Follow this quick guide on how to tell the difference between male and female cannabis plants to help you start growing big and beautiful buds right at home! The difference between regular, feminized and autoflowering cannabis seeds is more than skin deep, and regular cannabis seeds lend themselves to all kinds of fun for growers who want to experiment. Discover what Sensi Seeds original varieties could bring to you! Learn about cannabis seeds, the anatomy of the marijuana seed, and seedless cannabis. Discover the differences between feminized, regular, and autoflower seeds and how to germinate weed seeds.
How to Tell If A Cannabis Plant Is Male or Female
When it comes to growing cannabis, it truly is essential that you learn the difference between male and female cannabis plants. By learning this simple technique, you can easily decide what you want to pollinate and what you don’t.
Understanding Plant Reproductive Morphology
First, let’s take one step back to fully grasp why we need to separate cannabis plants by male and female in the first place. This is commonly referred to as the plant reproductive morphology, which is simply the study of the physical form and structure of a plant’s sexual reproduction parts.
While there are actually many complex forms of morphology, for the sake of keeping it simple, we’re only going to cover three of the most common ones.
This is a type of plant that forms both male and female parts on the same plant. Therefore, this plant will be able to reproduce on its own. However, in cannabis plants, you can discover a “hermied” plant by banana looking shoots, which form on the flowers. While this can be the genetics of the cannabis strain, it may also be an indication of the plant getting too stressed out. When a plant gets too stressed and fears it will die, it may begin to form male reproductive parts. This is to ensure that seeds can drop for its survival (keep reading for more info on detecting “hermied” cannabis plants).
For this type of plant, it will form both male and female reproductive parts. However, they will not be on the same flower as they are with hermaphrodite plants. Within monoecious plants, you will find one flower has female parts, while another has male parts. In cannabis, this is very uncommon to find. Actually, it’s only been reported a few times in history and something that we’ve never personally seen. If this were to happen, you would find one stalk with definitive male characteristics and other branches of the same plant with definitive female characteristics.
Now, with a dioecious plant, you will find that the plant either produces all male parts or all female parts. This means that no single plant can reproduce on its own. The female actually needs its male counterpart to continue producing seed for the following year. And, you guessed it, this is the category cannabis falls into and why you must separate your males from females. If you fail to separate them all, you will likely find that the male plants pollinated your females. Therefore, leaving you with a handful of buds chalked full of seeds.
How to Tell the Difference Between Male and Female Cannabis Plants
Now, with an understanding of the various sexual organs within cannabis plants, let’s get to the fun part – separating your lady friends from their male counterparts.
After the seeds have sprouted and the plants have had a chance to grow, it will be time to find out which ones you’ll be keeping to flower out and which ones you will be chopping down to avoid seeded buds.
Usually, when starting from seed, you will need to wait about four to six weeks before the male and female parts will be formed well enough for you to see the difference.
The difference between regular and feminized cannabis seeds – Which should you grow?
With the general hype surrounding the relatively recent developments of feminized and autoflowering seeds, you’d be forgiven for maybe thinking that regular cannabis seeds are somehow less exciting. You’d also be wrong. Regular seeds contain endless possibilities for growers to experiment with.
In the beginning of Sensi Seeds, and therefore the European cannabis seed industry, a seed was a seed. Now, we use the name ‘regular cannabis seeds’ to distinguish the originals from feminized cannabis seeds and autoflowering cannabis seeds. Both of these types are relatively recent developments when you consider that cannabis has been cultivated by humans for thousands of years.
Regular cannabis seeds are produced when a male cannabis plant pollinates a female cannabis plant. Male pollen is released from ripe pollen sacs and blown by the wind (or carried by the careful hand of a breeder) until it finds the receptive stigmas in female flowers. Pollination results in hundreds, if not thousands, more regular cannabis seeds which will all in turn produce either male or female cannabis plants.
Can you see the difference between regular and feminized cannabis seeds?
Feminized cannabis seeds look exactly the same as regular cannabis seeds, whether male or female. But inside their modest brown husks there’s a crucial difference. Feminized cannabis seeds lack male chromosomes, whereas regular cannabis seeds contain the full complement of genetics that enable them to be either male or female.
