Germination and Growth
All flower seeds follow the same stages, or life cycle. There are six main stages in the flower seed life cycle: germination, growth, flowering, fruit or seed pod production, seed dispersion and death. The main difference between flower seeds is how long they take to complete each stage. Annual flowers like marigolds, calendulas and poppies take about a year. Perennial flower seeds such as lavender, astilbe and hollyhocks have longer cycles.
If you have a flower seed large enough to split open with your fingernail, you will notice three main divisions. The protective coat covers the exterior. Inside, the endosperm occupies most of the space, and the smallest part is the embryo. A flower seed depends on two factors to germinate, humidity and warmth. Once damp and warm enough, the flower embryo inside the protective seed coat absorbs water and swells. The growing embryo depends on the endosperm for nourishment until it sends out roots and cotyledons. Embryonic leaves make their appearance a few days after the cotyledon emerges from the soil, and the plant starts its process of photosynthesis. The seedling now enters into its second stage, plant growth. The cotyledon thickens into a stalk, and more leaves appear. Once a bud is produced, the flowering and fruit stages come next.
Flowering and Fruits
The original seed, now a mature plant, enters into the flowering and fruiting stages. This is the reproductive stage that produces new flower seeds. The flower gets pollinated, which starts the process of fertilization. A zygote is produced, which becomes a growing embryo. This will eventually become a new seed, but first the flower produces a fruit.
You may not think of flowers as having fruit. If you carefully observe your plant once it has lost its petals, you will notice a bulbous growth, which is the fruit. It may look more like a pod. The growing fruit or pod has seeds inside it. Depending on the flower variety, it can take days or months to complete the flowering and fruiting stages.
New Seed Production
Lastly, the mature fruit bursts open and disperses new flower seeds. Having almost completed its life cycle, the last stage a flower seed goes through is death. The original flower seed has gone through many transformations as it goes through its life cycle, eventually leaving behind more flower seeds. It can be a fascinating experience to follow a flower seed through its different stages, for adults and children alike.