When it comes to growing marijuana, it’s typically the female plants that get all the glory. Females produce buds for consuming and seeds for growing, but male plants have their role in the process, too. Like many other vegetative species, female cannabis plants need to be pollinated by the male plants in order to produce seed, which is an important part of the process for growers and breeders. When breeding certain plants together, collecting pollen can give a breeder more control over the process and create their own seeds and plants.

male cannabis plant

Before pollen can be collected from plants, the male plants must first be identified. When the plants first start growing, the stalks will be thicker and sturdier, and they won’t have as many leaves on them as female plants. As they begin to grow (typically between July to September in outdoor grows), the plants will start to show their sex so you can identify them. Males will typically show their sex before females, and it will be in the form of little balls that are the actual pollen sacs, located on the joints of the plant’s stalk. In time, these sacs will bust open and pollinate any female plants in the vicinity. If that happens, the female plant will produce only seed so growers that are waiting for bud should remove the males from the females.

Once those pollen sacs start to crack open, the pollen is ready to be collected. There are two different methods that can be used to do this. One of the more delicate ways to do it is to place a small bag over the pollen sac and tape or loosely wire it onto the stem, so that it stays on the plant. Then, as the sacs continue to open and release their pollen, you can gently tap on the stalk, which will gently shake the plant and cause the pollen to be released into the bag.

catching pollen in a bag

For those that think the first method to be too delicate a process, the pollen sacs can also be carefully cut off of the plant when they begin to open. The entire sac can then be placed into a plastic bag, with all the pollen sacs going into the same bag. As the sacs dry out and split open, the bag can be gently shaken so that the pollen falls out into the bag.

Once the pollen has been collected, it can then be stored in the refrigerator. It will be viable for use for three to five days afterward. When ready to use the pollen to fertilize female plants, just use a small brush to gently brush the pollen onto the female plants and you’ll be well on your way to the perfect strain or plant for you!