This is also why feminized seeds must always be referred to by that name – they aren’t truly female, and therefore cannot be sold as such. Watch out for seeds described as ‘100% female’, as this is nothing more than a marketing ploy!
The main advantage for growers who choose feminized cannabis seeds is that they don’t have to identify or remove male plants which would cause pollination. Unless the gardener desires more seeds, rather than buds, this is an essential part of the cultivation process.
Automatic, or autoflowering, cannabis seeds are even easier. Not only are they feminized, they do not rely on a change in lighting cycles to trigger flowering. So what are the advantages of regular cannabis seeds?
The Difference Between Craft and Commercial Cannabis, And Why You Need to Know
What are regular cannabis seeds used for?
There are two main purposes for regular cannabis seeds, aside from the usual and most common one of simply growing buds.
- The first is breeding. Selective crossings of one cultivar with another has been taking place since the earliest days of agriculture, with all types of plant life. Sometimes this is to maximise the yield of whatever crop the plant produces which is desired by the people growing it; sometimes it’s just for fun and experimentation.
Whatever the intention of the breeding is, it’s best to begin with all the genetic material in order to give the new cross the best possible chance of success, rather than missing the chromosomes that are absent in feminized cannabis seeds.
- The second use for regular cannabis seeds is the one that was, before the advent of feminized seeds, most commonly used to produce crops of uniform cannabis plants without any males among them. This technique is called cloning. Just as with breeding, it’s best done with plants that have their full set of chromosomes, and all the robust qualities that go with that.
From a crop grown from regular cannabis seeds, the best female plants are selected to become ‘mothers’ – so called because with loving care, they can produce potentially hundreds of ‘children’ over the space of several years. The clones that are taken from these mother plants are tiny replicas down to the last scrap of genetic material – including their female sex.
Why do Sensi Seeds still produce regular cannabis seeds?
There are many seedbanks which only carry feminized cannabis seeds. This has become more common as seedbanks themselves have become more common. With the growing awareness (pun intended) of the advantages of feminized seeds, the question of why Sensi Seeds still carries regular cannabis seeds is quite a reasonable one!
The overall answer is simple, and one which anyone familiar with Sensi Seeds will probably have heard before: we want to bring the joy of cannabis to as many people as possible. That’s not limited to simply selling seeds.
We’re confident in our genetics, we’re confident in our service, and we’re confident in our customers. That means giving everyone the broadest range of options possible. This could be taking the simplest route to a crop of buds, which for most people is automatic seeds. But it could be experimenting with creating a unique cross of their very own, using our genetics as the building blocks.
We have quite often been asked if it’s possible to do all the things that can be done with regular cannabis seeds using feminized seeds.
The short answer is, you can try. There’s no reason you shouldn’t attempt to breed, or create a mother plant, using feminized cannabis seeds. However, it’s our firm belief that these practices are more likely to succeed using plants grown from regular cannabis seeds.
What is the difference between indica and sativa?
Tell us what you think
Have you experimented with regular cannabis seeds? Do you think feminized cannabis seeds are a boon to the grower? Would you be sad to see regular cannabis seeds leave our selection, or do you think they are a thing of the past? Let us know in the comments!
Laws and regulations regarding cannabis cultivation differ from country to country. Sensi Seeds therefore strongly advises you to check your local laws and regulations. Do not act in conflict with the law.
32 thoughts on “The difference between regular and feminized cannabis seeds – Which should you grow?”
I’m a newbie at this – and I’m growing a few different plants.
I am having a blast with all of this fun stuff –
I didn’t know anything about seeds females/ males or feminized and auto flowering until this year.
But I am really enjoying this adventure.
I really like and appreciate your posts and blog for learning new things about all of the different seeds and processing/ cultivation. You have given me some good info and great explanations on the differences between regular and all other seeds – which is definitely good info for a newbie thank you
Thanks for your comment and your feedback.
I’m so pleased you are finding the blog educational, and having a blast learning!
Please check out the following articles which I think you may find of use, and I hope you continue to enjoy the blog!
With best wishes,
Good day hooter heads from around the world from Australia,due to the economic climate from covd & most govt recognising the money in pot,we won’t have to go to such length,s sneaking about like outcasts,the med uses for this versatile plant have saved the day,the war on drugs is a hoax,if it wasn’t the hard drug crops Afghan, Thailand opium would of been eradicated,like south America,s coke industry..I think govt,big corp are scammers.
