While many people believe that plants need sunlight to grow, there are actually a variety of plants that do just fine without any direct sunlight.
These plants, known as shade-loving or houseplants, come in all shapes and sizes and can thrive in a number of different environments.
So how do indoor plants survive without sunlight?
In contrast to outdoor plants, indoor plants must find other ways to survive without sunlight. Low light is no problem for indoor plants since they store water and nutrients. Their thick leaves help them conserve water. Also, indoor plants usually have shallow root systems to help them absorb limited light.
This article provides you details of how indoor plants can survive in low light and the list of plants too. If you want to know, keep reading!
How Do Indoor Plants Survive Without Sunlight?
All plants need sunlight to grow, most can adapt to life indoors with little sunlight. The key is to choose the right plant for your home and provide the appropriate amount of water and fertilizer.
Most indoor plants come from tropical or subtropical regions where they are used to low light conditions. To survive indoors, they have evolved to grow slowly and require less water than their outdoor counterparts.
Hence the best way to provide enough light for indoor plants is to place them near a window that gets direct sunlight for at least part of the day.
If you cannot provide enough light from a window, you can supplement with artificial lighting such as fluorescent bulbs placed close to the plant.
How Long Can Indoor Plants Live Without Sunlight?
Indoor plants can live without sunlight for varying lengths of time, depending on the plant species. While some plants may only live a few days without sunlight, others can manage for weeks or even months.
The key to a plant’s longevity is its leaves. Green leaves are full of chlorophyll, which helps the plant convert sunlight into food.
However, some plants have adapted to low-light conditions by developing smaller leaves or growing taller to reach sunlight. These plants are more likely to survive without sunlight than those with large leaves.
Other factors that affect how long a plant can survive without sunlight include the size of the plant, its type and whether it is potted or growing in soil.
|Plant type||Necessary lux/day||lux/day Survival period with no sunlight ( ~0 lux/day)|
|Low light plants||500 – 2,500||14 – 20 days|
|Medium light plants||2,500 – 20,000||10 – 14 days|
|Bright light plants||20,000 – 100,000||4 – 10 days, except hibernating cacti|
According to Pooja Kadian (Research Scholar at Punjab Agricultural University), indoor plants can survive without sunlight as long as they are provided with the proper care.
Without sunlight, the plant will not be able to produce food for itself and will slowly begin to die. However, if the plant is given artificial light, it can survive for months or even years.
Kadian says that the best way to provide artificial light for an indoor plant is by using grow lights. Grow lights are designed to imitate sunlight and provide the necessary light spectrum for plants to photosynthesize.
They are also much brighter than regular light bulbs, so they can provide enough light for a large area.
Grow lights are available in different types, including fluorescent, LED, and incandescent grow lights. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to choose the right one for your needs.
Why Do Plants Need Light To Survive?
According to a study done by the Environmental Protection Agency, the average American spends 93% of their time indoors . With that being said, people are bound to have plants indoors as well.
The question then becomes, how do these plants survive without sunlight? The answer lies in a process called photosynthesis.
Photosynthesis is the process in which plants use sunlight to convert carbon dioxide into food that they can use for energy (Govindjee). This process is very complex: it involves the transfer of carbon dioxide into sugars.
This process requires light, water, and special chemicals called chlorophyll. Chlorophyll absorbs light and helps with the transportation of electrons in the production of food (Govindjee).
In order to understand this process, it is important to first understand the different parts of a plant.
- Roots of the plant are used for getting nutrients and water.
- Stems of the plants are used for protection and transportation of goods from one part of the plant to another.
- Leaves of the plants are used for photosynthesis, which is the process of converting light energy into food for the plant. This process takes place in what is called chloroplasts.
The chloroplasts contain pigments such as chlorophyll. This chlorophyll helps the plant to absorb energy from the sun in order to perform photosynthesis.
The energy absorbed by the chloroplasts is moved down a chain of molecules called electron transport. The movement of these electrons is done through these molecules because they are polar or charged.
There are three main types of photosynthetic pigments: chlorophylls, carotenoids and anthocyanins. Chlorophyll absorbs red and blue light; it makes the leaves look green.
Light Requirements For Different Plants
All plants need sunlight to grow, different species have differing light requirements. For example, the Snake Plant can survive in low-light conditions that would kill other plants.
On the other hand, the Christmas Cactus needs bright light to flower.
Knowing how much light your plant needs is important for keeping it healthy. If a plant doesn’t get enough light, it will become leggy as it stretches towards the sun. Too much light will cause the leaves to fade or burn.
