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Plants and Water 3

In this worksheet, students will be challenged to take what they have learned about plants, water and roots and to extend their understanding of it, looking objectively at the importance of the rooting system and at how the water travels through the plant.

'Plants and Water 3' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 2

Curriculum topic:  Plants

Curriculum subtopic:  Transporting Water in Plants

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

You already know that a plant takes up water with its roots. It uses this water throughout the structure of the plant, carrying substances around, helping it to feed and so on.

 

Roots of a tree

 

In this worksheet we'll have a look at how roots do this job and how the water moves through the plant.

Here's a plant growing in a pot - the normal situation for a plant living in a house:

 

 House plant

 

Which of the following conditions could a pot plant run out of if the owner didn't look after it? Tick all you agree with.

light

air

water

minerals

If a plant is kept in its pot for too long (say, several years), but otherwise looked after well, in what way can the plant suffer and not grow properly?

it gets used to the same conditions and stops growing

the material the pot is made of begins to break down and poison the plant

the roots become too cramped and the plant becomes pot-bound

Here are two plants:

 

Tree with few roots Tree with big roots

 

One has a small, tangled root system, the other has extensive roots that spread out. Pick TWO reasons why the plant with spreading roots will grow better.

the roots have more room (area) to collect water from

the roots are less likely to get tangled with other plants

the plant will grow better because the roots are thicker

the plant is anchored more firmly in the soil

Here is a plant whose roots have grown too big for the pot:

 

Pot-bound roots

 

Here are five steps to help this plant grow better - can you put them in the correct order?

Column A

Column B

1
move it to a bigger pot
2
take the plant carefully out of the small pot
3
fill the pot with new potting compost
4
water it regularly
5
remove the old soil carefully from around the root...

When the water a plant needs is taken up by the roots it travels along tiny tubes (like water pipes) inside the stem of the plant. Here are the ends of the tubes as you look at a cut celery stalk:

 

Cut celery stems

 

These tubes transport the water to the leaves. One really good way of seeing this in action is to take some stalks of celery (a plant you can eat as a vegetable) and place them in some coloured water:

 Celery stem in coloured water

 

Leave them for a while and you can see the leaves turn to the colour of the water - red in this case, but blue works just as well! If you cut the celery you can see the ends of the tubes the water is travelling along as they change to the colour of the water.

Imagine that you have placed five celery stalks in some red-coloured water. Every 15 minutes you cut one of the celery stalks in half. This is what you see when you look down at the cut end of the stalks after each cut:

 

 

 

Looking at the evidence, how long did it take the water to reach halfway up the celery stalk?

less than 15 mins

between 15 and 30 mins

between 30 and 45 mins

between 45 and 60 mins

between 60 and 75 mins

longer than 75 mins

Here are the pictures of the cut celery stalks from Q5:

 

 

Why did you choose your answer to Q5?

the tubes didn't turn red

the tubes turned red after 15mins

the tubes turned red after 45mins and before 60mins

the tubes turned red after 75mins

If you wanted to be sure that the water was actually moving up the stalk, what's the simplest way of proving that in this experiment?

wait until the leaves turn red

cut the stalk at different places to see where the water's risen to

use an X-ray machine to see inside the stalk

If the roots are not drawing up enough water, how do you think the rest of the plant will be affected? Tick all the answers you agree with.

the leaves will be small and droopy

the leaves will turn brown

the stem will grow taller

the stem will be thin

  • Question 1

Here's a plant growing in a pot - the normal situation for a plant living in a house:

 

 House plant

 

Which of the following conditions could a pot plant run out of if the owner didn't look after it? Tick all you agree with.

CORRECT ANSWER
water
minerals
EDDIE SAYS
If you were a plant growing in a pot you'd depend on your owner watering you regularly and giving you some minerals to keep you healthy - you cannot get those from anywhere else. Unless the owner keeps you in an airtight box (unlikely!) the air and light will come to you automatically.
  • Question 2

If a plant is kept in its pot for too long (say, several years), but otherwise looked after well, in what way can the plant suffer and not grow properly?

