What is Hermaphrodite Cannabis?

05 April 2023
What is a hermaphrodite plant and what should you do when you spot a hermie in your grow space.
05 April 2023
9 min read
What is Hermaphrodite Cannabis?

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  • 1. What is a hermaphrodite?
  • 2. When can i start looking for the first signs of plant gender?
  • 3. Identifying male cannabis plants
  • 4. Identifying female cannabis plants
  • 5. How do hermaphrodites look like and what causes them?
  • 6. How to prevent my plants from becoming hermaphrodites?
  • 6. a. Lighting
  • 6. b. Watering
  • 6. c. Root damage
  • 6. d. Ambient temperature
  • 6. e. The correct time for pruning
  • 6. f. Fertilizers and pesticides
  • 6. g. Healthy growing medium
  • 6. h. Plagues
  • 6. i. Low-quality equipment
  • 7. How can i save my harvest when this happens?
  • 7. a. Remove pollen sacs
  • 7. b. Harvest your plant early
  • 7. c. Eliminate the plant
  • 8. In conclusion

Growing cannabis seeds can be tricky, sometimes you don’t have a favorable climate and your plant starts growing buds and pollen sacs. What does that actually mean and how to recognize them correctly?

1. What is A Hermaphrodite?

Hermaphrodite marijuana plants develop male pollen sacs and female flowers. While it is a natural feature of the cannabis plant, it is an undesired trait when growing cannabis for consumption.


What is Hermaphrodite Cannabis?: male and female pollen sacs

Hermaphrodite cannabis plant develops male pollen sacs and female flowers.

There is a great chance to obtain a plant full of seeds which seriously reduces the quantity and quality of the final product. To understand why hermaphrodites (aka hermies) happen we need to be able to spot female and male plants first.

2. When Can I Start Looking For The First Signs Of Plant Gender?

The sex of cannabis plants can be determined by looking for the first signs of bloom on the plant. These are visible a few days to a week after you switch your light to 12/12 in photoperiodic plants and give your plant the sign to start flowering (or when nature makes the nights longer than 12hs). With autoflowers this happens 3-4 weeks into the vegetative stage, your auto will show signs of gender when it reaches maturity and is ready to start flowering.

3. Identifying Male Cannabis Plants

Male Cannabis plants are recognized by the formation of pollen sacs on the plant’s nodes (node is the part of the stem where branches grow from). This happens around the same time both in male and female plants, although male plants tend to develop their reproductive organs a bit faster. These male pollen sacs can be distinguished pretty easily. They look like small balls hanging from the side of the plant, instead of the upward-facing white hairs that the female plant produces.


What is Hermaphrodite Cannabis?: male cannabis pre-flower

Male Cannabis pre-flowers will not be having white hairs developing on the nodes.

When left to grow, these balls will eventually open up like a flower and release pollen into the air. The pollen is needed only if you’re trying to make your own strains or seeds. If you’re not trying to make your own crosses, having male plants in your garden may result in the pollination of all female plants. The buds will start producing seeds and this will hugely diminish THC levels and yield.

4. Identifying Female Cannabis Plants

Female cannabis plants are distinguished by the development of small white hairs (known as stigmas or pistils) on their nodes. After a while, the plant starts pushing out more and more of these hairs until they swell up from the bottom up.


What is Hermaphrodite Cannabis?: female cannabis pre-flower

Female Cannabis plants will be developing small pistils or stigmas on the nodes.

This means the plant is now forming calyxes that eventually stack up to become the flower as we know it. These calyxes remain empty as long as the plant is not pollinated. When it does get pollinated, these calyxes will fill up to hold and protect the seeds.

5. How Do Hermaphrodites Look Like And What Causes Them?

Even if the seeds are feminized there’s always the chance they become hermaphrodite. This usually happens when plants experience excessive stress. When this happens, cannabis plants try to guarantee their survival, by turning hermaphrodites they can pollinate themselves and provide the seeds for the next generation.


HWhat is Hermaphrodite Cannabis?: hermaphrodite cannabis plant

Hermaphrodite cannabis plant.

This is a risk you take when growing not-so-good genetics, when you cultivate in a bad environment or when the strains are sensitive. Keep in mind that this is what some breeders do to develop strains. Note that sometimes doing this can make your strain prone or more sensible to stress, resulting in a genetic that is hard to grow.

6. How To Prevent My Plants From Becoming Hermaphrodites?

The only way to avoid this is to avoid stressing (ultimately turning your plants hermie) and to pay close attention to your growing environment. The following factors should be controlled:


Abrupt light cycle or intensity changes can seriously stress your plant. Always try to slowly adapt your plant before changing light fixtures or when transferring from outdoors to indoors or vice-versa.


