Meristems encompass stem/progenitor cells that sustain postembryonic growth of all plant organs. How meristems are activated and sustained by nutrient signalling remains enigmatic in photosynthetic plants. Combining chemical manipulations and chemical genetics at the photoautotrophic transition checkpoint, we reveal that shoot photosynthesis-derived glucose drives target-of-rapamycin (TOR) signalling relays through glycolysis and mitochondrial bioenergetics to control root meristem activation, which is decoupled from direct glucose sensing, growth-hormone signalling and stem-cell maintenance. Surprisingly, glucose–TOR signalling dictates transcriptional reprogramming of remarkable gene sets involved in central and secondary metabolism, cell cycle, transcription, signalling, transport and protein folding. Systems, cellular and genetic analyses uncover TOR phosphorylation of E2Fa transcription factor for an unconventional activation of S-phase genes, and glucose-signalling defects in e2fa root meristems. Our findings establish pivotal roles of glucose–TOR signalling in unprecedented transcriptional networks wiring central metabolism and biosynthesis for energy and biomass production, and integrating localized stem/progenitor-cell proliferation through inter-organ nutrient coordination to control developmental transition and growth.