You must have seen wheat crops, orange gardens, and other plants that farmers cultivate in bulk. We frequently rely on these for food and agriculture. Most of us have our favorite fruit and flowers. Perhaps you also grow houseplants from seeds, like me. This replication and flowering of plants only occur due to their reproductive cycles.
How Do Plants Reproduce?
We can categorize plant reproduction as sexual or asexual. Sexual indicates that they rely on plants of the opposite sex to reproduce. In sexual reproduction, flowers of male and female plants reproduce through pollination. They create female and male gametes, whose fusion develops fruit and seeds. Meanwhile, asexual implies that sometimes plants don’t depend on others to replicate. Plants can reproduce asexually through buds or propagation.
Why Learn About Plant Reproduction?
Before we dive into the details, it would be good to discuss what you can do with this knowledge.
People tend to forget that plants are also living beings that perform similar functions as us. These include excretion, nutrient consumption, respiration, and reproduction.
Learning about the reproduction methods of plants helps you understand their anatomy. They have different organs with various characteristics and functions. Knowing these can lead you to appreciate the natural diversity.
You can also look after your plants in a better manner once you learn how they reproduce. Perhaps you want to propagate houseplants and create a fancy garden. Or maybe you want to experiment with exciting breeds of flowers, vegetables, or fruit.
Either way, having prior knowledge will facilitate successful experiments.
Overview of Asexual Reproduction
In this type of reproduction, there is only one parent. It means that the baby plant has an identical genetic make-up as the parent plant. You can even think of them as clones.
It is because there is no genetic mixing with other plants. So, the resulting plant also has the same characteristics as the parent. If you facilitate asexual reproduction for your plants, the young ones will have excellent chances of surviving in the same atmosphere.
Such plants also mature faster, and their growth is predictable. Botanists and plant lovers use various means to conduct asexual reproduction in plants. It is also a naturally occurring procedure.
Crops in which asexual reproduction is common entail onions, sweet potato, and ginger, among others.
Details of Asexual Reproduction
The asexual reproduction in plants can take place through multiple methods. None of them include the fusion of cell nuclei, as we see when plants reproduce sexually. These methods may be natural, artificial, or both.
Fragmentation occurs when a mature plant’s body naturally splits into smaller fragments. These bits are then capable of growing into healthy adult plants if the conditions are suitable. It is mostly shoots that reproduce this way.
Fragmentation can also occur from roots. It is the case with a willow tree that sheds some of its roots. These forsaken roots have the potential to replant themselves.
However, some plants are non-vascular. It indicates that they do not have separately developed roots, leaves, or stems. These include mosses and liver wood. Such plants also reproduce asexually through fragmentation.
People refer to fragmentation as the most popular vegetative propagation method.
This method resembles sexual reproduction, except there is no fertilization. It happens through seeds and is common in flowering plants.
You may have observed some extensions in the middle of female flowers. These are called ovules. They contain the reproductive cells or eggs of that plant.
During Apoximis, the reproductive cells can divide through mitosis. It is a process in which one parent cell divides into daughter cells. They can then divide into more cells, and the cycle continues. They produce seeds that are like clones.
They will then mature into plants identical to their parents.
You can look for the example of apomixis in some interesting plants, like Blackberries, White Beams, and Meadow Grasses.
Budding and Grafting
Many botanists call these two the horticultural techniques. In simple words, it means that farmers and food growers can use these to produce high-quality food. So, budding and grafting have agricultural and commercial value.
Budding begins when small structures grow on the shoots of a plant. These outgrowths fall off the parent plant at some point. Then, you can see those developing sprouts and leaves. Soon, they turn into healthy adult plants. They also look very similar to the original plants.
In grafting, you can intervene to propagate these buds before they fall off. You can also create a hybrid plant of two varieties. People usually perform it on plants whose stalks are covered with wood. The selected branch is called understock.
You may have houseplants like roses or fruit plants like apple, peach, or pear. If you’d like, you can also use budding to propagate your houseplants.
Overview of Sexual Reproduction
Sexual reproduction in plants requires two parents. One of them has female reproductive cells, and the other has a male structure. Compared to asexual reproduction, it is a lengthy and slow process. It mostly occurs naturally and can take several months to complete.
The young plants that result from this will not look like clones. They can have many variations. It is easier to understand when you think of a biological human family. All members share some features, but they don’t look the same (unless they are identical twins).
Because there is some unpredictability in offspring, you can’t guarantee that the new plants will survive in the same atmosphere.
However, it is crucial because it often results in plants with exciting features. Sometimes these new plants have even better chances of adapting than their parents!
Organs that Plants Use for Sexual Reproduction
Before we discuss the procedure, it would help to understand the organs that plants use to reproduce sexually. So, I compiled a brief description for each critical component.
Stamen is the term for the male reproductive structure in plants. Stamen is identifiable as a long and slender filament. On its top is a sac-like construction, called the anther. Together, filament and anther make stamen.
The pistil is a collective term that we use for the female reproductive system in plants. The entire structure is shaped like a vase, round at the bottom and slender at the top. We can divide the pistil into three parts.
It is the circular bottom of the pistil.
Style is the extension that grows upwards from the ovary.
It is the topmost part of the pistil. If you took a flower and looked at it horizontally, you will see the stigma’s surface.
Details of Sexual Reproduction
The two stages to this include pollination and fertilization. In the first stage, the anther of the stamen (male reproductive system) produces pollens. These are powdery substances.
Many people recall pollen allergy when they hear the term. However, very few types of pollen are allergic. These come from weeds and other shrubs.
So, in pollination, the pollens land on the female reproductive system or pistil. It can belong to a flower on the same plant, as expected in self-pollination. When male and female flowers come from different plants, we label it as cross-pollination.
Insects, bees, or wind can transfer the pollens to stigma. After landing, the pollen travels down the style to the ovary. Here, it fertilizes with the egg. After fertilization, an embryo and then the seed can develop.
These soon turn into ripe, edible fruit like pomegranate or crops like peas. Finally, you can plant these seeds to regrow your favorite plants.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT PLANT REPRODUCTION
What Should I do if I want exact replicas of my plants?
To have more identical plants, you can propagate your original plants through budding and grafting.
How can I identify if a flower is male or female?
You can check the inner part of the flower. A female flower would have a pistil and a male stamen. Flowers can also be bisexual and have both reproductive parts.
Which type of reproduction is faster?
Asexual reproduction takes less time than sexual because it only needs one parent plant.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.