Like people and animals, plants reproduce to form new specimens. Some plants reproduce by sending up shoots from parent plants, while others grow numerous tubers and rhizomes beneath the surface of the soil, which eventually grow to form new plants. Flowering plants reproduce by forming blossoms and going through a series of steps that produce seeds. Although the reproductive cycle may vary in length, depending on the variety of plant, flowering plants all go through similar steps to complete the reproductive cycle.
As the parent plant matures, it begins to produce blossoms. These blossoms start as small, tight buds that eventually open into flowers. The open blossoms contain small organs that help them reproduce. Blossoms contain both male and female structures.
The male structures, known as the stamens, produce pollen. Female structures, called carpels and pistils, receive the pollen from the stamens. Once the pollen reaches the female ovary, fertilization occurs.
For flowering plants to complete their reproductive cycle, certain conditions must exist. In addition to adequate amounts of light, moisture and soil nutrients, flowers require some outside assistance to help them transfer pollen to the ovaries. Bugs, such as bees and butterflies, help move the pollen to the nearby female structures. Wind, rain and gravity also assist this movement.
Once fertilized, the embryo begins to grow. The plant embryo, also called the zygote, begins to form a hard coat that protects it from damage. Some varieties of flowering plants require a second fertilization from another sperm to complete this beginning stage of growth. As the seed matures, it develops a root apex and a shoot apex.
Mature seeds fall from the mother plant near the end of the plant's reproductive cycle. With proper seed-to-soil contact and suitable amounts of warmth and water, these seeds begin to grow. The root apex exits the seed to begin forming roots in the soil, while the shoot apex begins to grow upward, emerging as a young sprout. In time, this new plant will mature and begin its own cycle of reproduction.