Find out what feminized cannabis seeds are and what they are used for from the pros at Atlas Seed. Learn about feminized seeds, or seeds that are bred to only produce female cannabis plants.
What Are Feminized Cannabis Seeds & What Are They Used For?
Feminized hemp and cannabis seeds are produced to grow primarily female plants, while regular hemp and cannabis seeds have a 50% chance of being female. Since cannabis is a dioecious plant, it evenly produces male and female plants, or plants with male and female flowering parts. The feminization process allows breeders and seed producers to create seed that is almost entirely female. Though our exact recipe, frequency, and timing are proprietary, generally feminization is done with a colloidal silver spray.
Producing primarily phenotypically presenting females is an efficient approach to streamlining the cultivation of cannabis and hemp flower. Though there is no way to completely remove the risk of male plants pollinating and seeding female flowers (as least with normal, diploid cannabis), farmers and cultivators can save an enormous amount of production space and time by removing males from the equation at the beginning of the growth cycle of the cannabis plant.
Not all feminized seeds are produced equally, since the execution of the process is easy to learn but tricky to master. We’ve heard many anecdotal stories of fly by night seed producer lots producing 20-30% males, so apparently it’s a thing you can encounter if you’re not careful. Atlas Seed feminization rates tend to range from 1:1000 to 1:4000, or 99.99% in either case. These rates are comparable with the best produced feminized seed in the world. To date we are not aware of anyone offering “100% feminized seed.” Some breeders and producers allege that their feminized seed produces no males but will show a small amount of herms, which from the perspective of the grower is merely semantic, since we are in either case talking about pollen producing male parts that will seed your crop.. With Atlas Seed’s feminized cultivars, depending on the amount of plants you have per acre, you’ll basically end up with somewhere between 10-20 males per acre. For more information on conducting a proper hunt for male and hermaphroditic plants, please see our male hunt guide here.
Feminized seeds are bred to produce only female plants, as opposed to regular seeds that have a 50% chance of producing male plants.
More about feminized cannabis seeds
Feminized cannabis seeds are important to cannabis cultivation because only female plants produce consumable flowers.
Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Beyond the fact that male cannabis plants produce pollen sacs instead of flowers, having males plants around female plants can ruin an entire harvest. That’s because male plants pollinate the buds of young female plants. When that happens, the flowers will be full of seeds, lowering their quality and value.
Breeders and growers developed feminized cannabis seeds to address these challenges. By increasing the likelihood that all your seeds will produce female plants, you eliminate the possibility of getting a male plant that won’t produce flowers and of having a male plant accidentally pollinate flower-bearing female plants.
How to get feminized seeds
Feminized cannabis seeds are very mainstream. You can buy feminized cannabis seeds online from seed banks around the world. And if you live in a place where home cultivation is legal, you should be able to purchase feminized seeds at most dispensaries. You can also feminize seeds on your own, but to get the best feminized seeds, buy them from a reputable breeder or seed bank.
How are marijuana seeds feminized?
Feminized cannabis seeds are created through a process of genetic manipulation. Essentially, the idea is to induce female plants to make pollen. Normally, only male plants produce pollen, but if you can somehow make a female plant produce pollen, then what you’ve got is pollen containing only female chromosomes. There are a few ways to make this happen:
- Spray a female plant with colloidal silver while it grows and transitions into the flowering phase. This chemical promotes the growth of pollen sacs, and because this pollen comes from a female plant it carries female chromosomes. After the plant starts producing pollen, use it to pollinate the flowers on a regular female cannabis plant. These pollinated flowers will produce feminized seeds. There are some reports online that say you shouldn’t smoke or otherwise consume any part of a plant that’s been sprayed with colloidal silver. And there are also reports saying that’s baloney. You’ll need to decide for yourself.
- In a process very similar to the colloidal silver method, spray a young female cannabis plant with silver thiosulfate. This chemical suppresses the production of ethylene, which is necessary to the flowering process. By feeding your female plant silver thiosulfate, you encourage the plant to produce pollen, which can be used to pollinate other female plants and produce feminized cannabis seeds.
- The third main method is known as “rodelization.” This is an all-natural technique, although it does not produce the desired outcome as consistently as the colloidal silver or silver thiosulfate methods. Rodelization takes advantage of a natural process in which an unpollinated female plant will sometimes organically sprout its own pollen sacs. Think of it as the plant’s last-ditch effort to reproduce. In this method, you force a female plant to remain in the flowering phase for so long that the plant’s self-pollination mechanism kicks in. When this happens, you can use the pollen created by the female plant to pollinate the flowers on a regular female plant, which will then produce feminized seeds.
What is the difference between autoflowering and feminized seeds?
Autoflowering seeds have been bred to move into the flowering phase without needing changes in light to activate the production of flowers. Whether cannabis seeds are seeds doesn’t have anything to do with when plants enter the flowering phase. Feminized cannabis seeds have been bred to grow only female plants.
Are feminized seeds guaranteed to be female?
While feminized seeds generally grow only female plants, there is no 100% guarantee whether you buy feminized seeds or create them yourself. Every once in a while, a feminized seed will still grow up to become a male plant. For this reason, it’s a good idea to keep a close eye on your plants as they mature. If you ever see pollen sacs starting to form, remove the plant before it accidentally pollinates and ruins your female plants.
Do feminized seeds produce seeds?
Theoretically, plants sprouted from feminized seeds should not produce seeds. They should only grow into female plants, and unpollinated female plants produce buds instead of seeds. Cannabis plants make seeds when the flowers of a female plant are pollinated with the pollen from a male plant. In the absence of male plants, there should be no pollen and therefore no seed production. If you force a female plant to stay in the flowering stage too long, however, all bets are off and you could wind up with rodelization as discussed above.
Are regular seeds better than feminized?
Growing cannabis is all about your goals and preferences. There is no inherent reason why regular female marijuana seeds would be considered better than feminized seeds. With that said, feminized seeds:
- Maximize yields by reducing the chance of producing an unusable male plant
- Decrease the risk that a male plant will accidentally pollinate female plants
- Simplify the growing process by making unexpected male plants much less likely
In many ways, feminized seeds can be a good option for new growers, as they eliminate some guesswork and reduce the pressure to quickly and accurately identify and eradicate unwanted male plants. However, there are no guarantees and new growers should still do their homework and know how to spot a male cannabis plant.
Tips for growing marijuana from feminized seeds
The steps for growing cannabis from feminized seeds are the same as growing from regular seeds. If you understand the laws and regulations where you live and want to give cannabis cultivation a try, keep these things in mind.
Before you plant the first seed, you’ll need to make some decisions:
- Do you want to grow your cannabis indoors, in a greenhouse, or outside under the sun? do you plan to cultivate?
- Will it be autoflowering or photoperiod?
- Are you going to grow from seed or clone a cannabis plant?
- What cultivation medium will you use? Good old soil, hydroponic solution, or an aeroponic system?
Each of these areas may generate more questions. If you grow indoors will you use natural or artificial light? If you go hydroponic, will you also use a grow medium like rockwool or hydroton? While you could just buy a clone, plop it in some soil, and hope, it’s best to think like a beginner and do some thorough research before taking the marijuana-growing plunge.
On the other hand, if that’s just not your style, you could treat cannabis like a houseplant and attempt a simple indoor grow with natural light. If you start with a plant or two on a sunny windowsill and wind up with a nice harvest, you might choose to move on to a more complicated setup or just keep it simple. Like most things in the cannabis world, it’s all up to your personal taste and how much effort you want to put into it.