Hermaphrodite Cannabis PlantsAugust 13, 2019
After weeks of vegetation, your plants will be ready to flower. This is when they will display signs of their sex, either male, or female. But sometimes, you may come across hermaphrodite cannabis plants, where the plants will display male and female parts.
Hermaphrodite cannabis plants are not always easily identifiable at the start of the flowering period, and some may start off as female, but “hermie” at the end of the flowering cycle, and produce seeds.
Nobody really wants seeds in their buds. So in this guide we will explain how to identify if your cannabis plant has hermied, and what to do about it if it has.
- What is a “Hermie”
- What Causes a Cannabis Plant to “Hermie”
- Identifying a Hermie Cannabis Plant
- What to do if you find a Hermie in Your Grow Room
- What to do if you Have Seedy Buds
What is a “Hermie”
Hermie, is the term used for cannabis plants that have either changed sexes during their grow, or display signs of male and female flowers.
This can be a problem for cannabis growers, as most prefer to have buds with no seeds in them, and a hermie will pollinate itself, and make its own seeds.
Not only will your buds have seeds in them, but potency may be reduced, and the seeds that have been made, will most likely carry the hermaphrodite gene. This means any seed you groom from this plant, has a good chance of being a hermie too.
Hermaphrodite cannabis plants can be used for breeding, and over time the “hermie” gene will be bred out and the strain will be stabilized. You can also force a plant to hermie, to create your own feminized seeds. You can find a guide on this process here:
Female Cannabis Plants
Most cannabis growers will only grow female cannabis plants. This is because the female is what brings us the buds, and high cannabinoid content.
It is easy to ensure you are growing female plants, by buying feminized cannabis seeds from a good seed bank. These seeds will have 99%+ chance of being female. This removes the need of identifying and killing male plants, and will save a lot of time and space.
Male cannabis plants are only really useful to breeders.
Male Cannabis Plants
A male cannabis plant will look the same as a female, up until it begins to show flowers.
It may grow a little taller than females do in the veg stage, but until preflowers are forming, it is not easy to identify with 100% certainty, if a plant is male or female.
When a male cannabis plant flowers, you will be able to tell a within a week, whether it is male or female. A male plant will develop “balls” that look like small bunches of grapes.
The male parts will grow in the internodes, where the stems shoot off from branches. These can easily be confused for calyxes though, which are an ordinary part of a female plant.
DO NOT GET THIS MIXED UP! If you identify a female, as a male incorrectly, then you are throwing away a perfectly good plant. Always be 100% sure it’s a male or hermie before chopping it. This guide will help you:
Hermaphrodite Cannabis Plants
A hermaphrodite cannabis plant will display signs of both male and female sex organs. This may happen early on in the flowering cycle, and it is easy to spot. But it may also happen later in flower, and as the buds grow bigger, it may be harder to spot a hermie.
We will discuss how to identify a hermie, and what they look like below, click here to skip to that section.
If you are growing cannabis for personal use, then you are most likely, only looking at growing females. If you find a hermie, or a male in your grow room, it needs to be removed straight away, and the cause needs to be identified.
What Causes a Cannabis Plant to “Hermie”
There are two main reasons why a cannabis plant will hermaphrodite. The first being genetics. If a plant is genetically hermie, then it will grow as a hermie.
The second is when a plant “thinks” it will complete its life cycle, without producing any seeds to carry its genetics into the next generation. This is mainly caused by environmental stresses, such as high temperatures, irregular light cycles, and breaking branches. But even then, if a plant has good strong genetics, it is less likely to hermie.
Going Too Far Passed Harvest Time
A cannabis plant will have a set period of time for the flowering cycle to begin and end. The amount of time a cannabis plant takes to flower will depend on a few factors, but mainly, it will be determined by the strain.
In its natural environment, at the end of a flowering cycle, the cannabis plant will begin to die. If it has not produced seeds at this point, then it will not be able to carry on its genetics to the next generation.
To combat this, a female cannabis plant can start to produce male reproductive parts, and pollinate itself. It will then be able to make seeds before it dies, and have some chance of coming back in the springtime.
This can happen indoors too, if a cannabis plant goes to far passed its harvest date, it can hermie. It is important to harvest at the optimal time, not too early, and not too late.
