Plant Life cycles and seeds

Just briefly, some notes from stuff I am learning about plants…

A Plant Life Cycle

A plant life cycle describes how long a plant will live:

  1. Annual: A plant that usually germinates, grows, flowers and dies in one year, e.g. lettuce. (An Ephemeral is like an annual and has more than one generation in a season).
  2. Biennial: Has vegetative growth in the first year. In the second year, the plant will grow and form flowers, then set seeds and dies. E.g. carrot.
  3. Perennial: Can live for many years and usually produce flowers and seed each year after maturity. Woody perennials have permanent top growth. Decidous plants lose their leaves in Winter and Evergreens are evergreen! Herbaceous perennials do not form woody tissue.
  • All plants in the above life cycles produce flowers and seeds, which means they can be propagated by seed.
  • Seed propagation contains risk as the seed will be made up of a combination of the parents’ DNA. With plant sexual reproduction their is no guarantee of the seed parentage due to cross pollination.
  • Asexual reproduction, done through cuttings, bulb division, etc is the same as cloning a plant so the resulting plant is more predictable.
  • Growing supermarket veg and fruit can be risky as a lot of these varieties are F1 hybrids. E.g A good tasting parent is combined with a disease resistant parent to create an appealing fruit. The fruit resulting from this seed would probably throw some good tasting fruit that aren’t disease resistant, or disease resistant fruit that taste like crap.


  • In a flower, ovules develop into seed and the ovary develops into fruit.
  • Pericarp is the tissue that surrounds the seed. It can be fleshy, or hard and dry.
  • Fleshy examples: Tomato, citrus, rosehips, apples, watermelon, stone fruits.
  • Dry examples: Poppy, kowhai, lily, dandelion, sunflower, bean, cone, maple and nuts.

Seed collecting:

  • Try to leave the seed on the plant for as long as possible
  • The colour usually changes to brown
  • Too early and the  seed may not be viable

Seed dispersal:

  • Explosion: Gorse and Broom
  • Wind: Pohutukawa, Dandelion, Maple, Swanplant
  • Animals (external): Pittosporum, Cleavers
  • Animal (internal): Elderberry, Rowan
Dandelion seeds (achenes) can be carried long ...

Dandelion seeds (achenes) can be carried long distances by the wind. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Conditions for good seed germination:

  • Water
  • Light
  • Oxygen
  • Appropriate temperature
A germinated seedling (Eranthis hyemalis) emer...

A germinated seedling (Eranthis hyemalis) emerges from the ground (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Seed storage: For dry seed storage (opp to seed germination):

  • Low moisture
  • Cool temp
  • Air tight (ziplock bag within an envelope)
  • Low light (dark)

Fell free to pull me up on any of the above…

2 Responses to “Plant Life cycles and seeds”
  1. thismumrocks says:

    so now after all these notes, what plants/fruit/veggies do you like to collect and grow from seed? I’m shocking, and really only have luck with corn.

    • Mabarmalie says:

      Good question! I’ve only ever really been into growing veges, so the world of garden plants is all new to me.In the past its been mostly heritage tomatoes and pumpkins – easy stuff. But I’m hoping to propagate most of our section for free. Will try some natives, lillies and flowers. Hmmmmm – sunflowers – they’ll be easy…

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