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Can You Force Female Cannabis Plants to Hermaphrodite?




Can a female plant turn male? Cannabis   plants are specifically gendered, or if you are botanically-inclined, dioecious. In the world of cannabis, female plants are mostly prized because of their densely packed buds. For most growers who keep on output, ensuring their crop is male free allows their females to grow and produce without the risk of pollination. 

However, like all plants, cannabis plants inherently strive to procreate by the propagation of their seeds. One way they do this is by becoming hermaphrodites, and therefore pollinating themselves. If a grower desires for their female plant to herm, the process, though quite difficult, is not impossible. Join us as we discover how to force female plants to hermaphrodite, and what white hairs early in the vegetative stage mean. 

What is Herming?

Herming can occur under environmental conditions where female plants feel stressed. Herming is not female plants becoming male, it is them developing both male and female reproductive parts so that they can pollinate themselves. Therefore, a hermaphrodite plant by definition has both male, and female, sex organs. 

Negative stressors can also combine with tiny interruptions in the light cycle, ending up in hermaphroditism. This is more common in less-stable prototypes that are clone-only hybridized. When the night cycle of a flowering plant is abnormally interrupted, a mixed hormonal signal is sent to the plant. This can induce a female cannabis plant to sprout some male flowers. Some of the stressors that contribute to herming are:

  • Too much water
  • Not enough nutrients
  • Too much heat. 
  • Not enough water

Herming can occur at any time of the plants’ life cycle, which means it can affect a very young seedling, or a fully grown, mature plant. When the plant experiences these stressors, it develops male parts so that it can produce seeds before the environmental trigger kills it. 

Other stressors which may hermaphroditism in female cannabis plants include

  • Disruptions to the photoperiod
  • Dramatic shifts in temperature
  • Disease or pest infestations
  • The use of toxic pesticides
  • Physical damage from vigorous pruning 

Though herming is primarily caused by stress, it could also be caused by a genetic component, (which some growers view as being inferior). The genetic leaning of some strains to be hermaphrodite prone is not cultivar-specific. The same cultivars, gotten from different seed farms may yield different results. Breeders who are reputable are more likely to rigorously select their cultivars. This ensures that the plants resulting from their seeds are robust, and have desirable traits. 

Can You Force Female Plants to Hermaphrodite?

Purposefully making a plant hermaphrodite is referred to as “selfing.” Agents that can sour herming are Gibberellic acid, and colloidal silver. Typically, either of them is sprayed onto the plant. This technique is a key step in making feminized seeds, as we will discuss later in this article.

 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. 

As we have already mentioned, stressing your female plants may also cause them to hermaphrodite. You could stress them by using:

  • Light stress
  • Fertilizer stress
  • Gibberellic acid
  • PH stress

These stressors can forcibly stress your plant into turning hermaphroditic. Knowing, and properly understanding the strain you are handling will give you a better understanding of what stressor to use.

You should however practice this method carefully as herming, especially feminine seeds tend to pass the trait to subsequent generations. The plants resulting from forcefully hermed seeds could also herm if they experience significant stress. However, if this is your only chance of acquiring seeds of that strain you have craved so long, then go ahead, the pain might well be worth the gain. Feminized plants should absolutely, never be used for breeding, as their lack of a true male makes them genetically inferior. 

Can You Clone a Female From a Male?

A true female cannabis plant cannot be cloned from a male plant. Cloning is the process breeders use to make genetic copies of pre-selected, usually female plants. A true female cannabis plant can therefore not be cloned off a male. 

If a grower wishes to grow cannabis plants that are female from seed, using feminized seeds can greatly streamline that process. 

Feminized seeds are as a result of female plants being induced to herm, then fertilizing a different female plant with its pollen. Because the pollen obtained from the ‘hermie' only contains female chromosomes, its seeds cannot contain any true males.

How to make a male plant female

Though it is not possible to turn a male plant into a female as there is no way to change its DNA from male to female, a male plant can be tricked into thinking it is female. 

How do you do that? 

Making a plant think it’s a female will cause it to exhibit female characteristics, which is what you really want.

Here’s a step by step process of how you can do that. 

You will need gloves, a face mask, and ethylene.

  1. Induce the blooming phase by switching to a 12/12 cycle.
  2. Wait for one week, until your plants start to show sexual characteristics.
  3. Separate your male from your female plants.
  4. Now, put on your protective equipment, and get the ethylene out ( ethylene is the hormone that female marijuana plants produce). 
  5. Apply the ethylene on the stem joints, plant branches, and leaves of the male cannabis plant. 
  6. Wait for female characteristics to appear.

As briefly mentioned above, when inspiring male traits in a female plant, follow these steps but use gibberellins, which is the male hormone. 

Female Cannabis Plants Growing Seeds

As we have mentioned previously, cannabis plants are either male or female, though they also tend to hermaphrodite. If you find seeds growing on your female cannabis plant, it most probably hermed while you were not looking. The most common reason why this would happen is light poisoning. 

