This picture perhaps helps us to understand better the etheric level or the level of life
All living creatures - thus also plants - have an etheric body, which keeps their physical body alive. In their astral
bodies both animals and humans carry their desires, instincts and feelings, and also their consciousness.
But only a human has an "I" or an Ego and it belongs onto the spiritual level.
Quoting Dr. Rudolf Steiner:
"The physical body disintegrates when it is not held together by the etheric; the etheric body falls into
unconsciousness when it is not irradiated by the astral body. In the like manner the astral body would ever and
again have to let the past sink into oblivion if the I did not preserve the past and carry it over into the present.
Forgetting is for the astral body what death is for the physical body and sleep for the etheric. Or, as we may also
express it: life is proper to the etheric body, consciousness to the astral body, and memory to the Ego."
( Rudolf Steiner:
Occult Science - An Outline; Chapter II: The Nature of Humanity. )
The Earth is surrounded by all of these levels. The etheric level keeps the Earth alive. Although the plants
do not have an astral body, they need astrality around them for their blooming. With the help of these levels also
the planetary influences from the whole solar system can work.
Getting Familiar with the Etheric Level
By Rudolf Steiner