Particle formation has been investigated experimentally from the initial molecular precursors up to the final micron-sized particles in a low pressure silane rf capacitive discharge. Neutrals and ions were studied by quadrupole mass spectrometry in power-modulated plasmas: Whole series of negative ions were observed, ranging from monosilicon anions through to nanometric clusters. Anion confinement results in particles and conversely, anion de-trapping can inhibit particle formation. Plasma polymerisation is considered in terms of neutral and ionic species. Laser light scattering measurements show that particles appear during a rapid coalescence phase and possible mechanisms are discussed.