The excess or lack of water can stress your plant; if you overwater or underwater for a long time your plant will become stressed and ultimately resulting in it becoming a hermaphrodite.

Root damage

Root damage during transplantation can stress your plant, damaging the roots may trigger the survival instinct and your plant will start growing pollen sacs to survive.

Ambient temperature

The ideal temperature is around 27 celsius, growing in an extremely cold or hot climate will make your cannabis plants become hermie.

The correct time for pruning

Pruning aggressively especially during the flowering phase will seriously stress your plant. The best way to perform pruning is during the vegetative phase and even then do it slow and steady.

Fertilizers and pesticides

The excess of nutrients when the plant can’t take it may stress her out, there are some strains that react (and even need) heavy feeding, like our Tangie’matic.

Tangie Auto
5 out of 5
If you like to smoke to get on and do stuff, this is a good choice. If you want weed to sleep, I wouldn't recommend this one.
Verified customer
Reviewed 6 May 2020

The use of really strong and chemical pesticides can stress your plant easily, the best way is to prevent bugs, and if you need to look for natural solutions.

Healthy Growing Medium

Your growing medium is the home for all those ever-important roots. Since they are buried in the ground (unless you are growing with a full hydro setup), they are quite easy to overlook or even forget about totally. But low-quality growing medium can cause a whole range of issues for your plant, so always take your time with choosing high-quality stuff for that root ball to thrive in. Otherwise, the plant can become stressed, and hey presto, you’ve got a hermie on your hands. 


Any type of plague, like bugs or pests, can make your plant turn into a hermie. They slowly kill your plant until it reaches a point there’s no return. When it reaches this point, it will start growing pollen sacs to prevent her extinction.

Low-Quality Equipment

These days, the internet is flush with all types of crap marketed toward new cannabis growers. Ask any grower with a bit of time on their scorecard and they are sure to tell you to never skimp on your growing equipment.  Sure, you can buy cheap stuff and hope for the best. And sure, maybe you’ll get lucky and not have any huge issues. But why take the risk of wrecking all that love, time, and effort you have put into your grow over a couple of hundred bucks? One single problem with any number of different pieces of equipment could cause the exact stress we are always trying so hard to avoid, so don't cut any corners here. Only buy from reputable suppliers, and read the reviews before you hand over that hard-earned cheddar.

7. How Can I Save My Harvest When This Happens?

Remove Pollen Sacs 

To avoid hermaphrodite cannabis plants from pollinating themselves, carefully remove the male reproductive organs that form on the nodes. You can do so by gently taking a pollen sac in between two fingers and pull it off. This is the only way to try to save your harvest. Sometimes your plant will continue to grow pollen sac and sometimes it will stop, it all depends on what is causing stress.

Either way, you should try to fix whatever is causing your plant's stress. If you don’t, all the other plants in the grow space can become stressed and turn into hermies. You need to have in mind that even though you can still save your harvest, the flowers won’t be as potent and won’t yield nearly as much as normal.

Harvest Your Plant Early 

If male flowers continue to appear, the plant will have to be cut down and harvested. You can still smoke the flowers but it will definitely not be as potent or as dense as it should be. If the grow space contains more than one plant, the hermie should be removed.

Eliminate the Plant 

The hardest thing to do as a cannabis cultivator is to kill a plant, but there are some situations where this just might be the only real option. A single hermie plant has the real possibility to pollinate a whole crop, which would be an absolute disaster. Ask yourself what is better, killing a single plant or having your whole cropped pollinated? If your plant is only showing a few sporadic pollen sacks then sure, you can quarantine the plant and try to carefully remove the sacks. But, if it is covered in pollen sacks your best bet is to just eliminate it. If it has already reached a stage of flower maturity then don’t let them go to waste. Although they may not have the same potency as a female plant, there are zero reasons to just throw them out. As long as you have done a good job growing them up to this point they should still have a good old kick to them. Other than smoking them, you can use them to make a delicious batch of cannabutter or canna-coconut oil. The can be used to make rosin hash, bubble hash, or any other form of extraction

8. In Conclusion

Hermaphroditism is what allows cannabis to keep on growing when it grows in harsh climates or places where it doesn’t have a good environment. Even though it is something really good for cannabis in nature, most growers don’t really benefit from hermaphroditism. For us, it means our harvest has a risk of being ruined so we need to provide the optimal growing environment for our plants. We can’t complain though, if it wasn’t for hermies, a lot of varieties would be already extinct now. If you’re dealing with hermies a lot you need to know what is causing your plants to stress. The most common factor is temperature.