Why Flowers Are Important
There is an old song that tells about the flowers and the trees, the birds and the bees, the moon up above, and a thing called love.
Flowers symbolize romance and love. We send them to our Valentines and picked them for our mother as a child. And what would a wedding be without flowers! It's not only love that makes the world go 'round, it is also flowers. But not just because we wear them to proms or draw them on greeting cards. Without flowering plants the whole structure of the flora and fauna kingdoms would be drastically altered.
It is important to understand the function of flowers and the pollination process. Environmental changes can affect pollinators like bees and other insects. Already there are failed colonies of bees that have occurred. Organic gardening offers solutions for controlling pests without the risk of harming the pollinator population.
Gardeners may notice that the squash, zucchini and other flowering vegetables lose some of their blooms without producing. There are things that can be done to help the "sex life" of their plants. Salvia and Mexican Heather are two plants that seem to attract more bees than others. Adding these type of flowers can ensure better pollination.
The gardener himself can even do the pollinating. Many garden plants like squash and melons have male and female flowers. The female flower will have a tiny vegetable at the bottom. The male flower does not. The gardener can break open the male bloom and touch the important male part helping to inject the pollen into the female bloom.
Evolution Of Flowering Plants
Dinosaurs and seedless plants, among other things, disappeared during the mass extinction that occurred at the end of the Cretaceous period. These extinctions left plenty of niches open into which flowering plants could move. Species could grow and prosper. Geologically speaking, their evolution happened quickly and alongside the diversification of insects, birds and other small animals. It became a matter of survival of the species, and flowering plants continue to make important adaptions.
How Flowers Reproduce
Perhaps because flowering plants evolved along with small animal life like butterflies and birds they share some basic traits that can classify them as living things. One of them is reproduction. They reproduce sexually.
cells that have chromosomes
We can examine the reproductive properties of plants without getting too technical and keep things on the "flowery" side. Then we can better understand the survival of all species of plant and animal life.
Importance Of Pollen
Flowers don't bay at the moon, do strange dances or make funny noises to conjure up love-making for sexual reproduction. Insects and other animals use high protein pollen and sugary nectar for food. The bright colors and sweet smells of flowers help to attract the pollinators to them. What animal is this like? If you said Homo Sapiens, you are correct! These pollinators are super transporters of pollen. Flowers won't have to make as much pollen as other plants for the species to survive.
The flowers of plants need pollen from other flowers to make seeds. Does this remind you of animals in any way? Of course it does!
When pollen comes in contact with the female parts of another flower, the reproductive cycle begins.
Classification Of Flowering Plants
At the cellular level, plants have diploid and haploid cells as animals do. The cells divide and the chromosomes are halved. Like humans and other animals the flowering plant begins life as a fertilized egg that grows into an embryo, or an organism at the early stage of life. Unlike animals, scientists use the number of cotyledons, or embryos called seed leaves to classify flowering plants into two groups-monocots and dicots.
Monocots and Dicots
Monocots have one seed leaf while dicots have two. Some familiar monocots are different lilies and cereal grains. Black berries, raspberries, broccoli and cabbages are examples of dicots.
As the embryo develops the seed leaf will either stay inside the seed coat for food or break out and turn green. The baby plant is ready to be nourished by the nutrients in soil, using water and sunlight to make it's own food.
It is the remarkable capability of making it's own food that has helped all plants evolve and survive. They in turn provide food for all animals either directly or indirectly. Flowering plants are the biggest survivors of all with over 240,000 species.
Reproductive Parts Of Flowers
Some flowers have both male and female parts. Others have only male or female parts. Some plants will even have both male and female flowers on the same plant.
The female's parts are called carpels. In most flowers the carpels fuse together to form a pistil. The pistil has three parts: the stigma, style and ovary. Just as in female animals, the eggs are stored here until they are fertilized. Also, as in the animal world, plants can only fertilize eggs of the same species.
The male reproductive parts are called stamens. The stamens have two parts, the filament and the anther. The filament supports the anther which is where pollen is produced.
Reproductive Cycle Of Flowering Plants
Pollen produced by the anther is transferred to the stigma of the female flower by pollinators. If the flowers are small it will usually be the wind that does this, and these tiny flowers survive by making more pollen. After the pollen lands on the stigma the pollen travels through the style, or tube that leads to the ovaries. When the ovules are fertilized they will develop into seeds. The petals of the flower fall off and leave the ovary to develop into a fruit. A fruit can be anything from a juicy peach or squash to a sunflower seed hull. The job of the fruit is to enclose and protect the seeds, another mode of survival that the flowering plant adapted.
Lifespan Of Flowering Plants
Now the flowering plant has reproduced and the fertilized ovum has passed from embryo to adulthood. It will have one of three types of lifespans. It is helpful for the gardener to know what the lifespan is to determine which plants have to be replaced and when.
annual: produce flowers and die in one year. corn, squash, lettuce, watermelons and zinnias are some common annuals.
biennial: flowering plants with a lifespan of two years. produce short stem with underground food storage the first year. food reserve is used the second year to produce flowers and seeds. carrots, hollyhocks, foxglove, black-eyed susan are common biennials.
perennial: a flowering plant that lives more than two years. woody plants like trees are perennials. day lilies, hostas, irises and roses are favorite perennial flowers
10 Most Popular Ornamental Flowering Plants World Wide
Plant in groups. Full sun.
Perrenial & Annual
Grows in fields, meadows, woods. Can buy special mixed seed packets
Provide good drainage, tolerates poor soil, attracts butterflies
Full sun, moist loamy soil
Special light & temperatires needed
well drained soil, can take some shade,many varieties
Perrenial, but often planted as annual
full sun, sandy soil,good drainage
Shade, moist soil, first flower of Spring
well drained soil, full sun, prune and fertilize
well drained soil, full sun, grows from rhizomes
Wildflowers are the second most popular flower in the world. They grow in fields,meadow and woods all over the world. They can be seen growing along busy interstate highways. There are even wildflowers that have adapted to life in the desserts. Wildflowers are important to the environment. They turn carbon dioxide into breathable air. They are like nature's air fresheners.
Wildflowers can be grown from purchased packets. Choose mixed seeds or seeds indigenous to your area. Plant them densely to help keep out the unwanted s.