I like feminized seeds but I have used regular seeds and they both grow just as well and have the same potency. Some people like feminized over regular seeds but it doesn’t make a difference except that you might get a male instead of a female but you can use that male to get hundreds more seeds and cross breed them with other plants and get different types of plants. Thank You.
For breeding for the rare Cannabinoids you really need to use selfing like is used for feminized seed production. I speak from experience being the very first to commercialize using STS, I did not make and sell feminized seeds I bred varieties that had a single Cannabinoid, for each of the less common Cannabinoids, like CBC, CBG, THCV, CBDV, CBCV, CBGV each in very high amounts and with close to zero other Cannabinoids. This can not be done with regular seed breeding. And male genes as found in regular seeds do not produce better plants for growing or breeding, I think maybe you do not understand plant genetics for Cannabis which is a Dioecious obligate outcrosser.
Why no mention of hermaphroditism? That is not only How you breed then but ultimately also the biggest flaw and why producing fems is really polluting the gene pool.
Hermaphroditism should be a recissive gene, but your breeding requires it to be a dominant trait. It’s like finding people with dodgy heart conditions or baldness (typical recessive traits that can skip generations) breeding them so everyone goes bald and has a bad heart.
But hey the market wants what the market so u gotta sell what people buy.
This article is intended for our readers who are new to cannabis seeds and, as the title says, focuses on the difference in results rather than the difference in the techniques that produce the seeds. In previous decades, creating feminized seeds was indeed reliant on finding lines with pronounced hermaphroditic tendencies, but thanks to improvements in breeding technology this is no longer the case.
With best wishes,
Improvements? like what? using silverfiosulphate instead of gibberalic acid?
Im not familiar with this “new” technique that does not require one parent to be hermaphrodite….I read arjens blog but that explains even less.
what exactly is this new technique? how does one create fem seeds without hermies?
FYI selecting strains more resistant to hermie, that require excessive amounts of stress to turn, is not new.
No. the disparition of regular seeds would be a disaster and I don’t understand the Auto flowering for me it’s a non sense, it is my personal opinion.
Fear not, we have no intention of removing regular seeds from our catalogue; they are the backbone of our gene library! Regarding our autoflowering strains, they are of great benefit to people who have limited resources in terms of time, energy, experience, and / or space, for whom cultivating regular or even feminized seeds would be out of reach.
With best wishes,
why dont you sell seeds in Canada.
Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, legal restrictions on exporting cannabis seeds mean that they cannot be sent to Canada; we wish it wasn’t so, but it is!
With best wishes,
I believe regular seeds Are The seeds. Feminidad and autoflowering Are productos Or decides to Get Buds.
My blessings to tour effort and hope one Day I Will ser My seed baño with My full range Of seeds. We need The cannacopea.
I to agree with the good parts of regular seeds. Also your buds are generally bigger too. Once you have a selection of females it’s time to CLONE!! More fun !
Then one more fun thing is to develop your own breed! Cross your favorite.
I’m just sad you don’t sell to the U.S.. If you change your mind if like to show you some of my cross breeding. And to acquire more seed stocks. Having fun is most important.
Thank you for your comment We wish that our seeds could be sent to the US, but legal restrictions prevent this – as soon as this situation changes, our policies will change too! In the meantime, I hope that you continue to enjoy the blog.
With best wishes,
Long Live Regular Photo Period Seeds.
Did I catch a recommendation to use only reg seeds for a Mother? Please explain. Ive been growing out a FPOG Mother from fem seeds. Will she clone out ok?
Thanks Y’all. 1LUV
Unfortunately, legal restrictions mean we can’t answer grow related questions or give grow advice on this blog. However, we do have the Sensi Seeds Forum where you can ask questions and share your experiences with a thriving community of cannabis and gardening enthusiasts, so please don’t hesitate to join the community!
With best wishes,
I can’t comment as I’m new to all this but just wanted to say I’m really enjoying reading the e mails that come through to me to help me learn in my journey so they aren’t a waste off time, keep them coming ❤️
Thanks for your comment, I hope you continue to enjoy the newsletter emails and the blog! If you haven’t yet discovered the Sensi Seeds Forum , you can visit it to ask questions and share your experiences with a thriving community of cannabis and gardening enthusiasts, so please don’t hesitate to join the community!
