Tony O’Neill, gardener and author of the popular “Composting Masterclass” and “Your First Vegetable Garden,” combines lifelong passion and expert knowledge to simplify the art of gardening. His mission? Helping you cultivate a thriving garden. More on Tony O’Neill
Whether you wish to save money or witness the different stages of plant growth, planting seeds in your garden can be a gratifying experience. There is nothing more wholesome than watching seeds go through different growth stages.
Several stages are involved in plant growth, from seed to sprout, vegetative to budding, budding to flowering, and flowering to ripening. And to ensure their proper growth, they require adequate water, nutrients, air, light, temperature, space, and most importantly, time.
So, if you plan to build a healthy and beautiful garden, here is a complete guide to help you understand each growth phase to give your seeds the best start.
What Are the Different Stages of Plant Growth?
What takes place while a seed grows in a healthy plant? A lot happens in a plant’s life cycle, from absorbing nutrients to photosynthesis and reproduction.
Three different stages of plant growth can be further categorized involving various processes. Each plant has additional requirements during each phase of development. Thus, it is essential for a gardener to know the multiple stages and ensure they thrive.
Germination stage of plant growth
The life cycle of every plant starts with the germination of the seed. To help the process, the seed needs water, optimum temperature, and oxygen.
Usually, vegetables and fruits require a temperature between 25° to 30° Celsius (75° to 88° Fahrenheit) for germination.
However, knowing which temperature would be better for your seeds is essential. For instance, radishes or spinach require a lower temperature, around 4° Celsius (40° Fahrenheit), to germinate.
Coming to the essential element for plant growth – is water. When the seed gets adequate water, it develops turgor pressure. This is when the seed’s vacuoles and cytoplasm start to fill up with water, and the cells begin to swell and push against the cell wall. It is now time for the seed to germinate.
The video below will show you how to get excellent germination when sowing your seeds. Following the info in this video makes looking after seedlings essential; you will be set for great plants.
Signs of germination process in plant growth
The first sign of germination is the formation of roots. As soon as the seed starts to emerge roots, it indicates that it is active, viable, and can grow. Once the roots are formed, the shoot will also begin to sprout.
For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.Cynthia Occelli
It enters the seedling stage once leaves start to emerge. At this time, the seedlings should be kept in direct sunlight else they will grow leggy.
Moreover, the root growth will slow as maximum energy goes toward shoot elongation. This is done in an attempt to find sunlight for photosynthesis. Thus, if the seedlings are kept in direct sunlight, they will grow stronger roots along with thick and healthy shoots.
Vegetative stage in plant growth
Once the root system is strong enough, it can support growth. This is when the next stage – the vegetative stage commences.
The plant is primarily dedicated to growing stems, leaves, and branches. The plant would require a huge amount of nitrogen to produce chlorophyll. Other than nitrogen, plants also require other nutrients like phosphorous and potassium.
The vegetative state is the most significant phase in the plant’s life cycle, so ensuring that the plant is offered unhindered, ideal environmental conditions is essential.
Reproductive stage in plant growth
The next and final stage of plant growth is the reproductive stage. Now the primary goal of the plant is to produce its offspring. Thus, its energy is directed toward creating flowers, fruits, and seeds.
Also, the amount and duration of daylight the plant receives is a major factor that triggers the reproductive stage and is responsible for producing flowers or fruits, known as photoperiodism.
Artificial lights may do the trick if your region does not get adequate sunlight.
Pollination process in plant growth
There are several ways in which plants are pollinated. Pollination can be carried out by several means: water, wind, bees, or other insects. The process involves the pollen of one plant being transferred to another. This is how flowering plants commence their reproduction phase.
Pollination refers to the transfer of pollen from one plant to the stigma and the transfer of pollen to the stigma of another flower of the same plant.
Since the pollen carries the male gametes or sperm of the plant, this is an essential step for the fertilization of the plant. With the help of the pollination process, the male gametes transfer to the plant’s stigma, which contains a female gamete (egg cell).
Types and methods of pollination that can happen in plants
There are two types of pollination.
The one between plants of the same species is known as self-pollination, while the one between plants of different species is known as cross-pollination.
Fertilization process in plant growth
After pollination, a pollen tube grows in the plant’s ovary. The sperm of the male gamete cells then move along the pollen tube toward the ovary to fertilize the female gamete cell.
Once the cell is fertilized, a zygote is formed, which develops into an embryo. This is the very beginning of the offspring.
Another male gamete cell combines with polar cell bodies found in the center of the embryo sac to create the endosperm tissue material providing food and energy for the embryo’s proper development. This endosperm is the seed produced by the plant.
