One of the simplest ways to cultivate cannabis is by using feminized seeds. If you are here asking yourself the common question – what are feminized seeds, you’ve come to the right place.
In this article we’re going to cover every important aspect of feminized seeds, and the first thing that we’ll be discussing is why they were created in the first place.
Why Feminized Seeds?
In nature, male cannabis plants produce pollen sacks, while female cannabis plants produce flowers (aka buds or nugs) that we all know and love.
Male cannabis plants use pollen to pollinate their female counterparts, which once pollinated start to produce seeds in their flowers. These naturally-produced seeds have a 50% chance of becoming a male plant, and a 50% chance of becoming a female cannabis plant.
Naturally-produced seeds have a 50/50 chance of becoming a female cannabis plant.
Cannabis growers wanted to create seeds that will “grow up” to become female plants. The main reason lies in the fact that in the area covered by both male and female plants, male plants eventually pollinate the female plants. The pollination causes the buds of the female plant to be ridden with cannabis seeds, and this dramatically reduces the overall yield.
The traditional way to prevent this from happening was to keep a very close eye on the plants while they mature and develop, and eliminate the male plants before they get the chance to pollinate the females.
Growers also used to plant twice as many seeds, since they knew that half of the seeds would be useless, but also that they would be endangering the quality of the entire harvest.
These issues made cannabis cultivation very taxing, and feminized seeds were created to minimize complications of the growing process.
What are Feminized Seeds?
Feminized seeds were first developed during the 1990’s, and they immensely revolutionized the process of cannabis cultivation.
These seeds are created through a relatively straightforward process of genetic engineering, and the main goal is to get a female cannabis plant to produce pollen, since in nature only the male plants are capable of producing it.
When a female cannabis plant produces pollen, this feminized pollen only carries female chromosomes.
After they’ve compelled the female plant to produce pollen, cultivators then use this pollen to pollinate regular female cannabis plants, and they as a result produce feminized seeds in their buds.
The creation of feminized seeds made cannabis cultivation much more economical.
When performed professionally, the feminization of cannabis seeds guarantees that 99.9% of those seeds will become female cannabis plants, capable of producing consumable flowers.
The creation of feminized seeds made cannabis cultivation much more economical, since it greatly minimizes the probability of getting a male cannabis that can pollinate the female plants around it, and therefore spoil the entire crop.
How are Cannabis Seeds Feminized?
There are two main methods how a female cannabis plant is forced to produce pollen, and they are quite similar.
While a female cannabis plant is transitioning into the flowering stage, it is sprayed with either silver thiosulfate, or colloidal silver. Both of these substances are a mix of water and fine microscoping silver particles, and they essentially impede the production of ethylene, a hormone which is paramount for the flowering process.
Exposing a female cannabis plant to silver thiosulfate or colloidal silver promotes the growth of pollen sacks, and as we previously mentioned, when a female plant produces pollen, this pollen only carries female genetic material.
The final piece of the puzzle is to pollinate a normal female cannabis plant with this pollen. The seeds that this plant produces will be feminized, because the pollen used in the process originated from another female plant.
While both methods work on the same principle, the silver thiosulfate approach is generally considered more effective.
There is also a third method, and unlike the previous two, it doesn’t include the use of substances.
It’s known as rodelization, and it uses a natural mechanism of a cannabis female plant. In nature, a female plant sometimes produces its own pollen sacks, but only when it hasn’t been pollinated by a male plant for an extended period of time. This natural process can be considered as a last resort of a female cannabis plant to create progeny.
Rodelization is achieved by keeping a female plant in the flowering phase until the self-pollination process occurs.
The silver thiosulfate approach is generally considered the most effective feminization method.
This feminization technique is not as effective as the silver thiosulfate and colloidal silver method, and a grower using rodelization needs to watch out for potential male plants, and remove them before they get a chance to pollinate the females.
Different Types of Feminized Seeds
Since there is a great variety among feminized cannabis seeds, we’re going to divide this paragraph into two separate parts.
Different Types of Feminized Seeds: Effects
In the first section we’ll be covering the differences between feminized seeds in terms of effects, and in the second section in terms of their growing requirements.
The vast majority of modern feminized seeds develop into hybrid cannabis strains, which means that they’re a genetic mixture of the two major cannabis subspecies, Indica and Sativa.
Contemporary strains are rarely purebred Indicas or Sativas, and they are usually either Indica, or Sativa dominant.
Indicas are capable of growing in many different climates, and they grow quite short and bushy. Indica dominant plants are well-known for their sedative and relaxing properties.
