Guide to Hermaphrodite Marijuana Plants
Most marijuana plants are either male or female, but there are also hermaphrodites or “hermie” marijuana plants. These are a common frustration for growers and exhibit traits of both male and female plants.
What Are Hermie Marijuana Plants?
The first thing to understand about hermie or hermaphrodite marijuana plants is what they are. As mentioned, hermaphrodite cannabis plants will show traits of both female and male plants. Some are not obvious than others, but a trained eye can typically spot them.
True Vs. Female Hermaphrodites
There are two main categories of hermaphrodites, but the term applies to any cannabis plant that is not completely male or female.
True hermaphrodites grow the female and the male features on different parts of the plant. These are usually hermaphrodites due to genetics. It is possible for a true hermaphrodite to grow into a female plant, but the slightest stress will likely undo your chances. Additionally, they will not be as potent.
Female hermaphrodites are the female marijuana plants that form smaller growths when they are in the flowering stage. Those growths are male parts and appear like small bananas, so you may hear female hermaphrodites referred to as “bananas.” These plants typically looked female but became hermaphroditic due to stress.
Additionally, there can be variations in the level of hermaphroditism that a cannabis plant experiences.
Mostly Male Flowers
These plants will usually function like male plants.
Mostly Female Plants
You can remove the male flowers, and let this plant function as a female.
Equal Male and Female Flowers
If you leave the plant alone, it is likely to self-pollinate.
Why Growers Dislike Hermies
Although there are exceptions, many growers are unhappy if they find a hermaphrodite cannabis plant in their growing space for several potential reasons.
Few Consumable Flowers or Buds
One of the biggest frustrations for growers is that a hermie will not produce very many consumable flowers or buds. Since most people grow marijuana specifically for these buds and flowers, this is a serious negative.
The pollen of hermaphrodites can also pose a very serious problem for growers. When growing females to consume their buds, you want to avoid pollination as this directs the energy away from bud production and potency and towards fertilization. That is why growers always remove male marijuana plants from the female ones. Hermaphrodites can cause similar problems as the male plants, spreading their pollen to the female plants and causing them to produce less potent buds.
Some growers simply get frustrated by the resources they wasted on a plant which they will likely get rid of. They would have preferred to use those resources on a female plant and get more buds. Those resources can include the space in the case of a limited growing area, in addition to resources like soil, water, and electricity to control the environment.
What to Do When You Find Hermies
Just because hermies have potential uses, this does not mean that you will necessarily want to keep them. You certainly do not want to keep them with your female marijuana plants due to the risk of pollination.
You Should Catch It Early
The good news is that if you take good care of your cannabis plants, you will be inspecting them regularly. This should give you ample time to spot hermaphroditic features early and take the appropriate action.
At the point that hermaphroditism typically develops, you probably already removed the male plants from your grow space. As such, any physical signs of male plants would indicate hermaphroditism. If you have not yet removed the males from the space, then your plants are likely not yet far enough along in the growth process for the risk of pollination, so you should be fine.
As a reminder, to identify the male traits, you want to look for yellow flowers that are banana-shaped.
In the Early Stages, Remove It Right Away
Assuming that you did indeed notice the hermaphrodite during the earlier stages of the flowering growth stage, just go ahead and take it away from your other plants. Yes, you will be wasting the resources you used to grow that plant so far by discarding it, but this action will prevent you from wasting more resources if your female plants get pollinated.
In the Middle of Flowering
The situation becomes a bit more challenging if your plants are already in the middle of their flowering stage.
Hopefully, your hermaphroditic plant just has several male flowers. In this case, you could probably get away with just sterilizing tweezers and using them to remove those flowers while letting the plant remain. Or, you could spray water right onto the male flowers. This seemingly simple action can sterilize the pollen.
If you do not fully remove the hermaphroditic marijuana plant, remember to monitor it very closely in the future to take care of any male flowers as they appear.
If the plant is partly through flowering and already has a fair number of male flowers, then you probably want to get rid of it completely. With larger numbers of male flowers, it becomes impractical or potentially impossible to remove all of them and catch the new ones that form.
At the End of Flowering
Sometimes, you may not notice a hermaphrodite until your female plants are already at the end of their flowering phase. In this case, harvest the plant as quickly as you can, so the pollen does not have a chance to disperse and fertilize your females.
This scenario is actually the best of an unwanted situation. After all, you can still get the harvested buds and flowers from your hermie. You just have to harvest it sooner.
While this would be ideal, do not wait to remove a hermaphrodite just because you want to be able to harvest it. The risk of incorrectly estimating when it will dispense the pollen is too high. Remember that it is better to lose a single plant than to lose all of them through pollination.
You Have About 10 Days Before Pollination Can Occur
You do not have to act rashly if you spot a hermaphrodite, provided that you know that this is a very recent development. That is because pollen-producing parts of male marijuana plants require around 10 days for the pollen to be viable. This gives you some time to weigh your options. However, only wait to take action if you know the male parts are young.
