What are autoflower hermies?

Hermaphrodite or “hermie” cannabis plant simply saying is a one sex plant that develops opposite sex flowers.

Autoflowering cannabis growers usually come across hermaphrodites that are females and show some male flowers. But the opposite can also happen and a male plant can show female flowers.

When a male autoflower plant shows female flowers it is usually called the “backward” hermaphrodite and they are seen far less often because growers usually grow females and exterminate the males.

This phenomena of one sex auto cannabis plants turning hermie can be explained in two ways:

  1. Genetic hermaphrodites: These plants are genetically programmed to be hermies and they will do that in any conditions.
  2. Stress-induced hermaphrodites: These are plants that are pure females/males and are stressed in some way to produce other sex flowers. The most typical ways to induce other sex flowers on autoflowering cannabis plant is to stress it by changing the light cycle rapidly, fluctuate the PH of the water and soil, introduce temperature shock by increasing and lowering the temperature, and introducing chemicals like “gibberellic Acid”,” Colloidal Silver” that encourages the plant to change sex.

Hermaphrodite pros and cons

Hermaphrodites are usually considered a bad thing and growers tend to exterminate them before these female cannabis plants can develop fully functioning male flowers and ruin the sinsemilla crop. In fact, if a genetic hermie plant pollinates himself or any other female there is a 50% chance of these next-generation seeds to become hermaphrodites and that is the real reason why people fear hermies.

But there is a good side of hermaphrodites too! Cannabis plants typically are females (they have xx chromosome) or males ( xy chromosome) but if you induce these plants to stress then you can get the opposite sex flowers to appear on the plant.

If a genetic female that has only the xx chromosome produces a male flower it can only transfer the x chromosome and if this pollen is collected and another genetic female is pollinated with this exact pollen then the offspring (seed) will only have the xx chromosomes and it will produce almost all females. This is one of the ways how seed companies produce the famous feminized autoflowering seeds. There is always a small possibility that a feminized seed will become a hermaphrodite but it is far more likely to get a female than a hermie.

So if you have stressed your plants and some of your females start showing male flowers you can in fact collect this pollen from these male flowers and pollinate some other females and produce your own feminized seeds. This is a good way to get cheap autoflowering feminized seeds and with a small amount of work and a ruined plant (hermie) can in fact become very valuable.

If you try to produce these feminized seeds you must be sure that the autoflower hermie plant was stressed properly before producing the male flowers and not just producing these opposite sex flowers in perfect conditions because if the plant turns hermie easily the “feminized” seeds can be unstable and produce a much larger percentage of hermies than usual.

Experienced breeders and seed producers take only the strongest females that show no weakness of becoming hermaphrodite and stress them almost to their death and only then these strong autoflower females start producing male flowers and that pollen will make a real feminized seed!

If you think about these feminized seeds and their advantages then you can see that any amount of hermie/female ratio will be better than the % that you get from regular cannabis seeds because from regular seeds you can get males, females, and hermie plants but if you eliminate the male plant from the equation then chances of the plant being female is much higher.

Backward hermies

Backward hermaphrodites are also a good thing and some growers say that with these backward hermaphrodites you can produce the most potent and most resinous females and also get a better female to male ratio of those backward hermie seeds.

These weird hermies are very rare appearance and there is not much information about their positive and negative traits but the potential of these male hermaphrodites is huge and we need to do more research to fully understand these plants.

Mature female hermies

Another form of hermaphroditism is the male flowers that sometimes appear in the last days of a flowering female cannabis plant. These females are not considered hermies and that is a natural occurrence of some cannabis strains.

This phenomenon can be exploited to once again produce feminized autoflowering seeds but these male flowers that grow in the last days of flowering need time to mature and in most cases your plant will be worthless when these male flowers are ready to spread pollen and most growers ignore them and harvest that plant anyway.

But if you let that plant grow out the male flowers and collect that pollen then it is a good way to make feminized seeds but that female who produced those male flowers will be worthless because the THC will most likely be degraded by the time the male flowers are mature enough to spread pollen.


  1. Its like you read my mind! You seem to know a lot about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you could do with a few pics to drive the message home a bit, but other than that, this is great blog. A great read. I will definitely be back.

    • 1st time grower. Can I post a picture anywhere on this blog to learn If my plant a hermaphrodite?

  2. Just what I wanted to find out. Have three strains of males going to collect. The sativa dom Lemon Skunk is just about to pop pollen sacs – now finding several pistils buds forming. Going to grow it out for the seeds.

    • Grateful Child on

      Probably, but I think it would try to keep producing them instead of females, …or at least split the energy resulting in poor buds.

      • You are absolutely right, cutting some male flowers wont do any good because your plant will still produce new ones!

  3. so if its got a lot of pollen sacks with few female flowers its more than likely a “backwards”? Iv grown many seasons and for the first time have a plant like this (its what brought me here). so I should seed it out?

