A true hermaphrodite pictured above, showing both male and female flowers simultaneously. Photo credit for the 3 hermaphrodite pictures: Pipsweed.
A Little Understanding, Regarding Cannabis Hermaphrodites
I think as we begin today’s journey down this path, ya first need to get a grip on what cannabis hermaphrodites are, their “job” in evolution and adaptation, as it pertains to cannabis plants, specifically. Not in a high-tech sort of way, more to give you a real sense of what is going on, allowing you to accurately identify specific matters that can lead to cannabis hermaphroditic expressions, and avoiding them.
I’m Rev, and hopefully today’s info will enlighten you to better growing awareness, and better buds baybee; that’s what I’m talkin’ about. Indoor and outdoor cannabis hermaphrodites are often the result of the same cause, photoperiod interruption (interruption of the darkness cycle) via light leaks, human error, etc.; or, light poisoning (the darkness cycle is not dark enough). Or both.
Outdoors is always fairly easy to run down when you see any cannabis hermaphrodites on your female buds. Poorly bred genetics, of course can be the case, triggering the hermaphrodites by default. If that isn’t it, it’s almost always light (photoperiod) related. A nearby motion sensor light outdoors, going off randomly throughout the darkness (nighttime) hours, car headlights, aircraft landing lights, off-road vehicle lights, smoking doobies or ciggys near your plants at night, and the list goes on. Indoors is usually more complicated, so let’s dive the hell in, shall we?
Cannabis Hermaphrodites (“Hermies”) – Not the Plague, Rather, a Highly Effective Survival Adaptation
Think of hermaphrodites in two basic formats. #1: Genetically predisposed to express by default, and use hermaphrodites to procreate, it’s “hard wired” in. This is normally the results of careless breeding habits, as well as the result of survival adaptation. Cannabis hermaphrodite plants can breed with themselves; it doesn’t really get much better than that, when it comes to success probabilities for procreating. #2: Environmental influences.
Here’s a little “Rule of Thumb” kind list regarding when you see hermaphrodites, at what growth stage. There are obviously a bazillion variables, and the following list is meant only to help you get a grip, playing the percentages to your favor as much as possible, when it is genetic, not caused by you.
The List (Rule of Thumb Style)
- If you see hermies at about the two to three weeks into flowering stage, and they are actually male and female flowers, not mutant male flowers like “banana” type hermies. These are true hermies, as I call them. Genetically hardwired to express (appear), and as long as only a small number of your females do this, they are easy to spot and cull (kill/remove). Your other females are fairly likely to be alright, percentage wise.
- If you see hermies at around the four weeks to six weeks into flowering, that are mutant male flowers, also called “bananas” due to their waxy yellowish look, about the size of rice grains, sticking out of your buds. Ruling out high stress, or light/darkness issues, as the cause, again, if only a small number of females are showing these hermies, these plants are pretty easy to spot and remove before they throw any pollen out.
- If you are flowering, say a 10-week cannabis variety—flowers for 10 weeks/70 days—and you let it go over 70 days, you could see a banana or two pop up, which means it’s time to harvest them. This is actually pretty normal for cannabis hermaphrodites to “activate” as a last hope for the plant to breed; a Hail Mary. Nothing wrong with these plants, these hermies are also fairly often sterile.
Notes on the Above List
The above list assumes your plants are sexually healthy, and make no mistake, you can cause cannabis hermaphrodites to appear in almost any variety/strain of cannabis, with enough stress during flowering. How much stress it takes, is complicated, and varieties/strains of cannabis have different levels of sensitivity when it comes to how much stress = triggering hermaphrodites. Remember, the more often cannabis breeds successfully using hermaphrodite pollen (like when femmed, or selfed) the easier it will be to trigger hermaphrodites in those offspring. You dig? Nature goes with what works baybee.
Cannabis hermaphrodites can be highly prolific and highly aggressive/vigorous. Like rather than a few “bananas” your plant(s) just explode with hermies! You always want to kill these immediately, no matter how they were triggered, genetically, or environmentally. Sometimes you can have plants that are kind of “on the edge” and may pop out a couple, or a few “bananas” and these are often manageable through to harvest time by simply plucking off every “banana” you see with tweezers –before—any of them can throw any pollen.
A Good Kind of Cannabis Hermaphrodite (Say What?)
Thinking about hermies, in linear terms, what you have are female plants, that TEND to use hermie (male) flowers to pollinate themselves, to survive, to succeed, to breed, ya follow? Female to Male, in that order. Now true hermaphrodites in cannabis are worthless and I kill them on sight, but there are many kinds of cannabis hermaphrodites, indeed. One of these is a male, with latent female tendencies. A male, that TENDS to use female pistils to pollinate itself, in that order. Why is this cool? Read on…
I call these males “Anti-Hermies” and as breeders, that’s exactly what they are. They absolutely counter the TENDENCY to go from female to male hermies, because they are male hermies that TEND to go from male to female—a genetic counterpoint, if you will. Another bonus of these Anti-Hermie males is that they also always breed heavy resin production, and usually larger yields. They will also normally cause the offspring generation to favor female ratios, to males, like 90/10 female/male. These males can also have some trichomes with resin heads.
Road Rules Spotting Anti-Hermie Cannabis Hermaphrodites
You must be very careful identifying them, here are the important “rules” to properly select one of these awesome male breeders…
- The male must be all male, with zero female pistils showing up, until after 3 weeks into flowering. In that order. The male should actually be throwing pollen for at least a few days before any female pistils show up.
- When the male does show some female pistils, they should be few and far between, not massive pistils all of a sudden. 20% pistils to 80% male flowers is a good benchmark here, and even 30% pistils can often work fine.
These males (Anti-Hermies) I’m talking about are actually fairly rare, so consider yourself lucky if you find one that fits the bill. These show up, in my experience, more often in the f2 and f3 generations, than in f1 generations; so, there’s that little tidbit. Happy hunting, and if you understand a little more regarding what cannabis hermaphrodites actually are and what they do, you will get some killer skillz when it comes to avoiding them, ya follow? The More You Know! Heh heh … Check out Kingdom Organic Seeds Online for some stellar and sexually healthy cannabis genetics.
😊 L8r G8rs
I'm The Rev, and I have been with SKUNK for about a decade now. I hail from Southern California, spent mucho time in Northern California, and now reside in Southern Oregon; always coastal. I am an all natural style cannabis grower and I have written a couple books on the subject - check out True Living Organics 2nd Edition on Amazon - I have been growing for over 45 years, and I have been breeding cannabis for over 30 years. Check out kingdomorganicseeds.com to see some exotic selections. Growing connoisseur cannabis is what I teach mostly, growing it in living soil without using liquid organic nutrients to feed the plant. I am also a highly skilled synthetics grower, hydroponics, aeroponics, DWC/SWC/NFT, Ebb and Flow, and soilless, but I cringe when smoking synthetic grown herbs, so for the last 15 years or so I preach the artisan style of all natural growing, specializing in container growing. Cheers and welcome aboard.