Finding Seeds in the Harvest
Sometimes, you may spot a few seeds mixed into the buds that you collect from your all-female garden. This is a clear indication that at least one hermaphrodite was in your crop, possibly more.
Use this as an indication that you need to perform more frequent or more careful inspections next time.
Ideally, you should not grow these seeds, since they will have a higher chance of growing into hermaphrodite marijuana plants. This comes from the fact that most child plants will exhibit the same traits as their parent plants, including hermaphroditism.
Additional Steps to Take
You should also temporarily turn off the fans in your grow room when you spot a hermaphrodite, as this will prevent the pollen from spreading if it does get released.
Ideally, you should put a plastic bag over the top of your hermie, taping the bottom to the pot. This way, you do not have to worry about pollen spreading in the room.
What Causes Hermaphrodite Marijuana Plants?
There are two main potential causes of hermaphrodite cannabis plants: genetics and environmental factors.
Genetics and Hermies
Some marijuana strains have a higher susceptibility to becoming hermaphrodites. For example, Thai sativas are more prone to this.
Environmental Factors and Hermies
In most cases, the environmental factors that can cause hermaphroditism in marijuana plants come down to stress.
Some of the common stressors that can lead to hermaphroditism in a marijuana plant include: waiting too long to harvest, the temperature set too high, disruptions to the photoperiod, damaged or broken plant parts, too little or too much water, pest infestations, diseases, use of phytotoxic substances like pesticides and fungicides, and getting clones from a mother plant that has grown for too long.
Some potential environmental problems that can increase the risk of hermaphroditism include issues with the dark/light schedule, too high of temperatures, pH problems, not enough water, and lighting that is too bright.
Even the smallest stressor can cause hermaphroditism in cannabis plants, so it is important to be extremely careful.
Older Females and Hermies
You will notice that two of the above environmental causes of hermaphroditism in marijuana plants relate to the plant aging too much. This is a positive evolutionary trait for cannabis. If the plant has gone too long without becoming fertilized, the ability to become a hermaphrodite can allow the species to continue.
View All Marijuana Plants as Potential Hermaphrodites
When choosing your strains, seeds, and/or clones, keep in mind that if exposed to the right (or wrong) conditions, any female cannabis plant has the potential to become a hermie. In other words, just choosing a strain without a hereditary predisposition towards hermaphroditism does not guarantee that your plant will not become a hermaphrodite.
Feminized Seeds Have a Higher Risk
You should keep in mind that there is a higher tendency for hermaphroditism in feminized seeds compared to regular seeds.
How to Prevent Hermaphroditism in Marijuana
Since you know the most common causes of hermies among marijuana plants, avoiding those causes is the best way to prevent hermaphroditism.
The most important thing to do to prevent hermaphrodite marijuana plants is to minimize stress as much as possible. This is particularly important when the plants are in their flowering stage.
As such, you should not stake or prune your plants while they are in the flowering stage. Take care of these potentially stressful actions earlier during the vegetative stage.
You will also want to minimize stress by maintaining a clean, growing space where you monitor the conditions like temperature and lighting constantly.
To further minimize stress, ensure that your plants do not have insects or pests.
Water the plants properly, including at the right interval and with the right amount.
Ensure their diet is filled with the proper nutrients.
To avoid harvesting too late, watch the trichomes, as their changes can let you know when it is time to harvest.
Choose Strains Without a Genetic Predisposition
Although it will not completely eliminate the risk of hermaphrodite plants, choosing the right strain can reduce your chances of this occurring.
Read up on the particular strain with the research you perform yourself instead of just relying on the seller’s information. You should also look at reviews to confirm that the rate of hermaphroditism from past purchases is not higher than normal. In most cases, if a strain gets too many complaints about hermaphrodites, it will be removed from the market.
Potential Uses for Hermies
If you have a hermaphrodite marijuana plant, this does not automatically make it useless as it can still serve a range of purposes.
Creating Feminized Seeds
You can use hermaphrodite plants to help create feminized seeds, which will help you with growth in the future. After all, feminized seeds allow you to rest easy knowing that all of your plants are female, so there is no concern about male pollination, and all will produce potent buds.
Use Caution When Using Hermaphrodites for Feminized Seeds
There are a few different ways to feminize seeds, but some choose to encourage a female plant to become hermaphroditic. This way, it can self-pollinate, so the seeds only come from genetic females. The result is a higher chance of female seeds.
This method, however, is not without its problems. Many people who grow seeds that were feminized this way argue that the result is just a giant crop with future hermaphrodites. At the very least, you will have higher chances of hermaphrodites occurring than if you used regular seeds.
Hermaphroditic cannabis plants or hermies show the physical traits of both male and female plants. They do not produce as potent buds as females, and their male parts lead to a risk of pollination, decreasing the quality of the rest of your crop. As such, most people want to remove hermies as soon as they spot them.