Just like humans, cannabis plants have two dominant genders (though a third, hermaphrodite, is also possible). Like humans as well, the breeding process happens between a male and female plant. The female plant will produce dense and dank buds when it is not pollinated. If it is pollinated, it will still produce buds – though, not the top-quality buds sold at dispensaries and coffee shops – but also many seeds in order to reproduce.
In the wild, cannabis relied on the wind to carry its seeds and spread them across other parts of the land in order to continue to reproduce. The pollinated seeds that develop from a female plant will, on average, produce 50% feminized seeds and 50% male seeds. It is impossible to know which is which until germinated and grown, where a male plant will distinctly show the growth of male pods.
What Does Feminized Mean and Why is it Preferable?
When we hear about feminized seeds in the cannabis growing industry, the term indicates that every seed used is guaranteed female. You can go to any online seed shop and find two options: regular or feminized (there is also an autoflower variety that comes in both reg and fem) . If you are a purist, a well-rounded cannabis farmer who wants to participate in both genetics. One who is into reproducing and growing, you may be more inclined to buy regular seeds. If you appreciate that sort of sentiment but want to excel in the concentrated area of growing beautiful plants efficiently and not worry so much about reproducing. Feminized seeds are the way to go.
A huge cultivation company will have many different departments and, therefore, be able to hire people, separate the processes and easily be able to control all aspects of the growing from seed to germination to harvest and reproduction. As a one-person show or a small grow operation, you may want to consider buying top quality feminized seeds and focus on growing big, potent, dank buds.
Feminized Seeds Advantages and Disadvantages
Feminized seeds have many advantages because they take the guess work out of determining between the genders. You know you will have female seeds, therefore you don’t have to intervene or closely watch for the gender to reveal itself. You can stick all your females in one room and let them grow while you worry about soil nutrients, watering and light cycles.
The disadvantage of feminized seeds stems from the lack of total control. A grower that only grows feminized seeds will completely rely on a quality seed source. This means that they rely on the responsibility of their seed breeders and distributors to provide them with the particular strain they are looking for and to diligently deliver this product. Feminized seed growers do not dabble in breeding or cross genetics so they will not experiment in making their own breed and they will not have a reserve of seeds for whenever they need one. They are also at the mercy of the seed company, relying on the fact that the exact strain the grower orders is the strain that is delivered to them.
Growing: Feminized vs Regular
Buying feminized seeds will guarantee female plants, this means there is no need to identify the different genders. As regular seeds have (most likely) a 50% chance of being male and female, you will want to germinate twice as many seeds to accommodate this gender ratio and then separate the genders once identifiable. You can then pollinate some females to keep the seeds coming and won’t be forced to continue buying seeds. This can be an advantage because the grower is in total control of the seed quality but also lacks diversity if the grower wants to change up the strain grown.
How is Growing Fems Different to Regs?
The growth process between fems and regs is the same. The only difference is that with regulars, the grower will have to identify gender differences and then either discard the males or use them for breeding more seeds. One risk that strictly feminized seeds pose is the ability to become a hermaphrodite plant. Plants turning hermaphrodite is not a typical worry for a grower but it does happen.
When a plant is particularly stressed usually by water, weather or pest stress, it can start to worry about its survival. This is when primal instincts kick in and the plant will do anything to make sure that its genetics survive. When plants feel stress and fear for survival which can stem from being in a coven of only females, it might change to a middle sex. Growing with regulars may diminish these chances because the female will then reproduce. Also, an experienced grower can use techniques that prevent this occurrence. As long as the females are pampered and taken care of, there is no need for them to be stressed.
Methods to Feminize Seeds
If you want the best of both worlds, why not feminize your own seeds? You can breed your own females with themselves or with each other. As mentioned before, when a female plant is stressed it will become a Middlesex and pollenate itself and grow fertilized sacs. Though, this is not advised since stressing the plant has some disadvantages. The stressed plant is basically dying and so, in order to pass on its legacy, pollinates itself. There are two more sophisticated methods, however, which will achieve feminized seeds.
1. Silver Thiosulfate
One common grower’s method is the Silver Thiosulfate solution. A recipe of silver nitrate and sodium thiosulfate will cause a hormonal response to a lady plant, triggering a gender change. After all of the lady plants are mature, one plant is selected to be sprayed with the gender-altering solution and then placed back with the other ladies for breeding. This is a solution that is harmless to humans but shouldn’t be poured down sewers due to the way it can effect biodiversity.
2. Colloidal Silver
This option is much simpler, as you dilute, spray and wait. Mix colloidal silver and distilled water into a spray bottle. When the designated breeding female plants are flowering, simply spray them. Soon, pollen sacs will form and only have female genetics. It is important to note that for either option, you should do so in a separate area with only the plants you intend on breeding. It should also be taken in to consideration to consult an experienced grower who has successfully feminized seeds before. You can find out precise recipes and insights this way.
Every grower prefers different seeds and methods of operation. The best choice for beginners comes from research and experimentation. Try out a few different methods by making isolated changes (meaning only changing one thing at a time every new trial). Many of the great growers have only been able to come up with their fool-proof system through trial and error, but feminized seeds is always a good place to start.