How to make your own feminized seeds using Colloidal Silver or Rodelization
There are two main methods to create your own feminized cannabis seeds:
- colloidal silver method or
- rodelization (sometimes spelled “rhodelization” or “rodilization”)
Both the colloidal silver method and the rodelization method are described in detail below if you scroll down. Rodelization is a more “natural” way to get seeds, while colloidal silver gives you more control of the feminization process. Each of the methods has its pros and cons.
For whatever reason, when colloidal silver solution is sprayed regularly on female cannabis plants during the early flowering stage, she will grow male “balls” (which are full of female pollen) instead of growing buds.
This allows the grower to collect pollen from a female cannabis plant. You can use this all-female pollen to pollinate another female plant. With two female plants as parents, ALL the seeds will end up being female.
That is why colloidal silver allows can be used to create female x female cannabis crosses and produce your own feminized seeds.
Rodelization takes advantage of the fact that a female plant will try to pollinate herself as a last resort when she doesn’t get pollinated and is nearing the end of her life cycle. That is why sometimes older or stressed female plants grow a few male “balls” as a last-ditch attempt to self-pollinate. When successful, she will grow a few seeds.
These self-pollinated seeds will have gotten both sets of genes from the same female plant, so both parents will be female, and all resulting seeds with be female.
Why do you want feminized seeds?
When growing regular cannabis and trying to produce seeds, the resulting seedlings end up being about 50% male and 50% female.
This can be a big disadvantage for the cannabis grower because male marijuana plants do not produce very much THC or other psychoactive cannabinoids.
Therefore, when growing cannabis indoors, most growers will throw away all male cannabis plants as soon as they’re discovered. However, it’s easier to not have to worry about males since identifying and removing male cannabis plants can be a bit of a pain. Plus, male plants also take up precious space in the grow room until their gender becomes apparent when they are forced to start flowering.
Another problem with male cannabis plants is that they can accidentally pollinate your female cannabis plants which will cause them to concentrate on making seeds instead of making sinsemilla.
Sinsemilla is the term for cannabis flowers/buds that don’t contain any seeds. Dried sinsemilla is what most growers are trying to produce when growing cannabis.
So what can you do? If you create feminized cannabis seeds, then all the resulting plants will be female and you never have to worry about male cannabis plants again.
While there are a few different ways to create your own feminized cannabis seeds, for some people making your own feminized seeds may be impractical. If you are looking for a discrete, dependable seed bank, I personally recommend Seedsman who has a huge selection of feminized seeds.
How it Works
The main method used to create feminized seeds is to take a known female cannabis plant and force her to grow male pollen sacs and produce pollen.
You can then take this all-female pollen and use it to fertilize other females. Because all the genetic material comes from females, you will end up with seeds that are at 99% female.
So far for me, it’s worked 100% of the time. Any male plants that do result when growing feminized seeds are probably genetic females that are growing with male characteristics.
There are several processes by which female plants will grow male characteristics. Some female cannabis plants will start growing male organs if they are left in flowering for too long, as a last-ditch attempt to pollinate themselves since they were not pollinated by any male plants.
Some female plants will also show male characteristics as a result of heat and light stress. But for the grower, the most convenient way to get a female cannabis plant to make pollen is to treat her with a solution known as colloidal silver.
Below I will first explain how to make feminized Cannabis Seeds using colloidal silver, then I’ll briefly explain the all-natural rodelization method, which is an all-natural though less reliable way to get feminized seeds.
Use Colloidal Silver Spray to Make Feminized Cannabis Seeds Like the Seed Banks Do
- You’re able to produce feminized seeds using any two female cannabis plants (even clone-only strains!)
- You can produce seeds consistently
- You can control how many seeds produced
- Easy to make hundreds of feminized seeds if needed
- You will need to find a source of colloidal silver which will be used to spray the cannabis plants as they start flowering. Your main options are: buying colloidal silver directly, buying a colloidal silver generator, or making your own simple colloidal silver generator yourself (instructions below)
- It is not safe to directly use/consume any cannabis which has come into contact with colloidal silver, though any seeds produced by a treated plant’s pollen are 100% safe.Note: Some space-starved pot farmers will use the colloidal silver to spray just the bottom branch of a cannabis plant so they can still smoke/use the rest of the cannabis buds. You can definitely do this, just be extremely careful not to get any colloidal silver spray on any part of the cannabis that you will be consuming. See this page (https://nccih.nih.gov/health/silver#hed2) for more information on risks involved with using colloidal silver.
