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Plants on the Move?

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Your plants may appear to be still, but they are actually constantly in motion! Their movements are just very slow, and it can be easy to overlook what might amount to very small changes and adjustments in angle or direction. (Image source: Wikipedia)
If there's snow in the forecast where you live, it may seem early to start thinking about spring and gardening. But, now, when the ground is still hard and cold, is a great time to give your green thumb a pre-season boost by soaking up some research on tropisms.


You probably know that plants grow "toward" the light, and by experimenting with the placement of a plant in relation to its light source, you can "see" the plant "bend" toward the light. Such plants are phototropic. Tropisms are directional movements of plants in response to different kinds of stimuli. For example, a plant might respond to gravity (gravitropism), or water (hydrotropism), or touch (thigmotropism), or light (phototropism). Some plants respond to all of these, often at the same time!


Smarter Gardening

Learning more about tropisms and how they will impact the growth of certain plants in a garden can help you make choices in terms of both garden design (where should you put each plant?) and maintenance (do you need to add supports?). The choices you make based on the science behind plant behavior can increase the success and heartiness of your plants. For example, you want to be prepared to stake plants that will grow upwards towards the sun so that their stems can support their height. Plants that wrap around other things or curl up in response to touch may also need to be staked. And understanding the spatial requirements of a sun-tracking plant like the sunflower will help you make smart choices when you decide where, and how far apart, to plant them.


Digging Deep

The following Science Buddies Project Ideas let you roll up your sleeves and explore tropisms and the ways in which plants "move" in response to changes in stimuli. Variations at the end of each project offer ways to customize and alter the projects, so there is plenty of opportunity to create your own version of a tropism-based project!

(Research and development of Science Buddies Project Ideas in the area of plant biology are supported by the Monsanto Fund.)

2 Comments

this is awsome when i tried it, it worked!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

good jod:)

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Your Science!
What will you explore for your science project this year? What is your favorite classroom science activity? Email us a short (one to three sentences) summary of your science project or teaching tip. You might end up featured in an upcoming Science Buddies newsletter!



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