CORRECT ANSWER
the roots become too cramped and the plant becomes pot-bound
EDDIE SAYS
Once the roots have reached the edges of the pot, that's it - there's nowhere else to go! Then the roots coil round and round and come out of the holes at the bottom and even out of the soil - that plant is pot-bound and needs moving.
  • Question 3

Here are two plants:

 

Tree with few roots Tree with big roots

 

One has a small, tangled root system, the other has extensive roots that spread out. Pick TWO reasons why the plant with spreading roots will grow better.

CORRECT ANSWER
the roots have more room (area) to collect water from
the plant is anchored more firmly in the soil
EDDIE SAYS
Having a good, spreading root system really helps a plant: first it can absorb more water and minerals as it has a wider area to draw it from. Secondly its widespread roots do a good job of keeping the plant stable in the soil, holding it firmly in place against strong winds and browsing deer!
  • Question 4

Here is a plant whose roots have grown too big for the pot:

 

Pot-bound roots

 

Here are five steps to help this plant grow better - can you put them in the correct order?

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

1
take the plant carefully out of t...
2
remove the old soil carefully fro...
3
move it to a bigger pot
4
fill the pot with new potting com...
5
water it regularly
EDDIE SAYS
When transferring a pot-bound plant to a new pot you need a larger pot, one which the plant will be able to spread out in. It doesn't want all the old, worn out soil and you need to be careful not to damage the roots as you remove much of that before placing it in its new pot, with lots of fresh compost/soil, and then giving it a good watering to help it settle into its new home.
  • Question 5

When the water a plant needs is taken up by the roots it travels along tiny tubes (like water pipes) inside the stem of the plant. Here are the ends of the tubes as you look at a cut celery stalk:

 

Cut celery stems

 

These tubes transport the water to the leaves. One really good way of seeing this in action is to take some stalks of celery (a plant you can eat as a vegetable) and place them in some coloured water:

 Celery stem in coloured water

 

Leave them for a while and you can see the leaves turn to the colour of the water - red in this case, but blue works just as well! If you cut the celery you can see the ends of the tubes the water is travelling along as they change to the colour of the water.

Imagine that you have placed five celery stalks in some red-coloured water. Every 15 minutes you cut one of the celery stalks in half. This is what you see when you look down at the cut end of the stalks after each cut:

 

 

 

Looking at the evidence, how long did it take the water to reach halfway up the celery stalk?

CORRECT ANSWER
between 45 and 60 mins
EDDIE SAYS
Looking at the pictures, you can see the tubes have turned red at 60 mins, but not at 45 mins, so the red dye must have reached them somewhere between 45 and 60 minutes.
  • Question 6

Here are the pictures of the cut celery stalks from Q5:

 

 

Why did you choose your answer to Q5?

CORRECT ANSWER
the tubes turned red after 45mins and before 60mins
EDDIE SAYS
You can see that the tubes are still green at 45 minutes (so the dye hasn't reached halfway up the stalk) but they have turned red at 60 minutes (so the dye has now passed halfway.
  • Question 7

If you wanted to be sure that the water was actually moving up the stalk, what's the simplest way of proving that in this experiment?

CORRECT ANSWER
cut the stalk at different places to see where the water's risen to
EDDIE SAYS
If you cut different stalks at different places you can actually see that, as time goes on, the red dye moves higher and higher up the celery - it's really moving up inside the plant!
  • Question 8

If the roots are not drawing up enough water, how do you think the rest of the plant will be affected? Tick all the answers you agree with.

CORRECT ANSWER
the leaves will be small and droopy
the stem will be thin
EDDIE SAYS
If the roots are not doing a good job there will not be enough water reaching the plant: the leaves will droop and not grow well (they'll only turn brown if there's no water at all) and the stem will not be strong and thick, but thin and spindly.
---- OR ----

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