When a female cannabis plant is treated with a solution of tiny silver particles suspended in distilled water, the plant will start to exhibit male characteristics.
This solution of silver in water is called colloidal silver and can be purchased from a pharmacy/online or easily made at home . Or you can make it with a colloidal silver generator.
Some people drink colloidal silver for its health benefits and others use it occasionally on plants to help control bacteria, insects, and fungus growth on the leaves.
To take advantage of this, you thoroughly mist a female cannabis plant with colloidal silver every day right when she enters the flowering stage, she will start growing male “balls” full of pollen. Keep misting the plants daily until you see the beginning of male pollen sacs forming, usually around 10-14 days.
The concentration of silver ions in the water actually act as an ethylene inhibitor/antagonist on the plant, which forces the plant to create male pollen sacs instead of female buds.
After the balls start forming
You need to let the sacs swell like a big empty balloon.
You will be able to tell when they are about to open because the leaf section protecting the pollen starts to crack.
At this point, simply take the pollen sacs off and place them in a cool dry place for a week and let them start to dry.
The pollen will come out if you shake them about a little, or you can also cut open the sacs to get to the pollen inside.
Use this pollen to pollinate female plants and you will get all-female seeds that are a mix of both their mothers.
This method is great because it will force almost any female cannabis plant to show male characteristics.
Unlike the rodelization method described below, you are not selecting for plants that show hermaphrodite traits. The genes of the plant are completely unaffected. This method will also produce a lot of pollen consistently compared to the rodelization method.
The one downside to this method is that it is not safe to use any cannabis that has come into direct contact with colloidal silver.
You should, therefore, destroy the plant after the pollen has been collected.
You will also want to ensure that you clean off any remaining traces of silver off your equipment in case you accidentally contaminate another cannabis plant with silver.
Here are the main things to keep in mind when using colloidal silver spray method:
- Make sure you spray the cannabis with a strong enough colloidal silver solution (at least 30 PPM of silver)
- Spray the cannabis thoroughly to almost drench all the parts you want to turn into pollen sacs
- Spray the cannabis regularly, at least once a day for 10-14 days, starting when you change the lights to 12-12
- Spray the cannabis with colloidal silver every day until you see signs of male pollen sacs forming. Some hardy strains may need over 2-3 weeks spraying before they ‘turn’.
Where to Get Colloidal Silver
Colloidal Silver is created by submerging two pieces of pure silver in distilled water, and then running an electric current between the two pieces of silver. The electric current will cause silver ions to be deposited in the water which creates a colloidal silver solution.
Buy Colloidal Silver: You can actually buy colloidal silver which has already been prepared and is ready for use. If you’re purchasing colloidal silver, try to find a solution that has at least 30 PPM (parts per million) of silver. However, buying Colloidal Silver that is already prepared can get expensive.
Buy A Generator Kit: A better option is to buy a relatively cheap colloidal silver generator to easily make your own colloidal silver. This Colloidal Generator kit comes with everything you need including silver. All you need to do is provide the water and a container.
Make Your Own: You can make your own colloidal silver generator at home. The diagram below should illustrate what you need to do.
- 9-volt battery
- 9v Battery Connector (less than $2 at a hardware or electronics store)
- Pure .9999 or 999 Silver (yes it must be pure)
- Distilled water (yes it must be distilled)
- Alligator clips (Optional: but will make things much easier)
- Soldering Iron (Optional: only needed if you want to use alligator clips)
The diagram above will show you how to easily make your own colloidal silver to make your own feminized cannabis seeds
When you first connect everything, you may be surprised because it will seem like nothing is happening. You will know if it worked by the next day because the whole process will leave a silvery residue on your silver. You may need to use sandpaper or something else rough to clean your silver each time after creating a batch of colloidal silver.