Light Leaks in the Night Cycle
One of the main causes for hermaphrodite cannabis plants is light leaks during the night cycle.
Light leaks are easily overlooked, but any light in the grow room, disturbing the plants night time, will cause a female cannabis plant to hermie.
The best way to ensure this doesn’t happen to your plants, is by making sure you have no light leaks in your grow room, BEFORE you flower your plants.
If possible, take all of the plants out of the grow room, turn off the lights, and step inside. Wait for a few minutes in the dark of the grow room, and let your eyes adjust to the darkness.
Within a few minutes your eyes will have adjusted, and you will easily be able to see any light leaking in that you do not want.
Tape up any lights on your equipment like fans or thermometers, and seal any vents or ducting letting light in. When you are happy that there are no light leaks in the grow room, put the plants back in, and begin the flowering period.
Another cause of hermaphrodite cannabis plants is harsh environments, that the plant can not handle well. If a cannabis plant feels that it will complete its life cycle without being pollinated, it may hermie.
This is especially important during the flowering cycle. Too much heat, not enough water, too much food, breaking branches, anything that can cause a flowering cannabis plant too much stress, not only reduces the yield, but it also increases the risk of a hermaphrodite.
Take care with your plants, but even more so in the flowering period. If the plant gets too stressed for too long, it will hermie. A plant with good strong genetics will be able to handle more stress before going hermie. Seeds with weak genetics that have not been stabilized properly, will have a higher chance of hermie.
In every cannabis seed, there is a genetic switch, that will turn on and turn the plant hermaphrodite. If the conditions are not optimal, the chances of a hermie arising increases.
When you are growing with feminised seeds, a hermaphrodite plant may have been used to make the feminised seeds at some point in their genetic history. Depending on how far back in the gene pool that hermie was, will depend on the chances of the gene rising up.
Good cannabis cultivars will have bred a feminised cannabis plant over and over to make this gene more recessive. This is why it is important to spend money on good seeds, from a good reliable breeder.
Don’t ever grow bag seed, as the chances are, the bud you found the seed in, was from a hermie plant, or at least pollinated by a male and be 50/50 male or female.
Identifying a Hermie Cannabis Plant
Hermaphrodite cannabis plants will start to show female and male reproductive parts, anytime during the flowering cycle.
It is easier to spot a hermie early on in the flowering cycle, as there are not a lot of flowers covering them. But as the flowers get bigger, finding a hermie can be more difficult.
Hermie in Early Flower
When the flowers first start to form on a cannabis plant, it will be relatively easy to spot the sex. Female flowers will grow white hairs, known as pistils, whilst the male plants will grow bunches of small pods.
The male parts may also show themselves singularly, and it will look like a small ball on a stalk. This makes it confusing sometimes, as a female plant will grow calyxes, that can sometimes be confused for male parts.
Make sure what you are seeing are male parts. Do not kill the plant too quickly, get a 100% diagnosis and be sure it’s a male or hermie before killing it.
Calyxes or Balls?
At some point, most new growers will come across a calyx on their female plant, and be concerned that it is a male flower. We have all made this mistake, and if you are not sure, you have to look for extra help.
There are a few differences that will help you distinguish if what you’re seeing is a calyx, or a male flower.
Female plants will show calyxes, they will be pointy, possibly frosty, and can have white hairs coming out of them. This is where cannabis seeds will grow, if the plant gets pollinated. If the plant isn’t pollinated, they will not grow seeds.
A male flower looks a little like a calyx, but, it is round, rather than pointy, it will have no hair coming out of it, and it will be on a stalk. Don’t get the 2 confused, you do not want to throw away a perfectly good cannabis plant. If you suspect a male, or hermie, and you’re not 100% sure, then ask for help in the forum, and get a second opinion.
Hermie in Late Flower
As the buds on your cannabis plant become bigger, it will be more difficult to see the male parts. They may actually grow inside the buds, and you won’t be able to see them at all.
Instead of seeing the usual male flowers, you will see something known by growers as “bananas”. These will split open, and release pollen onto your plants, and you will soon have seeds growing in the buds.
