Can Flowers Grow Without Sunlight?

Photo of different plants

Take a quick trip back to elementary school. Remember science class? Plants and growth cycles were probably some of your first scientific studies. Who hasn’t put a bean in a clear container to watch it sprout and grow? Ah, those early days of learning. One of the first things covered was what plants need to grow, right? Dirt, water, and sunlight are necessary for flowers to grow. Perhaps a first impulse is to think that flowers cannot grow without exposure to sunlight. But that’s not necessarily true.

Yes. flowers can grow without sunlight. But they cannot grow without some type of light source, it just doesn’t have to be from the sun. Some plants cannot thrive in full sunlight but do well when placed in indirect light or shaded areas.  There are several light sources to use with indoor plants that do not have exposure to the sun.

Artificial Light Sources for Growing Plants without Sunlight

 If you live in an apartment or don’t have outdoor space to plant flowers, you can still grow flowers inside using artificial lights. There are three types of light sources you can use to grow plants. They provide the light needed for plants to continue the process of photosynthesis needed for growth and producing flowers or fruit. The three light types include high-pressure Sodium (HPS) lights, fluorescent lights, and LED lights.

HPS Lights

High-Pressure Sodium lights are some of the most powerful grow lights available. They are also more expensive than other options. They put out about 1000 watts of simulated sunlight for plants and emit lots of heat. HPS lights can be purchased with different types of stands and apparatuses if you want to do your own greenhouse. You could use HPS lights to grow flowers and other plants in your basement if you wanted to. Because they produce a lot of heat, they can present a safety hazard to children or pets.

Fluorescent Lights

A more practical choice is fluorescent lights. They run a lot cooler than HPS lights and are less expensive. The bulbs are long and thin, so they are easy to use with shelves. Fluorescent lights are not quite as strong as most HPS light sources, and they don’t need a lot of ventilation. The only big negative to using fluorescent lighting is that if they were to break, they contain chemicals. You would need to clean up a lot of shattered glass and chemical residue.

LED Lights

The safest and easiest to use for growing plants without sunlight are LED lights. They don’t give off much heat and you can use different colors if you want. When it comes to changing out lights, LEDs are much easier than either fluorescent or HPS lights. They do have a couple of downsides though. First, they don’t always fit in stackable shelves like fluorescent lights. Secondly, they can be expensive.

Choosing Artificial Lighting

Photo of Indoor grow plants with Led lights

Before you start shopping for artificial light sources, you’ll want to answer some questions. It’s important to find the right light source to help you grow your particular plants. The area you will be utilizing artificial lights in is important too. Different light sources work for basements, kitchens, or living rooms. Here are a few questions to help you get started.

  •       What is your indoor gardening experience?
  •       How many plants do you plan on growing?
  •       How much space is available for plants and how will you arrange them?
  •       How close together will the plants and light source need to be?
  •       Will anyone else have access to the plant area?

If you are working with lots of space and money isn’t a factor, HPS lights may be a good option for you. They work well for more experienced indoor gardeners too. If your space is limited to a few shelves, fluorescent lighting options may be your best choice for growing plants without sunlight. HPS lights produce a lot of heat and if they are too close to plants, they can burn them. Fluorescent lights, although cooler than HPS lights, do give off a little heat. This can be a big advantage if you live in a cooler area and you need the heat for growing plants.

LED lights don’t produce nearly as much heat as the other two options. Of course, this is not helpful in colder climates. If you can afford LED lights, they are usually the better buy because they don’t have as much of an environmental impact on your growing area.

Plants that are Easy to Grow Without Sunlight

There are quite a few plants that need very little or zero sunlight to grow. They are easy to care for and can grow indoors. There are plenty of low-light plants to choose from. They prefer shady spots and dim conditions instead of direct sunlight. Here are the top indoor plants that grow without the sunlight:

BromeliadsThis plant will only grow under artificial lighting

Snake plants This is a great houseplant and thrives in rooms with very little sunlight. Make sure the soil drains it likes moist soil that is not too wet.

Calathea plants Provide occasional sunlight to keep this plant’s foliage colorful and bright.

Peace LilyThis plant cannot be exposed to direct sunlight or its green leaves will fade. They will continue to produce their beautiful white flowers in low-light areas.

Cast Iron plantThis hardy plant has beautiful green leaves, and it will literally grow in any light or shade.

Parlor PalmThis tropical plant provides natural beauty for any room and it only needs artificial light or a little bit of indirect natural light.

Spider Plant This plant does great in low-light areas. It needs to be kept out of direct light or it will lose its luster.

Prayer Plant This tropical plant with vibrant green leaves plants survive in minimal light conditions. They are versatile and the plant can grow just as well in bright light.

Final Thoughts

There are lots of plants that grow without sunlight. Many of them need an artificial light source to thrive. But there are a few plants that can even be damaged by too much sunlight. Growing plants as a hobby can be fun and rewarding. Knowing how to adapt to a plant’s lighting needs can ensure you enjoy having them around even longer.

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