Feminized vs Regular Cannabis: Pros and Cons


Feminized vs Regular Cannabis: Pros and Cons
Luke Sholl

There's a lot of terminology surrounding cannabis consumption and cultivation. While most of it is interesting, a lot of it is jargon that is of less importance to a beginner grower. Yet, this is not the case with the terms "feminized" and "regular" when referring to cannabis seeds. Misunderstanding these terms can spell doom, so get educated here!

If you’ve spent any time perusing the catalogues of marijuana seed banks, you likely noticed that most of the seeds are described as “fully feminized” or “100% feminized”. And, if they have them at all, often there’s only a small section dedicated to “regular” seeds.

But what is the difference? And which kind is most suitable for you? Here we explore the differences between feminized and regular cannabis seeds, and discuss the circumstances in which one or the other is more favourable.

Aimed at beginner growers, this guide will help you understand some of the most important decisions you have to make on your growing journey, and those that will offer you the best results.

What’s the Difference Between Regular and Feminized Cannabis Seeds?

Feminized vs regular cannabis: pros and cons

As the name suggests, feminized cannabis seeds produce exclusively female cannabis plants (or about 99.9% female). Regular cannabis seeds, on the other hand, produce a mix of male and female plants.

There are advantages and disadvantages to each type of seed, with the grower’s individual needs ultimately determining which is most suitable. While these will be expanded upon below, the main reason cannabis growers use regular seeds is to breed their own strains, whereas feminized cannabis seeds are ideal for growers seeking a cannabinoid-rich, bud-producing crop.

Male cannabis plants only produce pollen sacs, not resinous flowers. It is this resin that is packed full of cannabinoids such as THC and aromatic terpenes, which are in turn responsible for cannabis’ sought-after effects.

So not only do male plants not provide much in the way of a high, but if they pollinate the female plants, then their flowers will stop developing resin, and start producing seeds. In short; male cannabis plants do not assist in the pursuit of monster, potent harvests.

Nevertheless, male plants are essential to the continuation of the species, and to breeding and improving marijuana strains. So don’t discount them immediately.

Autoflowering Cannabis Seeds

You may have heard of autoflowering cannabis seeds as well—are these feminized or regular?

Autoflowering seeds can be either regular or feminized! Although, in truth, most tend to be available as feminized seeds. What's different about autos compared to photoperiod plants—those that develop based on light exposure—is that they begin to flower after a genetically predetermined amount of time.

While you can keep a photoperiod strain in the vegetative stage indefinitely under an 18/6 light cycle, an autoflowering strain will begin to flower no matter what.

This phenomenon is achieved by crossing photoperiod indica and sativa cannabis plants with ruderalis-containing plants. Ruderalis is a type of cannabis that hails from cold locations, such as Siberia, where the short summers and harsh conditions forced plants to adapt to follow their own internal clocks, rather than the sun.

What’s the advantage of autoflowering plants? As a result of this adaptation, they tend to have very short life cycles compared to photoperiod plants—often around a month or so shorter. They are also likely to be resilient in the face of stress, and resistant to pests.

All of this means that autoflowers are pretty easy to cultivate. However, they do tend to have lower yields and potency compared to photoperiod plants, though newer varieties are closing the gap.

Can You See the Difference Between Regular and Feminized Seeds?

Autoflowering cannabis seeds

There is no way to tell whether a cannabis seed is male or female. In fact, you won’t be able to sex the plant until it’s entered the pre-flowering stage.

Indeed, once the plant begins to flower, you will see growths at its nodes. The nodes are where branches meet the main stem. From the nodes, the plant’s sex organs will emerge, either in the form of pistils (small, white, hair-like outgrowths) or pollen sacs (small, ball-like growths). The former are a sure sign of a female, while the latter signal a male.

