We learn early-on that plants come from seed. And we know that with proper care and optimal growing conditions that the seeds turn into full-grown plants. Some of these plants bear flowers, fruits or vegetables, while others are strictly foliage. But exactly how do flowers grow? And here’s another question for you… where do the seeds come from?
Where Seeds Come From
A flower’s center contains two types of tubular parts. The one in the very center is called the stigma and the ones surrounding the stigma are called stamen. The stamen are topped by pollen, that when gathered by bees (usually), is dropped into the stigma. When the pollen is dropped into the stigma, it travels down to the ovary by going through another tube called the style. Once the pollen reaches the ovary, it fertilizes tiny particles called ovules. Once those ovules are fertilized they are called seeds.
After blooms of the plant have died and the seeds are dry, they can either be scattered or gathered for planting. Seeds that are scattered usually lie dormant for the winter and germinate in the spring to grow into new plants. Some of the ways seeds are scattered:
1. Wind — blows the seeds to new locations
2. Seed pods — burst open spilling seed to the ground below
3. Birds — drop seeds as they eat them
4. Animal waste — animals who are foragers (cattle, sheep, horses, goats) eat seeds and then deposit them through their manure
5. Dropping — seeds fall from the plant when the plant dies or goes dormant for the winter
Seeds that are gathered can be sorted and stored away in a cool, dry place until spring for planting directly into the ground or containers. The little packets of seeds we buy each spring are filled with seeds that have been gathered from plants grown the previous year.
How Flowers Grow
Now that you know where the seeds come from, let’s talk about how the seed becomes a flower. To become a plant, a fertilized seed must be placed in soil (dirt) that contains vitamins and minerals to help it grow. The seed also needs water and sunshine. The purpose of the water is to soften and expand the seed coat until it breaks open so that the embryo can begin to grow. The purpose of the sunshine is photosynthesis. This is just a really big word that means the plant gathers energy from sunlight and uses it as food to help it grow.
Once the seed coat breaks open the seed leaves begin to grow and push up out of the ground. At the same time, tiny hair-like roots are beginning to grow, as well. For the next several days, new sets of leaves form, and the stem of the plant grows taller and stronger. The roots also grow deeper and stronger, securing the plant in the soil and acting as a straw to soak up the soil’s vitamins and minerals and the water and fertilizer that are added to the ground.
With the proper amount of healthy soil, sunshine and water, the new plant will continue to grow, bloom and make new seeds to be scattered or gathered to be sown and germinated the following season. And so it goes; on and on and on and on and on….
Experiment: Sprout a Seed
Some seeds are much easier to germinate and grow than others. One of the easiest is a bean. In fact, you don’t even need dirt to see it sprout and begin to grow. Here’s what you do….
1. Place five or six cotton balls that have been thoroughly soaked with water in a small clear glass jar or paper cup.
2. Lay two bean seeds on top of the water-soaked cotton balls and lay one or two additional cotton balls (also thoroughly soaked with water) on top of the beans.
3. Place the container with the beans in it in a sunny location such as a window sill.
4. Over the next several days, keep the cotton well-saturated and watch for the beans to pop open
5. As the seed leaves begin to grow and more leaves form, remove the top layer of cotton and watch it grow!
Another fun way to watch seeds sprout is to grow a saucer of grass.
1. Place a sponge that has been thoroughly soaked with water in a shallow saucer.
2. Sprinkle a light layer of grass seeds over the top of the sponge.
3. Keep the sponge well watered and watch the grass grow. NOTE: No mowing required