Most people say that looking at flowers or smelling them makes them happier. In fact, there is scientific proof saying so.
Another crazy fact is that Carnivorous plants flower!
But sometimes, it’s not easy to make your plant flower…and sometimes, it won’t flower at all!
In this article, I will tell you exactly which plants flower and share important tips on how to make plants flower.
Firstly, here’s is whether all plants flower or not:
No, not all plants flower. Flowering plants, called Angiosperms, are the only ones who will flower under the right conditions. Although flowering plants are the most common group, there are many plant species that can’t flower at all. Seed plants or Gymnosperms, like conifers or cycads, can’t flower.
Why Do Plants Have Flowers?
Plants have flowers for two main reasons: reproduction and seed protection.
Flowers act like an invitation to pollinators such as bees, butterflies and hummingbirds because flowering plants typically require a pollinator to reproduce.
Plants with flowers are successful in nature!
Flowering plants appeared around 125 million years ago and just 25 million years after this event, the species began diversifying and spreading rapidly.
Today, they are the most common type of flora around us.
The main reason for their success is that flowering plants have co-evolved with animals as pollinators in a mutually beneficial relationship.
So, the main reasons why plants have flowers are:
Reproduction (attracting pollinators)
Flowering plants need a host to transport pollen from male reproductive organs, .i.e, the stamen to the female reproductive organ, i.e., the pistil. And flowers help attract these hosts.
Flowers come in a range of colors, shapes, and smells. And each of these features has just one goal: inform nearby pollinators that it’s feeding time.
Plant flowers hold both the nectar which is rich in sugar, and the pollen grains that are filled with protein.
And both are essential parts of an animal’s diet.
Take the most well known feature of a flower, the color. Bright colors are visible from large distances.
Imagine a yellow flower in a field of green grass or a pink one on a lawn surrounded by brown dirt.
These colors are a clear sign that the plant has a flower. And they act as a magnet for hungry pollinators.
The same logic applies to shapes and smells.
When the pollinator gets to a flower and begins eating the nectar, some of the sticky pollen will get attached to its body. Then when it goes to feed on another flower, the pollen will fall off, thereby completing the process of pollination.
Another reason why plants have flowers is that these structures are well suited to protecting the seeds.
After pollination is complete, the pollen goes through a tube-like structure into the ovary.
Here it forms a seed, and the walls surrounding it grow into a fruit, which provides it with safe cover.
You can think of flowers similar to a fortress, with tall walls that protect seed from the outside world.
Why Don’t All Plants Have Flowers?
If flowering plants are doing so well, why don’t all plants have flowers?
Not all plants have flowers because not all plants need them. Plants that aren’t dependent on pollinators, such as Conifers, Ferns or Mosses don’t need bright flowers because they can reproduce on their own.
In fact, non-flowering plant species are some of the oldest plant species on Earth, much older than flowering plants.
They’ve been doing it the same way for a much longer time than flowering plants and it’s been working just fine for them, so there is no reason to change.
Keep in mind flowers are a very expensive resource to create and keep, and that’s one of the reasons why many houseplants will only flower under the right conditions.
A plant needs to have everything else in order before it can even start blooming flowers.
You can read more about other ways of reproducing that plants have in the “How Do Plants Without Flowers Reproduce?” section.
What Is The Difference Between A Flower And A Plant?
A flowers is just one of the many parts Angiosperms plants can have. Flowers can come in many different colors and shapes and can even emit scent. A flower is the reproductive part of a plant and as such, it bears the reproductive structures that are involved in the development of seeds and fruits.
A plant is a living organism that contains one or more flowers, as well as other parts such as roots, stems or leaves.
Typically, plants grow in a permanent place by absorbing water and nutrients through their roots.
Trees, herbs, grass and ferns are all examples of plants that can or cannot grow flowers.
So, to summarize, a flower is just one of the many parts a plant can have.
Not all plants have flowers, but all flowers are produced by a plant.
Which Group Do Flowering Plants Belong To?
There are 4 major groups of plants:
- Angiosperms (Flowering plants)
- Gymnosperms (Conifers, cycads, etc.)
- Pteridophytes (Ferns)
- Bryophytes (Mosses)
Are all flowering plants Angiosperms?
All flowering plants belong to the group Angiosperms. Angiosperms develop colorful flowers in order to attract pollinators and produce their seed enclosed into a fruit.
The most common misconception is that all flowering plants are Gymnosperms.
That isn’t true. Gymnosperms have their seeds (cones) exposed and Gymnosperms plants lack any fruit or flowers.
Do More Plants Have Flowers Than Not?
