How to spot the early signs of a male cannabis plant?

As an experienced grower, you probably know that the female cannabis plant is the only one you need to grow THC rich cannabis nugs. Male cannabis plants are very different: They won’t produce any thc/buds and have a different task in nature. So taking out the male plants in your growing is quite important. Not only because they take up place, nutrients and light that could’ve went to a female plant, but also for another very important reason that we will explain later in this article.

Next to male and female plants there are Hermaphrodite plants. This means that these plants are “born” with male and female characteristics. This is something we see in humans, animals and plants but occurs very rarely. In the case of cannabis it’s often nature’s answer to bad circumstances and we recommend to remove them from your grow.

More about sexing cannabis plants

The importance of removing a male plant quickly:

It’s very important to recognize a male cannabis plant in it’s early stages and remove them (as we suggested before). Why? Let me explain:

The task of a male plant in nature is to pollinate female plants in order to reproduce. If a male plant ages, he will start to produce pollen and release them in the wind hoping it reaches a female plant. When it comes to cannabis: Once a female plant is pollinated by a male, she won’t produce THC-rich nugs anymore. Instead she uses al her nutrients and energy for seed production. This way only 1 male plant could pollinate a complete growroom of female plants and destroy your crop that way. The only case you need a male plant is when its your goals to produce new seeds or cross-breed multiple cannabis strains.

How to recognize a male cannabis plant?

Recognizing a male cannabis plant can be quite hard when you don’t know what to look for. Especially in the vegetative phase it’s almost impossible to see any differences with female plants. As soon as the flowering starts it becomes clear what plants you should take away. However first we start looking at the early signs like branching (how the branches evolve) of the male plant.


As soon as a cannabis plant starts to grow and get it’s first branches, there will already be some visible differences in genders. The avarage male plant will grow way less branches and a smaller cannopy then females. This makes a male less “thick” or “closed”.

Once a female plant start to branch, you will notice it will form a “christmas tree” shape and grow lot’s of leaves (cannopy). The pictures below will confirm this:

This male plant clearly shows differences with a female plant when looking at his branches and cannopy. Male plants are more thin and grow up instead of producing many side branches.
The female cannabis plant clearly has a thicker cannopy and leafs and grows more in weidth. Also the leafs are bigger in some cases. The overall look is way more “bushy”.


This is the first method to spot the males in your growroom. However we wouldn’t recommend to cut them down immediatly, only based on this factor. Different strains have different genetics and some are bushier then others. The next method we talk about is more reliable:

Identifying pre-flowers

This method can be done in the beginning of the flowering phase. Even if there aren’t many signs of flowers yet, you could see some action using a magnifying glass and watch between the nodes of your plant. There you will see something we call “pre-flowers” which are underdeveloped buds/flowers.

At first male and female pre-flowers might look similair. But when you look properly, you will see differences that can tell you if you’re dealing with a male or female. Once the plant grows, these difference will get more noticeable


When it comes to males, the pre-flowers looks like tiny green balls that start to form in the nodes of the plant. These balls are the future pollen sacs of your plant. These small sacs look quite smooth as they do not contain any hairs or other characteristic. As time goes by these pollen sacs grow bigger and form dense clusters in the nodes of your plant. At this point they are pretty easy to recognize (see picture below).  After 2-3 weeks of forming, these pollen sacs will start to release their pollen and become a threat to your female flower production. Make sure to remove them before this happens!

The pollen sacs on a male plant can easily be recognized by the smooth surface and distinctive shape. Once the plant matures, these pollen sacs will pop open to release it’s pollen and fertilize female cannabis plants.


The pre-fruits on female plants are quite different. Instead of being smooth and round like male plants, they are more oval and already covered with trichomes. Another thing that makes females quite recognizable are the pistils that grow out of top of the pre-fruit. Pistils look like hairs that are white at the beginning and turn brown later on. See the picture below:

A Female pre-fruit (calyx) has recognizable characteristics. First of all the shape. It’s not round lake a male pre-fruit but more like a triangle. Next to that it has 1 or 2 hairs growing out of her tip. These are called pistils. A calyx is also covered in trichomes once the it ages a little bit.


Using these methods, your are able to recognize male plants and remove them before they release their pollen. However: every strain looks different and sometimes it’s harder to spot males then other times. If you are still doubting the gender of your plants after trying these methods, feel free to send us a message on our socials and we are happy to help you!

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