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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.

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

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Tuesday - October 18, 2005

From: Philadelphia, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: General Botany
Title: Smarty Plants on temperature
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Mr.Smarty Plants, I am a student at Hill Freedman Middle school and I have a science fair coming up. I really need a answer to this question "What effect does temperature have on the growth of plants?". Please help me!

ANSWER:

This is a very broad question with many aspects to its answer. Temperature has an effect on germination of seeds, plant growth, and flowering. It affects photosynthesis, respiration and transpiration of the plant. There are also other factors that work in concert with temperature to affect the growth of plants; for instance, available sunlight and water, daylength, soil compostion, etc. Although, in general, warm temperatures enhance growth and cold temperatures inhibit growth, optimum growth temperatures vary for different plants. Some plants (cool season plants) such as cabbage and broccoli grow best with cool nights and mild days; whereas, warm season plants such as tomatoes and peppers grow best with mild nights and warmer days. Many plants require several weeks below a critical temperature in order to grow in the spring. You can read about critical temperatures for growth of several crop plants.

You can also read more about the effects of temperature on plant growth in a PDF file, "Plant Growth Factors: Temperature", that you can download from Colorado State University Cooperative Extension. North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension also has an article, "Temperature Effect on Plants" that you might find helpful.
 

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