Ultimate guide: What are feminized cannabis seeds, why they are in high demand and three ways you can make them, too
Feminized seeds have increased in demand since medical cannabis became legal, but how are seeds feminized?
Breeders and seed producers will want feminized seeds for business purposes, as they’re in very high demand in places where growing weed is legal. Photo by iStock / Getty Images Plus
Most people already know that cannabis buds used today come from female plants. Male plants pollinate female plants, which respond by producing seeds. Just like children, some seeds end up being female and some male.
A male plant can pollinate an entire room of female plants. With little more than a bit of wind, each female plant will end up being fertilized. Getting only feminized cannabis seeds is more complicated, and while not an impossible task, this does demand a workaround on the rules set up by nature.
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Why are seeds feminized?
Cannabis growers need seeds that are guaranteed to grow into female plants in order to avoid pollinating the entire crop. Since no one wants seeds in their weed, feminized seeds are required. When it’s confirmed all seeds are feminized, big crops can be grown knowing that the plants are safe from pollination by a male plant.
As cannabis becomes legal in more places around the world, feminized seeds are likely to be among the first things sought out by new growers. Photo by iStock / Getty Images Plus
Breeders and seed producers will also want feminized seeds for business purposes, as they’re in very high demand in places where growing weed is legal. As cannabis becomes legal in more places around the world, feminized seeds are likely to be among the first things sought out by new growers. Reliably producing female plants is of great value in the cannabis industry, because female plants produce flowers that have greater medicinal value.
How to feminize seeds?
When breeding cannabis, growers will intentionally pollinate their females to get certain traits in the offspring. Once the breeder stabilizes a certain trait, the idea is to mass produce the offspring with precisely those traits. This may be done by feminizing seeds that the “mother plant” produces.
In the wild and without any human tampering, cannabis plants produce mostly female seeds when they “perceive” they’re approaching the end of their lifetimes. Feminization is essentially a process of pushing the plant to produce as many female seeds as possible, by making it “think” it’s approaching its last days.
Only a very small percentage of male seeds will be produced because a small number of male plants can pollinate many female plants. This is why the process of pressuring the plant to produce female seeds en masse is called feminization.
In the wild and without any human tampering, cannabis plants produce mostly female seeds when they “perceive” they’re approaching the end of their lifetimes. Photo by iStock / Getty Images Plus
There are several ways to perform seed feminization. Though each approach is different, they all boil down to the same thing—getting female seeds. That said, some methods are more efficient than others and, as such, are preferred by numerous producers and growers.
Feminizing seeds with colloidal silver
Colloidal silver is a substance made from microscopic particles of silver, which are suspended in liquid. Measuring less than 100 nm (nanometres) in size, the particles of silver are invisible to the naked eye. Colloidal silver works by inhibiting female flowering hormones in cannabis. The result of this is that the male hormones dominate, and, thus, male flowers are produced.
By doing so, healthy female plants are transformed into males. The pollen that came off that plant can be used later to pollinate other plants.
Cannabis is known to yield many—hundreds, sometimes even thousands—of seeds after being pollinated. The colloidal silver method is tried and true for consistently getting feminized seeds.
To start the process, spray colloidal silver on the plant branches every three days before switching lights to 12/12 hours, and continue spraying it until the first male flowers begin to appear. As the plant matures, it will produce pollen that should be collected and used to pollinate other female flowers. Collect the new seeds and plant them to get the next generation of the same plant.
Feminizing with gibberellic acid
Feminizing with gibberellic acid may be even simpler than with colloidal silver. Available mostly in powder form and found online, mix the acid with water until it reaches about 100 ppm (parts per million, instructions on packaging will explain), and spray that mixture on the plant once a day for 10 consecutive days during the flowering phase. Male flowers should be produced.
A male plant can pollinate an entire room of female plants. With little more than a bit of wind, each female plant will end up being fertilized. Getting only feminized cannabis seeds is more complicated, and while not an impossible task, this does demand a workaround on the rules set up by nature. Photo by iStock / Getty Images Plus
Once that part of the process is done, apply the pollen from the resulting male flowers on other healthy female plants. The idea is that those plants will yield feminized seeds after being pollinated.
Feminizing with the rodelization method
The rodelization method is, by far, the slowest, least efficient and least reliable approach of the three. Rodelization entails not harvesting flowers after they’ve bloomed, but, rather, forcing the plant to turn male, in order to preserve itself.
