How to Explain the Life Cycle of a Plant

Plants are an interesting organism due to their versatility and diversity. Whether they're perennials or annuals, flowers or foliage, the life cycle of a plant may vary, but the concept remains that in the end, it's a circle of life.

agriculture plant seeding growing step concept in garden and sunlight
credit: Witthaya Prasongsin/Moment/GettyImages
How to Explain the Life Cycle of a Plant

Life Cycle of a Flower

Flowers have a five-stage life cycle. These stages are:

  1. Seeds
  2. Young plants (sprouts)
  3. Mature plants
  4. Buds/flowers
  5. Mature flowers or fruit

Plants begin as seeds that are sown into the dirt. Seeds are often planted in the early spring to give them enough time to grow before the end of summer or early fall. Depending on the plant, some seeds can even be started indoors at the end of winter to guarantee a fully mature plant by the end of the summer season.

When the seed obtains sunlight and water, it will eventually break through the dirt in the form of a sprout or a young plant. This usually resembles a small, delicate green stalk with a few small leaves beginning to form and grow. After this delicate beginning stage, the young sprout will turn into a mature plant that's fully grown and much more stable. It will be able to withstand more of nature's elements without being affected.

Once the plant has reached its full maturity, it will then produce buds or flowers depending on the kind of plant. If the plant is flowers, beginning buds will appear that will then transform into the final stage of the life cycle of the plant by producing a mature flower. If the plant is a fruit, the mature plant will produce a flower that will be pollinated and eventually bear fruit.

If you have a fruit-bearing plant, it's also important to know if it's a male or a female plant. Typically only female plants will bear fruit, which contains the the seeds needed to grow more plants. Be sure to ask which your plant is if you hope to continue growing more over time.

Life Cycle of Cattails

The cattails life cycle may seem a bit more confusing to plant lovers since they're not a leafy plant nor a flower-bearing plant. Cattails are a unique plant because they're hermaphroditic, which means that the single plant bears both the female and male parts. Unlike the traditional five-step life cycle of plants, the cattail life cycle only goes through four stages:

  1. Rhizomes
  2. Young shoots
  3. Flowers
  4. Seeds

The roots of the cattails remain dormant in the ground throughout the winter. The roots, which have a tube-like appearance, are referred to as rhizomes. These can be transplanted to reproduce other cattails. These roots will begin to produce young shoots that appear in the early spring and resemble new shoots and leaves. The best time to transplant the rhizomes is before the young leaves arrive when the shoots are still dormant.

Once the young shoots and leaves mature, the next stage is when the "flowers" appear. For cattails, the flowers don't resemble a series of colorful petals like typical flowers. The brown fuzzy "tail," which is the female part of the plant, is considered the flower.

This is the section that holds the seeds used to continue the cattail life cycle. The male section of the cattail is the small thin stalk that is located on top of the "tail." This part is the one that pollinates the tail by shedding the pollen in mid-summer and then drying up and falling off.

The "tail" eventually produces the seeds that are attached to white fluffy pieces that make the cattails able to reproduce by traveling with the wind. The life cycle of cattails is easily started over again with the 250,000 seeds that each cattail can produce.


Lisa Dingman

Lisa Dingman

As a full-time mom, writing allows me to follow my passion and expand my knowledge on subjects I otherwise wouldn't look into.