Different Plant Life Cycles

As many people become more city based and less connected to the countryside than perhaps they would have been 100 years ago….. and as education nudges ever further away from natural things in favour of modern technology….. it is perhaps no great wonder that when it comes to knowing about the natural things that surround us, like bird song, native trees, or as I sometimes irreverently put it….. “The Difference Between An Acorn And A Five Bar Gate!” ….. many people have missed the bus.


And I don’t blame them for the situation that they are in. Somehow, they have been badly let down because they find themselves in a natural world that they don’t even notice. That they don’t even care, that is the tragedy. It seems to me to be truly tragic to be surrounded by plants, and to not have a clue what they are. Of course, it is probably a case of     ” …whatever lights your candle”.

Nevertheless, when it comes to plants, it might be of interest to know that there are different life cycles within the world of plants.

For instance, many of the very colourful summertime plants that people have in their tubs and hanging baskets live out their entire life in one growing season. That is to say that the seed from which they originate germinates to produce a seedling. Then the seedling establishes itself and grows to maturity and produces flowers. Then the flowers are fertilised and produce seed, and having done so, the plant dies. Its life cycle over. A plant whose life cycle follows this pattern is known as an Annual.

A Biennial has to do the same things as an Annual, but having germinated it grows to maturity during the first growing season, over-winters and then the following growing season it flowers, produces seed and then dies.

Lastly, the Perennial  does all of the growing and flowering each season, but either its top growth dies back at the onset of winter and then the root throws up new shoots in the following Spring, or it simply slows right down in the winter, almost hibernating, or it sheds its leaves and goes into a sort of limbo through the winter. Then, at the onset of Spring comes back to life again and does it all again.

So maybe, when you observe plants through a season you will be able to work out which life cycle they follow.