By Ben Walker -Feb 23, 2022
Looking to get into growing your own weed? There are a lot of different things to consider, but the most important thing at the end of the day boils down to the strains you choose to include in your garden. If you’ve been around the block a time or two with bud, you’re probably familiar with the significant differences between male and female plants. Only female plants produce THC-rich flowers that deliver those stoney feelings you know and love. However, telling the difference between male and female plants can be tricky for the novice grower.
That’s why many growers; professionals and enthusiasts alike— are turning to feminized cannabis seeds. Feminized seeds are guaranteed to grow into female plants, which is great if you want to avoid accidentally pollinating your room or spending precious time and resources growing and culling male plants. But what exactly are feminized seeds and what are their benefits? Here’s everything you need to know.
What are feminized seeds?
Feminized cannabis seeds are genetically altered to only grow into female plants. Ordinary cannabis seeds can grow into both male plants or female plants, which can be a game of chance for growers everywhere. If you purchase 10 ordinary seeds, all 10 of them could grow into male plants which are worthless in the grand scheme of things. However, with feminized seeds, all of them are pretty much certain to grow into female plants. Feminized seeds grow into female plants 99.9% of the time.
Feminized seeds have been a game changer in the cannabis industry. They make it more economical to pop seeds and veg the plants since all of them will most likely grow into healthy adult female plants, which produce THC. You’ll save resources and time with feminized seeds since all of them will be viable. The days where you had to pop a bunch of seeds and nurture them until they grow large enough to determine their sex are over. It was a huge headache to produce a bunch of males, love them like females, and then have to kill them to prevent them from pollinating the girls during the flowering cycle.
How do cannabis seeds get feminized?
Cannabis seeds can be feminized in two different techniques, but the most common method is done using some sciencey treatments. Female plants are sprayed with a collodial silver or silver thiosulphate solution and water. Essentially, this just means fine silver particles mixed with water. When the plants are sprayed with this solution, they can’t flower. It prevents the plant from producing a hormone called ethylene, which makes the plant grow male flowers with pollen sacs instead of female flowers.
The plant is still completely female. But when it grows the male flowers and pollen sacs in this method, it produces pollen with only the female genetics it carries. This pollen is then used to pollinate another ordinary, untreated female plant. Since the plant is only receiving female pollen and the plant itself is female, it will produce seeds that are almost certain to be female. Male DNA isn’t involved in the equation at all, so this method is considered to be the most effective way to produce feminized seeds.
The other classic method is much less reliable. In the past, feminized seeds were produced by stressing out a healthy female plant by interrupting its light cycle or overheating the room in an attempt to hermaphorodite the plant. When the plant experiences too much stress, it will produce both male and female flowers to pollinate itself so that it can comfortably die and spread its seeds. This technique doesn’t produce guaranteed feminized seeds, but instead it produces a mixed bag. Some seeds may be feminized and some seeds might not be. It isn’t as reliable as the silver method, which is almost 100% guaranteed to produce feminized seeds.
Male vs. Female plants
Cannabis plants pollinated naturally produce hundreds of both male and female seeds. Most of the time, the seeds are 50% male and 50% female. That’s a difficult statistic, since there’s only a 50% chance you’ll get a female when you grow a plant from seed. You always want females in your garden, though. Male flowers don’t contain anywhere near as much THC as female plants, and if they pollinate your garden, you’ll be left with a bunch of seedy buds with almost no potency— and a ruined harvest.
With that in mind, growing cannabis from regular seeds isn’t very efficient. Odds are you’ll have to cull half of the plants you grow, and in some cases, even more. Since you don’t know which seeds will be male and which ones will be female, you’ll have to grow at least twice as many seeds as you’d like to harvest. Then there’s the probability factor, which could leave you with more males than females and vice versa. You could grow ten seeds and only end up with three females, for example. You could also get ten females, and if you only have room for six of them, you’ll still have to cull the rest.
At the end of the day, you’ll spend a lot of time, energy, and resources growing the plants from regular seeds until you can determine their sex. Male plants will be useless, and must be removed from the garden if you’re growing for flower, which is why most growers opt for feminized seeds. It takes all of the stresses out of popping seeds, and makes it much easier for you to keep things rolling according to plan.
Growing with feminized seeds is a no-brainer
There are so many advantages of growing feminized seeds over regular seeds. It takes all of the guesswork and rigorous vegetative monitoring out of formative growing, which ultimately streamlines the entire process. Streamlining the process is so much more efficient, which is crucial for medical patients and growing enthusiasts who have to adhere to cultivation regulations, like plant limits. Using feminized seeds makes it easier to get the most out of your grow.
Male plants are a problem when it comes to growing weed, anyway. They take up a lot of space in the garden, but they also need just as much attention as female plants. Before you know what you’re dealing with, you’ll have to care for all of the seeds until they grow into plants with visible sex organs. Some strains will display their sex later in the vegetative cycle, but most won’t until the early stages of flowering. That’s several weeks of time and resources for something you’ll have to remove from the garden anyway.
At the end of the day, using feminized cannabis seeds saves you space, time, and lots of headache. You can avoid spending so much time, effort, and resources caring for plants that may all turn out to be male 6 weeks in when you opt for feminized seeds. You can also save space in your garden and maximize your plant count and yields. Feminized seeds may be a little bit more expensive than ordinary seeds, but they’re 99% likely to be female from the get go, making them more viable and much easier to work with at the end of the day.