Understanding the Basic Plant Life Cycle

The garden grows and dies. Then next year, some plants spring back, but others do not. How can we determine which come back to life and which do not? The basic life cycle of plants can tell us a lot about whether plants will continuously grow or not.

A circle
Here is a list of a typical life cycle of a plant.

  1. Seed

  2. Growth

  3. Producing offspring

  4. Death

It's a seedy life
The seed is the starting point for most plants, although plants such as ferns start as spores. The seeds are produced in a fruiting body. For flowers, this is in a seedhead that forms after the flower starts to wither at the end of its life cycle.

For vegetables and fruit, the seeds are produced in either flowers, a fruit or a fruiting body. For example, the tomato produces seeds in the part that we eat. Once the plant starts producing the fruit, it usually only produces a set amount of fruit or keeps producing in a set time period.

A seed contains all the things necessary for the plant to start its growth cycle. It contains all the food that a beginning plant needs. It also has a protective coat or shell to keep it intact as much as possible before it breaks out and starts growing into a plant.

Growth and food
Once the seed has sprouted, the plant will need nutrients, air and water along with sunshine to make its own food through the process of photosynthesis. This is the scientific term for the process the plant uses to make its own food. When we take in food, we have to get our food from an outside source and then process it in our own bodies. A plant makes it own food, which is mostly sugars).

Reproduction
Once the plant has reached a certain height, it stops growing and spends the rest of its energy on producing offspring. Offspring are like the plant's babies. The plant must produce more of its own or there would never be any more of that plant. The parent plant starts to produce seeds.

If too many seeds get into one area, there will be too much competition and not many seeds may survive. But if they spread out and find areas secluded from others like it, they stand a much better chance of survival.

Plants have adapted various means of spreading out the seeds. Some have developed spines or barbs. This allows the seed to attach to the fur (or clothes in the case of humans) of animals that brush up against the plant. Some seeds have developed wing shapes that allow the wind to carry the seeds further away.

Death
All things die. It's a fact of life. Death is inevitable with a plant. Plants are only programmed to live so long. But they live on through the seeds that have been planted. More plants will come.

Most of the typical garden plants die when the weather turns cold. Usually, we have to keep planting seeds ourselves in the garden because we take the fruit and use it as food ourselves. Some of us may keep the seeds to use next year. Some gardeners may let a few fruits stay on the plant so they may produce plants next year.

Understanding the circle
The circle that we call the plant life cycle is important to understand. Knowing about the life cycle can help us determine which plants we may need to replant the next growing season or which plants may come up on their own. Its use in planning, planting and caring for the garden is a key factor in whether the garden will survive or not.

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