by Nebula Haze
What Are Feminized Cannabis Seeds? Seeds where all plants grow up to be female and produce buds
What Are Hermies? "Hermie" is short for "hermaphrodite." Hermie cannabis plants usually look like normal female plants for the most part, but they also grow some male parts that produce pollen. This causes seedy buds just like pollen from male plants. Hermies are to be avoided!
Cannabis growers are trying to grow sinsemilla (seedless buds), which means there should be no hermies or male plants to release pollen near your female plants during the flowering stage.
"Sinsemilla" means "no seeds." Sinsemilla is the highest quality and most potent of all buds
Since most growers are trying to grow sinsemilla, having only 100% female plants in the flowering grow room is crucial to prevent pollination. Pollen is the bane of high-quality buds. And just like male plants, hermie cannabis plants produce pollen that creates seedy buds. That's why you don't want accidental hermies in the grow room, just like you don't want accidental males!
The desire for (only) female plants is why feminized cannabis seeds can be a blessing for small-scale growers. While male plants only produce pollen, growing feminized seeds means that all your plants will end up being bud-bearing females (instead of growing half male and half female plants like with regular seeds).
Good feminized seeds should produce only 100% female plants, with no hermies. So starting with feminized cannabis seeds lets you make the most efficient use of your grow space. You don't have to worry about identifying hermies or males and throwing them away before they pollinate your female plants. With good feminized seeds, you know that if you’re growing 6 plants, all 6 of them will make buds, and that makes it easier to plan out your grow ahead of time.
With all these bonuses, why would any small-scale grower who wants sinsemilla use any other type of seeds?
Pros of Feminized Cannabis Seeds
All plants produce buds
You don't need to watch out for male plants
You don’t have to throw away half your plants after nurturing them for weeks
You don’t have to worry about your buds getting pollinated, causing seedy buds, reduced bud quality and lower yields
But is there a dark side to feminized cannabis seeds?
One of the biggest worries growers have about feminized seeds is that they will produce hermies instead of 100% female plants as advertised.
“Hermie” is a nickname for a hermaphrodite cannabis plant. A hermaphrodite plant produces both female buds and male pollen. This picture shows a cannabis plant that has both male pollen sacs and female pistils growing in the same place.
That’s no good because even a little pollen in your grow room can seed your female plants, just like a male cannabis plant would. And a hermie can be a lot easier to miss than a male plant since it may just be a small part of the plant that's affected.
A male plant makes itself known at the beginning of the flowering stage, but a hermie plant may grow only buds except just one or two tiny pollen sacs, or a few yellow hermie bananas which also produce pollen. Any type of male part that grows in your garden can add seeds to your buds.
Is it True that Feminized Seeds Can Cause Hermies? Yes!
Many growers believe that feminized seeds cause hermies, and there is some truth to that. In order to create a feminized seeds, one of the parent female plants had to be forced in some way to produce pollen.
That pollen is used to pollinate another female plant, and the offspring of those two plants will all be female since both of the parents were female. That's how you get feminized cannabis seeds. But that also means every time you have a feminized seed, that seed had a plant that hermied in its recent genetic history.
There are different ways to feminize seeds, but only some methods produce seeds that turn hermie on you
It’s important to understand that hermies can happen a couple different ways. And the different types of hermies affect what genes are being passed on to the seeds.
What Causes Hermies?
Hermies can be caused by many things, including…
bad genetics – the plant comes from a line of plants that naturally create hermies
high stress – high temperatures, light leaks, inconsistent light schedules, as well as other types of major stress can cause a healthy plant to hermie, though some plants/strains are more susceptible than others
letting buds over-mature – this is also known as “rodelization;” basically when the plant’s buds have gone past maturity without being pollinated (if the grower waits way too long to harvest), a female plant will often make male pollen within its buds as a last ditch effort to pollinate itself and make seeds for the next generation
chemical stimulation – by exposing a female plant to certain substances like colloidal silver or gibberellic acid during the early parts of the flowering stage, you can force any female plant to create pollen. This is how seedbanks get female pollen to produce feminized seeds.
Seeds created from hermie pollen will turn out being female (or at least as female as the parents 🙂
The pollen from a hermie plant makes feminized seeds
The pollen sacs on this hermie have opened and pollen has spilled onto the leaf below
Another type of hermie: a yellow "banana" can appear in your buds and make pollen
Feminized seeds are susceptible to becoming hermies themselves when exposed to the same conditions as their female “father” who produced the pollen. But since any plant can be chemically induced to produce pollen, it doesn't mean that the abililty to hermie in a natural environment is passed on to the seeds.
So only some feminized seeds come from parents with bad genetics, and that’s what’s the grower cares about most.