You have to be able to recognise bananas on a cannabis plant, they will appear late into the flowering cycle, and if not caught, they will fill your whole crop full of seeds.
What are “Bananas”
Bananas are a clear sign that your female cannabis has hermied.
If you look over your buds, and find something that resembles a banana, it needs to be treated quickly. But in most cases, it is already too late, and your crop has been pollinated.
The growths not only look like bananas when they are closed, but they will also open up into a star shape, much like a peeled banana. If you do find any open bananas, you can be sure your crop has been pollinated.
You should check the small popcorn buds, and any calyxes to see if there is seed inside them. You may have caught it in time, and if you get the plants down soon, seed formation will be minimal.
What to do if You Find a Hermie in Your Grow Room
Pretty simple, kill it. But that isn’t always an option. As percy growers, you really don’t have plants to spare. So you have to make the most of what you have.
Any male parts that produce pollen, will need about ten days before the pollen is viable, and can pollinate a plant. This gives you some time to think about the best plan of action, so you don’t need to act hastily and make a mistake.
Take your time, make sure you are 100% certain that the plant is a hermie before you do anything. An extra 15 minutes to make the right decision is nothing in the long run.
Cannabis Plant Pollen
From the first formation of the male cannabis flower, to the release of viable pollen, can be around ten days. A male cannabis plant grows slightly taller than a female, so the pollen can be lifted into the air easier and travel further.
Because pollen is so light, it travels very easily in a breeze. In an indoor grow room, if pollen has been released into the air, you can be sure it’s pollinated other plants.
A piece of pollen from a cannabis plant can travel over 20 miles, and still be viable. Though, if it’s exposed to direct sunlight for too long, it will become less viable, as the UV will kill it.
If you find hermaphrodite cannabis plants in your grow room, you will need to remove it, or the pollen sacs, without spreading pollen into the air.
Removing a Hermaphrodite from the Grow Room
To reduce the spread of pollen, the first thing you must do when you have found a hermie in your grow room is turn off your fans. This will reduce the amount of pollen traveling in the air, and in turn reduce the chances of your plants being pollinated.
The best technique for this, is to put a plastic bag over the hermie, and tape up the bottom around the pot. This will stop any more pollen getting out into the grow room.
From here you can remove the plant out of the grow room, and take it far away before removing the bag. The pollen can travel far, and can make its way back into the grow room.
Removing Pollen Sacs
If you don’t have plants to spare, and this is the only crop you’ve got, then you will want to try and save the plants.
If you find male flowers early on in the flowering cycle, you can remove them as they grow. The pollen will take over a week to become viable, so if you stay vigilant, you may be able to remove any male parts before they pollinate the plant.
To reduce the risk of the pollen escaping, and pollinating itself or a nearby plant, you should turn off your fans. Also, spray some tap water onto the pollen sac before removal. When the pollen is wet, it will not be able to travel in the wind.
But because this is early in the flowering cycle, it is unlikely you will get them all, and you will be left with low quality seedy buds. It is best to find out why the plant turned hermaphrodite, fix the problem and start again.
Bananas will appear on hermaphrodite cannabis plants near harvest. If you have got this far through the grow, then it is unlikely you want to stop now, and it is worth finishing the plant off.
By removing the bananas, you can reduce the amount of pollination in the grow room, and that will reduce the overall amount of seeds in the buds.
Turn off your fans. Use a small plastic bag over your finger tips to pinch off the bananas. Once removed, wrap the bag around the banana tie a knot in it, and remove it from the grow room.
Do this for all of the bananas you can find. It may not be ideal, and it may not get all of them, but it will at least reduce the amount of seeds in your buds.
What to do if you Have Seedy Buds
Finding seeds in your cannabis can be a downer, but it’s not the end of the world. Just because your cannabis has seeds in, doesn’t mean it isn’t high quality. It just needs to have the seeds removed before you use it.
It can become a pain picking the seeds out of your buds, but you can consider turning your buds into extracts. This way, you take only the oils, terpenes and cannabinoids, but leave the seeds behind.
To make sure this doesn’t happen again, you need to find the source of the problem, and what caused the plants to hermie in the first place. It is most likely down to a light leak during the night hours, and you should check your grow room over to make sure no light is getting in.