If you don’t have a soldering iron and would still like to solder alligator clips onto your battery connector, then I recommend going to a hardware store and asking someone if they will help solder it for you.
Remember to keep your resulting colloidal silver solution away from any light or it will deteriorate and turn a dark gray color. If this happens, then you can no longer use the solution for creating feminized seeds.
Avoid most problems when making colloidal silver by:
- using pure (distilled) water
- using pure (999/.9999) silver
- giving electrolysis enough time to work so you don’t get a weak solution (at least overnight)
- making sure the solution has as little contact with light as possible until you use it
How to Make Feminized Cannabis Seeds Using Rodelization
- Very Simple
- May not produce many feminized seeds
The Rodelization method is all-natural and is the simplest method to create feminized seeds, but it is also unreliable and may not produce much pollen. Basically, the premise is that some female marijuana plants will start growing male pollen sacs/sex organs if they’ve been left in flowering too long (past the peak point of harvest). This is a last-ditch attempt by the marijuana plant to pollinate itself so that it at least produces a few seeds. You can collect these male pods and use the pollen inside them to pollinate other female plants. You pollinate female plants by evenly covering their buds with the pollen after they’ve been in flowering for 2-3 weeks. Females that are pollinated in this way will start growing all-female marijuana seeds. If you’re very careful, you can pollinate only some of the buds on a plant which will produce seeds, and leave other buds alone so they can still be used for consumption.
This issue with this method is that some strains of plants never seem to grow male characteristics naturally. Additionally, with this method, you’re selecting for plants that have a natural genetic tendency to show male characteristics. This can possibly produce offspring that are more likely to show male characteristics themselves which may or may not be what you’re going for. Lastly, even when you do get male pollen sacs from a marijuana plant in this way, there tends to be a lot less pollen than from a typical male plant.
The one great thing about this method is it’s completely all-natural so you can implement this strategy with an organic grow.
If you want to buy feminized cannabis seeds, I recommend The Nirvana Seed Bank
There are two main methods to create your own feminized cannabis seeds: the colloidal silver spray method or using rodelization.
How to Make Feminized Seeds at Home
by Nebula Haze (originally inspired in part by this thread from PhenoMenal)
Table of Contents
5 Steps to Feminized Seeds – Learn how to force female plants to make pollen and create feminized seeds
Introduction to Feminizing Your Own Cannabis Seeds
First of all, what are “feminized” marijuana seeds? Feminized seeds are seeds which have been created by breeding two female plants together. Because there are no male parents, all the resulting seeds end up being bud-bearing female plants. With feminized seeds, you know you can always count on every plant to produce buds, and don’t have to worry about removing male plants (which cause lower yields and seedy buds if they’re left among your female plants). Learn more about male vs female cannabis plants.
Feminized seeds come from two female plants being bred together, causing all offspring to be female
Feminized seeds are commonly available from seed banks for nearly every popular or famous strain. Breeders understand that a lot of people just want to grow plants for buds, and don’t care about making a robust breeding program (which is one of the main reasons growers want male plants).
So how do seed banks feminize their seeds? How can you breed two female plants together?
The main idea is to force a female plant to produce pollen sacs like a male plant. These male flowers (growing on a female plant) create pollen, which can be harvested and used to pollinate another female cannabis plant. The resulting seeds will all end up being female. Can feminizing seeds cause hermaphrodite plants?
Growers can force a female plant to make pollen sacs, and the “feminized” pollen produced can be used to fertilize another female plant
How do you force a female plant to make pollen?
There are two main ways to make feminized pollen:
- Induce feminized pollen chemically (Recommended) – This is the “professional way” to feminize seeds, and is how most reputable seed banks and breeders create feminized seeds to sell to the public. Substances such as colloidal silver and gibberellic acid are used because they cause a female plant to produce male pollen sacs if bud sites are drenched daily for the first 3-4 weeks after the switch to 12/12. This article will give you step-by-step instructions on how to feminize cannabis seeds using this method.