On the other hand, Sativa plants generally thrive in warmer temperatures, and are much taller and slimmer when compared to their Indica counterparts. Sativa dominant flowers produce a much more uplifting and energizing effect, and are generally considered to be better suited for daytime use.
Most modern feminized seeds are hybrids – Indica or Sativa dominant cannabis strains.
As we already mentioned, cannabis plants that sprout out of professionally-produced feminized seeds are rarely pure Indicas or Sativas, and it’s much more likely that a feminized seed will produce a plant that (to a certain extent) has both Indica and Sativa characteristics.
It’s also important to mention that terpenes (the aromatic molecules responsible for the aroma and fragrance of each cannabis strain) also play a significant role in terms of the produced effects, so make sure to keep this in mind while you’re browsing through feminized seeds.
Different Types of Feminized Seeds: Growing
As for the growing requirements, feminized seeds are generally much easier to grow than normal seeds, but cultivating them does come with certain challenges.
Feminized seeds are usually created to produce photoperiod cannabis plants, which begin blooming with the change in daylight/darkness hours.
In nature, cannabis plants are triggered to bloom at the end of the summer when the days become shorter, while when growing indoors cannabis will remain in the vegetative stage until the cultivator induces flowering by diminishing light hours.
When growing feminized seeds outdoors, it’s essential to plant them during the appropriate season, because of the changes in sunlight hours. Feminized seeds are typically planted during the spring when there’s no frost, and they’re harvested during the fall. It’s also crucial to have the optimal climate when growing cannabis outdoors.
Since most feminized seeds develop to become hybrid cannabis strains (which combine both Indica and Sativa genetics), their growing characteristics greatly vary.
Growing characteristics of feminized seeds greatly vary. Sativa dominant strains require much more time to finish flowering than their cousin, Indica dominant strains.
For instance, Indica dominant strains typically have a more rapid flowering time than Sativas. Indicas typically require a flowering time of about 6 to 7 weeks, while Sativa dominant strains (like strains of the Haze family) require double that time to finish flowering.
As for the indoor cultivation of feminized photoperiod cannabis plants, a manual adjustment of the light/dark schedule is necessary.
The change of light exposure is generally performed when the plants reach a desired height, more precisely when they reach about ½ of the final planned height. This room for growth is left because cannabis plants tend to additionally stretch out during the flowering stage.
In order to trigger blooming of feminized cannabis plant indoors, you need to set the light/dark schedule to 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness, as this will emulate natural autumn conditions, causing the plants to begin flowering.
Besides feminized seeds that produce photoperiod plants, there are also two other important varieties.
Firstly, there are feminized seeds which produce autoflowering cannabis plants. These plants are called autoflowering because they don’t require a change in light/darkness in order to bloom, and instead enter the flowering phase depending on their age.
Autoflowering strains are bred by crossing regular photoperiod strains with a Ruderalis plant, which is a naturally-autoflowering variety of cannabis, native to Eastern Europe and Russia.
These feminized seeds allow for the fastest harvest possible, as some of them are done developing two months after germination.
Relatively similar to autoflowering seeds, there are also fast-flowering cannabis seeds. These seeds are well-suited for growers who live in regions with short summers, and they are generally ready for harvest after 6 to 7 weeks of flowering.
Fast-flowering feminized seeds are also created by mixing photoperiod strains with Ruderalis strains, but unlike autoflowering plants, fast-flowering plants require a change in light cycle in order to start flowering.
Where Can You Acquire Feminized Seeds?
Since feminized seeds have been around for more than two decades, they reached worldwide popularity, and can be purchased from numerous sources.
Because feminized cannabis seeds don’t contain any THC (or any other cannabinoids), they can be ordered online from various seed banks across the globe.
Feminized seeds don’t contain THC.
Also, if you live in a region where growing cannabis for personal use is allowed, they can be obtained from a local dispensary.
Finally, you can also attempt to produce your own feminized seeds, but if you’re looking for a high-quality product, it’s much wiser to purchase them from a renowned producer.
Feminized Seeds Summary
Compared to regular cannabis seeds, feminized seeds offer a multitude of advantages, and these include:
- Since professionally-produced feminized seeds have an extremely low chance of developing into male cannabis plants, they greatly diminish the pressure of recognizing and removing undesirable male plants from your crop.
- Feminized seeds also make the entire growing process more efficient, because most cannabis strains don’t begin expressing their sex until they’re past the vegatative phase. Using feminized seeds therefore protects the grower from nurturing cannabis plants that can potentially develop into males and ruin the whole harvest by pollinating the female plants.
- Finally, since feminized seeds have about a 99.9% chance of becoming female plants, in order to be absolutely safe growers still need to pay close attention to their plants, in the unlikely event that one of the feminized seeds develops into a male plant.