & parts per million (PPM)

Before pouring the solution into the AeroGarden’s bowl, you need to verify the concentration of nutrient in the solution with the TDS digital meter.

In the first weeks, the PPM should be around 400, and this amount increase as the marijuana plants grows. In the early flowering stage, the TDS could be around 1000+ PPM.

High nutrient concentration levels will not help the plant to grow faster and can lead to problems like nutrient burn.

5. AeroGarden setup to grow weed

Now the fun part! I assume you have already assembled your hydroponic system and you have transferred the solution to the AeroGarden reservoir.

Now let’s take a closer look at the control panel. First, set the clock, and if you’re in the quick plant menu, select the grow anything option.

5.1 Grow light settings

Select the sun icon, and follow the steps to configure the grow light. If you have autoflowering seeds, I recommend 20/4 light cycle. My settings are as follow; light open at 6:00 am, and close at 2:00 am.

For feminized seeds, I suggest 18/6 for the vegetative stage, then switch to 12/12 to trigger flowering stage.

5.2 AeroGarden™ Pump settings

Select the water icon, and then change settings. Follow the steps until you reach the pump on/off screen.

In the vegetative stage, I recommend setting the pump 30 minutes on, and 60 minutes off.

In the flowering stage, it’s better to give an oxygen boost in the water for the increasing root masse of your plants. So, if you don’t have an external pump, set the pump to 60 minutes on, and 30 minutes off.

If you have the external air pump with an air stone, keep in mind this one should run all the time from seed to harvest. You can configure the AeroGarden built-in pump 10 minutes on, and 60 minutes off when you run the external pump.

5.3 Nutrients settings

Finally, select the nutrients icon, and then settings. Set your nutrients cycle to 7 days. This is a simple reminder, and the AeroGarden™ will give you a warning every week to add nutrients and replace the water.

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6. Seed germination

I strongly recommend growing only one or two plants at a time. Your marijuana plants will need an increased amount of space while growing and try to put more plants will decrease the yield.

Take two grow sponges and baskets, then place the seeds into the small holes. Be sure seeds are not falling too deep, (1/2” would be awesome). Cover the two pods with the provided transparent domes and put duct tape over the remaining pod holes.

From my experience, it could take anywhere from 2 to 4 days to see the first tiny sprout.

What are feminised seeds?

Dutch Passion created feminized cannabis seeds

Feminised cannabis seeds have been one of the most important contributions to the cannabis growing movement in the last generation. Dutch Passion were the first ones who, against all odds, created cannabis seeds that gave rise to 95%+ female plants. These seeds are known as feminised seeds, today they are the most popular and convenient choice for those growing their own stash.

The inconvenience of regular seeds

Before feminised seeds, ‘regular’ cannabis seeds were used which produced approximately 50% male and 50% female plants. This meant that growers had to germinate and grow twice the desired number seedlings in order to reach a satisfactory number of mature females. With the arrival of feminised marijuhana seeds a grower simply plants the desired number of seeds and forgets about the inconvenience of male plants. Male plants not only waste space in a garden, they also risk reducing the finest sensimilla into seed pods. For most growers of recreational or medical marijuana the male plant is simply no longer wanted. The recent boom in home-grown cannabis has been made a lot easier with the arrival of feminised marijuana seeds. No more worrying about how to identify male plants.

Feminised marijuana seeds are grown in the same way as regular seeds. They can be grown indoors, in greenhouses or outside. They can be grown in soil or hydroponic systems. Feminised seeds give more stable results than regular seeds, resulting in better potency for 80% of all varieties.

The feminisation process

The exact process of cannabis seed feminisation has been a secret for many years. The principle is straightforward. Female plants can be stimulated to produce pollen in such a way that the pollen is regarded as ‘female pollen’. The female pollen is used to pollinate a female plant which then starts producing seeds. The seeds produced by this method are feminised – they give rise only to female plants.

The benefits of feminised marijuana seeds

As an additional benefit the feminised marijuana seeds tend to give rise to more uniform plants than regular seed. For the experienced growers feminised seeds have simplified life. To the new grower, feminised cannabis seeds are the only way to go. Growing top quality strains of cannabis has never been as easy, just choose the strain, plant the seeds and ensure ample light and sufficient nutrients.

Dutch Passion invented feminised marijuana seeds and have perhaps the worlds best selection of top quality feminised strains. If you are thinking about buying some feminised seeds then first take a look at what Dutch Passion has to offer – you won’t be disappointed!

The feminized seed experiment

In a Dutch Passion experiment done in 1999 Dutch Passion grew 15 varieties of “feminized” seeds. We started with 30 seeds per variety. The goals were: 1) to determine the percentages of female, male, and hermaphroditic plants. 2) to compare the uniformity (homogeneity) among plants from “feminized” seeds with those grown from “regular” seeds.

1. The results were excellent. Nine out of fifteen varieties had 100% female offspring. Percentages of female plants from the other 6 varieties were between 80 and 90%. These plants were all hermaphrodites, producing their male flowers at the end of their lifecycle. Seed-setting hardly took place. No males were found.

2. Approximately 70% of the plants of varieties grown from “feminized” seeds were far more uniform than plants grown from “regular” seeds of the same variety. About 20% of the varieties were a little more uniform, while in 10% of the varieties no difference in uniformity was seen.

From literature and our own findings it appears that the growth of a male or female plant from seed, except for the predisposition in the gender chromosomes, also depends on various environmental factors. The environmental factors that influence gender are:

• a higher nitrogen concentration will give more females.
• a higher potassium concentration will give more males.
• a higher humidity will give more females.
• a lower temperature will give more females.
• more blue light will give more females.
• Fewer hours of light will give more females.

It is important to start these changes at the three-pairs-of-leaves stage and continue for two or three weeks, before reverting to standard conditions.

To produce our feminized cannabis seeds, we start with selected female clones. Under standard conditions these female clones do not produce any male flowers. By the method we found, we are able to have these female clones produce abundant male flowers and pollen (see photos). The pollen thus produced we use for the production of our “feminized” seeds.

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