- Rhodelization (Not Recommended!) – In the wild, some female cannabis plants will naturally start making male pollen sacs or “bananas” which can self-pollinate the plant. This happens if the plant is stressed, or if the plant is not harvested in time and buds start to die of old age. The plant is basically doing everything it can to save the next generation. This method is “natural” and these seeds will all end up being mostly female, but the problem is you’re selecting for plants that naturally hermie (grow both male and female sex organs) without any chemical induction. This means the resulting seeds are much more likely to turn hermie in natural conditions too. That’s a problem if you don’t want seedy buds every time you harvest. For that reason, it’s highly recommended you don’t feminize seeds this way, and it’s a good idea to toss any and all seeds that are the result of natural herming.
Read this article for more in-depth discussion about the pros and cons of each method, and how to avoid hermaphrodite plants when producing your own feminized seeds.
Overview: How to Make Feminized Seeds
1.) Buy or Make Colloidal Silver – The article below will teach you how to make colloidal silver at home, as well as show you where to buy it if you don’t want to make it (it’s actually pretty cheap!). It’s basically a solution of silver suspended in water and is available online and in health stores as a dietary supplement.
What about gibberellic acid? I’ve seen with my own eyes that the colloidal silver method works for making feminized seeds, but I don’t personally know anyone who has tried making feminized seeds with gibberellic acid. From what I understand it can be used exactly the same way as colloidal silver to induce female plants to produce pollen, but I’m not sure exactly how to prepare a gibberellic acid solution that works consistently.
2.) Spray the bud sites of your known female plant daily during first 3-4 weeks of the flowering stage (until pollen sacs form and start splitting open) – After switching to a 12/12 light schedule, choose bud sites on your known female plant, and spray/drench them daily with colloidal silver (or gibberellic acid). As the treated flowers develop, they will form into male pollen sacs. Untreated bud sites on the plant will form into female buds as usual; however, these buds are unsafe to smoke unless you’ve been very careful to make sure they didn’t come into contact with colloidal silver or gibberellic acid during the feminization process.
3.) Harvest “Feminized” Pollen – When pollen sacs are ready to be harvested they swell like a balloon and start to open up. Make sure not to harvest early and also make sure to keep spraying the bud sites daily until this point or you might end up with empty pollen sacs! When the pollen sacs are ready, the leaf section protecting the pollen will start to crack. At this point, it’s time to collect the feminized pollen. One of the easiest ways to do this is to collect the pollen sacs directly and let them dry for a week. At that point, they can be placed in a bag and shaken to easily collect all the pollen.
4.) Pollinate Another Female Plant – At this point, take the feminized pollen you’ve collected and use it to pollinate a female plant that has been flowering for about 2-3 weeks (full detailed instructions with a video on how to do this below). Although it’s possible to pollinate the same plant as the original, it’s not recommended in part because the timing doesn’t match up (attempting to pollinate buds too late in the flowering stage leads to reduced seed production). It’s best to pollinate a different female plant that you started budding a few weeks after the original. This increases the number of seeds produced as well as gives the new female plant enough time to develop them to maturity. It also increases genetic diversity compared to self-pollination.
6 Weeks to Harvest Seeds – After about 6 weeks from pollination, the calyxes on the buds of your female plant will be swollen and fat. You know it’s time to harvest your seeds when they start bursting out. At this point, it’s time to congratulate yourself because you’ve got feminized seeds!
Now that you’ve gotten the overview, here’s the feminization process with detailed step-by-step instructions…
Step-By-Step Instructions (with pics!)
1.) Buy or Make Colloidal Silver (or Gibberellic Acid)
Where to get Colloidal Silver (your options):
- Buy Ready-To-Use Colloidal Silver: Colloidal silver is sometimes used as a dietary supplement, so it’s relatively easy to find (never take it without talking to a doctor first though!). If you’re purchasing colloidal silver, try to find a solution that has at least 30 PPM (parts per million) of silver or higher.
- Buy A Colloidal Silver Generator Kit: If you plan on feminizing a lot of seeds, you may want to invest in a generator kit so you can easily make your own endless supply of colloidal silver.
- Make Your Own: You can make your own colloidal silver generator at home. The following diagram illustrates what you need to do.
Note: You can purchase gibberellic acid online (a gibberellic acid solution can be used the same way as colloidal silver for feminizing seeds). However, I do not have experience with the gibberellic acid method and don’t know the best way to prepare the solution.
