How To Tell If Your Female Cannabis Plant Has Been Pollinated
Pollination of your female cannabis plants will make them produce seeds and spend less energy on producing quality buds. But when you recognise the signs of pollination early, you can avoid putting time and resources into a poor harvest.
There is a good reason why most growers keep male plants away from their ladies: Pollination from males causes the females to develop seeds. As a result, females focus their energy on seed production, rather than on growing you some fine-quality bud. This seedy and unfortunate final product can be avoided by implementing a few basic techniques.
Obviously, no one wants to smoke seedy weed. When you grow cannabis and learn how to identify male plants and signs of pollination, you can remove these plants to save your remaining females. Likewise, recognising a pollinated female early allows you to start again before it’s too late, rather than finishing a grow that will only result in a poor-quality harvest.
HOW TO TELL THAT A FEMALE PLANT HAS BEEN POLLINATED
Among the early signs that your female has been pollinated is that her bracts become larger. Bracts are small, leaf-like structures that protect the female’s reproductive parts. These are the sites from which the flowering buds appear. Do not confuse the bracts with calyxes.
A good test to see whether the bracts have swollen is to take a pair of tweezers, grab one bract, and open it up. If there is a seed inside, you have a pollinated plant.
Another indication of pollination can be the colour of her pistil hairs. When a female has been pollinated, the previously white hairs will soon shrivel and become darker.
HOW TO AVOID POLLINATION OF YOUR FEMALE PLANTS
Pollination requires the presence of males or intersex (hermaphrodite) plants, which are females that will also produce pollen. The first thing you want to do to keep the risk of pollination low is to remove as many males or “hermies” as as you can. Especially during the first three weeks of flowering, it’s important to frequently check for possible male specimens in your garden.
The typical cannabis grower normally doesn’t have a reason to keep males, and will want to get rid of them as soon as they are spotted. Cannabis breeders, on the other hand, may want to keep males along with their crop of female plants. In such cases, the breeder will normally separate the sexes to avoid any accidental pollination. They may grow females in one tent and males in another. When grown outdoors, such as in a garden, the males are often kept in the most remote corner of their growing area, as far from the females as possible. Even then, because of the wind carrying around the pollen, there is always some risk of accidental pollination.
HOW TO SPOT MALE CANNABIS PLANTS
To determine the sex of your cannabis plants, you will have to wait until the pre-flowering stage when plants begin to put their energy into reproduction. Female cannabis plants show their gender signs later than males. At the location where they will soon grow their buds (the nodes between the stalk and the stem), females will show wispy white hairs.
Male plants won’t show hairs at these nodes, but will develop little sacs of pollen. These pollen sacs will look like little balls. These balls can appear on their own or in clusters, depending how far into the pre-flowering stage the plant is. At some later stage of growth, the pollen sacs will burst open, spilling the pollen and possibly pollinating your females.
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR FEMALES GET POLLINATED?
Spotting male cannabis plants and pollinated females early can save you from investing further time and effort into an entire growing season that will be for naught. Most of the time, the best course of action is to get rid of the males along with your pollinated ladies and just start a new grow.
HOW TO AVOID THE ISSUE OF POLLINATION
There is, of course, a way to avoid the issue of pollination altogether for the home grower. As a result of innovation in the modern cannabis industry, feminized seeds are now available in a wide variety of new and legendary strains. Unlike with regular seeds, you won’t need to even worry about identifying or separating males during your grow. As long as your feminized seeds are sourced from a reputable retailer, all seeds will grow into plants with smokable bud. With this knowledge, it is up to you to decide what kind of seeds will suit your growing parameters and personal goals as a cultivator.
Learn about the process of pollination and why you should avoid pollination of your female plants at all costs.
Weed seed pods
This photograph from Wikipedia speaks volumes to the importance of the milkweed. Asclepias tuberosa is a favored nesting site for the Monarch butterfly. At summers end, the wild plants we have growing at the shop will be covered with their larvae. The Monarch larvae feed on these leaves. The butterfly weed is a favored host in my area. They will spin cocoons; the mature butterflies will emerge some four weeks, give or take. Only once have I witnessed a mature butterfly emerging from its chrysalis-it happens that fast.
Asclepias has much to recommend. The plants are long lived, utterly drought resistant, and carefree. The flower heads of asclepias tuberosa are orange and gorgeous. Asclepias incarnata has flower heads that are a quiet shade of dusky rose. But my main interest in them is the seed pods. The pods are large, ovate, and a compelling shade of bluish green. In late summer, this green phase dominates the plants.
Once the seeds begin to ripen, the pods will split along their length.
Our local fields and meadows are full of the remains of the milkweed pods come November. They have an elegantly spare and ruggedly persistent shape.
But the white fluff inside is what interests me the most. Each butterfly weed seed is firmly affixed to its own white silky and fluffy airplane. These white silky hairs catch the wind, and aid in the dispersal of the seed.
How plants set seed is an event any gardener would appreciate. How the milkweeds insure the survival of their seed is nothing short of miraculous.
From Wikipedia: The milkweed filaments from the follicles are hollow and coated with wax, and have good insulation qualities. As of 2007, milkweed is grown commercially as a hypoallergenic filling for pillows. This commercial use does not interest me as much as how the butterfly weed seeds itself. A milkweed seed with its virtually weightless attendant white fluff is a little and subtle miracle I never tire of. Every year, the marvel of it enchants me.
Once those seeds emerge, that fluff is everywhere. It will stick to your hands, your clothes, your shoes, your trowel, and your wheelbarrow. An individual seed is large, and relatively speaking, heavy. How this plant has evolved to insure that these big seeds get dispersed is but one of countless stories engineered by nature. I have had occasion to design and install fairly complex landscapes, but this design and execution is beyond compare.
Any landscape designers best ally is what comes from the natural world. All it takes is a lot of observation, and then some serious thought. As my friend and colleague Susan Cohan says, art does not necessarily have to work. No artwork needs a white silky airplane to be. A work of art lives independent of time,conditions, and circumstance. Good landscape design is a craft, in that every moment needs to assess the conditions, fire up,and fly.
The milkweed seeds about to fly is a day in the gardening season I look forward to. I would hope these plants would find a foothold in many places. I like that the Monarch butterfly feeds and reproduces on a plant that has a plan to not only enable these beautiful creatures, but reproduce.
Much of gardening is about the physical issues. The dirt, the water, the drainage, the weather, the maintenance, the beginning, and the ending. But there are those singular moments that float.
There is a day every gardening season when I make the effort to launch the asclepias seeds. It feels good to think I am doing my part.
Do these seeds need me? No. Nature saw to this efficient dispersal long before I ever took up a trowel. But I do it anyway. This white fluff I put in the air makes me feel good.
Weed seed pods This photograph from Wikipedia speaks volumes to the importance of the milkweed. Asclepias tuberosa is a favored nesting site for the Monarch butterfly. At summers end, the wild