Why am I seeing seeds in the buds of my cannabis plants when there are no male plants in my growroom?
Cannabis plants are monecious. This means they have the ability to be either male or female. Or in the case of hermaphroditism, they can be both. The reason to make sure there are no males or hermaphrodites in your garden is because male flowers make pollen. When pollen touches the white hairs, called pistils, on a cannabis flower, it makes a seed.
Even though there are reasons in nature hermaphroditism could be important, such as continuing the species in case there is no male present, hermaphroditism is generally a bad thing when talking about cannabis plants.
Causes of Hermaphroditism in Cannabis Plants
Light poisoning is the most common cause for a normal plant to hermaphrodite.
Light poisoning refers to the flowering night cycle of a plant being unnaturally interrupted with light. The best way to prevent this is to close yourself inside your darkened room during the daylight, and then after allowing a few minutes for your eyes to adjust to the dark, check for any light leaks from covered windows, door jams, etc. Also cover all timer and appliance lights with tape.
Negative stressors can combine with small interruptions of the light cycle to cause hermaphroditism, especially with less-stable, clone-only hybridized strains. When the night cycle is abnormally interrupted, it sends a mixed hormonal signal to the plant. This can cause a full female plant to throw some male flowers. Male flowers are easy to identify, especially when side by side with female flowers. Male flowers look like small bunches of bananas, which will take a week or two to swell before they burst and release their pollen.
Purposefully causing a plant to hermaphrodite is called selfing. Gibberellic acid or colloidal silver is typically sprayed onto the female plant. This technique is used to make feminized seeds and uses the plant’s ability to be both male and female to force a female plant to produce male flowers. The pollen contained in these male flowers can only produce female seeds. Just keep in mind that feminized plants should not be used for breeding, as they were produced without a true male, making them genetically inferior.
How to Avoid Hermaphrodites and Seeding in Your Cannabis Buds
Finding a hermaphrodite in your growroom can happen at any stage of the flowering cycle and is indicated by the presence of male flowers growing on the same plant as female flowers. As with all species in nature this can occur in varying degrees. A plant can become slightly or majorly hermaphroditic.
In cases where singular male flowers are found between the branch and stalk nodes, you should be diligently removing them as they grow. You must re-inspect the plant top to bottom every few days to be sure pollination and seeding doesn’t occur.
If you find male flowers (anthers) actually growing from within the female flowers (buds) the situation is a little more dire. You can still remove all the male anatomy as it appears, but it will be harder to find and much more prevalent. This is a horrible discovery that leads to a tough decision: Should you let the plant live and risk the whole crop developing seeds?
Can a Seeded Cannabis Plant be Salvaged?
Whether or not a grower should try to harvest before the seeds become too developed will depend on when during the flowering cycle the seed sacs started to form.
If the cannabis flowers were already mature when the seed sacs first developed then, by all means, harvest before the seeds develop further. However, even if the seeds started to develop in the earlier stages of flowering, a grower will still be able to salvage the crop by letting the plants continue to create seeds as they mature and removing them from the flower material after harvest.
Re-vegging can be used to save a flowering plant you have no copies of, but be careful, as this may cause some strains to hermaphrodite.
In any case, once hermaphroditism has compromised the safety and purity of your sensimilla, the plant should not be propagated further. Remember, once a hermy, always a hermy.
Can You Smoke Cannabis Buds that Contain Seeds?
Although not as desirable as sinsemilla (seedless female flowers), flower product from a seeded crop will still produce a “high” for users. That being said, it is no fun to smoke seeds and can cause headaches, so you will want to remove them from the rest of the flower material before lighting up. Though not as potent as sinsemilla, the remaining flower material can still be potent.
Another option is to use the seeded flower material for making extracts. Many types of cannabis extracts can be made with seeded flower material.
More Q&As from our experts
- I found a cannabis seed in a bud from a dispensary. If I plant it, what are the chances it could be male?
- What it the best way to tell the male cannabis plants from the females?
- Can I make Cherry Wine hemp seeds produce THC?
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