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!