Plant pollination and reproduction

Information sheet

Learn about pollination and how plants can differ from their parents in flower, fruit and leaf colour or shape, using this guide.

  • School term: All year round
  • Level of experience: No experience needed
  • Subject(s):

Learning objectives for Year 3-6 (P3-7):

  • Pollination
  • Plant reproduction
  • Seed formation
  • Recognising that offspring may vary from their parents

Look at the 'Flower structure diagram' and point out the reproductive organs. Can learners identify and name the male /female parts?

Use the 'Pollinating insects spotter guide' to introduce the idea that many flying insects can be pollinators. They are attracted to a wide range of flowers where they are rewarded with a sweet treat of nectar. Sticky pollen is carried on the insect, which flies from flower to flower, transferring pollen as it goes. Pollen is transferred from the anthers (male) of one flower to the stigma (female) of another flower. This is called sexual reproduction. Encourage close observation of insects and flowers, to see pollination in action!

For more advanced learners:

Once pollinated, a plant can produce seeds which will grow into new plants. The resulting plants will look similar, but not identical to the original one – in the same way we share common features with our parents, but are not exact copies!

Interesting facts!

Certain plants that are very closely related such as pumpkins, squashes and courgettes can pollinate each other. The resulting seeds can produce plants that are a mixture of both parents – what would you call a pumpkin and courgette crossed plant?

Think about this!

A vegetable grower has a giant white pumpkin plant growing in a field next to a green squash plant. Both plants have separate male and female flowers. To make fruit (pumpkins or squash), the male flowers need a pollinator to take pollen to the female flowers. Pollinators busy themselves, drinking nectar and transferring pollen between the flowers of both the giant white pumpkin and the green squash.
The gardener harvests the giant white pumpkins and keeps the seeds, ready to grow. The following year the crop of pumpkins are a surprise – what type of vegetable do you think grew from the seed and why?

Clever plants!

Plants are able to grow an exact copy of themselves, called a ‘clone,’ by a process called asexual reproduction. You can easily demonstrate how this happens by cutting a small piece of plant from a growing tip, removing some of the lower leaves and burying the cut end in a pot of soil. Roots will grow where leaves were once attached. Mint is a good plant to try out this method of growing.