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How Plants Survive Winter

 

Winter scene © David Hoult

It is difficult for plants to survive in winter. The days are shorter so there is less sunlight. The cold temperature slows down their growth. Often the temperature drops below zero, freezing the water and making it inaccessible to plants. Such conditions would kill all plants if they did not have techniques for survival. Some plants, for example, enter a resting stage.

Underground Survival as Storage Organs

 

Daffodils in Spring © Paul Billiet

Plants which show new growth above ground year after year are called perennial plants. The part of the plant above ground dies over the winter months, while underground storage organs assure the survival of that plant for the following spring. A bulb is an example of an underground storage organ.

A narcissus bulb © Paul Billiet

TS through an onion bulb © Deborah James

   

Potatoes are swollen underground stems © Paul Billiet,

Carrots are swollen tap roots © Paul Billiet

A potato plant

A carrot plant

Some plants produce storage organs the first year of their lives and then produce flowers and seeds the second year, such as the carrot. These plants are called biennial plants.

Survival as Seeds

Sunflower plants in Summer © Paul Billiet

Sunflower plants in Autumn © Shirley Burchill

Sunflowers are considered annuals because they grow for one year and die. Each flower leaves behind many seeds which can grow into new plants (or can be eaten!)

Annual plants are those which live for only one year. In the cold winter months, only their seeds survive and grow when the spring comes.

Sunflowers are considered annuals because they grow for one year and die. Each flower leaves behind many seeds which can grow into new plants (or can be eaten!)

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© Paul Billiet, Shirley Burchill, Alan Damon and Deborah James 2014