Plants Grow Faster at Night?




You’re Crazy, Mike!

I have heard it more than once. Everytime I explain this phenomenon about plants, I get the same skeptical reaction.

Plants have a mission: Catch the sunlight, convert and store the energy when you can. Grow later. During photosynthesis the plants grab all the light, carbon dioxide and water passible. With those ingredients that plant makes sugars, starches and other vital compounds.

What about plant GROWTH? Not yet. Make FOOD while the sun shines. Save cell division and elongation(growth) for the night shift.

Watch the video below of basil growing in time lapse. It has a slow start but finally starts to take off. You will notice two really neat things….The leaves move out and wide, then the plant suddenly jumps taller then the leaves move out and wide again, then another jump.

Watch, then I’ll explain…

First the jump……Plants need a night cycle just like all of us. The camera does not take pictures in the dark, so it skips the night and resumes in “morning”. Yes the lights are on a timer. When the lights come on in the morning, the plants are now just a little taller…so the jump. Yes, they grow during the day too, just not as fast.

What’s with the fanning out leaves? If you rely on light for life, you need to catch all the light you can when you can. The leaves will move to face as much light as possible. BUT HOW?…..The bottom of the leaf gets less light than the top, right? So the bottom of the leaf grows just a little faster than the top. This will flatten out the leaf and then curl it towards the light. BRILLIANT! (For an organism without a brain.) During the night, all of the leaf grows equally  making that jump when the lights come back on.

Confuse your friends… Everyone knows that plants grow towards the light, right? Actually they don’t. The light side of the plant grows SLOWER while the dark side of the plant grows FASTER……So they are growing AWAY from the dark!















About Mike

Retired science teacher that is learning to blog...

6 thoughts on “Plants Grow Faster at Night?

  1. Joe says:

    Very cool.

  2. I have gardened for over 45 years and have studied and observed plants day and night. One of the key items also for plant growth is the temperature. If the night time temp starts to decline towards 50 degrees the work done by the photosynthesis caused by the day light will come to a halt. At 50 degrees all the workers of the night time factory useing the materials gathered during photosynthesis
    stops. They all go home. There is the day time factory workers and the night time factory workers. A simple test is to use a ruler for the day time plant growth and a ruler for measuring the night time growth. This obsevation must be done with the keen awareness of the temperatures during this observation. This observation of day and night and the temperature will cause on to rethink the actual old school thoughts of the growing season.

    • Mike says:

      Thanks, Charles! I did not think of that. My effort to simplify often gets me in trouble. And yep, I am “old school”. I loved the way you explained it. If you are not a teacher already, you would be a good one!

  3. Juls says:

    I saw my plants sort of dancing one night and its a little freaky to be honest after the sci-fibflicks I’ve watched so being oerpetually curious looked on the internet for answers and found them. It has been some time and have forgotten the scientific term for how the plant store the suns energy and how plants utilize it at night. Each process has a nomenclature but i have forgotten what each is and cannot find the terms anywhere. Its not photosynthesis nor thermodynamics. Please help. Mad scientist Juls 🙂

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