Page content

Male Or Female? How To Sex Outdoor Marijuana Plants

Male Or Female? How To Sex Outdoor Marijuana Plants

When setting out to create a successful marijuana garden, you may not have considered some more subtle aspects, such as organizing your plants according to their sex. You may not have even realized that plants have different sexes unless you have done this type of gardening before.

When you are growing cannabis, being able to accurately identify which of your plants are male and which are female is a crucial element in achieving a successful harvest. There are several methods for using this identification to your advantage, and it is important to choose which one is best for your life and growing style.

This article is going to teach you why identifying your plants’ sexes is very important, and how it can positively affect your yield.

Identify female marijuana plants

Female weed plant identification

Your plants will be one sex or the other, depending not only on their genetics, but also environmental factors. Just like other forms of life, marijuana plants all possess two pairs of sex chromosomes. The two possible chromosomes are X-chromosomes and Y-chromosomes, just like with humans.

XY chromosomes are in male plants while XX chromosomes are in female plants. There is an even chance of a plant being male or female when the plants are growing in the wild; you are able to alter these odds when you are able to accurately distinguish male from female.

The flowers from female plants usually do not bloom until after male plants, and they resemble sacks. While they grow, two stigmas that are similar in appearance to feathers will pop out of each of these sacks. The stigmas are located in a node region of the main stalk and are generally cream or white in color.

If you are not familiar already, a node region is the location that a branch is growing from the main stem, or where a branch grows from another branch. They grow this way to catch any pollen that the male plant released into the wind.

Pollination is crucial to be understood because female plants that have been pollinated will stop focusing their valuable energy on their flower growth. Rather, they will use all their energy for seed production, making it undesirable for a successful harvest and a high yield.

You can utilize seeds if you have a particularly successful or hardy strain. If that is the case, then by all means allow a female plant to produce marijuana seeds instead of flowers. Because growers almost always prefer to have more flowers than seeds, they usually take out any male plants that they are able to identify.

Download my free marijuana grow guide at this link for more growing tips

Reducing the number of plants has its benefits as well, since any plants that are still there will receive more sunlight and will allow you to focus your efforts on fewer plants, making your work more effective. Since male marijuana plants do not make a good plant for smoking, they are not worth harvesting in the end.  That being said, you can still leave them in the ground to grow, as long as they are kept away from your female plants. This is because you can actually use some of the leaves to add to your pot butter.

Identify male plants

Male weed plant identification

Male cannabis plants begin their flowering phase somewhere between one week and a month earlier than the females do. They do not develop as many flowers as the female plants do, and the plants usually grow straighter. Their flowers generally grow at the top of the plants. At first you would see preflowers developing at the tips of branches and of the main stem. Preflowers are the immature first flowers that come before the more mature flowers form later.

On male plants, flowers come in tight clusters and are green and closed. They have a main part that look like petal-shaped objects, five of which are inside of the sex organs. To the untrained eye, they look like a miniscule banana bunch.

These clusters will start opening over time and a stamen will appear. These are objects that let pollen production occur – and pollen is responsible for natural reproduction in the wild.

So how will you see whether it is a male plant? You have to look at these preflowers before they have matured too far. If at this point there is a calyx that is raised on a small stem or a stalk, then it is most likely a male. If this calyx isn’t raised, then it probably a female plant. You will have to keep a close eye on your plants during their early stages of flower development to become good at distinguishing the two sexes from one another.

Taking out the male plants

Taking out male cannabis plants

The process of removing your male plants from the crop is as simple as uprooting them from the ground. You just take the plant out from the ground. You have to try and do this early on since males that are showing flowers could have already allowed their pollen to be released. It isn’t impossible for pollinated female plants to continue producing flowers and seeds simultaneously, it would require the plant to be extremely healthy for it do this successfully.

How to force flowering

Force flowering outdoor cannabis

If you check and organize your plants while they are still quite young (even before their first transplant), you can identify which are females and then decidedly grow only the female plants in your garden. This practice will require you to force flowering when they are quite young, using light controls as your tool of manipulation.

This is, of course, only possible to do with plants that have matured enough to display their sex.

The technique is simple. Once your plants are at least one foot tall, they are surely mature enough to flower (when forced to). To do this, you remove all light for at least 12 uninterrupted hours per day. This mimics the natural changes in the sunlight that would occur with seasonal changes.

These changes send a signal to the plant that it needs to focus its efforts on flowering as much as possible before the weather turns too cold and dark. Once flowers begin popping up at the joints (also known as “nodes”), you should be able to distinguish between the females and males in your bunch.

Once you know which are which, simply remove the male plants from your garden. Then you can pick and choose from your remaining female ones when transplanting - only take the strongest and healthiest for transplantation.

Download my free marijuana grow guide at this link for more flowering tips

Before you transplant your females, expose them to three full days of nonstop light. This will ensure that your plants won’t continue their flowering process since it would be too early for you to get a harvest. The plants’ processes will go back to normal after they have been transplanted since the natural sunlight should provide many hours of light for the plants, making them return to their vegetation stage. This is when the plants will begin again to focus all their incoming energy from the sun, water, and nutrients in the soil on their own growth.

