How Do Plants Grow?
How do plants grow is a good question that the
beginner gardener needs to know. Plants will not only create a beautiful
butterfly garden, but also can become undesirable garden weeds.
Regardless of beautiful flowers or garden weeds, this page covers both the question of how plants grow and how to eradicate them.
"One year's seeds
make seven years' weeds."
How true! Some annual weeds can easily
produce 60,000 seeds
per square yard, lambs quarter can produce 70,000 seeds
on a single plant! This equals several generations of weed seeds.
How do plants grow when they are annuals?
An annual is any plant that lives for one year. Annuals reproduce by seed,
but some can start to grow new plants from their roots in the ground, although
this doesn't happen as often.
Seeds spread by insect pollination, wind, water,
animal transference, etc. The gardener can also grow plants from seed.
During it's twelve month life cycle the annual:
- sprouts from a seed
- flowers to set new seeds
1) There are two categories of annual weeds: Winter and
- Summer Annuals grow primarily spring through fall and die after the first
- Winter annuals sprout in the fall, will grow a few inches and then go
dormant in winter. In early spring, winter annuals resume growing, set seed in
summer and die when the summer heat hits.
how do plants grow
Controlling annual weeds:
- Manually removing weeds:
The goal would be to never let weeds seed. This can be done by using a hoe
to take off blooms before seeds are produced falling to the ground.
1) Pull weeds when they are just a sprout, root and all. Do this in the spring
and fall. Once annual weeds have their flowers, if pulled, seeds will fall to
the ground, starting the process over again.
2) Using different mulch types prevents sunlight from germinating seeds by photosynthesis.
Seeds that are present in the soil can sit for years without germinating
if the sun can't get to them. Outside of organic mulch, inorganic mulch types are a very good option to.
- Using herbicides:
Different herbicides are used for different purposes. A pre-emergent
herbicide is what is used for killing any germinating seed, which most
seeds are found in the top 2" of soil. Pre-emergent's are ineffective if there
is a sprouting weed. This is when a post emergent weed control is what is
1) Timing is key with a pre-emergent. Factors such as soil type, weather and
depending on herbicide, influence effectiveness. Chemicals can remain in
soil from a few weeks to 3 or 4 months. The best bet is to get into a routine of
understanding germination of summer and winter annuals and apply pre-emergent
herbicide around this.
2) Depending on the task at hand try any homemade weed killer. Many are a preemergent
and post-emergent herbicide. Use caution, especially
if kids or pets are around.
- Mowing is valuable for weed control in the lawn:
Studies have shown mowing grass high and regularly reduces weed seeds from
germinating, ultimately lowering annual weed populations over time. This is key when understanding how do plants grow when they are unwanted in the lawn.
If annuals do sprout, lawn mower can control their spread making sure the
flower doesn't grow and if it should, seeds are blown around where they are
unable to get established. Sharp blades also help prevent seeds from sticking on
them, helping them to blow around.
If mower blades are set to mow lawn 2" or less, weeds will grow more over the
years with soil exposure to the sun and is found to also weaken grass roots. It
was especially shown that 1 1/4" was the point where most germination
Mowing grass higher at 2 1/4 - 3" reduced weeds drastically over years. By
doing so shades the soil and cools it better from sun drastically reducing seed
Keep in mind that mowing height for grass is considered the distance between
mower blade and soil. Attaching a clipper bag also helps to get rid of seed and
can be used for compost.
3) Examples of Annual Weeds are:
How do plants grow when they are biennials?
'Bi' means 'two'. Biennial plants, flowers and weeds all have a two year cycle
to seed. A biennial seed sprouts in spring or summer, (depending on the plant)
and produce a rosette of leaves.
The first year is strictly vegetative. During
this time leaves produce sugars that move down roots and are stored as starch,
This stored energy is used to survive the winter and in spring grows to
create the second years flowering stems. Some stems of the biennial have leaves,
some don't. Once the flower produces and sets seeds the plant dies.
