Ask Ed Marijuana Grow Tip #38: Hermaphroditism

My NYC Diesel plant is in the 3rd week of flowering and is a hermaphrodite. In almost all of the flowering tips, there are one or two little male flowers growing. I have a few other all female plants that I have separated from the hermie by moving them to another closet at the other end of my apartment.

Was it something I did that caused this amazingly beautiful female to turn hermaphrodite?
Is there something I can do to prevent this from happening again?
Can I pick off the male flowers with tweezers and salvage the female flowers?
Will the other plants be safe from the hermie pollen?
The hermie was my first choice for a mother plant until I noticed the little footballs. Can I get female clones out of it?
Should I self-pollinate it for seeds?
What should I do with the hermie?

Nick, Toronto, ON, Canada

There is no hermaphroditism problem with the other plants that you are growing. This is an indication that it wasn’t the environment or your care. The plant that turned probably had a genetic propensity to hermaphroditism. There was nothing that you could have done to prevent it.

You can try picking the male flowers off the plant but your attempts may be in vain for several reasons: First, the buds are not very noticeable. They hang down from the plant looking somewhat like green pawnbroker’s balls.  The white to creamy five petal flowers are noticeable only as they turn up and open, ready to release pollen to the wind. It’s difficult to find them all before they open. One or two open flowers will produce a few seeds, but a group can ruin good sinsemilla.

Male flowers ripen continuously over a period of 10-15 days so the plant must be inspected daily. The one time that you miss the inspection is probably the day when the most flowers will open. Hermaphrodites take many forms. Your plant has a few male flowers on each branch.  Sometimes there is a whole branch of male flowers.

The pollen will not spread from a closet on one side of the apartment to a closet on the other side unless you help to carry it from one space to another. To prevent this, NEVER visit your hermaphrodite before going to the other garden.

Hermaphrodites are not desirable candidates as either clone mothers or for breeding because they carry a genetic characteristic for hermaphroditism. The clones will bear male flowers. Crosses with pure females will result either in a mix of females and hermaphrodites or all hermaphrodites depending on whether the hermaphrodite has the characteristic on only one or both of the paired chromosomes.

I would probably dump the plant and use the light for better specimens. The plant is essentially a mule; it’s not going to be used for reproduction and the chance of at least some of the buds being ruined is high. I don’t think it’s worth the effort or frustration.

15 Responses to “Ask Ed Marijuana Grow Tip #38: Hermaphroditism”
  1. Rambo says:

    Ed, you started by saying

    “There is no hermaphroditism problem with the other plants that you are growing. This is an indication that it wasn’t the environment or your care.”

    Don’t you think it is possible that the plants androgyny could be the result of environmental influences? You ruled it out because the other plants have not shown signs of being hermaphrodites, but I’m not sure this is a safe assumption. Just because environmental influences stress a plant and make some plants herm, it doesn’t mean all of them will. By suggesting that it was in this particular plants genetics you are assuming that its genetics are not the same as the other plants in the room. So if there is variation within a seed lot it is also possible that some plants are more susceptible then others to herming from environmental stresses. Also, as the weeks go by the other plants may still develop male flowers. Other then that, I totally agree. Don’t waist time and money on a loosing proposition. Dump the plant and start fresh with something more promising.

  2. slojoe says:

    Dear Ed ,I had a mother plant of sour d . I

  3. slojoe says:

    dear Ed, i had a mother plant of sour d and i was sure it was female, i took 6 cuttings and put them under12 12 and they all came out male , WHAT HAPPENNED ????