After the plant has flowered, it should be left as is for another few weeks. It is likely the plant will then grow a couple of male flowers, in an attempt to pollinate itself once more. If the plant succeeds, the grower will need to wait another few weeks to get decent seeds that are ready for sowing (the method generally yields fewer seeds than the other two).
Do Feminized Plants Produce Seeds: Question Answered
Any cannabis user who has enjoyed and savored a cannabis joint owed this feeling to the fruits of the cannabis, more specifically to the female species. The reason behind is that only the female cannabis produces the cannabinoid-rich flowers that are responsible for the flavors and effects that users look for. A lot of cannabis growers are using feminized seeds but some people are curious, do feminized plants produce seeds?
These feminized seeds are cannabis seeds that only carry female genetics and can be relied on to produce only female plants. Cannabis growers apply creative techniques to seed feminization to ensure female genetics in seeds partnered with a nearly 100% success rate. Here we give you the overall information you might need to know about feminized cannabis plants.
What are Feminized Cannabis Seeds?
Feminized cannabis seeds are produced in a way to ensure that all the resulting plants will be female. The difference they have with regular cannabis seeds is that the regular seeds will produce half male and half female plants.
Although having a male plant can be considered an asset to any breeding program, the downside is having to watch over and throw away half the plants. This can be a waste of time and space for growers who needs to have a continuous supply of cannabis bud.
Do Feminized Plants Produce Seeds?
If you’re a novice in the cannabis industry and you’re wondering do feminized plants produce seeds, the answer to curiosity is that yes. It will produce seeds and the seeds will become feminized as well.
A lot of cannabis growers invest in growing feminized plants because of the sure return of the feminized seeds. These seeds are going to give female plants that in turn will produce buds and the cycle will repeat itself automatically.
How to Feminize Cannabis Seeds
There are two methods to feminize seeds: naturally or by applying a chemical substance that forces a female plant to pollinate. In essence, a severely distressed female cannabis plant will naturally become a hermaphrodite and it will produce pollen sacs in order to self-pollinate.
This is actually a survival mechanism built into all female cannabis plants but this can only be triggered when the future of the plant’s lineage is compromised. Having a hermaphrodite can cause a disastrous breeding situation as it can pollinate female plants that are meant to be harvested which will, in turn, cause the buds to stop developing and to produce seeds.
Using a colloidal silver to a female plant is the preferred method of feminizing cannabis plants. This causes the plant to develop pollen sacs without compromising the lineages genes and here is how you can it in your own home:
- Choose two female plants that you will use. You need to make sure that each plant has strong genes. One of the plants will be chemically treated to grow male sex organs while the other will be pollinated.
- Purchase a colloidal silver solution that has a minimum of 30 parts per million (PPM) of silver. You can buy the colloidal silver solution in any store that sells dietary supplements.
- Spray the colloidal silver solution. You can directly apply the colloidal silver solution on the plant’s bud sites until they are drenched, you should do this each day of the first 3-4 weeks of the plant’s flowering stage.
You should stop spraying once you see the pollen sacs have appeared and beginning to open. Never smoke the buds that form on this plant because they may have been coated with colloidal silver.
- Collect the pollen. When you notice that the pollen sacs are swollen and begin to split open, this is a clear indication that the pollen sacs are ready to be harvested. You can harvest it by simply removing the pollen sacs from the plant and let them air dry for about a week and once it dries out, shake the sacs in a bag to gather the feminized pollen.
- Pollinate the second plant by using the pollen you have gathered. Take note that the female plant should have been in 2-3 weeks into its flowering stage for it to be pollinated.
- You can wait for about 6 weeks to harvest the seeds. Harvesting should be done once you notice that the calyxes on the pollinated plant are swollen and showing seeds.
Reason for Trying Feminized Seeds in Your Garden
Better Cannabis Genetics
A lot of cannabis strains that came from feminized cannabis seeds have had their genetics carefully controlled by a breeder. This is to ensure that it brings out defining characteristics of each strain. An advantage of this is that it gives consumers more options in terms of flavors, aromas, and cannabinoids.
These feminized plants are believed to be more productive, aromatic, powerful and attractive. The feminized seeds are also made to ensure that the plant being grown are working well in the conditions that a grower is growing on.
These feminized plants give a guarantee that no plant will be male or a hermaphrodite. When a female cannabis plant undergoes extreme stress, it can affect the results but using feminized seeds is a good way to increase yields, save work, and get higher value from the seeds.
Clone and Breed with More Control
When a breeder uses feminized plants for cloning, it gives them a greater likelihood that the plant is going to be a female plant. A noticeable advantage of using feminized seeds is the ability to better control the breeding of the plant.