The bagseed gamble… When you find seeds in your buds, that usually means that the buds were pollinated by accident. Seeds that were accidentally created are suspect. It could be that a stray male plant caused them, which means there were no hermies and you will get about half male and half female plants. But accidental seeds could also be the result of herming by an indiscriminate grower, and that means you have feminized seeds, but some of them may produce pollen on you just like their parents. Growing with bagseed is a big gamble… you never know what you’re going to get. But for many growers, the risks are worth the possible rewards 🙂
Are your cannabis bagseeds viable? Viable, good seeds usually appear either dark and striped or solid gray/beige.
If a seed is pure white it usually means it's underdeveloped and won't sprout. But it can sometimes be hard to tell. In the end, if a seed sprouts and grows it's a viable seed! I've had very pale, flimsy seeds sprout into gorgeous fast-growing plants, so if you're not sure the best thing to do is try to germinate it!
Seed Banks & Breeders
Commercial breeders and seed banks use chemical stimulation to create feminized seeds. What that means is they put specific compounds on developing female plants to force them to produce pollen. You can actually do this yourself at home.
This technique works on nearly any plant, including plants that would never hermie naturally. So it can be used to take two plants with great genetics to produce female seeds. But the same process will also work incredibly well on plants that do hermie easily all on their own. That means it’s up to the breeder to test and make sure that they have a solid plant with unbeatable genetics before using this technique.
The pollen that results from chemical stimulation is then used to pollinate another plant and make feminized seeds. If the parent plants would never hermie without chemical stimulation, than you have created feminized seeds that won’t ever make pollen in your grow room.
But if one of the parent plants was chosen because it does hermie easily, than you’ll end up with seeds that hermie and the breeder might not have done any testing on the parents or the resulting offspring to even know.
Without testing, a breeder can't tell whether they've created quality feminized seeds
Choosing the Right Cannabis Breeder
Unfortunately some cannabis seed breeders are more trustworthy than others. The great ones have created stabilized strains that have been bred over several generations to produce a consistent product without any gender problems.
Less scrupulous breeders might breed two random female plants together and sell the resulting seeds as a new strain without any testing. In this second case, you don’t know what to expect, and neither does the breeder.
If the breeder hasn’t tested their strains extensively in many situations, they won’t know whether their seeds tend to hermie or not. If they have carelessly bred plants that have a tendency to hermie, than it’s really likely that at least some of the resulting seeds will have the same problem.
Breeder choice is important!
I have to admit I may be biased towards feminized seeds. I’ve grown exclusively with feminized seeds over the last decade. It has made my life so much easier! I only purchase seeds from breeders that I trust and all the resulting seeds have been bud-bearing females. I haven't had any real problems with hermies.
On the flip side, I’ve heard of growers buying feminized seeds from untrustworthy breeders and having a big portion of their seeds turn male or become hermies even in perfect growing conditions. So there is truth to the fact that you can run into hermie problems with feminized seeds.
Yet there are good and bad breeders out there, and with good breeders you have a very low chance of running into cannabis sex problems.
So if you do choose to purchase feminized seeds (or any seeds really), please make sure you get them from a trusted breeder!
Conclusion: Feminized seeds from a trustworthy breeder have a low chance of producing hermies, but the odds are much worse with feminized seeds from an untrustworthy source
The truth is it takes a hermie of some sort to create feminized seeds. That means that you always run the risk of running into hermies when growing feminized seeds… yet that is true for non-feminized cannabis seeds, too! Lots of regular seeds produce hermies.
What’s most important, whether you get feminized seeds or not, is to get your seeds from a breeder who has a reputation for producing quality genetics. That is the best thing you can do for any strain to ensure a smooth grow. With a great breeder, you have a very low risk of running into any sex or gender problems.
I personally prefer feminized seeds, and that’s the only type of seed I grow. It makes it easier for me in my small grow and limited space. I haven’t run into any significant problems with hermies, so I’m satisfied with growing only bud-bearing plants.
Yet a lot of growers grow with regular seeds because they're easier to breed and produce, or the grower has created a system for weeding out male plants that's better or more convienient for them than using feminized seeds.
In the end, when it comes to feminized cannabis seeds you need to decide whether the small chance for hermies is worth the convenience of all-female plants. It’s up to you to figure out what’s best for your needs!
Did You Know?
These are all viable cannabis seeds even though they look different from each other. I've heard some growers claim that only "tiger-striped" seeds are good, but this is a misconception. All cannabis seeds start out with a dark, striped outer coating. But when the coating gets rubbed off it reveals that the seeds are actually a much lighter beige or gray underneath! Both kinds of seeds will produce great plants, some simply have their natural coating, and others don't.