Cannabis Plants Are Dioecious
Plants have various ways of reproducing themselves, either extending their rooting structure, or by sporing and producing seeds. Cannabis plants are known as Dioecious. The definition of this is ‘These plants produce a male plant and a female plant and not usually a single plant with both male and female parts’.
Cannabis plants, in general are either male or female, their sex is predetermined during the creation of the seed, and left to natural pollination, a plant will produce an average of 50% male seeds and 50% female seeds. As both a male, and female plant is required to continue making more seeds the following year, it makes perfect sense for the plant to produce equal amounts of each sexed seed.
This can be both good and bad news for the Cannabis grower. If a grower wishes to pollinate a female plant to create their own seeds, they will require a plant of both sexes, and with an average of five seeds in every ten producing a male, the chances of finding a suitable breeding male Cannabis plant is high. However, for the hobby grower, who may only be growing a few plants, or the commercial producer looking for a large, guaranteed harvest from female only plants, these males pose a significant problem, as half of all the plants they germinate will be useless to them.
Identifying The Sex Of A Cannabis Plant
Unless you are planting large areas of outdoor Cannabis seeds, or are not concerned if your female plants produce seeds, then you will need to remove any male plants at the earliest opportunity. Unfortunately it is very difficult, although not impossible, to discover the sex of a plant until it commences flowering, one of the most common being, in general a male plant will stretch and grow tall, while female Cannabis plants tend to stay smaller and more bushy. This usually means that the fastest and tallest plants are often males, which can be infuriating for an indoor grower with a limited number of plants.
Once the Cannabis plant begins to flower it is easy to spot the differences between a male and female plant. The role of the male plant is to fertilise the female, so they can produce seeds. The male’s do not produce seeds or flowers, instead they produce the necessary pollen in small sacks which are formed where a female plant would produce flowers. These small pollen sacks build up and swell, eventually bursting open and releasing the male pollen.
Female Cannabis plants produce flowers that initially look like small white hairs. Over time the plan produces more of these white hair flowers and they join together into clusters that form the buds. The white hairs protrude from a bract from which the seed will grow, once it has been fertilised by a male.
Female’s will continue to produce more and more flowers, swelling the bud sizes, and the bracts will steadily increase in preparation for the oncoming fertilization. If, after time the plant’s flowers have not been pollinated, the buds will have passed their usefulness and begin to die.
To increase the chances of fertilisation, the female buds steadily becomes coated with small resin glands. It is the resin that contains the psycho-active chemicals that get us high or stoned, but it’s primary function for the plant is to capture passing male pollen who get attached to the sticky surface of the bud, leaves and flowers.
Once a female has captured the pollen, it uses it to fertilise the seed bract, and from here the next generation of Cannabis seeds are created. A female doesn’t require a complete male to pollinate all of her flowers and buds, it is possible for just one male to pollinate and fertilise many females, depending on how far the pollen can spread.
Once fertilised, a female dramatically reduces the amount of energy given to developing new flowers, forming buds or increasing resin production. Instead it will focus almost all its resources into it’s primary role, to reproduce and procreate. With it’s fresh seeds growing to continue the genetics, the plant puts all it’s efforts into ensuring they are it’s main concern, and that poses a problem for Cannabis growers!
Almost without exception, people grow Cannabis for two reasons; Money, or their own, high quality smoke. To get the very best from a plant, it need to reach complete maturity and optimum ripeness. This requires the plant to flower for around 8-9 weeks for an average Cannabis hybrid. However, it isn’t until the last 2-3 weeks that the buds really begin to build up size, density and weight, as well as increasing the amount of resin, and subsequently the THC levels.
A female Cannabis plant can be fertilised almost as soon as pre-flowering begins. Should this happen, the plant will decrease it’s flower and bud production, focusing on creating seeds instead. This would lead to extremely poor yields, with very small buds, oozing with seeds as you tried to break then open.
Because of this, almost all indoor Cannabis growers avoid having any males in their flowering area, and unless you wish to produce your own seeds, they should be avoided at all costs.
To return to the question of ‘How does a Cannabis plant reproduce’.
A Cannabis plant is a Dioecious species, requiring both a male and female plant for fertilisation. The female produces flowers and resin, designed to attract male pollen, fertilising the seed bract. Once pollen from the male has fertilised the female, it will use it’s resources to create seeds, which, when fully formed and mature, will split open the bract, allowing them to fall to the ground, in the hope that some of them some will germinate and grow the following year.