2.) Spray the bud sites of your known female plant daily during first 3-4 weeks of the flowering stage (until pollen sacs form and start splitting open)
When you’re ready, change to a 12/12 light schedule in order to initiate flower formation. For photoperiod plants, wait until your plant is 5-6 weeks old before initiating the flowering stage. Some young plants seem to have trouble (and take much longer) to go through the feminization process, and their pollen may not be as fertile, so start with a more mature plant.
As soon as you change the light schedule (and maybe even a day or two before) start spraying your plants thoroughly with colloidal silver at every bud site you want to form into pollen sacs.
Spray bud sites thoroughly, drenching them with colloidal silver every single day
The above pic shows you where pollen sacs form on the plant (same places female buds form)
Important! Keep spraying daily until pollen sacs open up. Don’t stop spraying early, even if pollen sacs appear to be already formed, otherwise they may not produce much pollen!
A one-hand pressure sprayer / mister is really helpful for spraying bud sites evenly and thoroughly
You can choose to treat a single bud site or all the bud sites on the plant. Any untreated bud sites will develop into female buds as usual. If you want to smoke these buds, it’s incredibly important to avoid letting them come into contact with colloidal silver as that’s not safe to smoke. (Don’t worry, feminized seeds don’t contain any silver). I highly recommend letting the whole plant be your test subject so you don’t have to worry about that 🙂
Note: If you’re feminizing an auto-flowering plant, start spraying daily when the plant is about 20 days old from seed. This is when most auto-flowering cannabis strains start making flowers.
3.) Harvest Your Feminized Pollen
When pollen sacs are starting to crack and look like they’re about to open up (or if you can see one has already opened) then your pollen is ready for harvest!
When pollen sacs are cracking and opening up, you’re ready to harvest your pollen!
Pollen spilling onto a nearby leaf
One way to harvest your pollen is to gently and carefully remove all the pollen sacs. Let them dry for a week, and then put them in a resealable bag. If you shake the bag the pollen should easily spill out. You may need to cut a few open yourself.
How to Store Feminized Pollen: Moisture is your main enemy when storing pollen. It can help to double the mass of the pollen collected by adding regular cooking flour. This absorbs moisture during storage and as an added bonus, it will make application easier when you get to pollinating. If you triple-bag the pollen-flour mixture and stick it in the freezer (with a good nametag so you know where the pollen came from), your pollen can be stored for a year or longer.
4.) Pollinate Another Female Plant
When your chosen mother is 2-3 weeks into the flowering stage, take a paintbrush and ‘paint’ your feminized pollen on the developing bud sites you want to pollinate. Bud sites (for both male and female plants) are located wherever you can see leaves meet a stem.
Only the buds that come in contact with pollen will grow seeds. You can choose to pollinate all of your buds or just a few on the plant.
Make sure that you’re touching all the female pistils/hairs with your pollen. Here’s a little video showing you exactly what this looks like!
6 Weeks to Harvest Seeds
It usually takes about 6 weeks for your feminized seeds to fully develop. Some plants are literally dying right as the seeds become ready, so to get the most viable seeds, you need to try to keep it alive until the seeds actually start dropping. The seeds can be used right away, or stored in a cool, dry place for a few years. Don’t forget to label them with the date!
This seed is about to burst out of its calyx!
This is what it looks like when the seed is exposed
Picture Journal of Making Feminized Pollen with Colloidal Silver
This grower initiated the feminization process on a seedling that was only a few weeks old. As a result, the plant wasn’t able to get big enough to produce many pollen sacs. You will get even better results if you start with a plant that is at least 5 weeks old 🙂
October 18 – Plant right before the switch to 12/12
October 27 – After being drenched with colloidal silver daily for a little over a week
October 30 – Pollen sacs are forming
November 15 – Pollen sacs appear to be almost fully formed and are swelling in size, but haven’t opened up yet. Don’t stop spraying colloidal silver or you may end up with empty sacs!
November 27 – Pollen sacs are opening up! Collect the pollen before they’re all open!
FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions
How can I identify plant gender before the plant actually starts flowering? (Besides using feminized seeds)
There are a few ways to identify plant gender before the plant actually starts flowering, and each is helpful in different situations.
