There are an estimated three hundred thousand species of plants known to man. Some plants are more familiar to the general public while others are less common or nonexistent in areas where people live. Plants thrive in almost every area of the earth including deserts and the ocean. Despite their widespread environment, plants have the same basic needs for survival. What do plants need to live?
Plants need carbon dioxide and sunlight for the process of photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is how plants get energy. The result of photosynthesis is an organic compound like glucose which is used by the plant for growth and metabolism. Plants give off oxygen as a byproduct of photosynthesis.
Because green plants need sunlight, there are places in the world where plants cannot survive. Areas with high concentrations of smog in the air may have less plant growth due to the smog blocking out the necessary sunlight. Seaweed and kelp cannot survive deeper in the ocean than where sunlight can penetrate. Lichen and some plants can survive in some places where green plants cannot live.
Different plants have varying needs for sunlight. Some plants cannot tolerate being completely in the sunlight. Other plants cannot thrive in the shade because they have a considerable need for direct sunlight. When designing a garden of landscaping, the person needs to consider that the placement of the plants in shade, partial shade, or full sunlight is best for the type of plant being planted.
In addition to photosynthesis, plants get nutrients from the soil. Fertilized soil in which many types of plants thrive contains nitrates and minerals. Plants also get water from the soil. The moisture helps to circulate the nutrients from the roots in soil into and throughout the plant. Moisture also carries minerals that are not used by the plants back to the roots where they are expelled.
When people talk about the basic needs of plants, they are typically talking about water, soil with nutrients, and sunlight. However, there are many plants that have unique needs. Some plants like the Venus fly trap and pitcher plants are carnivorous and trap insects.
Flowering plants rely on insects or animals to spread the pollen. The pollen attaches to bees and other insects as they fly when they land on a flower. When the insect goes to another flower, the part of the flower called the stigma attracts the pollen to it. Pollination is necessary for the flowering plants to reproduce.