Yes, more plants have flowers than not. Flowering plants, also called Angiosperms are the largest and most common group of plants. There are more than 300,000 total species of flowering plants, that means more than 85% of the total green plant species on Earth.
Bryophytes are small, non-vascular plants such as mosses, liverworts and hornworts. They are the second largest plant group on earth and also the oldest main plant group.
Bryophytes are represented by 20,000 plant species, which means Bryophytes make up around 6% of the plant world.
Pteridophytes are fern and fern-like plants and are represented by almost 13,000 species. Out of 13,000 Pteridophytes, 90% of them are ferns.
Pteridophytes are the third largest plant group and make up almost 4% of the plant world.
Gymnosperms are represented by around 1,000 species today and conifers are the most abundant gymnosperms.
Although Gymnosperms are the smallest plant group, in total making up just 0.3%, they are very well known.
As I already mentioned, flowering plants are also the youngest kids on the bloc, but as soon as they appeared they became very successful.
In just a few million years they took over the plant world developing some of the most complex reproduction techniquest in the plant world.
How Do Plants Without Flowers Reproduce?
When we say plants without flowers, what we really mean is any other main plant group than Angiosperms.
Remember, we have 4 main plant groups:
- Angiosperms (Flowering plants and trees)
- Gymnosperms (Conifers, cycads, etc.)
- Pteridophytes (Ferns and fern like plants)
- Bryophytes (Non vascular plants like mosses, liverworts and hornworts)
Generally speaking, plants without flowers reproduce via naked seeds like conifers, or via spores like ferns or mosses.
But here’s exactly how plants without flowers reproduce in more detail:
Gymnosperms such as conifers, develop both male and female cones. Male cones release pollen into the wind and when that pollen lands on the female cones, it will fertilize the female egg cell.
Then, the fertilized eggs develop into seeds that mature inside the female cone in safe conditions. The mature seeds drop to the floor and germinate wherever they land.
So Gymnosperms reproduce with seeds.
Pteridophytes, such as ferns, reproduce by producing spores and then dropping them on the soil below the leaves. Spores can also get carried by the wind, but they settle somewhere permanent to produce tiny, short-lived plants.
These plants release sperm, fertilize eggs and after fertilizing they grow into a new plant.
This is why you usually see ferns in the wild, growing in clumps.
Bryophytes, like mosses, reproduce through spores carried by the wind, which settle somewhere permanent, germinating into male or female plants.
Then, Bryophytes rely on rain water to carry out the sperm from the male plants to the eggs of the female plant. When they meet, fertilization happens and a new plant grows.
That’s why we see these mosses thrive in humidity.
Do All Flowering Plants Produce Seeds, Pollen, Spores or Fruit?
Yes, eventually all flowering plants produce seeds but they very rarely produce them directly like conifers do. Flowering plants produce seeds encased into a fruit or a flower.
In some rare examples, a plant will produce flowers and seeds but they reproduce some other way, like the Spider Plant, which produces babies that will fall down and take roots.
Yes, all flowering plants produce pollen, and Gymnosperms, a group of non flowering plants also do. The role of pollen is to carry sperm to the female part of the plant, fertilize it and produce seeds or fruit with seeds.
Pollen can come in many different shapes, sizes or colors and it can become airborne or not.
No, no flowering plant produces spores. Spores are produced by older type plants like ferns or mosses from the Pteridophytes or Bryophytes groups.
Spores are usually unicellular and they have the role of reproduction, but flowering plants or conifers don’t produce them.
Yes, all flowering plants will produce fruit under the right conditions. The fruit is the matured ovary part of the flower that contains seeds and its primary objective is always reproduction.
A fruit is just seeds protected by an outer layer that can be fleshy and edible or not.
Do Plants Flower Every Year?
Not all plants flower every year, only perennial plants do. Perennial plants are plants that live two or more years and although they might appear like they are dying in winter, the roots will live and the plant will regenerate the following year.
Perennial plants usually get bigger every year, flowers included.
Examples of common perennial plants are Peace lilies, Gerberas, Spider plants, etc.
You can also have biennial plants or annual plants, both of which don’t flower every year.
Biennial plants like the name suggests, live for two years. In the first year they won’t flower, just produce the roots, stems and leaves. In the second year they will flower, produce seeds and eventually die.
Examples of biennial plants: Onions, Carrots, Leeks and Cabbages.
Annual plants grow, flower and die in one season or one year. Although a new annual plant will grow and flower in the next year, it’s not the same plant, it grows from the seeds of the previous plant.
Examples of annual plants: Petunias, Sunflower, Watermelon or Pea.
