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Cannabis Pre-Flowers: Find the Gender Sooner (with pics!)

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What are cannabis “pre-flowers?” They are little versions of adult flowers that appear on your plants and can help you figure out the plant gender as soon as possible.

Why do you want to find out if your plant is a boy or girl? The reason is because only female plants produce buds, while male plants only produce pollen (which no grower wants to harvest – pollen is only used for germinating female plants, and shouldn’t be smoked).

When starting with “feminized” seeds (which you can usually only get from a breeder), all your seeds should end up being female, so determining male from female isn’t very important. Learn more about buying seeds (including feminized seeds) from breeders online.

But for growers starting with “regular” (non-feminized) seeds, about half of the plants can turn out being male. And unfortunately, there’s no way to look at a seed and be able to tell what gender it is.

In fact, to this day scientists are still not sure exactly what causes certain plants to be one gender or another. Gender seems to be somewhat fluid in cannabis plants, as certain conditions such as heat, stress, unusual light periods and nutrient problems can cause more of the plants to show male pollen sacs. Take good care of your garden to ensure the highest levels of bud-producing plants!

Unfortunately, you can’t tell a cannabis plant’s gender by looking at the seeds 🙁

So when growers start out with regular cannabis seeds, they have to be aware of gender while the plant is alive, and try to determine gender as soon as possible. Growers don’t want to spend a lot of time on a plant only to realize that it’s male and has to be thrown away.

All cannabis plants reveal their gender in the flowering stage (the second stage of life, when cannabis plants produce buds or pollen sacs), but for most growers, it’s much more helpful to determine the sex of the plant as soon as possible.

There are a few different methods to determine gender of young, vegetative plants. One is to take a clone of the young plant, and force it to start flowering. The gender revealed by the clone will tell you the gender of the plant it was taken from.

But that’s not the only way to figure out the sex of your plants. Vegetating plants usually reveal their gender when they’re just 3-6 weeks old from seed, but you have to know where to look.

What you’re looking for is “Pre-flowers.” These are tiny versions of adult sex parts, and when you see them you can tell what gender the plant is going to be. They usually show up in the upper parts of the plant, closer to the lights.

Vegetating cannabis plants reveal their gender with “pre-flowers,” which usually appear 3-6 weeks from when the plant was germinated.

While week 3 is early for most seedlings, nearly all vegetative plants will reveal their gender by about the 6th week from seed.

So without further ado, here are pictures showing what you’re looking for when it comes to pre-flowers. Remember, pre-flowers are found at the V where stems meet a main stalk. But pre-flowers don’t usually show up all over the plant. Make sure to look around in different places, especially near the top of the plant and closer to the lights

Note: Pre-flowers don’t usually appear all over the plant in veg; they show up the most often near the top of the plant and closer to the lights

Male pre-flowers tend to have a “spade” shape, like the spades from a deck of cards. Male cannabis plants often (but not always) reveal their gender sooner than female plants.

Male pre-flowers tend to be shaped somewhat like a spade

This male plant was only 3 weeks when it made its first preflower. Notice how tiny it is compared to the giant sized thumb! Often it’s unclear what the gender is when a pre-flower is this small (unless you’ve got a lot of experience) so if you’re not sure, it’s a good idea to wait and see how it develops, just in case.

Just to give you an idea how small these can be when they show up.

This is the exact same picture as above, but with the pre-flower made bigger so you can see it. Pretty tiny, isn’t it?

Another male pre-flower

These male pre-flowers are basically immature pollen sacs. When the plant starts flowering, they will grow and turn into bunches that almost look like grapes.

This is what male pollen sacs look like when the plant actually starts flowering

This is what a male plant looks like at maturity, when it’s starting to spill its pollen

Ok, now that you know what male pre-flowers look like, what do female pre-flowers look like?

Female pre-flowers tend to be longer and narrow, and usually, but not always, have a white hair (pistil) sticking out from the top.

This pre-flower doesn’t have a pistil sticking out at first, but the shape helps tell you it’s a female plant. If you’re not sure about gender after spotting a pre-flower, it’s a good idea to wait and see for a little while, just to see if a white hair appears (which means it’s definitely a girl)

Some of the time the stipules (green hair-like growths near where pre-flowers show up) will cross each other on female plants. This certainly doesn’t always happen, as you can see from the pics of female pre-flowers on this page, but while girls can go either way, male plants rarely have stipules that cross each other. So although crossed stipules cannot be used definitively as a way to identify female plants, it can be a small clue to help guide you when you’re not sure. For example the following female pre-flower doesn’t have a pistil, but the long thin shape combined with the crossed stipules help indicate that this plant is a girl.

This female plant has a long, thin calyx and crossed stipules

In this pic, you can see white pistils emerging from the calyxes. Female pistils are white and wispy, never green.

