Light to Keep the Colors Alive

Light to Keep the Colors Alive


Houseplants have always been a struggle for me. Plants need light. I like the dark. Plants need water. I'm forgetful.

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But here's a look at the basic needs of a plant, and a little touch of science.

Plants need water to begin the process of creating sugars, which are at the base of every plants growth. Plants rely on the soil they're in for both a base for their roots to hold them in place, and for the nutrients found therein.

Once the water is taken in, through Photosynthesis, the process that converts light, whether natural ligth from the sun or from lamps, into an energy that will allow the plants to create the sugars they need. What makes plants green is chlorophyll, which is found in the chloroplasts, the parts of the leaves that absorb sunlight to make photosynthesis possible.

I remember hearing of a study that was done based on what types of coloured lights were most beneficial to plants. The results showed that using green light actually killed the plant, and it makes sense to me as to why.

The base principle of visible light is that, when hitting an object, it reflects every colour that the object is not, and absorbs all of the rest. That means that a plant, being green, will not absorb green. It reflects green light.

While 'white light' seems to be the best, do keep in mind that special grow lights are best. They run on the expensive side because careful research has been done to ensure that the right amount of spectral light is being emitted that is best for plants. Grow lamps and lights can range in size from desktop to long tubes, like UV lights.


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3 Comments
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i didn't know that green plants reflected green light! i always learn so much from you. =D
'White light' is best, it is not however specific in wavelength, by definition. Therefore a higher intensity of light would be required, using more energy than using wavelength specific light.
Wavelengths around 650 to 700nm of the two chlorophyll photosystems would be most effective for photosynthesis in a green leaved plant. These wavelengths correspond to red and orange light.
As you suggest though, Chlorophyll a and b also have peaks in the UV range of approximately 400nm to 475nm, which would also be effective.
You are correct in saying that lights that produce these very specific wavelengths are quite expensive, as are not usually blackbody-radiation style bulb lamps.
Care must be taken with different plants however, because some, especially non-green leaved plants have different types of chlorophyl and/or different accessory pigments, therefore peaking at a different wavelength/colour of light.
Good point, predatorMC. I remembered after I posted this that not all plants kept have green leaves.

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