Most people think of plants as living things that only grow outdoors. But what about the plants we keep indoors? Do indoor plants know season?
Studies suggest that indoor plants are aware of and are responsive to the seasons, primarily based on changes in physical features like leaf shedding or dormancy. Plants can also sense differences in day length, helping to cure seasonal changes.
However, there is much more to learn about how plants sense the seasons. In this article, I have explained it in detail. If that sounds interesting enough keep on reading to learn more!
Do Indoor Plants Know Season?
As most of us are spending more time indoors, we are increasingly turning to houseplants to liven up our living spaces and purify the air we breathe.
But did you know that indoor plants are not just passively sitting there looking pretty?
They are actually quite active and aware of their surroundings, including changes in seasons.
Seasonal changes are not just limited to the great outdoors, studies have shown that indoor plants can sense and respond to the season as well.
The main evidence for this is physical, such as leaves falling off or flowers blooming.
In addition, plants can tell when daylight hours are changing and thus go through a season of changing themselves.
So how do plants sense season? Let’s take a look.
Physical Changes in Indoor Plants
One of the ways indoor plants know season is by experiencing physical changes.
These changes are mostly due to the plant’s exposure to light. For example, in winter, there are shorter days and less sunlight.
This causes some plants to lose their leaves as they go into dormancy. Other plants, such as poinsettias, will produce more flowers when they experience shorter days.
Changes in day length also trigger other physical changes in plants. As days get shorter in fall and winter, many plants will produce thicker leaves to protect themselves from the cold weather. Some evergreens will even produce a second layer of needles to keep warm.
In spring and summer, when days are longer, plants will often produce more leaves to take advantage of the extra sunlight. This is how they grow and thrive.
Sensing Day Length
So how do plants know when days are getting shorter or longer? They sense it through a process called photoperiodism. This is when plants use light to cue certain changes in their growth cycles.
For example, shorter days in fall tell many plants that it’s time to go into dormancy for the winter. On the other hand, longer days in spring tell plants it’s time to start growing again.
There are two types of photoperiodism: short-day and long-day plants. As you might have guessed, short-day plants need shorter days to cue certain changes, while long-day plants need longer days.
For example, poinsettias are short-day plants and will only bloom when they experience shorter days. Begonias are long-day plants and will only bloom when they experience longer days.
Knowing the type of photoperiodism a plant has can help you better care for it. If you want a plant to bloom, you need to make sure it is getting the right amount of light each day.
Changes in Temperature
In addition to changes in day length, plants also sense changes in temperature. This helps them know when winter is coming so they can prepare themselves.
For example, many plants will stop growing when the temperature drops below a certain point. This is because they know they won’t be able to survive the cold weather.
Some plants, such as hibiscus, will drop their leaves when they sense a change in temperature. This is a way of protecting themselves from the cold.
Other plants, such as poinsettias, will turn red when they sense a change in temperature. This is thought to be a way of attracting more sunlight, which can help them survive the winter.
Knowing how temperature affects plants can help you better care for them. For example, if you live in an area with harsh winters, you might want to consider moving your plants indoors so they don’t get too cold.
Change in Humidity
Changes in humidity are another way that plants sense season. This helps them know when it’s time to flower or go into dormancy. For example, many plants will only flower when the humidity is high.
This is because they need extra moisture to help their flowers grow. On the other hand, some plants will go into dormancy when the humidity is low. This is because they know they won’t be able to get enough water to survive.
Knowing how changes in humidity affect plants can help you better care for them. For example, if you live in an area with low humidity, you might want to consider getting a humidifier for your plants.
As you can see, there are many ways that plant sense season. By understanding how they do it, you can better care for your plants and help them thrive.
How Do Plants Know When It’s Winter?
Winter is the easiest season for plants to sense. This is because the changes in temperature and day length are the most drastic.
For example, days get shorter and the temperature gets colder. These changes cue many plants to go into dormancy so they can survive the winter.
However, some plants don’t go into dormancy during winter. They might have a different way of sensing season or they might be adapted to survive the cold weather.
For example, evergreens don’t go into dormancy because they have different ways of sensing seasons.
They also have needles that help them retain heat, which helps them survive the cold weather.
Knowing how plants sense winter can help you better care for them. For example, if you live in an area with harsh winters, you might want to consider moving your plants indoors so they don’t get too cold.
How Do Plants Know When It’s Spring?
How do plants know when it’s time to start growing in the spring? After all, they can’t look out the window and see the sun shining or feel the warmth of the air. So how do they know when to start growing again after a long winter dormancy?
Recent research has shown that plants may actually be able to sense changes in daylight hours, allowing them to “know” when spring has arrived.
This ability is known as photoperiodism, and it appears to be controlled by a plant hormone called auxin.
Auxin is produced in the leaves of a plant, and it moves down into the stem. There, it interacts with a protein called TSF (for “transcription factor”), which turns on genes that control growth.
One of these genes controls the production of another hormone called cytokinin, which also helps to regulate plant growth.
When the days start getting longer in the spring, the auxin levels in the plant increase.
This causes more TSF to be produced, which turns on more genes and results in more cytokinin being produced.
This increased level of cytokinin is what causes plants to start growing again after long winter dormancy.
So next time you see a plant poking its head out of the ground in early spring, remember that it may be responding to changes in daylight.
How Do Plants Know When It’s Summer?
During the summer season, plants experience longer days and more intense sunlight. This cue tells many plants to start flowering.
Flowering is important for plants because it allows them to reproduce. For example, when a bee collects nectar from a flower, they also collect pollen.
This pollen is then transferred to other flowers, allowing the plant to fertilize its own seeds.
However, some plants don’t flower during summer. This is because they have a different way of sensing season or they might be adapted to survive the hot weather.
For example, cacti don’t flower during summer because they have a different way of sensing seasons.
They also have thick skin that helps them retain water, which helps them survive the hot weather. Knowing how plants sense summer can help you better care for them.
For example, if you live in an area with harsh summers, you might want to consider moving your plants outdoors so they don’t get too hot.
How Do Plants Know When It’s Fall?
As autumn approaches, the days start getting shorter and the temperature starts to cool down. These changes cue many plants to start preparing for winter dormancy.
One way plants prepare for winter is by producing more leaves. This may seem counterintuitive since leaves will eventually die and fall off the plant anyway.
However, producing more leaves helps the plant store more energy in the form of carbohydrates. This stored energy can then be used to survive the winter months.
Another way plants prepare for winter is by producing thicker bark. This helps protect the plant from cold weather and prevents water loss.
So do indoor plants know season?
The answer is yes, they can.
Indoor plants sense the seasons by changes in temperature, light, and humidity. These changes cue them to start growing, flowering, or preparing for winter dormancy.
Knowing how plants sense the seasons can help you better care for them. For example, if you live in an area with harsh winters, you might want to consider moving your plants indoors so they don’t get too cold.
It’s also important to remember that not all plants respond to season changes in the same way.
Some plants, like cacti, don’t flower during summer because they have a different way of sensing season. Others, like succulents, can go dormant during hot weather to prevent water loss.
So next time you see a plant changing with the seasons, remember that it’s just responding to changes in its environment.