Plant in darkness

Do Plants Need Darkness?

Plant in darkness

When you hear about plant care, one of the main focus points is light and how much light you should give your plant but people often neglect whether or not your plant needs some darkness.

So, do plants need darkness? Periods of darkness are required for plants as it affects their metabolism. It also gives them time to stop producing food (photosynthesis) and use the huge amount of energy they’ve stored through the day to grow.

Aside from that,there are some plants that are perfectly capable of surviving with 24/7 light, although this will usually interfere with their growth. A great example of this is the Shameplant, it withers away if its kept in light all the time.

To truly provide the best care for your plants, you need to understand what actually happens during these dark periods. Check out the information to below to get yourself up to speed.

Why Do Plants Grow Taller In The Dark?

It’s quite common to find that your plant may grow a little quicker if you leave it in the dark for an extended period of time. There’s a few different reasons for this, and one of them you want to avoid. It’s not healthy at all.

The main reason for plants growing taller in the dark is that they are using up the extra energy that they’ve stored up throughout the day and will not require light until this has depleted.

However, this does not mean that you can leave your plant in the dark for long periods of time to try increase its size. Whilst it may cause a growth spurt, your plant will be long, thin, and weak.

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This happens as your plant will be trying to search for a light source by outgrowing its neighbours, this is a natural survival mechanism that’s embedded into their DNA.

bonsai tree silhouette in hand

Do Plants Grow Faster In The Dark?

Whilst it is true that most plants do grow in the dark, there’s no scientific evidence confirming that they grow faster in the dark than they do in light during regular light/dark cycles, that’s why most hydroponic kits are programmed to do that automatically.

However, as they no longer use energy for photosynthesis during the night, it does give fuel to the idea that they grow faster in darkness as they have more energy to use up.

The main reason that people often think they grow faster in the dark is due to the plants natural response to a lack of light: up, up, up!

In desperate times they will do everything they can to seek out light, by growing straight up, this is a natural emergency response to a lack of light.

But this isn’t actually quicker growth, it’s simply the plants cells becoming elongated to seek out a light source as quickly as possible so it can begin to photosynthesize.

There are some plants that do grow much quicker than others in the dark, mung beans are a good example of this as they widely known to grow faster in darkness. Whilst this may be positive for mass producers of this bean, it’s not ideal for their health.

Mung beans (soya beans)
Mung beans are primarily produced in Asian countries, typically for sprouting

Why Do Mung Beans Grow Faster In The Dark?

Just because they grow a lot in the dark, this doesn’t mean it’s a healthy mung bean, often they’re just elongated and weaker than usual. But why do they grow faster in the dark?

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Mung beans grow faster in the dark as they are used to growing in close proximity of eachother, meaning it’s very competitive for them to get light. It’s part of their natural survival mechanism to have fast growth spurts in order to reach the light.

Also, even though they do tend to grow quicker in darkness, you can’t just leave them in permanent darkness as they will die. Mungbeans need light, like all other plants, to create food.

Why Do Plants Take In Oxygen In The Dark?

It’s a common misconception that plants simply shut off once it gets dark and no longer require oxygen, some people don’t even know they use oxygen at all!

Plants take in oxygen in the dark as they require it to respire (breathe) and as a part of their metabolism. During the day they require less oxygen due to photosynthesis but in darkness, this process no longer happens so they take in more oxygen .

Are There Plants That Grow In Complete Darkness?

With all this talk about plants and darkness you’re probably wondering if there are any plants that grow in complete darkness.

Unfortunately, there are no plants that can survive in complete darkness as they all require sunlight to create food through photosynthesis. 

But don’t be too down, there is some good news for you twilight lovers, there are some plants that do well in low light environments. Check them out.

Low-Light Plants

  • Lucky Bamboo
  • Mung Beans
  • Snake Plants
  • Devil’s Ivy
  • Peace Lilies
  • Heartleaf Philodendron
  • Kentia Palm
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These are just a few examples of indoor plants that require low light. They’re well known for their abilities to thrive in low light environments and this often makes them the ideal choice for office spaces.