Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
48 ratings

Friday - February 20, 2009

From: Miami, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: General Botany
Title: What is more important for plant growth; sunlight, water, soil or what?
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

What is more important for plant growth generally. Sunlight, water, good soil what ? please write back I need an answer I am 13 doing a science project.

ANSWER:

Generally speaking, there are five basic needs for all living organisms: an energy source, a source of carbon, liquid water, mineral elements, and an appropriate temperature for growth.

Since plants are autotrophs, they can provide their own energy source by using sunlight to combine carbon dioxide with water to form carbohydrates. The mineral elements are usually obtained from the soil. So while all of the factors are important, its hard to say that any one factor is more important than the other.

In the case of hydroponics, we can grow plants in a controlled environment and substitute artificial light for sunlight, and use a nutrient solution in place of soil, but there has  to be water for the plants to grow.

 

 

More General Botany Questions

Alleotrophic effects of caffeine found in Ilex species
January 24, 2007 - I'm doing research for my biology class on the alleotrophic effects of caffeine. I'm planning to use Ilex vomitoria as the caffeine-producing plant. As the control I want to use another non-c...
view the full question and answer

Plants for a hillside in WI
February 18, 2012 - I live in Wisconsin and am currently doing a research project on plant variation on the north and south sides of a hill. I was wondering you could suggest any books to me that would address this issue...
view the full question and answer

Forum for reporting rare plants
July 05, 2014 - Hi Mr. Smarty Pants, I was wondering if there is a forum for Texans to submit sightings of native plants they find? I live in Medina County and 2 years ago had a rare native plant growing in my yard ...
view the full question and answer

Consumption of carbon dioxide from South Korea
December 07, 2011 - I am curious about what flowers consume CO2 for growing (especially 1-year life flower). Thanks.
view the full question and answer

Why do sunflowers turn towards the sun?
February 27, 2006 - Why do sunflowers turn towards the sun?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.