En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
13 ratings

Thursday - June 09, 2005

From: toronto, NV
Region: Select Region
Topic: General Botany
Title: Smarty Plants on cell elongation
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

Why do plants grow faster in the dark?

ANSWER:

In a strict sense, plants do not grow faster in the dark; they grow slower. However, plants seem to grow faster in insufficient light due to rapid cell elongation. In other words, they don't grow faster, they simply stretch. It is important to know that green plants really only grow as a result of photosynthetic processes. Without light photosynthesis ceases and plant tissue develop the characteristic, low-light induced sickly green or white coloration.

Rapid elongation of plant cells in low-light conditions is an emergency response on the part of the plant to return its plant tissues to the light where they can again photosynthesize and live. This would be analagous to standing on the bottom of a swimming pool and stretching to get your nose above water for a breath of life-giving oxygen.

In conditions of total darkness, plant cells will generally expand upward, a process called geotropism. In conditions where a small amount of light is reaching the plant, it will grow toward the brightest source of light in a process called heliotropism. Prolonged exposure to darkness will inevitably lead to the death of a plant.
 

More General Botany Questions

Increase in plant cell size when nuclei take on water
March 07, 2008 - Do plant cells increase in size when vacuoles or nuclei take on water?
view the full question and answer

Fragrant Texas wildflowers from Waco TX
July 28, 2013 - Hi, I'm interested in looking at any Texas Wildflowers which have attractive aromas which I can distill essential oil from. Any ideas? Thanks
view the full question and answer

How to determine the gender of wax myrtles from the WFC?
February 08, 2010 - Mr.Smarty Plants, have the wax myrtles that are up for sale at the Center's Spring Plant sale been sexed? I need a male plant. How can the sex be determined when the plant is young? Or can it?
view the full question and answer

USDA Hardiness Zones
January 22, 2015 - Some natives are listed as ZONE 3 - 7. Would they be ok in zone 9. I thought the zones related to cold hardiness. What does the higher number mean, exactly?
view the full question and answer

What are the native plants in Kerrville, Texas?
May 22, 2013 - What are the native plants in Kerrville, Texas?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center