Light poisoning usually occurs when a plants flowering night cycle gets interrupted unnaturally by light. The best way to make sure this does not happen is to access your darkened grow room and observe for any light leaks after your eyes have adjusted to the light. The leaks may come from door jams, covered windows, and other gaps you might not quickly identify. You could also cover all appliance lights, and timers, with tape.

It is important to remember that you can discover herming in your grow room at any stage, and it could be slight or major. Where singular male flowers have developed between the stalk nodes and branch, they can be diligently extricated. If this happens, inspect your female plants every few days to ensure it doesn’t recur, and that your plants do not get fertilized.

However, if the male flowers are growing from inside the female flower, this is a dire situation. It tends to be more prevalent, and harder to get rid of. You will then have to make the tough decision of whether to keep the plant, and risk the whole crop's ruination by seeding. 

It is also important to note that plants that have been hermed should not be propagated further, as they are likely to carry on this trait. 

Do Male Marijuana Plants Flower?

The determination of the sex of a plant is due to its genetics, and it happens even before germination begins. With this sex genetically encoded, you cannot fundamentally change the sex of a marijuana plant. However, as we have mentioned, you can prompt hormonal responses that cause it to have female characteristics, including flowering. 

Elevated female hormones (ethylene)in male marijuana plants can trigger the development of female flowering. The technique however, bears more results when it is applied to male plants which are yet to form mature flowers. It's also important to remember that many male cannabis plants are hermaphroditic to begin with, and that distinguishing true males could prove to be very difficult.

How to Prevent Herming in Your Female Plants

A very big percentage of cannabis growers go through all the trouble for abundant, sticky buds. This means that a male plant, or the herming of their females, is not what they are looking for. 

The natural tendency of cannabis to her means that growers need to take extra care to minimize stressors which the plant may perceive to be threatening.

When female plants hermaphrodite, or form male flowers which are capable of spreading pollen, the whole crop becomes at risk of pollination. 

Female flowers which get fertilized by the pollen halt their development, and concentrate on producing seeds. This severely limits flower production, and therefore eventual produce.

To this end, growers who would like to prevent herming in their female cannabis plants have to be diligent throughout the cycle of the plant. 

Here are some things you can do:

  • Purchase your cannabis seeds from a reputable seed company or trustworthy breeder who understands cannabis genetics. 
  • Avoid potential environmental stressors
  • Examine your plants every day to note any unusual growth.


 If you are growing hemp or marijuana, walk your fields, or monitor your plants every single day to catch any pollen or hermaphrodites in your grow early. It will shock you how fast things can change, so it is important that you closely monitor your plants. If herming occurs and you do not catch it, you could jeopardize not only your crop, but that of neighboring growers. 

If you notice any signs of herming, quickly remove any male parts or flowers that appear, if they are few. If the male flowers are many, you might need to eliminate the plant in its entirety. This is done by covering the whole plant with a plastic bag without shaking it, and getting out the plant from the dirt. This avoids any of the pollen from getting to other female plants.

How can you tell a male plant from a female plant?

When cannabis seedlings are really tiny, all of them look alike. Their gender becomes more apparent when the plant gets nearer the flowering period. When placed next to female flowers, male flowers are easy to identify. They look like tiny bunches of bananas. These “bunches” take between one to two weeks to swell, and then burst to release their pollen. Their flowers first appear in the shape of a curved claw shape that soon turns into a flower bud that contains five radial segments. As this flower develops, pollen sacs emerge which almost look like the small bunches of grapes described above.

Female plants usually appear shorter, are broader, and are denser in foliage than the males. They also take several days more than males to develop their female sex organs, or pistils. The female bud plant has pistils that look like “small green seed pods” which have thin hairs sticking from them, and have white stigmas that are v-shaped.

What causes white hairs in the vegetative stage?

One of the early signs of flowering in normal plants is the few white hairs or pistils that appear once the plant is 6-8 weeks old. This is absolutely normal and nothing to worry about.

These preflowers will generally appear “at the joints” of the plant. This is usually a sign that the vegetating plant has now matured, and is ready to begin flowering. If your plant begins to form full buds (which are many hairs in clusters that appear in bunches) earlier than you expected, you might just have an autoflower in your hands. 


In case you have always wondered, yes, you can indeed force your female plant to hermaphrodite! If you are looking to herm your female plant so that you can get seeds that will allow you to continue enjoying that yummy strain for a very long time, go right ahead! However, keep in mind that hermed seeds may lead to hermed plants, so you need to be careful with that. Go on and herm that delectable plant!  


Sebastian is a passionate advocate of CBD's therapeutic potential, dedicating himself to exploring its diverse benefits. As a seasoned writer, he eloquently shares his insights and personal experiences with CBD, aiming to educate readers about its transformative power. His life's mission is promoting holistic wellness, with CBD at the heart of his advocacy.

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