Cannabis seeds are ready to plant and grow once they successfully germinate or once the root has broken through the protective outer shell of the seed. Cannabis seeds are available in regular, feminized, and auto-flowering forms. Home growers of cannabis often choose feminized seeds to ensure that the adult plant will be a flowering female.
Cannabis seeds are brown and about the size of a peppercorn. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
More about marijuana seeds
As with all angiosperms, or flowering plants, cannabis produces seeds that contain all of the genetic information needed for growth and reproduction. When a seed is planted, the translation of this genetic material dictates each unique physical characteristic the mature plant will have. If these are desirable traits, like potency, smell, vigor, etc., a breeder can select for these through a long process of genetic stabilization through generations, which eventually leads to the creation of a cultivar, or strain.
Anatomy of a cannabis seed
Cannabis seeds are about the size of a peppercorn, ovular in form, and pointed on each end with a ridge that transverses longitudinally on only one side from tip to tip. It is this ridge that opens up during germination. The opposite side is rounded. The body of the seed is brown, but underdeveloped and unfertilized seeds can have an off-white color and are typically smaller in size.
Photo by: Illustration by Weedmaps
The body of a marijuana seed is spotted or striped, most commonly with light brown specks, but some varieties of cannabis can have red or yellow markings. Plant embryos are contained within seeds and house all cells that will eventually differentiate into leaves, roots, and stems. Embryos, found within the reproductive organs, are protected by an outer envelope called the pericarp. Crucial components of the plant embryo are the cotyledons, the first leaves to appear from the seed, and the radicle, which develops into the primary root. Once the seed germinates and begins its growth into a mature plant, special structures called root caps protect the growing tips of the plant.
Today’s commercially cultivated cannabis does not contain seeds. The cultivation practices that have made this widespread are rooted in fundamental biological concepts. Cannabis is a dioecious plant, meaning it has separate male and female organisms, just like humans. If a female plant matures in the presence of a male plant, pollen from the male will fertilize the female, and its bracts will contain seeds at the end of the flowering cycle. Seedless cannabis is commonplace even when it originates from mass-produced outdoor cultivation, but not too long ago, this was not the case.
Around the middle of the 20th century, growers discovered that culling male plants as soon as they display their sexed traits would result in a crop containing exclusively unfertilized females, yielding cannabis flowers higher in THC that don’t require the removal of seeds before smoking. This seedless cannabis was from then on dubbed sinsemilla, which translates to “without seed” in Spanish. It is also commonly spelled sensimilla.
How cannabis seeds are produced
Commercial growers who produce cannabis flower desire seedless plants but there are also cultivators interested in selling seed to the growing home-cultivation market. Cannabis seed production begins with the pollen grain of a male plant. From this grain, a pollen tube grows, producing male generative cells that disperse in the form of pollen. The migration of pollen into a female plant ovule triggers pistils to fall off and seed production to begin. The bracts, which contain the ovule, will then fill with seeds. Since seeded plants are a natural outcome of pollen fertilizing eggs, producing cannabis seeds is a matter of letting nature take its course.
What’s the difference between feminized, regular, and autoflower seeds?
There are a few differences to note between these cannabis seed types.
- Feminized seeds: The key difference between feminized cannabis seeds and regular cannabis seeds is that feminized seeds have been engineered to produce exclusively female plants. This matters for cultivation since smokable flowers are produced only by female plants. A male plant can potentially ruin a harvest if it pollinates nearby female plants, causing them to produce flowers full of seeds.
- Autoflowering seeds: Autoflowering seeds have been carefully bred to begin and complete the flowering process based on the plant’s maturity rather than how much light the plant receives each day. Autoflowering seeds tend to be simpler to grow and don’t require as much light, making them perfect for places where the growing season is short or for indoor grows.
Is it illegal to buy marijuana seeds?
