Light is necessary for plants to produce food and energy. They will begin to exhibit deficiencies without light and eventually pass away. However, if specific considerations are made so that they can receive a source of light, plants can live.
Depending on how much light a plant is typically exposed to, it can survive without light for anywhere from 4 to 20 days. The lifespan of low-light plants ranges from 12 to 20 days, but the lifespan of light-loving plants is only 4 to 10 days. Plants will suffer from chlorosis and die without light.
In this post, we’ll talk about how lighting affects plants, which species can survive in low light, and what you can do to assist supply light for your plant, whether it’s in transit or trapped in a dark room, to help it live longer.
Table of Contents
How light Affects a Plants Survival
Your plant’s type and age will determine how long it can survive without light.
This is a really fair question for many individuals, for instance, if you are moving from one state to another or if you have plants in rooms that are not usually illuminated.
During times of low light, plants can also enter a condition of dormancy.
When to prepare soft tissues for freezing temperatures, dry conditions, or a lack of water, nutrients, and light is determined by dormancy for plants. They know to halt growing and preserve energy until the growing conditions are normalized rather than exerting energy in an effort to grow.
Whether a plant loves light or not, it will suffer from a lack of it. For survival, all plants need a specific amount of light.
While some plants can survive with very little light, most types of houseplants will die within a few weeks if this is the case.
Very green, non-flowering plants are typically those that can endure without a source of light for extended periods of time.
Plants that enjoy light include:
- Jade tree
- ‘Ole Vera’
- Croton Garden
- Parasol Papyrus
- Hawaiian Hibiscus
Succulents are light-loving plants that can withstand 12 hours of direct sunlight. When the amount of light is reduced for an extended length of time, the leaves start to yellow and fall off.
Why do Plants Need Light to Survive?
Light is essential for plant life. To produce food, plants require the energy from the sun. In order to grow new blooms and leaves, they also require it. Plants will begin to wither from a lack of nutrients and energy in the absence of sufficient sunshine, a condition known as chlorosis or etiolation.
Lack of chlorophyll results in chlorosis, which causes the leaf tissue to turn yellow. Additionally, leaves might become translucent and lose their color.
Etiolation is a phenomenon that occurs in blooming plants that are grown in partial or total darkness. Long, flimsy stems, smaller leaves due to longer internodes, and a pale yellow hue are its distinguishing features. [Source]
Poor drainage, harmed roots, compacted roots, high alkalinity, and nutrient shortages in the plant are a few potential causes of chlorosis.
How Much Light do Plants Need?
Vegetables and floral plants that must be cultivated in a room without windows need 12 to 16 hours of light each day. The maximum amount of darkness required for these sorts is eight hours.
As previously said, the majority of plant species require some form of artificial or natural lighting in order to survive.
There are certain exceptions, though, such flowers that require a flowering time of at least 6 hours and an 18-hour dark cycle.
To avoid significantly affecting the photoperiod, kids should only have access to bright lights indoors from 3 PM until sunset, when it’s time for them to enter another six-hour phase again under total darkness.
The physiological response of an organism to the length of the night or a dark period is called photoperiodism. Both plants and animals experience it. The developmental reactions of plants to the varying lengths of the light and dark cycles are also known as photoperiodism. [Source]
Some plants require a specific amount of darkness to blossom because they are photosensitive. These plants are noted for flowering in the winter and are able to adapt to seasonal fluctuations.
Several instances are
- poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima)
- orchids (Orchidaceae spp.)
- cacti (Cactaceae spp.)
It is most comfortable for some plants to grow indoors when they are also exposed to artificial lights at night. These are plants that can tolerate almost a complete 24 hours of light.
The following plants can withstand a whole day of light:
- a Swiss cheese factory (Monstera deliciosa)
- Coleus (Coleus hybridus)
How do Plants React to Low Light?
Plants have the ability to respond to light. Depending on how much light they require, they will grow both toward and away from various sources.
