Lina and Maria are in Maria’s garden. They’re looking at all the different plants that Maria is growing, and Lina is thinking about how nice it would be to plant something in her family’s garden too. She remembers how there were much fewer plants in Maria’s garden a couple of years ago. And now, it seems like they just multiplied! How did that happen?
One plant can become more plants by reproduction. Plants have two different ways of reproducing. One way, is for a plant to grow a new plant from one of its parts! The new plant will grow from a part of the parent plant, and it will have exactly the same genes as the parent plant: it will be a clone! This type of reproduction, is called asexual reproduction.
Different types of plants have different methods of asexual reproduction. Potato plants are an example of plants that reproduce asexually. Potatoes are in fact swollen underground stems of the plant, so called tubers. Have you ever accidentally forgotten a potato somewhere, and noticed it grew a hard yellow or white bit? That’s a bud, and if you plant that potato, it will grow into a whole new potato plant!
Some other plants, like ginger, have special stems that grow underground. Parts of these stems are called nodes. These will develop new roots, stems and leaves: a whole new, independent plant! Other plants, like strawberries, also have special stems - runners, but these usually grow horizontally above ground. As these runners grow further away from the parent plant, part of the runner develops roots that grow into the ground.
Other parts develop stems and leaves: a whole new plant! But there is another type of plant reproduction, sexual reproduction. New plants formed by this type of reproduction won’t be the same as the parent plants, but completely unique! How does this type of reproduction happen? Let’s look at an apple tree!
This plant has male and female reproductive organs that grow inside the flowers. Male cells are found in grains of pollen that are produced in the flower. To produce a new plant, male cells need to reach the female cells, which are found at the bottom of the flower. Pollen can be carried by an animal, such as an insect or a small bird, or by wind. This process is called pollination.
When pollen reaches the female cells, these become fertilised and turn into seeds. If the conditions are right when the seeds fall onto the soil, they’ll start growing, develop roots, stems, leaves and eventually flowers: a whole new plant will be formed! Some species of plants only reproduce sexually and some only reproduce asexually, but many species can reproduce in both ways! Lina, you could ask Maria if you can cut off one branch of the rose bush. So you can try planting it in your garden and growing your own rose bush!
Oh and look! Maria has some spare sunflower seeds she collected from last year’s sunflowers, you could try planting those too!