MadSci Network: Botany

Re: How long can a plant last without sunlight?

Date: Thu Oct 9 00:11:08 2003
Posted By: David Hershey, Faculty, Botany, NA
Area of science: Botany
ID: 1065196263.Bt

Plants do not need sunlight if they have sufficient electric light.

If you mean, how long plants can survive without any light then the answer 
varies widely depending on the species, size and other environmental 
conditions, especially temperature. Nurserymen used to overwinter evergreen 
plants in caves or barns for six months or so. In that case the temperatures 
would have been close to freezing. Of course, deciduous trees and shrubs could 
probably do without light for about six months per year when they have no 

Home gardeners sometimes uproot geranium plants (Pelargonium species) before a 
killing frost and hang them upside down in a cool basement overwinter, which 
is usually dark. They survive and can be planted again the next season after 
the danger of frost has past.

At room temperature, I would guess a small seedling with its seed reserves 
exhausted might die after a few days to a week in the dark. Larger plants 
would take longer depending on how much stored nutrients they have. Plants 
with storage organs, such as bulbs corms and tubers would last longer than 
those without.

Some parasitic plants lack chlorophyll so can go through their entire life 
cycle in the dark, particularly the underground orchid. However, they need a 
host plant that requires light to photosynthesize.


Saving Geraniums Over Winter

Re: Are there plants evolved now that feed on other plants?

Underground orchid

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