This means that if you’re not providing your plant enough light–even if it’s just a tiny bit less than what it needs–it can begin to wither and die.
Plants that are exposed to low lighting conditions may become leggy.
When a plant is subjected to low light levels, it may become lethargic as a result of its search for what little light it can find.
The plant would then create auxins, which would encourage development along the plant’s stems, giving it an elongated form.
Although it poses no immediate threat to a plant, the long stalk or stem does have a tendency to be less robust than usual.
Legginess and poor lighting primarily damage vine-like plants, such as
- The delicious monstera (Read our in-depth post on how to cure leggy Monstera.)
- Animal ears
- Ivy Tree
- Plant Arrowhead
Do Plants also Need Darkness?
Plants need periods of darkness because it impacts their metabolism. Plants generate and store energy using the sunlight they receive during the day. The circadian rhythm of plants uses this stored energy to grow while it is being digested.
When a plant synchronizes with the light cycle of its surroundings, this is known as the circadian rhythm of the plant.
Larger plants exhibit this more overtly since there are more biological processes going on inside them.
More stored energy means more time for metabolization.
Plants that will survive well in Low light conditions
There are numerous plants that can thrive in low light. Low light, however, does not equate to no light, and the plant is capable of adjusting to whatever lighting circumstances that are offered.
Here are a few examples of plants that can survive in low light:
- Asian evergreen
- Vegetable spider
- Viper plant
How to Provide Lights for Plants
An LED grow lamp can be used to simply provide light for plants. Grow lights are designed to provide plants the right amount of light at the right wavelengths.
Manufacturers have benefited from the discovery that plants require a lot of red and blue light from the spectrum for growth by developing LED grow lights that cater to their needs. When only red and blue light are released, the combination of hues gives the light that is released a purple tint.
A regular LED light can be used as a temporary light source to ensure that your plant lives. This notion, however, was disproved as it was discovered that plants also utilize the other portions of the spectrum for their overall development.
You can read our in-depth post on how porch lights effect plants if you’d want to see how artificial light affects plant growth.
A plant’s capacity to establish roots and bear fruit can be negatively impacted by too much light and lack of slumber. A plant under 24-hour grow lights may be overworked and suffer long-term health effects.
Plants can go for extended periods of time without light. The type of plant in question will, however, determine how long it will survive.
Succulents and jade plants are examples of plants that do well in bright sunlight and cannot survive extended periods of darkness.
Plants that receive insufficient light begin to exhibit deficits and lanky behavior.
Plants need to be in the light for 12 to 16 hours a day in order to flourish.
Flowers will require more than that. For healthy growth, make sure your plant receives 8 hours every night of complete darkness!
How long can plants go without light?
Depending on how much light a plant is typically exposed to, it can survive without light for anywhere from 4 to 20 days. The lifespan of low-light plants ranges from 12 to 20 days, but the lifespan of light-loving plants is only 4 to 10 days.
What happens if plants have no light?
The green pigment in plants, chlorophyll, is not produced when there is insufficient light, and as a result, plants can change color from pale green to yellow to white. Plant stems “leg,” or grow long and slender, giving the impression that they are reaching towards the light source.
Do plants need time without light?
Plants need periods of darkness because it impacts their metabolism. Additionally, it allows them to employ the enormous amount of energy they have accumulated throughout the day to develop rather than continuing to produce food (photosynthesis).
Do plants need light all day?
For photosynthesis, the process by which plants turn light, oxygen, and water into carbohydrates, all plants need light (energy). This energy is necessary for plants to develop, bloom, and set seed. Without enough light, plants cannot produce carbohydrates, their energy stores run out, and they eventually die.
How long can a plant survive without sunlight and water?
Plants can typically go up to seven days without water. How long your plants can survive without water, however, may depend on the type and maturity of your plants. Succulents and cacti can last up to three months without water, while fully developed tropical houseplants can go two to three weeks without it.