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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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Sunday - December 18, 2005

From: Saint Louis, MO
Region: Midwest
Topic: General Botany
Title: Consequences of leaving geranium in dark room
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

What would happen to a geranium plant that was left to grow in a dark room for many days?

ANSWER:

Light is necessary for photosynthesis, the process by which the plant makes its food. If a geranium plant (or any other green plant) is grown in the dark, it will become tall and spindly and turn pale and yellow. This phenomenon is called etiolation. The plant will be putting its energy into lengthening to try to find light so that it can photosynthesize and putting very little energy into making chlorophyll; thus, it grows tall and loses its green color. Left in the dark long enough, it will die because it cannot photosynthesize to produce energy for cell division and growth.
 

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