Unless you are going for uncontrolled breeding, you must separate your plants at this point. Even then, without lab-grade seals in your tent or growing room, it’s likely pollen from your males will find the females. Therefore, it’s important to decide whether or not you want to breed, and if not, to kill your males.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Feminized Cannabis Seeds?

Autoflowering cannabis seeds

For the beginner grower, it is likely that feminized cannabis seeds are the best choice, at least for your first couple of crops. These first attempts are best used to hone your growing skills and get to know how marijuana plants work. Removing the complexities of breeding makes this significantly easier.

Pros

  • Exclusively bud-bearing plants
  • No risk of pollination
  • Cost-effective, as you won’t have to remove half your crop
  • Huge variety of stable genetics available

Cons

  • Can’t breed with them
  • Harder to clone
  • Potentially higher chance of hermaphrodites—can be mitigated by buying high-quality seeds
  • Limited to commercially available genetics

What Are the Pros and Cons of Regular Cannabis Seeds?

Cons

Regular seeds, on the other hand, offer the obvious benefit of being able to breed, thus allowing individuals to produce their own strains. However, for a beginner who hasn’t nailed the growing process, it’s likely that breeding will be a mostly random process. This is because, if you haven’t grown your plants well, it will be impossible to tell whether their strengths and weaknesses are the consequence of their genetic makeup or environmental influences.

That said, those looking to simply take clones from a quality mother will find a good partner in regular marijuana plants.

Pros

  • Breed your own strains
  • Produce viable clones
  • Create a pollen bank over time
  • Huge variety of genetics available

Cons

  • 50/50 chance of male/female plants
  • Spotting a male too late can wreck a harvest
  • Requires much more space, as two grow rooms will be necessary

Are Feminized Marijuana Seeds Better Than Regular Seeds?

Cons

Answering this question ultimately comes down to your own preferences. If you want an easy ride to big-yield-land, then feminized seeds are the best option for you. If you choose a high-quality strain from a trusted breeder, you’ll be able to grow a whole load of high-quality plants, each behaving in mostly predictable ways.

Yield and potency tend to be very good in commercial strains, and more or less any terpene profile can be found, meaning you can match your palate's desires fairly easily.

What’s more, though they may seem less "pure" than regular seeds, feminized seeds will—by making cultivation easier—allow you to practise growing, ultimately making you better at it. In the long term, these skills can be turned to regular seeds and breeding your own strains.

On the other hand, it's important that the skills of home breeding are not lost, and that people continue to develop diverse marijuana strains. Who knows where the next huge innovation could come from? So, once you think you’ve got growing down, consider getting a batch of regular seeds to start breeding your own varieties. Explore genotypes and phenotypes; you never know what might happen.

And we can't forget our growers looking to take cuttings! In this case, female plants grown from regular seeds are often thought to make better mothers. Have you found a perfect specimen that you want to replicate? Regular seeds are the way to go.

What Should I Buy: Feminized Seeds or Regular Cannabis Seeds?

Cons

For beginners, it should be fairly clear by now that our advice is to get some good-quality feminized seeds in the ground. Introducing the extra challenge of identifying male plants before they pollinate your females is an unnecessary issue while you still have other things to learn.

It’s far more important to figure out how often to feed, water, the importance of pH, when to harvest, etc. Ending up with a load of seeds in your bud will most likely not inspire you to have another go. At least, not compared to a good haul of delicious high-grade.

Nevertheless, a time may well come when you wish to expand your cannabis-related horizons, and breeding your own strains is an incredibly exciting voyage—one that requires regular seeds! The pleasure of knowing that a new genotype is expressing a never-before-seen combination of phenotypes, and that you created it, is hard to beat. But all in due time!

Luke Sholl
Luke Sholl

Fascinated by the wellness potential of nature, Luke has spent over a decade writing about cannabis and its vast selection of cannabinoids. Creating, researching and writing content for Cannaconnection, alongside several other industry-related publications, he uses strong technical SEO skills and diligent research to bring evidence-based material to thousands of unique visitors.