- Start with a clone – A clone is an exact copy of another plant. If the “mother” of the clone is a female plant, it means the clone is also female
- Look at preflowers (identify plants when they’re 3-6 weeks from seed) – If you know where to look, cannabis plants will actually reveal their gender in the vegetative stage when they’re just 3-6 weeks from seeds. Male plants usually show their gender by 3-4 weeks and female plants usually show their gender around week 4-6 from seed. Learn how to determine the gender in the veg stage by looking at preflowers.
- Test the leaves of your seedling – It’s possible to send in a leaf from a young cannabis plant to a specialized testing company, and they will be able to determine the gender as soon as 3 weeks from seed! Although I haven’t used any of these companies and can’t recommend any in particular, here’s a link to one example just so you can see what I’m talking about. From talking to other growers who use this method, it appears to be very accurate.
- Take a clone and force it to start flowering – if you take a clone from a vegetative plant, you can force that clone to start flowering and reveal its gender. You’ll know the gender of the “parent” plant by the gender expressed by the clone. In my opinion it’s better just to look at the pre-flowers since they’ll usually tell you sooner than if you use this method (in this case you have to wait for the seedling to get old enough to clone, then wait for the clone to make roots, then wait for the clone to start flowering – which usually takes weeks longer than the much easier pre-flower method).
- Look at the seed itself – Some growers swear by this method (if someone knows the author of this popular but anonymous picture that has been circulated on the internet since at least 2008, please let us know!). The idea is to look at the seed’s characteristics because to some extent, some seeds look “more female” than others. According to people who use this method, it’s better than random guessing but unfortunately in the best-case scenario, even the growers I’ve talked to who have experience using this method say it only has up to 70% accuracy. That means about 1/3 of “female” seeds end up being male. It also creates false negatives, which means that about 1/3 of the “male” seeds you’re throwing away are actually female. It’s better than 50/50 but when using this method; it’s not a way to ensure that all plants are going to be female. Personally, I do not recommend using this method as a way to identify gender. I believe all the other methods are much more accurate and depend less on needing experience!
Can I Make a Breeding Program Using Just Female Plants and Feminized Seeds?
Yes, it’s possible to use just female plants and feminized seeds for further breeding, with one major caveat.
Without careful and thorough testing, it may be possible to accidentally select for cannabis plants that tend to herm (make male flowers or pollen) and cause seedy buds when you don’t want them to.
For each possible “mother,” clones should be grown in several different environments and tested thoroughly to make sure that the mother plant does not have any tendency to make pollen naturally in normal or stressful conditions. It’s okay if plants grow pollen sacs if induced chemically since that is very unlikely to happen in someone’s garden on accident, but you don’t want plants that will start growing male parts on their own without chemical induction. Thorough testing of plant hardiness is always important when breeding, but it may be especially important when breeding feminized seeds together.
Are there other reasons I should avoid breeding seeds without males?
The most common reason growers say you shouldn’t do this is because it’s “unnatural” or doesn’t “seem right.” Some growers say you need male plants for genetic diversity. I’ve also heard growers say that the resulting plants will be weaker, sterile, less potent and once someone even told me that resulting plants “will be worse in every way.”
As of yet I haven’t seen any of these claims backed by actual personal experience, or any real-life examples showing why using feminized seeds is not a viable way to breed new strains.
To those who say this type of reproduction just doesn’t seem right, the evolutionary strategy of plants using only female and hermaphrodite plants to breed is actually pretty common and is known as gynodioecy. One example of a plant that only reproduces this way is a flower found in Canada and the US called Lobelia siphilitica, also known as the Great Lobelia. Obviously this reproduction method isn’t exactly the same as artificial feminization since the pollen production is caused naturally instead of induced chemically, but examples of gynodioecy show that a female flower-based breeding population can exist in the wild even when no plants are purely male.
The Great Lobelia naturally reproduces using only female and hermaphrodite plants. This is similar to the cannabis feminization process because it results in a population of plants that all primarily grow female flowers, with no pure male plants
When it comes to genetic diversity, the ability to cross out to thousands of different cannabis strains allows you to dramatically increase the gene pool without using male plants.
