How Cannabis Plants Are Pollinated
As cannabis users make progress and gain more experience in marijuana cultivation and the features of cannabis plants, they get to this point where the decision is made to cultivate seeds instead of starting from scratch. Even though, the seed banks have done all the work and have an inventory of cannabis seeds from high quality strains, many of those seeds are quite expensive and could be a problem for a cultivator with a tight budget. So, in that case, it might be more feasible to grow cannabis plants from your own seeds. And it is not as difficult as you think. It puts you in control to grow the highest quality cannabis strains for yourself. You can produce your own sensimillia or seeded plans when you want. Let’s look at the life cycle of cannabis plants so you can understand better.
In the traditional marijuana cultivation process, all the male plants are removed once they show any sexual characteristics. What does this mean? Well, it allows the females to remain without being pollinated. Essentially, you would consider the female plants ‘virgins.’ The female plants will put more energy into producing resin and THC instead of seed production. What happens next? Well, it produces sensimillia without having to use seeds. If you have a female plant that becomes pollinate, then you will have some rich and abundant seeds. The plant is not wasted, even though many marijuana growers will accidentally trash their pollinated cannabis plants. Female plants that bear seeds can still be smoked. However, sensimillia gives a better smoke.
In the Wild
In a wild environment, cannabis plants are essentially pollinated with the help of the wind, even though some of this happens to involve animals. For male cannabis plants, the flowers will come in before the female plants do and these will flower over several days, which make the flowering time overlap between the male and female cannabis plants. In so doing, the pollen production takes place at the right time.
If you want to collect the pollen from male cannabis plants, you should definitely pay attention to the sex of the plants. You could pollinate the plants in your marijuana grow room. However, if you want to be in control and be able to let the female plants remain unpollinated, then you would have to remove the male cannabis plants once you are able to identify them. Make sure when you remove the male plants, you put them in a room that is separate and far away from where you placed your female cannabis plants. If you don’t, then female plant pollination might take place.
Steps To Take
When you are handling pollen, you should turn off the fans in the room and you must make sure your hands are washed and clothes clean, especially, if you are moving from one room to the next where both male and female cannabis plants are consecutively stored. In other words, hygiene is of the utmost significance. Once the male plants are isolated in the other room, it is time to collect the pollen. After choosing your male plant to pollinate, put a paper bag over flowering branch. If you are doing this for cross breeding efforts, then you would choose a male plant that has the best traits.
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To see the pollen being collected, use a paper bag that has a plastic window. Use tape to secure the bag around the stem area, sealing it. To let air get in, pinch a small hole at the top. Shake the branch once per day after shutting out air from the pinched hole. You will be then able to view the pollen being accumulated in the corner of the paper bag. Do this for an entire week. Cut the branch below the attached paper bag, then open up the top of the bag by tearing it and then take out the male flowers. The pollen will collect at the bottom of the paper bag. Pour it in a ziplock bag and then seal and store in a refrigerator.
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After all that is done, go ahead and pollinate the female cannabis plants. Get our ziplock bag with your pollen and invert it over the end of the plant’s cola. The pollen will then be attached to the flower. Once your female cannabis plants are pollinated, they will start the seed production. To learn more about how to grow cannabis, go to the Cannabis Training University.
How to Pollinate Cannabis
Pollen is collected from male marijuana plants after they start flowering, or occasionally female plants when feminizing seeds.
When the pollen sacs from a marijuana plant start to crack and look like they’re about to open up (or if you can see one has already opened) then your pollen is ready for harvest!
When pollen sacs are cracking and opening up, you’re ready to harvest your pollen!
Pollen spilling onto a nearby leaf
One way to harvest your pollen is to gently and carefully remove all the pollen sacs. Let them dry for a week, and then put them in a resealable bag. If you shake the bag the pollen should easily spill out. You may need to cut a few open yourself.
How to Store Cannabis Pollen
Moisture is your main enemy when storing pollen. It can help to double the mass of the pollen collected by adding regular cooking flour. This absorbs moisture during storage and as an added bonus, it will make application easier later when you pollinate your plant.
If you triple-bag the pollen-flour mixture and stick it in the freezer (with a good nametag so you know where the pollen came from), your pollen can be stored for a year or longer. Make sure to use “freezer” bags (platsic bags specifically made for the freezer are more effective than regular plastic bags).
