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how do you feminize cannabis seeds

As you can see, and although we normally use the expression “reversing the plant sex“, that is not exactly what is done, because the sex chromosomes of the female plant (XX) have not changed, even if we managed to produce male flowers. This “sex change” of female plants can be achieved in a number of ways, but usually with the same goal: to reduce the level of ethylene in plant tissues and/or inhibit the ethylene action, which makes the plant develop male flowers on entering the flowering period, as if it were a male from regular seeds. This is because ethylene is a natural regulator of the sex expression in plants!

Once again, this is a false statement. We have already pointed out that by using these sex reversal techniques we inhibit the ethylene action in the female plant, and under no circumstances the seeds (or plants) are genetically modified. The sex chromosomes of the female plant converted into a male plant are still female (XX), nothing has changed at a genetic level.

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It is not surprising, therefore, that at present, feminized seeds represent virtually all the seeds in the market, since they offer a number of significant advantages for both professional and home growers and breeders, for photoperiod and autoflowering plants. The main disadvantage of this method is a well known and hotly debated issue: the growers who buy this type of seeds cannot produce their own seeds in the absence of male plants, so the only way they can manage it it’s using the same process to obtain this type of seeds. But. what are these processes and what are they based on?

This is another lie that some people believe. As it’s been mentioned before, a female plant is sprayed with some chemicals in order to inhibit its ethylene action. After a few weeks of this and once in the flowering period, the plant will produce male flowers and pollen, which will be harvested to pollinate the female plants designated to produce seeds. Once the seeds are formed, they are collected and packed immediately, so they don’t come into contact with any chemicals or the plants that produce seeds, nor, of course, with the seeds themselves. Also, to produce cannabis seeds, you normally need two separated indoor cultivation areas, one for the reverted plants (treated females) and the other for the females to be fertilized to produce the seeds, so the latter can’t get “contaminated” with any chemicals.

Nothing could be further from the truth. It is true that sometimes some plants develop weird traits or mutations, although this also happens with regular seeds. Unfortunately, there seems to be not enough studies comparing the ratio of specimens with mutations of one or other type of seeds; however, given the millions of feminized seeds that have been germinated in the last 20 years, if mutations would pose a problem, the quantity of feminized seeds sold would certainly not be so high, and this would be a “public security” issue within the cannabis sector, both for the growers and the producers of the seeds.

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“Applications that reduce the ethylene level in tissues or antagonise the action of ethylene causes the formation of male flowers instead of female ones” — Paraphrase, Byers et al., 1972.



When sexing begins, male pollen sacs will develop instead of female calyxes and pistils. Male plants mature much faster than females, and viable pollen can be expected within 3–4 weeks once the plant has been sexed. Some growers will spray until the plant shows sexual growth, just to be sure the method has worked. Make sure these plants are well-isolated from any flowering females. A burst pod can release millions of pollen spores, and it only takes one spore per hair to create a seed.

  • Cover the top of the pot with plastic or card to catch pollen as it falls, or modify a plastic drink cup to shroud the plant and catch falling pollen.
  • Fix a clear plastic bag, perforated at the top for air exchange, around the whole plant.
  • An experienced eye will remove each flower pod prior to it bursting completely open to be sure of catching every spore.
  • Pollinating a female is the easy bit. Depending on how many seeds you want to make, there are a couple of methods that can be used.
  • Using a watercolour or other fine, soft brush or even a cotton bud, dip into your pollen collection and gently apply to the chosen flower. Although thousands of viable spores will be on the end of the brush, enough to pollinate a whole plant, the trichomes on the surface of the pistils will greedily glue everything you offer them. So dip into your pollen stash a few times as you dust.
  • For lots of seeds, put pollen in a bag and put over a whole branch or a whole plant, shake well, and leave for twenty four hours.
  • It is possible to pollinate different branches with different pollens and have a breeder plant that has 1, 2, or 15 different crosses on it.
  • It is also possible to self-pollinate the plant from which the male parts were created. This won’t produce as many seeds as pollinating a separate plant because less female flowers are produced and many are nonviable because of the feminization process.