If you are growing your plants indoors, you must serve as the ‘bee’ to help them pollinate. They need a gentle touch with a delicate and soft painter’s brush on the petals to help them pollinate and produce fruit, the process I have written about called manual pollination. Feel free to check it out here.
However, one can also use some breeze from a high-power fan for indoor plants.
Elements Required for Plant Growth
Now that we know about the various stages of plant growth, we also learn about the multiple elements and resources required to carry out all the mentioned processes successfully.
Water is needed for survival and plant growth.
As we already know, all living beings depend on water for survival. Similarly, plants also need water to carry out moisture and nutrients between the roots and the leaves.
While keeping the soil consistently moist is essential, ensuring you do not overwater your plants is equally important, as it may also cause certain diseases.
Plant growth needs to be boosted by adding nutrients to the plant
Plants require 17 different types of nutrients for optimum growth.
While plants get carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen from the air, plants also obtain certain nutrients from the soil.
These are divided into macro and microelements. Some of the most vital macro elements that a plant needs are nitrogen (foliage growth), phosphorous (flower development), and potassium (root growth and immunity booster).
Air is needed for proper plant growth.
Other than water and nutrients, plants need fresh air for proper growth. Air pollutants like smoke or gases can be quite harmful to plants.
It may even limit them from obtaining carbon dioxide from the air, thus creating food through photosynthesis. Moreover, fog or smog can restrict or block sunlight, further hampering plant growth.
Soil and the matter within it are needed for plant growth
Soil offers the plants a mixture of mineral materials, organic matter, and water essential for their development.
The tiny fragments of mineral materials derived from rock weathering, organic and dead, determine the texture and fertility of the soil. Healthy soil will offer the necessary support to plant roots and help them grow.
Countless soil types can be used for your garden, and many ways to enrich it include adding mulch, mixing different types of soils, and adding organic materials. I wrote an article about these steps for improving soil fertility, and you can read them here.
To have proper plant growth, Light is needed.
The light reaching the plant’s surface is reflected, absorbed, or transmitted. Being one of the most vital elements in the chemical reaction of photosynthesis, sunlight is essential for plants.
Photosynthesis is carried out by utilizing light energy and releasing oxygen and water.
This helps the plants to produce food from carbon dioxide and water in the presence of chlorophyll. Thus, the quality and duration of sunlight affect the plant’s growth.
Temperature can also play a part in plant growth.
The temperature and climate of your region play an important role in determining what kind of plants you can grow. It differs with altitude, latitude, and topography, so one must pick the plants that will withstand the existing climate conditions in your area.
Also, it should be remembered that most plants prefer nighttime to be a little cooler than the daytime.
Compost can be added to boost plant growth.
Composting refers to the restricted decomposition of organic materials by bacteria, fungi, and worms.
While decomposition is a natural process, composting and recycling organic wastes is a process that can help in building healthier soil and thus ensure the proper growth of your plants. Further explanations, tips, and tutorials on compost are covered in this article I wrote, so feel free to check them out.
Look into using Fertilizer for plant growth.
Plants need a balanced mix of all the essential nutrients throughout their growth cycle.
While most of these nutrients can be found in the soil, there can also be an inadequacy in some regions, resulting in improper plant growth. Fertilizers can help reinforce and supplement plant growth.
When to add fertilizer to aid in plant growth
They can begin feeding their seedlings once they develop their second set of true leaves. The application of a half-strength liquid fertilizer weekly can work for most plants.
Be sure to apply it delicately so that the seedlings are not displaced from the soil.
After around a month, you may apply full-strength liquid fertilizer weekly until you decide to transplant them.
Enough Space is needed for proper plant growth.
Both foliage and roots need enough space to grow. Since plants need all the elements mentioned above in varying proportions, planting them too close to each other can increase competition between them and can thus result in stunted growth.
Moreover, plants grown in crowded areas are more prone to diseases due to restricted airflow and poor immunity.
By offering plants enough space, you will give them adequate nutrients, water, air, and sunlight to help them grow.
Time and patience is a definite factor for plant growth
It must be noted that gardening takes time and effort. One needs to be patient enough while growing plants. Plants need periods ranging from days, months, and even years to produce flowers or fruits.
Conclusion on A Step-by-Step Look at How Plants Grow
Growing plants from seeds may seem quite a challenge. But the help of this step-to-step guide might make things a lot easier for you.
There is so much more to it, of course, for many plants and types exist worldwide. Hopefully, you will get to decide which plant you want to grow in the comfort of your garden and feel the gratification and joy for every step of its growth.
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