It offers more control over the whole process and it seeks to standardize the cannabis industry. Also, it has helped by making the process of growing more reliable and for many reasons, it has become the standard in the cannabis industry.
Allows growers to work less with the Plants
If properly grown, a feminized cannabis plant can give a 100% guarantee that each plant grown from the seed will produce large amounts of bud. This will mean that a garden will yield more if they operate at or below plant count restriction.
Feminized Cannabis Seeds Explained
L ike many living things, cannabis plants come in two sexes, male and female, which blend their genetics through pollination to produce seeds. These seeds then, have about a 50% chance of inheriting the sex of either parent. However, male cannabis plants produce very few cannabinoids, which faces many growers with the prospect of scrapping about 50% of their crop (unless, perhaps, they’re making their own rope). For this reason, we have developed feminized seeds. But just what are feminized seeds, and where do they come from? The answer is a remarkable feat of genetics and horticulture.
What are Feminized Seeds?
Feminized seeds are cannabis seeds genetically guaranteed to grow into a female plant. Female plants produce far more THC and CBD than their male counterparts, but once a female plant is fertilized, resources and energy are diverted from growing rich, sticky flowers, to growing a healthy crop of seeds instead. Those seeds are, of course, wonderful and necessary, but they may inherit the gender of either parent, and, as we have seen, males are nearly useless for harvesting cannabinoids.
When growing for cannabinoid production, pumping water, fertilizer, and time into your plants only to find half are male can be frustrating to say the least. A single male plant can pollinate an entire grow room, leaving whole crops producing seeds instead of flowers. Additionally, inspecting your plants for male attributes and removing them from the grow room takes time and attention that could otherwise go to treating female plants. For this reason, we have learned how to breed feminized seeds – seeds that we know will grow up to be female, and produce lush flowers rich with therapeutic cannabinoids.
How Feminized Seeds Are Made
Female seeds must come from two female parents, which on the surface sounds impossible. But under extreme circumstances, female cannabis plants can produce their own pollen. So the first step toward feminized seeds is inducing pollen production on a female plant.
The primary method is to douse the flowering sites with a solution of colloidal silver, or less commonly, with gibberellic acid, for about two weeks once the flowering stage has begun.
These chemicals will suppress the hormone ethylene, which causes the plant to produce male characteristics instead, including pollen sacs. And since the plant is still genetically female, the pollen within will carry 99% female genetics (a small margin of mutation is unavoidable). This pollen can then be harvested and applied to a flowering female plant to produce seeds with purely female genetics.
The less common, but more natural, method is called “rodelization,” often favored by organic growers. Near the end of a cannabis plant’s life cycle, unfertilized females will begin to express male pollen production as a final effort to continue their genetic line. This usually occurs after the prescribed time frame for harvesting, but not always. In fact, many growers keep a sharp eye out for these “nanners” – the banana-shaped growths that protrude from flowers – because they are capable of fertilizing other plants as well, thus halting flower production.
There is a debate among growers about the viability of this method because some believe hermaphroditic plants primarily produce hermaphroditic offspring. Others insist that offspring are not more inclined to be hermaphrodites, but rather may be more easily induced to be hermaphrodites, and that hermaphroditism has less to do with genetics than external stressors (high heat, nutrient lock, physical damage, etc.). Regardless, most growers agree that rodelization is less effective and carries a higher risk of accidental pollination. For this reason, it is more often used by more experienced or meticulous growers who want to maintain the organic integrity of the plant.
Feminized seeds have become the industry standard, especially for home growers who do not have the space or resources to scrap half of a crop that turns out to be male. Many sites now default to offering feminized seeds, some growers have undoubtedly planted them without fully understanding the science behind them. And one thing that makes these seeds so popular is that you can, you can grow them without knowing what they are or how they exist, and they will still deliver a lush, low-maintenance cannabis plant.
Interested in growing your own cannabis? Click here to purchase seeds and start your journey.
This is also a great process to practice if you want to take your growing skills to the next level. So next time you find some nanners growing in your bud, don’t panic, but rather appreciate the opportunity that has presented itself, and try breeding your own feminized seeds.
Do you prefer to grow with feminized seeds, or have you ever made you own? Share your experiences in the comments!
Trevor Ross is a writer, medical marijuana patient and cannabis advocate. He holds an MFA in writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He has previously worked as a copywriter, a teacher, a bartender, and followed Seattle sports for SidelineBuzz. Originally from Washington state, you can find him now working in his garden or restoring his house in Scranton, PA, and he can be reached through LinkedIn.