How does a plant grow?

Have you ever thought of the origin of all the plants you see around you? How does a plant grow (from seed to full grown plant)? Plants are an outcome of seeds being planted. The seeds sprout to life. This process of sprouting is scientifically referred to as germination. This article explores in details the process of growth of a plant right from when a seed is planted until the plant becomes fully grown.

The factors that facilitate the growth of a plant

It is impossible to look at the process of the growth of a plant without considering the factors that facilitate this process. There are three major factors that are necessary for a seed to grow into a plant. They are: light, food and water.

1. Light

The source of light can be the natural light (sun) or artificial light. The light provides the seed with the energy required to carry out photosynthesis.

2. Food

For plants to grow, they need to produce their own food through photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is the process through which a plant makes food out of light energy.

3. Water

Water is another condition that plants need to grow. When a seed germinates, the roots develop. The roots come in handy in supplying water and nutrients from the soil to the plant. As the plant continues to grow, the roots also grow in length and stretch more in an effort to carry more water from the soil to the plant.

The phases of growth of a plant

1. Germination stage

As mentioned earlier on, germination marks the foundation of the growth of a plant. Germination depends on factors such as: oxygen, warmth, light and water. Although some plant seeds need light to germinate, others do well in dark conditions. Germination is marked by planting of seeds in the soil. After several days, the planted seeds start to absorb water (imbibition process) and swell. The swelling triggers the splitting of the seed coat. Further, the roots and the plant shoot develop from the seed. Eventually the plant develops true roots and leaves.

2. The vegetative and growth phase

The development of the root system (the true roots) facilitates growth which in turn marks the stage for the vegetative phase. In this phase, the plants need adequate nutrients-nitrogen- in order to produce chlorophyll (the green pigments found in plants). Growth in this case is evident in the leaf areas, stems and branches.

3. The reproductive phase

This is the last and fascinating phase of the growth cycle of a plant. As the name suggests, the focus in this phase is for the plant to reproduce. Flowering takes place and so does the production of seeds and fruits. Unlike in the growth phase where nitrogen is a key nutrient requirement, it is not the case in this phase. The key nutrients required are potassium and phosphorus. This is because plant growth in this phase slows down.

How does reproduction occur?

Reproduction especially in flowering plants is supported by pollination. Pollination entails transfer of pollen (the sperm or male gametes of a plant) from a plant to another plant’s stigma (the egg cell or female gametes of a plant). It can also involve pollen being transferred from a plant to the stigma of a different flower of the same plant. Through pollination, plant fertilization is facilitated leading to development of a seed. The growth cycle of the plant starts all over again.






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