2.) Pollinate Female Plant That’s 2-3 Weeks in Flowering
It’s time to pollinate when your plant has been in the flowering stage for about 2-3 weeks.
Example of young cannabis buds that are ready to be pollinated
When your chosen mother is 2-3 weeks into the flowering stage, take a paintbrush and ‘paint’ your feminized pollen on the developing bud sites you want to pollinate. Bud sites are located wherever you can see leaves meet a stem. By 2-3 weeks in the flowering stage, all the bud sites should have tons of wispy white hairs. These are where you want to put your pollen (in the wild, these white hairs are what capture pollen out of the wind).
Only the buds that come in contact with pollen will grow seeds. You can choose to pollinate all of your buds or just a few on the plant.
Make sure that you’re touching all the female pistils/hairs with your pollen. Here’s a little video showing you exactly what this looks like!
3.) Wait ~6 Weeks to Harvest Seeds
It usually takes about 6 weeks for your marijuana seeds to fully develop. Some plants are literally dying right as the seeds become ready, so try to keep your plant alive until the seeds start dropping. The seeds can be used right away, or stored in a cool, dry place for a few years (stored in the back of your fridge is great). Don’t forget to label them with the date!
I have an indoor growroom and in my recent harvest I found seeds in the buds, but I’m sure there are no male plants in the room. I’ve heard that light leakage can cause plants to become hermaphrodites. Is this true, and if so, do you have any tips for avoiding this?
Cannabis plants are monecious. This means they have the ability to be either male or female. Or in the case of hermaphroditism, they can be both. The reason to make sure there are no males or hermaphrodites in your garden is because male flowers make pollen. When pollen touches the white hairs on a flower, it makes a seed, and seeded weed gives you headaches. Even though there are reasons in nature hermaphroditism could be important, such as continuing the species in case there is no male present, hermaphroditism is generally a bad thing when talking about cannabis plants.
Light poisoning is the most common cause for a normal plant to hermaphrodite.
Light poisoning refers to the flowering night cycle of a plant being unnaturally interrupted with light. The best way to prevent this is to close yourself inside your darkened room during the daylight, and then after allowing a few minutes for your eyes to adjust to the dark, check for any light leaks from covered windows, door jams, etc. Also cover all timer and appliance lights with tape.
Negative stressors can combine with small interruptions of the light cycle to cause hermaphroditism, especially with less-stable, clone-only hybridized strains. When the night cycle is abnormally interrupted, it sends a mixed hormonal signal to the plant. This can cause a full female plant to throw some male flowers. Male flowers are easy to identify, especially when side by side with female flowers. Male flowers look like small bunches of bananas, which will take a week or two to swell before they burst and release their pollen.
Finding a hermaphrodite in your growroom can happen at any stage of the flowering cycle and is indicated by the presence of male flowers growing on the same plant as female flowers. As with all species in nature this can occur in varying degrees. A plant can become slightly or majorly hermaphroditic. In cases where singular male flowers are found between the branch and stalk nodes, you should be diligently removing them as they grow. You must re-inspect the plant top to bottom every few days to be sure pollination and seeding doesn’t occur. If you find male flowers (anthers) actually growing from within the female flowers (buds) the situation is a little more dire. You can still remove all the male anatomy as it appears, but it will be harder to find and much more prevalent. This is a horrible discovery that leads to a tough decision: Should you let the plant live and risk the whole crop being ruined by seeds?
In either case, once hermaphroditism has compromised the safety and purity of your sensimilla, the plant should not be propagated further. Remember, once a hermy, always a hermy. The plant pictured here is in the tenth and what should have been the final week of ripening, but a timer failed and one light stayed on continuously for almost two weeks, causing this vegetative regrowth. Because the light was continuous, the plant made no pollen. This method of re-vegging can be used to save a flowering plant you have no copies of, but be careful, as this may cause some strains to hermaphrodite.
Purposefully causing a plant to hermaphrodite is called selfing. Gibberellic acid or colloidal silver is typically sprayed onto the female plant. This technique is used to make feminized seeds and uses the plant’s ability to be both male and female to force a female plant to produce male flowers. The pollen contained in these male flowers can only produce female seeds. Just keep in mind that feminized plants should not be used for breeding, as they were produced without a true male, making them genetically inferior.