Have you ever wondered where flowers come from? Or thought about how grass grows? From the tallest tree to the daintiest daisy, all plants have a fascinating life cycle. Read on to find out more.
Phase one: germination
Life starts small for plants, with most species having humble beginnings as a seed - the seeds of some flowers, such as foxglove, are no bigger than a grain of salt! A seed contains a tiny plant, which will start to emerge once the conditions are right - a process that is called germination. To be able to grow, most seeds need to be covered with soil, have access to water and a warm temperature. This is why the majority of flowers and plants start to grow in spring, as winter is too cold for germination.
Phase two: shoots and roots
Germination ends when the plant emerges from the soil and appears above ground. No longer a seed, it is now called a shoot. Once the shoot is exposed to sunlight, leaves will begin to grow and it is able to start producing its own food through photosynthesis. As well as growing up, the plant will have been growing down; roots develop and delve deep into the soil, absorbing the water and minerals needed for growth.
Phase three: flowering
Once the shoot and roots are established, the plant will begin to flower. This is a key part of the life cycle, as it allows the plant to reproduce by making seeds of its own. The snowdrop is one of the first plants to flower in the UK, providing a sign that winter is coming to an end and spring is on its way.
Once grown, flowers produce pollen. To develop seeds, this pollen must then be transferred to another plant of the same species. This is achieved with a little help either from the wind or insects like bees and butterflies. Plants that rely on insects, such as bluebells and primroses, attract the creatures by producing bright and colourful flowers. The pollen is then transported as the insects fly from plant to plant. Those that transfer pollen through the wind, like grasses, have much smaller flowers that are harder to see. It's not just insects that are attracted to flowers, however. The sight of a woodland with wild flowers in full bloom is one of nature's greatest spectacles and has been drawing people to the woods for centuries.