How To Tell If Your Female Cannabis Plant Has Been Pollinated
Pollination of your female cannabis plants will make them produce seeds and spend less energy on producing quality buds. But when you recognise the signs of pollination early, you can avoid putting time and resources into a poor harvest.
There is a good reason why most growers keep male plants away from their ladies: Pollination from males causes the females to develop seeds. As a result, females focus their energy on seed production, rather than on growing you some fine-quality bud. This seedy and unfortunate final product can be avoided by implementing a few basic techniques.
Obviously, no one wants to smoke seedy weed. When you grow cannabis and learn how to identify male plants and signs of pollination, you can remove these plants to save your remaining females. Likewise, recognising a pollinated female early allows you to start again before it’s too late, rather than finishing a grow that will only result in a poor-quality harvest.
HOW TO TELL THAT A FEMALE PLANT HAS BEEN POLLINATED
Among the early signs that your female has been pollinated is that her bracts become larger. Bracts are small, leaf-like structures that protect the female’s reproductive parts. These are the sites from which the flowering buds appear. Do not confuse the bracts with calyxes.
A good test to see whether the bracts have swollen is to take a pair of tweezers, grab one bract, and open it up. If there is a seed inside, you have a pollinated plant.
Another indication of pollination can be the colour of her pistil hairs. When a female has been pollinated, the previously white hairs will soon shrivel and become darker.
HOW TO AVOID POLLINATION OF YOUR FEMALE PLANTS
Pollination requires the presence of males or intersex (hermaphrodite) plants, which are females that will also produce pollen. The first thing you want to do to keep the risk of pollination low is to remove as many males or “hermies” as as you can. Especially during the first three weeks of flowering, it’s important to frequently check for possible male specimens in your garden.
The typical cannabis grower normally doesn’t have a reason to keep males, and will want to get rid of them as soon as they are spotted. Cannabis breeders, on the other hand, may want to keep males along with their crop of female plants. In such cases, the breeder will normally separate the sexes to avoid any accidental pollination. They may grow females in one tent and males in another. When grown outdoors, such as in a garden, the males are often kept in the most remote corner of their growing area, as far from the females as possible. Even then, because of the wind carrying around the pollen, there is always some risk of accidental pollination.
HOW TO SPOT MALE CANNABIS PLANTS
To determine the sex of your cannabis plants, you will have to wait until the pre-flowering stage when plants begin to put their energy into reproduction. Female cannabis plants show their gender signs later than males. At the location where they will soon grow their buds (the nodes between the stalk and the stem), females will show wispy white hairs.
Male plants won’t show hairs at these nodes, but will develop little sacs of pollen. These pollen sacs will look like little balls. These balls can appear on their own or in clusters, depending how far into the pre-flowering stage the plant is. At some later stage of growth, the pollen sacs will burst open, spilling the pollen and possibly pollinating your females.
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR FEMALES GET POLLINATED?
Spotting male cannabis plants and pollinated females early can save you from investing further time and effort into an entire growing season that will be for naught. Most of the time, the best course of action is to get rid of the males along with your pollinated ladies and just start a new grow.
HOW TO AVOID THE ISSUE OF POLLINATION
There is, of course, a way to avoid the issue of pollination altogether for the home grower. As a result of innovation in the modern cannabis industry, feminized seeds are now available in a wide variety of new and legendary strains. Unlike with regular seeds, you won’t need to even worry about identifying or separating males during your grow. As long as your feminized seeds are sourced from a reputable retailer, all seeds will grow into plants with smokable bud. With this knowledge, it is up to you to decide what kind of seeds will suit your growing parameters and personal goals as a cultivator.
Learn about the process of pollination and why you should avoid pollination of your female plants at all costs.
How to Pollinate Cannabis
Table of Contents
Want to make cannabis seeds or breed your own strain but not sure how to collect pollen and pollinate effectively? It’s actually really easy!
1.) Collect Pollen When Pollen Sacs Start to Open
Pollen is collected from male marijuana plants after they start flowering, or occasionally female plants when feminizing seeds.
When the pollen sacs from a marijuana plant start to crack and look like they’re about to open up (or if you can see one has already opened) then your pollen is ready for harvest!
When pollen sacs are cracking and opening up, you’re ready to harvest your pollen!
Pollen spilling onto a nearby leaf
One way to harvest your pollen is to gently and carefully remove all the pollen sacs. Let them dry for a week, and then put them in a resealable bag. If you shake the bag the pollen should easily spill out. You may need to cut a few open yourself.
How to Store Cannabis Pollen
Moisture is your main enemy when storing pollen. It can help to double the mass of the pollen collected by adding regular cooking flour. This absorbs moisture during storage and as an added bonus, it will make application easier later when you pollinate your plant.
If you triple-bag the pollen-flour mixture and stick it in the freezer (with a good nametag so you know where the pollen came from), your pollen can be stored for a year or longer. Make sure to use “freezer” bags (platsic bags specifically made for the freezer are more effective than regular plastic bags).
2.) Pollinate Female Plant That’s 2-3 Weeks in Flowering
It’s time to pollinate when your plant has been in the flowering stage for about 2-3 weeks.
Example of young cannabis buds that are ready to be pollinated
When your chosen mother is 2-3 weeks into the flowering stage, take a paintbrush and ‘paint’ your feminized pollen on the developing bud sites you want to pollinate. Bud sites are located wherever you can see leaves meet a stem. By 2-3 weeks in the flowering stage, all the bud sites should have tons of wispy white hairs. These are where you want to put your pollen (in the wild, these white hairs are what capture pollen out of the wind).
Only the buds that come in contact with pollen will grow seeds. You can choose to pollinate all of your buds or just a few on the plant.
Make sure that you’re touching all the female pistils/hairs with your pollen. Here’s a little video showing you exactly what this looks like!
6 Weeks to Harvest Seeds
It usually takes about 6 weeks for your marijuana seeds to fully develop. Some plants are literally dying right as the seeds become ready, so try to keep your plant alive until the seeds start dropping. The seeds can be used right away, or stored in a cool, dry place for a few years (stored in the back of your fridge is great). Don’t forget to label them with the date!
This seed is about to burst out of its calyx!
This is what it looks like when the seed is exposed
1.) Collect pollen when sacs crack 2.) Pollinate female 2-3 weeks into flowering stage 3.) Collect seeds ~6 weeks later. Read the article for pics and more info!