During the two year cycle a biennial:
- Sprouts from a seed
- Grows and sets leaf rosette to store up energy
- Dormant in winter
- Flowers to set new seeds
how do plants grow
Controlling biennial weeds:
- Manually Removing Weeds:
The best method of weed eradication is to dig out the entire leaf rosette,
roots and all. This is best done in the first year, but if cluster can be cut
out in spring before stems form, this will work too.
In it's second year biennial's reproduce by seed but as with annuals - some
can still grow by roots.
2) Follow the above guidelines for weed control of
3) Examples of biennials are:
- Biennial Thistle's - Bull, Musk, Spear, Tall, etc..
- Caper spurge
- Goat's beard
- Queen Anne's Lace
How do plants grow when they are Perennials?
Perennial flowers, plants and weeds live for three or more years and can
reproduce in other ways beyond annuals and biennial.
Like biennials, perennials in their first season store fuel for the
second growing season. How they grow and have energy stored for the second
season is different.
Perennials can spread by seed, but unlike seed growing plants, if root
and stem are cut, they'll produce more plants.how
do plants grow
1) How do plants grow? Food energy stored by:
Taproots are underground stems that spread. If cut and not completely
removed, it's highly likely that taproot will sprout more growth producing more
plants. So where there was only one before will turn into more.
These are stems that run above the ground and take root when they touch the
ground. Stolons, often termed runners, are a slender
stem-branch that grows away from main plant running above soil line and also
below. Sometimes stems bend over and also produce roots. When above the soil
line, buds are produced at the tips and root. These can also be called
creeping perennials, which mat and can crowd out grasses.
This is a thick, fleshy solid mass looks like a potato, but can have
different shapes. The tuber sits horizontally underground and buds form roots
and shoots that will grow the plant. Tubers store the energy overwinter to
produce new growth in spring. Not all tubers grow as the plant grows. Some will
actually diminish in size with plant growth.
Rhizomes are horizontal creeping roots that separate into pieces where it
can be easily reproduced for propagation, even if finely chopped. This is also
known as vegetative reproduction What is a rhizome? They are
also roots, rootstalk and
- True Bulb and/or Bulbil
A bulb is like a storage container that houses the flower that is already
forming inside. It has fleshy leaves and a stem on the bottom that looks like a
flat disc. In the center are the flower and stem. Bulbs look like an onion, many
have an outside paper thin protection called a tunic. Bulbs are
considered weeds when they tend to grow and spread rapidly. Field horsetail,
quackgrass, and Canada thistle are weeds. Bulbs can reproduce by seed and
bulbets from the parent bulb.
A corm is a short, upright swollen stem base that is mass of tissue designed
to store energy. They are usually round and flat without a point at the top like
a true bulb. As a plant grows the corm shrivels. New corms, called
cormels grow around but they don't usually begin to grow for a
2) Controlling Perennial Weeds:
What is above ground can be easily removed but it is the stored up energy
sources beneath the ground that continue to reproduce.
1) Concentrate manual efforts in spring before flowering removing all of the
above energy root systems. The goal is two-fold where root system does not grow
larger and flowers don't set seeds.
2) Dig everything up, if possible.
3) Starve the root system. By cutting off everything above the surface, roots
use stored energy to create more stems and leaves. What is meant by
starving the root system is to keep cutting down the growth
until there is no more energy stored to create, or rebuild new plants.
It's important to keep cutting these types of weeds every 1-2 weeks because
energy gets stored up again with photosynthesis of the sun. Do this especially
in the fall because roots can be weakened to the point of not surviving the
- Using Herbicides:
Different types of herbicides kill different types of weeds. Understanding
them can be confusing. Click for an outline which explains more of how
1) Apply pre-emergent weed killers to perennials to kill germinating seeds.
Pre-emergent herbicides have been known to cause some damage to bulbs that can
prevent them from growing.
2) This page doesn't discuss grass and broadleaf weeds (annual and perennial).
But they are weeds and can be controlled with selective broadleaf herbicides.
3) Perennial grassy weeds are most difficult to control and kill once
established. Non-selective herbicides are designed to kill grass weeds but can
also kill good grass.
4) Glyphosate herbicedes are the most widely used to control grasses although
they can be used on broadleaf weeds.
how do plants grow
3) Examples of perennial weeds on how do plants grow:
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