What are Feminized Cannabis Seeds?

When it comes to cannabis plants, females are the only sex that can produce buds. Feminized cannabis seeds grow plants that are exclusively female and can almost guarantee that every plant that sprouts from their shells will flower. Normally, a male cannabis plant will pollinate a female plant, and that is how seeds are produced. The resulting harvest of regular cannabis seeds will contain about half male and half female seeds. For the flower producer, this is a costly inefficiency. Roughly half of an entire grow can be tossed at harvest time if the seeds are not feminized. 

Why Should You Feminize Your Seeds?

Imagine putting in the work to nurture a small 6 plant garden to find that only 3 of the plants you’ve cultivated produce buds because they’re male. If this sounds like a disappointing waste of time to you, you should feminize your seeds. Unless you are hanging on to male plants in order to develop a robust breeding program, male cannabis plants waste space and resources. Using feminized cannabis seeds removes the risk of unwanted pollination causing seedy buds or the possibility of growing flowerless male plants. 

A common fear about feminized cannabis seeds is that they will produce hermaphrodites. If you purchase your seeds from a reputable seller, this fear is misplaced. Early feminizers would purposefully use female plants that were genetically likely to become intersexual. Of course, this meant that those genes were passed down to the seeds. Today, chemicals are applied to the plant without compromising the genetics of the seeds.

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forcep seed grow plant marijuana iStock / TRADOL LIMYINGCHAROEN

How to Feminize Cannabis Seeds

There are two ways to feminize seeds: naturally or by applying chemical substances that force a female plant to pollinate.

In nature, a severely distressed female cannabis plant will naturally become a hermaphrodite and produce pollen sacs in order to self-pollinate. This is a survival mechanism built into all female plants, but it is only triggered when the future of the plant’s lineage is compromised. Consequently, many of the resulting seeds will be naturally selected to be intersexual, and that can make for a disastrous breeding situation. A hermaphrodite can pollinate with female plants that are meant to be harvested, causing the buds to stop developing and to produce seeds.

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The other reason to avoid feminizing plants the natural way is that it increases the likelihood of producing weak strains. When a female plant has been so compromised that it resorts to a sex change in order to survive, it is an indication that the plant’s genes are not strong enough to withstand the threats posed to it by its environment.

Applying colloidal silver to a female plant is the preferred method of feminizing cannabis plants. These chemicals cause the plant to develop pollen sacs without compromising the lineages’ genes.

Here’s how you can do it at home:

  1. Choose two female plants. Make sure that each plant has strong genes.  One plant will be chemically treated to grow male sex organs while the other will be pollinated. 
  2. Buy colloidal silver solution that has a minimum of 30 parts per million (PPM) of silver. You should be able to purchase colloidal silver anywhere that dietary supplements are sold.    
  3. Spray the colloidal silver solution.  On each day of the first 3 to 4 weeks of the plant’s flowering stage, directly apply the colloidal silver onto the plant’s bud sites until they are drenched. You can stop once you see that the pollen sacs have appeared and are beginning to open. Do not smoke the buds that form on this plant because they may have been coated with the colloidal silver.
  4. Collect the pollen. You will know that the pollen sacs are ready to be harvested when they are swollen and begin to split open. Simply remove the pollen sacs from the plant and let them air dry for about a week. Once they are dry, you can shake the sacs in a bag to gather the feminized pollen.
  5. Pollinate the second plant. Use the pollen you gathered to pollinate the other female plant (that plant should be about 2 to 3 weeks into its flowering stage).
  6. Harvest seeds in about six weeks. Once the calyxes on the pollinated plant are swollen and showing seeds, it is time to collect them. This takes about 6 weeks.

Cons to Feminizing

As mentioned before, old school feminizers used intersex-prone females to produce feminized seeds. Although there are better methods today, some growers continue to use this one. If you’re purchasing feminized cannabis seeds, be cautious about who you get them from. Find out how the breeder feminizes their seeds to avoid purchasing seeds that are likely to grow hermaphrodites. Even if they don’t become intersexual, there is a risk that a significant portion of the seeds will be male. You can avoid this risk altogether by feminizing the seeds yourself. We’ll explain how to do that below.

The second con to feminizing seeds only applies if you are working toward developing a breeding program. In order to grow a variety of strains, you need both male and female plants. Since male plants do not produce buds themselves, it is impossible to know what kind of genetics they can pass on without breeding them with other female plants. If you are interested in developing a specific trait profile, you should breed with several male plants until you find the desired results.