All plants begin life as a seed. When a gardener places plant seeds in an environment that meets their individual needs, they will germinate and grow. Plant seeds must have water, ideal temperatures and the proper environment; then the seed will burst forth from the seed coat and germinate. Some seeds need light to germinate, and other seeds need darkness. Some seeds need the soil to be a specific temperature; other seeds don't need a particular temperature. Seeds also must be at the proper planting depth to facilitate germination.
With the proper environment, enzymes within the plant seed change stored carbohydrates into sugars used for germination and seed growth. Eventually, the embryo grows enough to split the seed open. Out of the split seed, the radicle pushes down and anchors itself into the soil. The radicle is the first root of the new plant. Once the radicle grows out of the seed, the process of germination is finished and the plant begins to get the nutrients and water it needs from the soil. The stem grows up from the radicle. The stem emerges from the soil, and the cotyledon unfurl from the stem. The cotyledons are the first leaves of the plant. After the cotyledons form, the first true leaves grow next and the stem continues to grow taller and stronger.
Flowering and Pollination
The flower buds appear next. After the flower buds open to reveal the flowers, pollination must occur. Pollination occurs when pollen moves from the anthers to the stigma of a flower. Pollination occurs by the wind, bees, butterflies, insects and bats. Pollination must happen in order for the flower to turn into fruit and thereby produce seeds. Some flowers pollinate by self-pollination, when the pollen and stigma originate from the same flower. Other flowers pollinate by cross-pollination, in which the pollen and stigma originate from different flowers.
Fruit and Seeds
After pollination occurs, the flower withers and the petals fall. Ovules grow within the plant ovary and the fruit forms on the plant. The new plant seeds are inside the fruit. When the fruit ripens, the fruit may fall onto the ground. Some seeds are scattered by the wind when the fruits mature. Fruits fall to the ground, then decompose into the soil. These new plant seeds plant themselves in the ground where they fall or where the wind blows them, and the plant cycle resumes. Sometimes, seeds ride on the fur of animals to new locations, where they fall to the ground to begin the growth process.