Are Flowering Plants Easier Or Harder to Care For?
As a rule, flowering plants aren’t harder to care for than non-flowering plants.
This is more of a misconception, let me explain:
If you are growing a houseplant, particularly a hardy one like a Snake Plant or Devil’s Ivy, you will notice they are very easy to grow. However, they will not flower easily.
Generally, plants need very favourable conditions in order to flower and produce seeds, much more so than just grow.
Some need full Sun all day long, others specific amounts of water or mineral content in the soil while others like Begonias flower very easily.
How hard a plant is to grow really depends on the species and the conditions the plant has to grow in.
It has nothing to do with whether the plant is a flowering plant or not.
55 Common Plants That Flower
You might have a houseplant and you are wondering where the flowers are, or even looking to buy a flowering plant.
Here is a huge list with the 55 most common flowering plants.
Under the right conditions, all these plants will flower:
- African Violet
- Air plant
- Aloe Vera
- Birds of paradise
- Brazilian Fireworks
- Calamondin Orange
- Cape primrose
- Chenille plant
- Chinese Money plant
- Christmas Cactus
- Dumb Cane
- False Shamrock
- Fiddle Leaf Fig
- Flowering Maple
- Guppy plant
- Hoya Carnosa
- Jade plant
- Lipstick plant
- Lucky bamboo
- Peace Lily
- Potato plant
- Pothos (Devil’s Ivy)
- Shrimp plant
- Silver Vase plant
- Snake plant
- Spider plant
- Umbrella plant
- Wandering Jew
The truth is pretty much every common plant or indoor plant will flower under the right conditions.
Although some might be very hard to flower, they are not impossible.
Here’s the exception:
No matter how hard you try, Ferns will never flower because Ferns and plants in the Fern family are non-flowering plants. They reproduce via spores.
6 Tips To Make Your Plant Flower
You and just about everyone else has had plants that will not flower. Don’t get frustrated, you are not alone.
Remember many plants will survive quite well in conditions a bit too shady or a bit too cold, but they won’t be able to grow flowers.
Here are the 6 best tips to make your plant flower:
1. Move the plant in a sunnier location
This is the number one tip that works 90% of the time. Just move your plant in a sunnier location. This doesn’t mean moving the plant from shade to full Sun as it will hurt it.
Even if that particular plant does very well in the shade, just move it a few feet closer to the window or in a place where it can get indirect sunlight.
If the plant needs full sun, move it in front of a very bright window.
If your conditions don’t allow it, consider buying an affordable full spectrum grow light.
Generally, plants will tolerate shade, but they need more light to truly thrive.
If more sunlight does not do it, it’s time to fertilize. The reality is most plants do not need it to survive, but they do need fertilizer or rich food in order to thrive.
Some heavy feeding plants in particular like Petunias will not even bloom without a fertilizer as a booster.
With fertilizer, less is more so do your research, fertilize in the plant’s growing season and don’t go crazy on quantity as it can burn the plant.
The next important tip is to look out for dead leaves or small wilted flowers and cut them off.
Pruning might seem counterintuitive but don’t worry, you aren’t hurting your plant.
When you cut dead or dying parts of your plant, the plant can really focus on new growth and put all of its resources into growth and development.
4. Use richer soil
Soil rich in organic matter will give your plant all the nutrients it needs to focus on new growth and blooming.
It also has slower release than fertilizers.
The decision to use richer soil can come when repotting your perennial, or, just before growing season you can replace some of the top part of the soil with enriched soil.
Just take a few cups of soil from the top (don’t come close to the roots) and replace it with enriched plant soil and the nutrients will flow down with the water you give your plant.
5. Regulate temperature
Regulating temperature often means giving your plant a bit more warmth in its growing season.
There are many plants that like colder temperatures but usually those will have no trouble blooming at household temperatures.
However, a few degrees of warmth can make the difference between a plant tolerating its environment or really thriving and starting to bloom.
Warning: Do not place it on top or close to a radiator! read more about how bad this can be for your plant in this article.
As a general rule, keep your plant in the warmest room or bump the temperature a few degrees.
6. Regulate watering
If you tried all the tips above, the last thing is to make sure your watering routine is correct.
Usually, this means a bit less watering in the growing season, but here’s how to tell if you need less water or more water:
If your plant has great rich foliage, it means it needs less water because excess water tends to favour green thick foliage.
If your plant has already flowered but the flower buds are dropping, it means it needs a bit more water.
So, it is quite easy to tell.
Make sure your plant is a flowering plant.
This might be obvious, but I’ve seen people trying to make a Boston Fern flower before.
It’s never happening because they are not flowering plants.