Marijuana seeds are a cannabis product, so if you live in a place where cannabis is illegal, then seeds are also illegal. However, some people who live in places where weed is not yet legal purchase marijuana seeds from marijuana seed banks as a “souvenir.” Either way, if you want to buy marijuana seeds and cannabis is illegal where you live, then you face some degree of risk. On the other hand, if you live in a state where cannabis is legal, especially one where home cultivation is allowed, then you should be able to purchase seeds legally. Remember, even in states where cannabis is legal, it’s still illegal nationally in the US. To cut your risk as much as possible, purchase cannabis seeds from in-state or local providers so they don’t have to cross state lines or be transported by mail.
Where to buy marijuana seeds
Seeds are sold in brick-and-mortar locations legally in many countries across Europe and are often traded online. As cannabis legalization expands in North America, more retail locations are carrying seeds as well. Feminized seeds are the most popular, but providers likely have access to many strains of mixed male and female seeds. Carefully sifting through cannabis flower before using the grinder will usually turn up a few seeds, too. Professionally sourced seeds assure quality genetics and viability, but saved seeds can be a cheap source of cannabis genetics for the hobbyist grower.
Do dispensaries sell seeds?
If you live in a state or country where cannabis is legal, and where individuals are allowed to grow their own plants at home, then you should be able to buy seeds at most legal dispensaries. This might not be the case if you’re in a location that does not allow home growing. The best thing to do is simply check your local laws and ask your local budtender.
How much do marijuana seeds cost?
A pack of marijuana seeds—typically containing around ten or so seeds—will run you anywhere from around $40 on the low end and as much as $400 or $500 on the upper end. The price of marijuana seeds depends on a number of variables including:
- Quality of genetics
- The reputation of the breeder who produced the seeds
- How rare or potent the strain is
- Whether they’re regular, feminized, or autoflowering (feminized and autoflowering marijuana seeds tend to cost more)
How many seeds should I buy?
If you’re trying to grow just a handful of plants for your own private consumption, then you can get away with purchasing one or two packs at a time. Since most commercially sold marijuana seeds come in packages of 10 or so seeds, 10 to 20 seeds should be enough to ensure a good harvest even if a few seeds fail. This is a baseline for a small, private crop andany larger operations should scale up accordingly.
How to store cannabis seeds
Seed providers sometimes vacuum-seal and freeze seeds for long-term storage, but commercially-available seeds in Dutch headshops are sold in small, plastic vials at room temperature and low humidity (6-12%).
Humidity and light is the main enemy of seed storage. Beyond that, seeds can remain viable for up to two years when stored in even the most haphazard conditions. Marijuana seeds swept up off the floor or found in the bottom of a drawer have been known to grow into vigorous young plants.
Germinating cannabis seeds
Germination is the process of beginning the vegetative growth of the new cannabis plant. Sometimes referred to colloquially as “popping,” this process starts when the seed is exposed to water and light. The seed abandons its state of dormancy, or quiescence, and resumes essential metabolic processes that feed on energy stores to delicately rupture open the shell and grow its first root. This root will elongate until it has taken hold of the medium, after which it will pull two small embryonic leaves (cotyledons) from the seed shell. Cotyledons are in the seed before germination and are not considered “true” leaves. The cotyledons will grow until they are about one centimeter long, and once the stem below this is around five centimeters tall, another set up true leaves will grow out of the top and the stem between the true leaves and cotyledons will continue to elongate.
Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Generally speaking, cannabis is a hardy plant that will grow and even thrive in a diversity of environments. However, to assure germination, several steps can be taken. One method calls for a moist paper towel inserted into a plastic bag. Once the first root appears, the seedling must be carefully transferred to some soil before the root takes hold to the paper towel.
Cannabis seeds can also be germinated in a peat pellet. Plant the seed only just below the surface. Once the seedling has taken hold in the pellet, directly transfer it to a pot; the roots will grow right through the soft fabric that encases the peat, at which point the pellet can be directly placed into soil. Whichever method is used, keep the temperature between 70 -90 degrees Fahrenheit (21-32 degrees Celsius), ideally at 78 degrees Fahrenheit (about 26 degrees Celsius), keeping seedlings covered to maintain humidity. Seedlings and young cuttings require photosynthetically active radiation that is more heavily weighted in the blue portion spectrum; a common fluorescent desk lamp will suffice until they are about 5 inches, or about 13 centimeters, tall.