Here’s another female pre-flower that doesn’t have a white hair yet, but you can tell it’s female because it’s long and narrow, instead of spade shaped

One last female pre-flower without a pistil yet. The long narrow shape is the only thing that gives the gender away until pistils begin to emerge

Learn how to use pre-flowers to determine the gender of your plant when it’s only 3-6 weeks old from seed. Lots of pics!

Cannabis Flowering Stage: All You Need To Know

The flowering stage consists of the pre-flowering and flowering phases, this is when you start to see pistils starting to appear on the bud sites all over your plant and will develop into beautiful looking and smelling flowers that contain what all cannabis consumers love: terpenes and cannabinoids.

This stage is the most important one for us growers, this is when we’ll see the beautiful buds develop and we’ll need to take even more care than in the previous stage.

Unlike in the vegetative stage, when our plant is flowering it is even more difficult to deal with pests and any other types of deficiencies as this can directly affect our buds.

1. The Pre-Flowering Stage

After your plant has received its first days of a 12/12 light cycle either indoor or outdoor, it will enter in the pre-flowering stage. Have in mind automatic cannabis doesn’t depend on a light cycle to start flowering and will flower in an 18/6 light cycle.

As your plant develops further, from the pre-flowering stage to the end of the flowering stage it will slowly start absorbing less nitrogen and will start to need more of the other macronutrients , like phosphorus and potassium.

This doesn’t mean you should stop giving it all other nutrients but means you will have to increase the amount of phosphorus and potassium you give her every week to allow her to develop properly.

In this stage, you will see your plant showing signs of its sex. If it’s a female it will start growing pistils, a small number of trichomes and slowly start to smell like a cannabis plant should. If you’re growing regular seeds, your plant could be a male and it will start to grow pollen sacs.

You will also see her growing a lot, it sometimes can even double its size in a couple of weeks, this is referred to as the “flowering stretch”. This happens because your plant wants to develop as much as it can before starting developing what would be her reproductive parts (buds), to guarantee the survival of the species.

The “flowering stretch” solely depends on genetics, sometimes they grow a lot, sometimes not.

2. The Flowering Stage

Around 2 weeks into the pre-flowering stage, your plant is ready to start the final phase, which is the flowering stage. In the flowering stage, you’ll see your plant start to truly develop the buds.

You will slowly see the buds swell, the trichome production going up, and most importantly, the smell starting to become strong.

As you see the increase in bud production, you will have to supply your plant with an increased amount of nutrients. Usually, at this stage, your plant can handle a full dose of nutrients or even more but remember to always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines because overfeeding can shock your plants.

If you weren’t using anything to mask the smell, this is when you want to invest in an air filter or something similar. In this stage, the smell will be pungent and can attract unwanted attention to your grow room .

This is also when you have to be the most careful with the environment you’re growing in. If you where to get a mold infection or anything else that can harm your plant, this is the worst time to have it happen.

Because the bugs can get stuck on the buds or get inside the buds, you will have a really hard time getting rid of them. For example, ants can get stuck on trichomes and you will have to pick one by one, making it a really hard and laborious task.

When you see the trichomes starting to turn amber, it is a sign that your flowers are at its peak potency and this is when you should harvest your plant.

When the buds are quite dense and there’s no more visible growth from one day to another, you should start looking at the color of the trichomes and start flushing with plain water. Flushing will allow your plant to clean itself from the remaining minerals in it and will result in a flower with a better aroma and flavor, you should flush for at least two weeks before harvesting.

Make sure your plants are bug-free and leave them in complete darkness for 48hs. In the meantime, prepare the dry room for the number of plants you will harvest in the following days. After removing them from darkness, they’re ready to be trimmed and harvested.

If you’re keeping a good environment, there’s no much to do. Always keep an eye for bugs and signs of deficiencies but it should be fairly simple by now.

Remember you cannot perform any more training as you’re nearing harvesting time!

If you are growing regular cannabis seeds, that means there’s a 50% chance of getting male plants, if you happen to get male plants, instead of the buds starting to swell, you will see the pollen sacs growing and ultimately opening up, looking like typical small flowers.

3. In Conclusion

The flowering stage is the final and most important stage for growers. This is when we’ll see our precious buds developing, we’ll be able to see the buds taking form and feel that delicious smell we’ve been waiting to smell for so long.

Remember than everything that happens in this stage will have a direct impact on the buds itself, unlike in the vegetative stage. You have to be extra careful because the strong smell not only attracts bugs but also noisy neighbors.

Other than basic care, it will be fairly simple to look after it. Enjoy taking care of your plants, keep them healthy and you will enjoy even more when the time to smoke your flowers arrives.

The flowering stage consists of the pre-flowering and flowering phases, this is when you start to see pistils starting to appear on the bud sites all over your ]]>