  4. carbonunit dave on

    I found that seeds from hermaphrodite autos aren’t very succesful.Only 1 in 10 germinate in tissue and the survivor was stunted.Better to stay with pollenating from a male plant I think.

    • Interesting finding, but I agree that 100% male and 100% female plant pollination is the best and most natural seed creation process!

    • soulrebel on

      I dunno, I got two seeds from my first autoflower harvest in the bubblelicious, I planted one of them, and it has grown into a beautiful little girl and is not starting to flower just like her mama did! I am super stoked bc her mama was gorgeous and high yielding, super frosty and smells fruity and delicious!!! Im ampted to try out some of the methods suggested in this article…I would keep trying to germ those seeds from yer autoflower hermis…I waited till late, late flower for the male blossoms to develop, so I guess they were feminized-auto and I didnt even know it! Stoked!

      • soulrebel on

        I mean, “…she is #NOW starting to flower just like her mama did…”…NOT “not”…dang, I swear I edited that, too!

  5. carbonunit dave on

    I’m an organic soil grower but I’ve realised that with these new air pots and a fish tank pump I can easily convert to a hydroponic set-up with the addition of a tray for the water without all the expense of hydrponic gear.A fiver incl.the air stone.

  6. Nice to hear that, I am also an organic grower but will definitely try some Hydroponic setups in the future and I see that this is the case for many growers that start out with soil or soilles mix and nutrient solutions, then go organic and after a while dip their toes in the hydroponic growing niche!

  7. soulrebel on

    Excellent article!!! By far the most detailed and informative of anything I have found on this topic on the web or from any other source…I am glad to hear that there are benefits to hermis, as well. And those are great suggestions as far as producing feminized-autoflower seeds…I am definitely going to start using autoflower-fem seeds for many personal reasons, but one of the main set-backs was the cost of ordering them from private seed banks, so I am definitely going to explore the option of producing my own! Thank you so much for the information…it will surely prove to be invaluable! Keep up the good work!!!

    • Hey, tnx for the good words, good to know that my articles help someone! happy growing!

  8. Jackyork on

    I love this site. and agree with ‘soulrebel’


    Question – I have quoted a line from your blog above.

    “. If you try to produce these feminized seeds you must be sure that the autoflower hermie plant was stressed properly before producing the male flowers and not just producing these opposite sex flowers in perfect conditions, because if the plant turns hermie easily the “feminized” seeds can be unstable and produce much larger % of hermies than usual”

    I bought 8 fem autos online they are about 3-4 weeks old 1 of those plants have turned male without any stress my end i know this because the other 7 are going great. Can this happen.?

    The bit I’v quoted – are you saying because the 1 male has turned male too easy without stress my end it may not produce good quality and quantity fem seeds when polinated.

    thanks in advance.

    • That is exactly what I ment in that sentence! If it turned hermie without any stress then that second generation will definetly be more unstable!

  9. Crazy Auto on

    Do auto strains regenerate after the first harvest or will they just whither and die soon after if they are harvested in early summer?
    I’d like to be able to use the stress of harvesting to get the plants to hermie and still have viable plants with buds able to pollinated. I really want to select the best most potent females to breed after sampling.

    • Hi,
      From my experience you cant regenerate autos, I have tried to keep some branches on a female after the harvest but the plant died soon after.
      I think this is just because they have that internal clock and when it runs out then the plant dies, not like regular Sativa or Indica strains, that can be revegged.

  10. I have 5 beauties going…now I started them end of jan one pla t started budding by march now they are all budding…I have one oh 18″ w/ 40 or more buds /white and red pistles hairs,now this wk it was turning brown on top w/ pocket or bulb type making them bigger…I think it’s a hermie is still good to smoke and should I let it grow…I have it isolated…

  11. I have my plants in buckets outside. I had to bring them in the other night.. When I did I put them in my closet. It was complete darkness.. The next a.m. I noticed a whole bunch of new growth. But they are the little leaves that are snug in with the nugs. HELP WHAT THE HELL DID I DO… I did also give it some 10/20/10. At the same time that I brought it on same night..

  12. Merri Brook on

    I have an indoor grow operation, this has been a problem for me. When I move my new plants from the veg room into another room to bloom, should I wash the walls, which are covered I plastic, ceiling too, to get rid of any pollen before bringing my new plants in? Also, do I reuse the soil or do I have to use new soil. What do you suggest I use to clean the room, someone told me bleach everything, another said use joy dishwashing soap.

    • Hi Merri,

      First about that soil – I usually like to get new soil because the old one has all the chemicals from the previous grow and that can cause problems to the new plants.

      About cleaning your room – I think bleach is a bit of an overkill because pollen can be dostroyed even with plain water and that is why I usually clean my grow area with bio-degradable soap and have not had any problems with that method.

    • Hi Salaam,

      Yes, you can clone your plant, but it will still be a hermaphrodite and on autoflowers cloning is not a great method because those clones will start to flower as soon as the mother plant.

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