By Danny Danko

Growers are obsessed with sex. Above all, they want to know whether their pot plants are male or female. Female cannabis flowers form into the sticky buds we all desire, while males are virtually useless except to those interested in doing their own breeding. In fact, one male plant can ruin a whole crop of flowering virgin females by pollinating them, filling the buds with seeds and wasting all their blooming energy on pregnancy instead of swelling nuggets.

Is it possible to determine the plant’s sex while it’s still in seed form? Unless the seeds come from suppliers who specifically breed female seeds, this isn’t possible. Plants must be grown out to determine whether they’re male or female. Techniques exist, however, to figure out the sex of a plant fairly early in its growth cycle. One of the easiest methods is to take a cutting of the growing plant and induce the rooting clone to flower to show sex. The donor plant continues to grow in its vegetative state while the flowering cutting reveals the parent’s gender.

Plants grown indoors under lights spend the first stage of their lives receiving 18 to 24 hours of light per day. This vegetative period, simulating summertime, allows seedlings to establish the healthy roots, branches and foliar growth necessary for higher yields down the road. Some growers vegetate plants for more than a month in order to grow huge bushes in large containers. Sea of Green growers limit this vegetative time to just a week or less, but compensate by growing more plants and spacing them closer together. Either way, a plant will continue to grow in its vegetative state until it is triggered to flower.

The flowering process for both males and females begins when plants are exposed to complete darkness for 12 or more continuous hours per day. Indoors, the photoperiod is controlled by the grower, who sets the timer for a 12-hour on/12-hour off daily lighting schedule; outdoors, the sun’s diminishing rays in early autumn force cannabis to bloom. Flowers will begin to indicate gender after a week or two into the flowering cycle. Indicas will show sex sooner than sativas, so be patient with the longer-flowering varieties.