So those are my answers to the common objections of a feminized seed-based breeding program, however I am just a theory-crafter when it comes to this topic.
It certainly seems possible that a feminized-only breeding program could run into unforeseen problems down the road, but as far as I know there isn’t any evidence of that so far.
Although I have a few anecdotes from growers who have used only feminized seeds for a few generations, it would be much better to share information from someone who has conducted plenty of testing over several generations. We’d love to hear from you if you have bred more than a few generations using only feminized seeds and want to share your experience!
What are positive aspects of breeding two feminized seeds together?
Besides not having to worry about male plants in the next generation, the main advantage of doing this is you have a much better idea what you’re working with when it comes to producing the type of buds you’re looking for. When you’re growing a male plant, it has several genes it will pass to its offspring that has to do with how buds develop, but since it’s a male plant those genes aren’t expressed and it’s hard to figure out what they are.
Historically, the way to learn more about the “hidden genes” contained in a male plant is to breed it to several well-known female plants, and see how the offspring compare to each other. The genes that don’t come from the known mother plant are assumed to come from the male. Another way of going about this is to take several clones of the same well-known female plant, and breed them with many different male plants to see which ones produce the best offspring.
After testing with several pairings, you start to get an idea of the hidden genes a male plant has to offer to its female offspring. This time-consuming process of documenting and identifying good male plants is why proven stud male plants are one of the most valuable and closely guarded types of clones available today.
But the process of finding the right “father” is a little different when you start with two female plants. In this case you already know quite a bit about the genes of both parents because you can just look at and test the buds of both plants directly. This allows you to pinpoint desirable genes with less guessing and much less time spent growing out and cataloging plants!
Why even have male plants then?
In nature, male plants are very effective at increasing genetic diversity by ensuring cross pollination. With only purely male and purely female plants, every resulting seed will have two different parents.
Another big advantage in the wild of having separate female and male plants is sexual specialization. In other words, plants are able to evolve male and female traits separately, so each type of flower can become more specialized at its unique “job.”
However, this isn’t the only successful breeding strategy for plants. In fact, only 6-7% of plants have completely separate male and female plants like cannabis plants do (known as dioecious plants). Most plants grow some mix of male and female flowers on each plant, with different combinations offering different evolutionary benefits.
You might enjoy this scientific article if you want to learn more about the evolution of sex determination in plants and animals: Sex Determination: Why So Many Ways of Doing It?
And although most cannabis strains (at least the good ones) display either purely male or purely female flowers, there are some wild populations (and some strains of hemp) that regularly produce plants with male and female parts on the same plant.
When it comes to artificial selection for breeding new strains, the grower is in charge of cross pollination, so there’s no need for the plant to specialize in male parts. Pretty much the only thing most growers care about is how female flowers develop. So (unlike in nature) growers have the freedom to choose plants that improve female buds without even having to consider how it might affect male plants.
Can feminizing seeds result in hermaphrodite plants?
The answer is yes. If you do it the wrong way then feminization can lead to plants with an increased chance of herming. However, with a well-tested and well-bred feminization program, one of the main goals is to breed out any plants with hermaphroditic tendencies that show up under normal conditions. When you buy feminized seeds from trustworthy breeders, you can count on the fact that every plant will end up growing only female flowers and that’s it.
This is a relatively big topic with a lot of controversy so I wrote a whole article about it if you want to check it out!
Can I pollinate the same plant I collected the pollen from?
Yes, it’s possible. However, it’s not really recommended because for one, the timing doesn’t match up. By the time your pollen is ready to use, your original plant will already be several weeks past the optimum pollination point. It’s best to pollinate a female plant that has only been flowering about 2-3 weeks. It’s also possible to run into unwanted side effects from self-pollination/inbreeding.
One thing to keep in mind is even if you pollinate a plant to itself, the resulting seeds are likely not going to be exact copies of the original (unless the original plant is extremely inbred). The resulting seeds will be a mix of both the mother’s expressed genes and her hidden ones.
Ever wondered how those marijuana seed banks make feminized seeds? Learn how to create your own feminized seeds at home using two female plants!