Light is one of the most important resources plants require for proper growth. Through photosynthesis, plants are able to convert light and heat energy into food. Very few plants can survive without at least some indirect light. Understanding how plants use light to survive is the first step in growing healthy, vibrant plants.
Light is absorbed by chlorophyll found in plant cells, triggering various biological functions, such as photosynthesis, to create sugars. That food is used for extensive leaf, stem, bloom and root growth. Other important processes, such as flower and fruit production, cannot take place without adequate energy and food.
Some seeds require exposure to heat and light before they can begin to germinate, such as lettuce seeds. Sunlight heats the soil, triggering biological growth processes. This is a powerful tool in nature, protecting plants from the harsh winter temperatures, but can backfire during periods of late frosts when seeds are irreparably damaged.
Trees, shrubs and other plants often grow in the direction of a source of light to expose as many of their leaves to the light as possible. This ensures enough food production to maintain health. Light deficiency is a dangerous ailment to plants, limiting biological processes and leaving the plant vulnerable to infections, stress and infestation.
Sunlight is the main source of light for the majority of plant life on the planet. Sunlight contains vast amounts of heat and minerals that contribute to full plant development. Gardeners who wish to control the growth cycle of plants can use artificial bulbs to provide for plant life. Incandescent bulbs often burn too hot for most plants, but florescent bulbs are cool enough to feed plants without scorching them.
Limiting light is an effective method of forcing plants to go dormant. Dormancy can protect plants during dangerous climate conditions and can help them save energy until the danger passes. Decreasing available daylight is how many plants know it is time to go dormant and that winter is approaching.