Whatever method you decide to use, it’s a good idea to go for one of them in order to reduce seed production, or maybe get rid of it altogether. Removing male plants will simply take away these risks and will likely lead to a much more successful yield. Proceed with caution, however, as forcing the flowering phase of your female plants can actually occasionally cause sexual dysfunction, such as becoming a hermaphrodite, when one plant exhibits characteristics of both sexes.

The most important thing in choosing the right method for you is basing the decision on your time and physical space. You also need to keep in mind that removing your male plants from the garden will not completely remove the risk of male plants being present. Sometimes, depending on the area you are growing in, male plants could be present within a close enough range that could lead to pollination of your female plants. This can happen both from male plants that are being grown by someone else, or ones that have naturally cropped up in the wild. Pollen can travel as far as several miles in the wind as well as on birds or bees. They have evolved to be very good at this in order to pollinate female plants and lead to more plants of their species.


Hermaphrodite weed plant

No matter how hard you try, marijuana will do its very best to reproduce, even going to the lengths of reproducing itself without any normal male plants nearby. This is an evolutionary trait just like traits from any other living organism.

If female plants grow male flowers, they run the risk of pollinating themselves or any neighboring female plants. These plants are called hermaphrodites, as they exhibit both male and female characteristics. Hermaphrodites are a natural occurrence - nature’s response to stress. When plants have poor nutrients, too much nitrogen, particularly cold weather, or sometimes when they have been forced to flower, hermaphrodites may appear as the plants’ stress response.

Download my free marijuana grow guide at this link for more growing tips

Hermaphrodites that successfully self-pollinate generally lead to more females and more hermaphrodites. When you see hermaphrodite plants in your all-female garden, you may want to practice culling. Culling is when you remove a plant of undesirable characteristics so that your overall product does not exhibit these same traits. If you don’t want to remove this plant altogether, you can simply pluck off the male flower bunches that appear on your hermaphrodite plant. This will restrain the hermaphrodite effects and will keep it from pollinating itself or other plants nearby, and, therefore, will limit its ability to continue its own line of traits.

Thanks for reading. Please leave comments or questions below and don't forget to download my free grow bible


Download the Ultimate Grow Guide for FREE!
Learn the basics of growing marijuana and get started today
  • How to get the biggest yields from cannabis plants
  • What you need to get started, without wasting money
  • The most common mistakes you do not have to make
We guarantee 100% privacy.

Comment Section

27 thoughts on “Male Or Female? How To Sex Outdoor Marijuana Plants

By Danny on 19 May 2015

I appreciate the detailed info you are sharing!
Thank you

By Bobby on 12 October 2015

Hi I'm writing cause this is my first time that I grew some plants but I just pulled them out a day ago and I have them hanging in my garage outside so I wanted to know if that was ok for them cause I really do t want to mess them up cause they look really great please if u can get back to me ASAP thanks u so much!!! Hope to hear from u soon so they don't get mold or messed up

By latewoodl on 15 October 2015


As long as you have a fan circulating the air so you do not grow mold/mildew on the buds, and keep it dark; They should dry fine. You may want to pop off all the big Sucker leaves, That is a matter of expedience and grower's choice.


Pingback: The Complete Guide To Growing Marijuana Naturally

By TicoGringo on 23 April 2016

Has anybody tried trimming a male plant completely of it's male "balls" to see if it will try to reproduce as a female or a hermaphrodite ? I ask because I have a very strong male that came up wild and has very desirable traits..Thanks ahead of time...JD

By latewood.ILGM on 25 April 2016

I read something about a couple people who tried to hermie a male plant into a female. For the most part a colossal waste of time. I advise you place a small beer can bag over one of the buds and let it collect pollen if you want to save some genetics from this plant

By Tico Gringo on 26 April 2016

Some background,,I live in Colombia on the 4000 foot altitude. The tempts are perfect for growing anything..By recent presidential decree growing 28 plants is legal,,they just cannot be transported..I mentioned to my housekeeper I would like some marijuana plants to play with..She brought me seven the next day that she had around her house growing wild..They were all sativa types ...and all died but one.. I let it grow even though it was a male..I harvested roughly three ounces of cured cleaned..totally cleaned ,,,no stems,,seeds,,or leaves..Just bud..It is a nice smoke..took about three months to grow and another month to cure . My house keeper then brought me seven or eight more to play with..They too all died [ she just pulled them up and brought them in a small plastic bag] except one which is the male mentioned above.. It is super sturdy and very healthy..I saved some seeds from the first plant and have started to sprout them..I decided to make a garden ..
Your site is very informative and extremely useful ..I am an occasional user and rarely light up..But I get a lot of pleasure from trying to make a good grow..It has become a hobby...And I am willing to try just about anything you folks recommend..As you know from my profile I have a sight problem, and my wife and my magnifying glass help me a bunch..So if you folks want to try some different things or seeds [Which I am willing to buy ] I'd be glad to help..A side note,,,my housekeeper took me to a local farmer for me to talk to..He stated that every thing grown here is Sativa,,,And offered to sell me a kilo in the bag for $2.50 cents...trimmed and in the bag..It was about a two gallon zip lock and really full..BTW,,,I trimmed my male plant today very hard,,cutting all the pre-buds/flowers off...

