The dream of almost every cannabis grower is to have a luscious garden full of flowering female plants. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. There are bound to be some male plants in a batch of regular seeds, but there are environmental manipulations you can make to increase the likelihood of female plants in your garden. Keep reading to find out exactly how.
Did you know that cannabis has one of the most complex systems for gender determination compared to other plants that individualise into male and female? The process by which a cannabis plant chooses whether it is going to be male or female is extremely complex, and scientists have been trying to explain it for a long time. Although we don’t know exactly how it is that the cannabis plant finally chooses whether it’s going to make pollen or flowers, we can observe some environmental factors which affect the final product.
Knowing when cannabis plants are most likely to select their gender and being able to identify it early helps prevent any unwanted pollination. With this knowledge, you are even able to manipulate the environment during the growth cycle of your marijuana plant to encourage more female plants in your garden. This article is a how to for any grower looking to better control the male invasion in their garden.
When and how to identify males and females
The most effective way to keep your marijuana garden a ladies only party is by being on top of early gender detection. The longer male plants live in your garden and continue producing pollen sacks, the more likely you are going to experience pollination of the female plants. This means you end up with seeds in your garden. If you’re wanting to breed marijuana, then seeds might not be such a bad thing. But if you’re trying to harvest a very juicy crop, then early detection is the key.
During the vegetation stage of growth, the plant is mainly concerned with getting taller, and isn’t particularly concerned with gender selection. However, there is a small bracket of time between vegetation and flowering called pre-flowering. It is in this time that a grower can identify the gender of their plant. The time will vary from plant to plant, and that’s why it is important to keep an eye on your cannabis plants. Very close observation is just about the only way to know when your plants are choosing which gender they are going to be. You might be able to sex your marijuana plants by observing their growth patterns, too. Males tend to be taller with long internodes. Females, on the other hand, tend to be bushier and have more leaves.
When your plants are in the pre flowering stage of growth, very small flower like bulges begin to appear at the branch junctions. On male plants, small pollen sacs will appear at the branch junction and are usually visible to the naked eye. Of course, a magnifying glass helps. On female plants, the flowers generally begin to appear slightly higher on the plant, about four or five branches from the base. They appear as pistils, or very small white hairs.
If you are trying to avoid pollination, it is important to remove your male plants from the garden as soon as you have identified that they are male. This will keep all the ladies happy and producing luscious buds!
How to increase your female to male ratio
One really easy way to increase your female to male ratio is to purchase feminized seeds. However, even those who use feminized seeds know that in a stressful environment, some plants can grow to be male. For those growers who still prefer to purchase regular cannabis seeds, there are environmental factors that can encourage their seeds to turn into female plants.
The basic point with increasing the ratio of female plants is to reduce all stress from the plants’ environment. It is common for more plants to grow up to be males in a grow operation when they have been exposed to a lot of environmental stresses. The duration of time for which you need to really manage the environment to optimize results is in the 3 -4th week of vegetation. This should be around the time where the seedling has three pairs of real leaves. This is said to be the most crucial time in a marijuana’s gender selection process. Any work that is done before this or after this could have no effect on the final ratio you achieve, because this is the most important time in the plant’s gender selection.
1. Get more female plants using… Nitrogen and potassium
Changing the level of these two nutrients in the soil can create an environment that is more conducive to female marijuana plants. Raising the levels of nitrogen in the soil is proven to encourage more female plants, and the same is achieved by lowering the levels of potassium. You can alternate between raising the nitrogen levels and lowering the potassium levels during the vegetation cycle of your plant. For example, a week or two with either adjustment. Remember not to go changing the environment too drastically, because a stressed plant is less likely to be a flowering female plant!
2. Get more female plants using… Temperature and humidity
These two can be tricky to get right, because female marijuana plants like lower temperatures and higher humidity. You don’t want to sacrifice humidity with a ventilation system where the air is cycled from outside, so a fan is perhaps a better way to lower the temperature during vegetation.
3. Get more female plants using… Light
Light can be manipulated in two different ways during this special period of the vegetation stage to increase female plants. Female plants tend to favour growing under lights with a blue spectrum. Red spectrum lights are favoured by male plants. The second tool is to decrease the amount of hours of light that your plants are exposed to. It is better to expose the seedlings to about 14 hours of daylight.
It’s possible to manipulate your growing environment to encourage the growth of female plants rather than male. Of course, this doesn’t ensure that 100% of plants will grow up to be flowering females, but these techniques have been tried and proven. Because of how complex the gender selection process is for marijuana, it can be challenging to interfere in a process we don’t know much about. However, these methods come from research involved in creating feminized seeds, and so encourage a greater female to male ratio. Good luck growing luscious female weed plants!