  4. Tank says:

    Hey, Ed:

    Your great piece here answered some of my questions about a recent crisis in my flower room, but I still have a few more…

    So, I grow 18 plants at a time, six in each of three boxes, and I harvest one box about every two weeks and then immediately move six new plants in to take the place of the ones I harvest. I recently received a “gift” of two plants from my uncle, and about a week into flowering, he called to tell me that I should check one of the plants for signs of hermaphroditism. Panicked, as I have been so careful in my six years of growing to never come anywhere near the threat of pollination, I checked the plant thoroughly and saw no such signs. I continued to check it, and all seemed well. Then, my uncle stopped by a few days ago and told me that he had been wrong about which plant to check for the hermaphroditism, and we looked together at the other plant, and, sure enough, there were a few pollen sacks here and there on it. I was devastated.

    A few days ago I harvested the six plants from the box next to the one with the hermaphrodite (I am still about a week away from harvesting the box that contains the hermaphrodite), and though I’m not clear yet on the amount, I have seen about three or four white, immature seeds so far among these six plants. I expect there are many more, though I hope, of course, that there won’t be.

    So, anyway, here are my questions: My first one, I believe you’ve already answered: the clones I cut from the hermaphrodite should just be destroyed, right? They will also be hermaphrodites?

    What about clones I cut from the other five plants in the same box as the hermie, and the clones I cut from the six I harvested a few days ago? I cut my clones between 7 – 10 days of flipping them to flower, so, am I right to think that since I cut the clones before pollination from the hermie, all the other clones I’ve cut will be ok? That is, I cut the clones off the the five plants that shared the box with the hermie before any major signs of flowering/sexing occurred, and I cut the clones off the six that I just harvested … Well, I think I just realized the answer to that question. I’ll have to check my dates, but I must have cut the clones from the next-door-box before I ever even moved the hermie into the room.


    Thank you so much for any advice, and thank you, too, for all the great work you do–I’ve been a long-time admirer of yours and am pretty geeked to be “talking” to you.

    Thanks again!

  5. ross clark says:

    when do i have to stop spraying my plants when the thc appears and how much fan leaf can i prune

  6. kadeykush says:

    Herms are bad news, get them out as soon as you see them, and as soon as you know/are knowledgeable about sexing your plants

  7. g.c says:

    i have a female with 2 males because i want seed..can this female go back with my other females or will it polenate them as well??? thank you

  8. bill says:

    if I would pollinate a lower bud on a plant with pollen I have stored from earlier grow what is preventive my females from turning hermie if they become stressed?

  9. bill says:

    #Would this action prevent hermies? #

  10. G.B. says:

    Good afternoon, Ed and his readers, I had a question about hermies. With less than 2 weeks left in its life cycle, a few of my plants have begun to show very small yellow flowers on their lowest branches. I took ziploc bags and slid them over the offenders, closed them tightly and cut the branches. None of the flowers petals had opened yet. Should the plants be immediately cut, or is it close enough to harvest not to worry? Any feedback/ related experiences would be dynamite.

    Extra information: strain- THC snow / flowering duration – 8 weeks / current duration – less than two weeks
    Fish organic soil medium with florescent lighting.

  11. Dman says:

    Great question. I recently had a light leak which caused one of two to herm in week 8. When the event happened, I rushed to obtain pollen. The pollen was not quite ready and I continued to pollinate over the course of the next six days. The seeds are growing great but it did not prevent a herm from an otherwise incredibly stable strain. I’m wondering if I was just a tad too late getting the bud pollinated. My Theory is the plant won’t herm if it knows it has already procreated. Hope to hear an update on this topic. Thanks in advance.

  12. Jana says:

    There is a product that can be sprayed on a plant prone to hermie after it is in bud for 1 week. It is called Dutch Master Reverse. It does work. There are directions it. If the strain is really worth it. I have one that IS at 24% THC so I use it.

  13. Elaine Pipes says:

    Hello..I’m growing a outdoor clone(female). Simple and probably stupid question for ya..I simply would like to know if I “clip” a branch off of this plant and plant it in another pot..will it grow into a plant itself? And if so..will that plant also be a female. Please excuse my lack of knowledge..and thank-you for your time.

  14. Diane says:

    What issues am I going to have buy growing from hermie seeds?

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