Fortunately, there are a few easy ways to tell if your plant is getting too much or too little light. If the leaves are pale and yellow, it’s getting too much light. If the leaves are brown and crispy, it’s not getting enough.
To adjust the amount of light your plant gets, you can move it, or you can change its environment. If you want to move your plant, choose a place with more or less natural light.
If you want to change the light environment, place it in a room with more or less artificial light.
List Of Plants That Require Low Light Conditions
Here are some of the best plants for low-light conditions:
1. Snake Plant
The snake plant, also known as the mother-in-law’s tongue, is one of the most tolerant houseplants when it comes to light.
It can survive in both bright light and near-total darkness, making it an ideal choice for shadowy corners of your home. Snake plants are also drought-resistant, so they’re perfect for forgetful gardeners.
2. Chinese Evergreen
The Chinese evergreen is another plant that can thrive in low-light conditions. It’s a common houseplant that’s often used as a decorative element in offices.
This hardy plant is easy to grow and can thrive with less than six hours of sunlight per day.
3. Spider Plant
The spider plant is one of the most popular houseplants, largely due to its ability to thrive in low light and its ease of care.
Unlike many other plants on this list, it can tolerate direct sunlight for short periods of time.
4. Peace Lily
The peace lily is another popular houseplant that’s been around for decades. It’s known for its long, shiny leaves and fragrant white flowers.
Most indoor plants come from tropical regions and are accustomed to high levels of humidity and bright, indirect sunlight.
5. ZZ Plant
The ZZ plant is an easy-care houseplant that’s ideal for anyone who forgets to water their plants regularly.
Zamioculcas zamiifolia, also known as the ZZ plant, is a tropical plant that can tolerate low light and dry conditions. It’s also known for being pest resistant and easy to propagate.
6. Cast Iron Plant
The cast iron plant is a popular houseplant that can be easily propagated by cutting it into small pieces.
As a tropical plant, the cast iron plant requires high humidity levels and indirect sunlight.
7. Heartleaf Philodendron
The heartleaf philodendron is a beautiful evergreen vine that grows with a trailing habit and makes a beautiful hanging or climbing plant.
It also has heart-shaped green leaves that grow on a background of dark green-brown.
8. Dracaena Marginata
This dracaena plant is one of the most popular and common houseplants. It is a small tree-like plant that grows with an upright trunk and large, dark green leaves.
It is also called ‘Dragon Tree’ due to its shape and color.
This pothos is a beautiful trailing plant with heart-shaped green leaves. The leaves are glossy, dark green and have a thick texture.
The Pothos is also known as devil’s ivy and variegated philodendron.
This is an elegant and beautiful plant with dark green leaves. The cordyline plant makes a good hanging plant due to its long, upright stems.
It gets its name from the Greek word for club and the Latin word for line.
The potted bromeliad is a beautiful plant that has dark green or light green leaves.
The leaves are long and narrow, which grows in a rosette-like shape.
12. Weeping Fig
The weeping fig is a huge plant with thick, dark green leaves.
It grows in a tree-like shape and has aerial roots that drape over the pot.
Anthurium is a popular tropical houseplant that has beautiful, colorful flowers.
The flowers grow in a spathe and are usually red or white with green leaves.
Calathea is a beautiful, large tropical plant with leaves that are shaped like butterflies.
It has a long, thin stem and grows in a rosette shape.
Dieffenbachia is a tropical plant with thick, glossy leaves.
It grows in a rosette shape and has beautiful green and white variegated leaves.
Ways To Create Artificial Light
There are a few ways to create artificial light that can be used to help indoor plants survive without sunlight.
One way is to grow lights. Plants need grow lights for photosynthesis and are designed to mimic the natural light.
They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and can be placed close to the plant or further away, depending on the needs of the plant.
Another way to create artificial light is to use reflective materials.
Reflective materials can be placed around the plant, underneath it, or even on the leaves themselves. This helps to reflect light back onto the plant, giving it the light it needs to grow.
Mirrors can be used to create artificial light for indoor plants. It can be placed around the room, near the plant, or even on the ceiling.
In conclusion, sunlight is essential for plants to grow and thrive. Most plants need sunlight to produce food for themselves through photosynthesis.
However, there are some plants that have adapted to grow in low light or no light conditions. These plants are typically found in shady areas of the forest floor where little sunlight penetrates.
Many houseplants are also able to survive without direct sunlight. They may not produce as much food as they would in full sun, but they can still survive and even thrive indoors.
So, to keep indoor plants alive without natural sunlight, you need to use artificial light. These lights can be found in two types: fluorescent or incandescent.
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