From the tiniest of flowers in your garden to the most enormous trees out in the forest, the plant life cycle is something that almost all plants go through.
It describes the stages they go through from the start of their life as a tiny young seedling into a beautiful, fully-grown adult plant and beyond.
Let’s look at each of those stages, one-by-one.
Life Cycle of Plants
The plant life cycle starts with a simple seed. Some seeds -like pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds– can make a tasty and healthy snack, but most have another, very important job:
Making new plants.
They do this by first moving from the plant and being spread across the ground. Some are spread when a strong wind lifts them from the plant and blows them around. Others are picked up by birds, bees and bugs, and some are gathered up by humans and planted in their gardens.
However those seeds are spread, the next stage in their life cycle is to germinate.
Germination is when the roots of the seed begin to grow inside the shell. In order for this to happen, those seeds need four very important things:
1. Oxygen (air)
2. Moisture (water)
4. The right temperature.
Without any one of these things, the seeds won’t have what they need to germinate and will never become anything more than seeds lying around in the soil.
When the seeds get enough oxygen, water, sunlight, and the right temperature, the tiny seed begins to sprout.
This is when it pushes its way out of its shell, sending its roots down, deep into the ground and starting to grow into a plant.
Eventually, that sprouted seed will begin to grow into a small, delicate young plant which will pop its head out of the soil.
We call this a seedling.
This young seedling still needs to do a lot of growing, and to do that, it needs lots of nutrients which it can get in two ways:
- From the soil
- From the sun.
The seedling keeps its roots firmly in the soil, soaking up all of its nutrients so that it can continue to grow.
It will also use the power of the sun to grow. Plants have a certain green pigment in their leaves called chlorophyll which takes sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide from the air around us to generate energy which helps it to grow.
This process is called photosynthesis.
Over time, photosynthesis supports the seedling to continue growing into a mature, adult plant.
You can tell an adult plant because it has leaves, roots, a stem, and flowers. Let’s look at these parts in turn:
Roots and Stem
The roots soak up more nutrients and water from the soil to keep the plant alive and growing, just like we take in nutrients and water from the things we eat and drink. This is then carried through the plant by the stem, which also helps to keep the plant strong and upright.
As all this is happening, the leaves continue to use the process of photosynthesis to create energy.
The blooming flowers of a plant allows it to reproduce and make more plants, keeping the life cycle going.
The flower is made up of lots of different parts.
It has a stamen that produces a yellow, powdery substance called pollen which is used to create a new plant.
It has a stigma, which contains what are known as ovules. When these ovules are mixed with the pollen from another plant, they are fertilized and turn into seeds.
It also has petals, which are usually nice and colorful to attract bugs and insects which can help carry the pollen from the stamen to the stigma.
When the pollen is moved from the stamen to the stigma and the ovules begin to fertilize, we call this the process of pollination.
Sometimes, pollen can be picked up and moved from plant to plant by the wind, but it is usually moved by insects like bees and butterflies.
These creatures are drawn in by the pretty petals and drink up a sweet liquid produced by the plant known as nectar. As it moves around the plant to get all that delicious nectar, pollen attaches to the insect’s body and legs.
When it has finished drinking all the nectar from one plant, it moves onto another one. There, some of the pollen from that first plant will fall off the insect onto the stigma of the next plant, and the one after that, and so on
When the pollen from one plant reaches the ovules of another, those ovules become seeds which are then spread by the wind or by insects, and the whole plant life cycle starts all over again.
Free Plant Life Cycle Worksheets
Here is a set of the life cycle of plant worksheets that you can use with your kids or students to reinforce the stages of a plant. These printable worksheets include cut and paste activities, a coloring page, and 3-part Montessori cards that are perfect for science learning centers.
The worksheets and flashcards make learning about the plant life cycle interactive and your kids will love these hands-on activities. Use them along with germinating seeds in a bag and growing seeds in cotton balls experiments so that the kids can see the beginning phases of a plant right before their eyes.
To download the free worksheets, simply fill out the form below. You will receive the worksheets in your inbox.
The Plant Life Cycle: What Have We Learned?
By now, we’ve learned the six stages of the plant life cycle.
Plants start as tiny seeds and get spread across the ground where they take in food and water which helps them to grow into full adult plants. Then, the process of pollination begins, new seeds grow, get spread around, and the whole thing starts again.
The next time you’re outside, why not take a look at the plants and flowers? It can be fun to look out for bees and other insects helping with the pollination process or to spot any tiny seedlings that are just starting to grow and imagine what they’ll be like when they’re fully grown.