What Will Happen To Plants That Are Kept In The Dark?

What Will Happen To Plants That Are Kept In The Dark? 4 Amazing Discoveries!

Beautiful houseplants are ideal for decorating both homes and offices. But before you decide to keep or grow one indoors, lighting is among the many factors to consider.

Perhaps the spot or room you choose is poorly lit or just totally dark. So you might be wondering—what will happen to plants that are kept in the dark?

Keeping plants in the dark prevents them from carrying out photosynthesis. As a result, their leaves will change color and wilt; they can also suffer poor growth and will even die. Plants get so much energy to survive from light, so keeping them in the dark deprives them of that.

Additionally, some plants can survive and even thrive in low light conditions, but it is important to choose the right plants for the environment and provide them with adequate care.

To understand this better, this article will show you in detail the different ways darkness affects plants. In addition, you’ll know how to provide the lighting your plants need if you plan to keep them in a dark area.

Keep reading below!

Things That Can Happen To Plants That Are Kept In The Dark

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1. Drooping Leaves

Chlorophyll is the green pigment in plants that helps them create their food. And this food manufacturing process happens through photosynthesis. When plants are kept in the dark, they won’t have access to light to create food.

As a result, the chlorophyll gradually starts to fade; leaves will lose their quality, wither and fall off gradually.

2. Yellowing Of Leaves

When a plant gets very little light, the leaves start to turn yellow, especially the ones mostly away from the light. Similarly, if you keep a plant in the dark, it will suffer from yellowing leaves.

However, in this case of total darkness, the whole leaves of the plant can start to turn yellow. How this happens is that the lack of sunlight will degrade the chlorophyll on plant leaves, which is what makes them green.

When there is little or no chlorophyll left, the leaves start to fade into a yellowish color.

3. Slow Growth

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Plants get the energy to grow and develop from light by the means of photosynthesis. In other words, the absence of either natural (sunlight) or artificial light greatly affects a plant’s ability to grow and reproduce.

If a plant is kept in the dark, it can suffer a slow growth rate and eventually become stunted. Even the seeds and flowers they produce will be little compared to a plant that receives a good amount of sunlight.

Research has proven that plants that require much sunlight grow faster than plants with lower sunlight requirements. So a plant’s growth depends on the amount of sunlight it gets. 

Moreover, a dark room is never a good place for your plant to remain if you want it to blossom.

4. Death

Keeping plants in the dark can also kill them since they need sunlight to stay alive. So when you keep plants in a dark area, they have no access to sunlight, which is a primary life source. 

Since plants can’t manufacture foods without light, they’ll starve if they don’t get access to it. To survive, plants can begin to use up the traces of nutrients from their parts like the stems and leaves. 

However, this does not last long. And when nothing is left to feed on, plants will dry up, harden and die.

How Long Can You Keep Plants In The Dark?

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Plants require light but they can survive for some time in the dark. Generally, plants can stay without light for about 4-20 days. However, this depends on the amount of light it normally gets. 

On one hand, plants with lower light requirements will stay alive in the dark for 12-20 days. On the other hand, plants that need much sunlight to survive can only last in darkness for about 4-10 days. 

What Kind Of Lightning Do Plants Need?

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In general, sunlight is very important and the best lighting for plants’ survival and growth. Nevertheless, plants have different lighting requirements. Some plants need a high amount of sunlight and some require low sunlight to thrive. 

Regardless of a plant’s sunlight requirements, there’s a point where the amount of sunlight it gets becomes excess and unnecessary. Plants don’t need light for an entire day. They also benefit from the period of darkness, especially during the night.

In addition, if you keep a plant indoors where sunlight cannot reach, you can make use of grow lights. They are artificial but are good substitutes for natural light (sunlight). With grow lights, plants kept in the dark can receive a light spectrum that’s just like that of sunlight. 

Moreover, most grow light can offer a light spectrum that specifically suits the needs of a particular plant. The most recommended types of grow lights are LEDs and Fluorescent (CFL) lights. 

Also see: How Much Light Does a Bonsai Tree Need


In summary, it’s not healthy for plants to stay in the dark. It affects plants in many ways. Plants that are kept in the dark can experience stunted growth, wilting leaves, and even death. 

Plants need light for photosynthesis, which helps them create food and facilitate growth. So if you plan to place your plant in a dark room consider using artificial grow lights as long as there’s no access to sunlight. 

However, if there is a window available in the room, that should be the best spot for the houseplant. Remember that darkness, especially during the night, is equally important for a plant’s wellbeing. 

So both the period of light and darkness play important roles in healthy plant development.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Plants Need A Break From Light?

Plants need darkness just the same way they need light. Plants, including trees and shrubs, require sunlight during the day for photosynthesis. However, the period of darkness during the night is equally important for plant growth and metabolism.

Plants equally use the period of darkness to redevelop phytochrome, which is a key compound that controls many aspects of plant development. For a plant to develop properly, they need a light-dark cycle.

How Much Darkness Do Plants Need?

Darkness at night is the best time for plants to rest. An average or mature plant needs about a minimum of 8-10 hours of darkness each day. Seedlings need a minimum of about six hours of darkness. 

This period of darkness is important for plants to rest and perform important respiratory functions. It gives them time to break down energy produced in the day for their growth and development.

Do Plants Grow Faster IIn Darkness?

To be precise, plants grow faster in darkness. However, nighttime and a dark environment are two different things and plants respond to them differently. During the night, plants do more growth and development with the energy processed in the day. 

So the day is mostly for creating food and night for growth. Nevertheless, this is different when you keep plants in a dark area. Plants can grow well in total darkness. Since they don’t receive light in a dark area, they don’t get the energy they need for growth. 

This makes their growth rate slow. In addition, plants kept in the dark that receive little light most times appear to grow faster. 

However, that’s not the case and that’s not healthy growth at all. They are simply stretching due to rapid cell elongation. And this is mostly towards the light source.

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