By latewood.ILGM on 26 April 2016


You really should join our support forum at We will be able to guide you there much better than on this blog. Glad to help you. We have so many friendly and helpful members along with staff experts that help growers every day. 🙂

All genetics in equatorial regions are Sativa. It generally takes me 5-6 months to finish a Sativa if finished to the correct maturity. However; In an equatorial region where the days are always around 12/12 photo period a Sativa can finish in much less time.

I would have bought that bag of weed!!! 🙂 See you at the forums. Peace, lw

By Tico Gringo on 1 May 2016

I have been cutting off the "balls" of the plant mentioned above every day,,and the critter is turning into a "Hermi"
or hopefully a female..The growth rate is astounding,,I'm going to let it rest for a week..or maybe two..and make a decision as to what to do...I'll chat with you on the forums...Thanks Latewood..I appreciate your note..JD

By latewood.ILGM on 3 May 2016

We will see you there 😀

By Candy on 25 February 2017

Hi, is there some way that I can get your book on paperform rather than online. I am old school and would love a paper back copy to work with. Thank you

By Roy ILGM on 27 February 2017

Sorry Candy, we only have the digital edition 🙂

By Joseph on 20 May 2017

I have had my 12 plans under constant indoors light since May 3rd. A week before that was planting the germination sprouts. Can I just put them outside now or do I need to force flowering first? Or can I put them outside during the day and back in for more light at the end of the day. The rest for a couple hrs. Then repeat. Or just throw them outside an let nature do it work with flowering.

By latewood.ILGM on 25 May 2017


I prefer letting nature do all the work. Moving in and out could cause stress and I am not sure how long you want lights on but, plants need more than a couple hours rest; So, keep it simple. Place them outside now and they should begin to veg strongly as days are still getting longer until June Summer solstice.

A hint: Make sure to watch them for a few days and make sure they get tempered to the Sun's rays before leaving them unwatched all day. OK? Great

Happy growing, lw – I❤️GM

By Uncy on 7 July 2017

I would love to get your grow bible, but when I try to download it, I am told that I must have flagged your site as spam. I don't recall doing that, but if I did, I am sorry. Please send me the bible. Thanks,Uncy

By brad on 9 July 2017

I m a first time grower ,I m 66 years old and have been smoking mother nature for 52 years, figured it was time to try to grow a little bit of my own. I grow outdoors ,have 6 grand daddy purps in the garden ,all over 2 feet and full right now.i have read the whole bible over and over and ill tell ya the info here is fantastic.Hoping to get a nice little crop of some sweet bud.thanks Bob for all the help, I will keep you posted hopefully in the end with good news.

By DhdN on 16 October 2018

Me too By brad.. I'm 64 and first timer. man it was fun with good results too. wise i didn't live in MN

By Shay on 23 June 2018

I've been growing one plant indoors with just natural sunlight, I bought it already growing. I would say it was planted at the beginning of March. It's over a go or And a half tall and is growing fine. I'm just wondering how long before I will b able to tell it's sex?

By latewood_ILGM on 25 June 2018


The plant will not show sex until it is under a 12/12 light photo period. Depending on where you are days should be getting shorter after June 21 and in a month or so should be down to 13/11 or thereabouts, and soon after that, plant will show sex.

Happy growing

By John Hayes on 10 September 2018

I'm a first time grower- I purchased three different strains or seeds. Not being very scientific I have no clue which strains are which-
All germinated- and three are : about/in the beginning stage of flowering. These three are the biggest and tallest (17-19)" - they all have pistils - the others appear to be a week or two away for me to determine what sex they will be- i'm growing outside.
Should I remove the plants from the ones that are female or wait until I can determine which sex the others are?
Thanks for your help and insight

By latewood_ILGM on 12 September 2018


As long as you have your order number and contacts [email protected], you should get a response.

If all 10 seeds popped and only one grew; It is highly possible you have something going wrong. We have all of customers claim super high success rates during germination unless they are doing or applying something wrong. Coco and perlite is a terrible medium for a sprouted seed. Use Pro Mix,r, or something without fertilizer. Coco causes PH problems. As far as seedling not growing. Seedlings must establish roots before you see top growth. Meanwhile it appears not to grow. Patience is key.

No nutrients or fertilizer should be used and water should be PH'd at 6.1-6.5

I suggest you join our polite and friendly support forum and allow us to help you figure out what you are ding wrong. No offense. It happens to everyone at 1st. 🙂

p.s. I start all my ILGM seeds directly into rockwool. Soak the rockwool in warm water. Gently shake some excess water out...Gently!...Do no squish the cube. add seed into hole in cube and pull a little piece of the corner and light place it into the hole over seed. All my seeds pop in 2-3 days maximum using this tried and true method.

Leave a Reply