Plant Growth Stages – How Plants Grow

Plant growth stages mirror other living things with a beginning, reproductive, and ending stage, except some plants have an additional dormant stage. The terms for these stages are: Vegetative, Reproductive, Senescence, and Dormancy.

Starting with the seed, a plant seed is similar to a fertilized egg. It contains a food store for the new plant life, and a protective outer shell. In the first stage of plant growth, the Vegetative stage, the seedling absorbs moisture and nutrients from the inner food store inside the seed. When the plant has absorbed the seed foods and starts growing the root stem, and shoot that becomes leaves, it penetrates the seed’s protective wall and begins growth. The root grows down into the warm moist earth, while the shoot rises upwards towards the sunlight and warm air. Upon emergence, leaves unfold and the roots continue to grow and spread. This continues until the plant seedling is fully developed with extensive roots, root hairs and leaves. The roots and leaves absorb moisture and nutrients from soil, water, and air.

The next of the plant growth stages would be a Reproductive stage. At this point, when the seedling has matured, it will produce a flower that has either male or female parts, or both. The flower contains pollen, which is then transferred to the egg part of the flower and a transformation into new seeds, or pods containing seeds, begins to grow to maturity. The pollination can occur with the help of wind, vibrations, insects like bees, and animals. Or, humans can artificially breed and cross breed plants through pollination efforts or splicing branches to other plants. The benefit to pollination of seeds is that gene diversity can occur, which may help survival.

A third growth stage occurs after new seeds or pods have been produced and spread to make new plant life. This would be Senescence, or old age in plants. This can be seen in the fall as the leaves on certain deciduous trees change color before dropping off. Plants show deterioration similar to other organisms in old age, such as damage from free radicals and telomere shortening.

Another growth stage that is different than Senescence is the Dormancy stage. In Dormancy, the plant goes into a state of hibernation, allowing it to survive intense winter weather and revive in the springtime with new growth, without going through a seed stage. This is easily seen in trees, that drop leaves in the fall, and the sap runs up, then the tree remains in a dormant stage until new buds come out in the warmer spring weather, to run the entire cycle year after year until the tree eventually dies. Dormancy can give plants an edge because they can build on prior year’s growth instead of starting over from seed. This gives them a competitive edge in competition for sunlight and soil, as they are bigger.

Plant growth stages are similar to growth and deterioration of other organisms, all part of the chain of life.