How Does a Seed Become a Flower?
Flowering plants, which represent a large portion of the plant kingdom, follow a regular and predictable pattern of growth from seed to flowery maturity unless something abnormal happens to their environment such as an untimely freeze, a drought or extreme heat wave. A flowering plant may sprout, flower, produce seeds and die in a single year or may grow, flower and produce seeds for a number of years before dying.
The first stage of a flowering plant’s life is germination, where an embryonic plant emerges from the seed. Seeds germinate in response to the correct amount of daylight, soil temperature, rainfall and other cues such as a spell of cold weather before warm weather. The correct conditions trigger growth in the plant embryo contained in the seed. The embryo uses nutrients stored in the seed for its initial growth. The embryo breaks through the seed coat, and sends roots downward into the dirt and a green shoot upward to the soil surface.
After germination, a flowering plant’s roots collect water and soil nutrients while its green leaves convert the energy of sunlight into sugars. The water, nutrients and sugars fuel a rapid vegetative growth stage where the plant goes from being a tiny sprout to a mature member of its species. The length of the growth stage varies with the species. Annuals, which live for only one year, have a single vegetative growth stage. But flowering plants that live for multiple years have a growth stage that adds stems, leaves and roots each year they live.
When a flowering plant reaches the right stage of maturity, it forms buds on its stems that will expand into flowers. The timing of the flowering stage varies with the species and the environmental conditions. Flowers are the sexual reproductive organs of the plant. Some flowering plants have male and female parts in the same flower. Others have separate male and female flowers on the same plant, while still others have separate male and female plants. The female flower part, called the pistil, contains the ovary that will nurture the seeds of the next generation. The male flower parts, called stamens, contain the organs that produce the pollen that will fertilize the ovary.
Pollen is carried from the stamens to the pistil by wind or by a pollinator such as a honeybee or moth. When a pollen grain lands on the tip of the pistil, it releases sperm that travel down inside the pistil to fertilize the ovary at the base of the pistil. Once pollination and fertilization have occurred, seeds start to grow in the ovary. Meanwhile, the flower withers away as the ovary swells and the seeds within it ripen until they are ready to release. With annuals, the plant dies after the ripe seeds are released. With perennials, once the ripe seeds are released the plant stores food in its roots for use next year, and then goes into dormancy until environmental conditions trigger a new round of growth, flowering and seeding.
- Countryside Info: Plant Life Cycle
- City University of New York: Division Anthophyta (Angiosperms)
Herb Kirchhoff has more than three decades of hands-on experience as an avid garden hobbyist and home handyman. Since retiring from the news business in 2008, Kirchhoff takes care of a 12-acre rural Michigan lakefront property and applies his experience to his vegetable and flower gardens and home repair and renovation projects.
How Does a Seed Become a Flower?. Flowering plants, which represent a large portion of the plant kingdom, follow a regular and predictable pattern of growth from seed to flowery maturity unless something abnormal happens to their environment such as an untimely freeze, a drought or extreme heat wave. A flowering plant …