For many growers a hermaphrodite cannabis plant is one of the worst things that can happen during a grow. In this article we explain everything you need to know about “hermies” or “herms”. Hermaphrodites are plants or animals that have both male and female reproductive organs. In the case of hermaphrodite cannabis plants this means they will have both male (pollen sacs) and female flowers (calyxes) in the same flower! In most cases of hermaphroditism the organism becomes sterile, but hermaphrodite cannabis is not. By producing both male and female reproductive material, one plant can fill the role of both a male and a female. Hermaphroditism is a practical survival mechanism in cannabis that prevents female plants from going unpollinated and being unable to produce cannabis seeds. By becoming hermaphrodites, female cannabis plants can reproduce without any outside help!
What Does A Hermaphrodite Cannabis Plant Look Like?
Are Hermaphrodite Cannabis Plants Bad?
Finding a hermaphrodite cannabis flower half way through the flowering phase will give a lot of growers a minor heart attack. Most growers are looking to provide themselves with some high grade cannabis and don’t want seeds in their buds! In this situation hermaphrodite cannabis plants are very undesirable because just a few bananas can pollinate your entire crop and fill the buds with seeds. As if this wasn’t enough hermaphrodite cannabis plants also test much lower in cannabinoids! While male cannabis flowers have their uses, they usually only contain a fraction of the active substances we’re looking to smoke. Male flowers in your buds will “dilute” the potency and will fill them with seeds if left alone long enough.
Hermaphroditism in cannabis is usually a reaction to stress or a result of unstable genetics, or both of course. Most cases of hermaphrodite cannabis plants occur because of (unintentional) stress to a female cannabis plant in full flower. Common problems include irregular light schedules, light leaks, mechanical stress and heat stress. Other causes include large swings in temperature, nutrient concentrations and relative humidity, insect infestations or harvesting too late. We have to emphasise that these kinds of stress can cause hermies but aren’t guaranteed to do so.
Hermaphrodites are also the main reason why having 12 hours of uninterrupted darkness per day is so important during a flowering light cycle. Opening up the grow room during this period will not only stunt the growth of your buds, but can often trigger hermaphrodite flowers.
There are also strains that have a higher chance of producing hermaphrodite flowers and will produce them regardless of grow room conditions. If you are working with an unstable new cross or a strain that is known to have a high hermaphrodite rate, you have no other option than simply removing any male flower before it has a chance to fully mature. Or better yet, grow a more stable strain. Seeds from hermaphrodite plants are also more likely to become hermaphrodites themselves. We recommend not using any seed originating from a “randomly hermaphroditic” cannabis plant in a next grow.
What To Do With Hermaphrodites
If you do happen to stumble across hermaphrodite cannabis flowers in your crop, your reaction should be based on how many male flowers are forming. If you only have a few male flowers you should go directly into damage-control mode and remove these flowers as fast as you can. You can do this by simply pinching them out with tweezers. Make sure you are careful though, you don’t want to pollinate any female flowers because of clumsiness.
If a few of your buds are strongly hermaphroditic but the rest of the crop is barely affected, it is advisable to simply remove the affected flowers. We would recommend throwing these flowers away as pollen sacs can rapidly mature even after they are cut off the plant. If you do choose to dry them, make sure you cut out all the male parts while trimming!
If your plant is relatively full with both male and female flowers you probably won’t make it to see a seedless harvest and should consider other options. Our favourite alternatives for seeded cannabis are edibles, concentrates and hash. Seeds are barely an issue when producing more concentrated forms of cannabis as they are filtered out in the manufacturing process. In fact, some of the best hash in the world comes from outdoor cannabis farmers who don’t care if their crop gets pollinated.
Please also read: What to do with a hermaphrodite cannabis plant?
Hermaphrodite Cannabis On Purpose?
After hearing about all the problems with hermaphrodites, it is easy to forget that hermaphrodite cannabis plants are absolutely required to produce our feminised cannabis seeds! While different types of stress are used to produce high quality female cannabis seeds, the basic concept is the same. In this case stress is usually caused by using specific chemical compounds that force hermaphroditism, rather than environmental stress. If you’re curious how to do this for yourself make sure to check out our article on how to “Make Your Own Feminised Cannabis Seeds” in our video section!
We hope this article has given you a better understanding of what hermaphrodites are and what causes them to develop. And whether you’re shooting for feminised cannabis seeds or a sensemillia harvest, Spliff Seeds wishes you the best of luck growing cannabis!