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6 To 8 Hours Of Darkness For Plants To GrowOne thing many gardeners forget is that plants need darkness to digest and grow. During periods of light, plants manufacture starches and sugars, and at night they digest these components. Giving a plant too much light is the same as giving it too much water or too much fertilizer. Do not allow your fluorescent lights to remain on for longer than 16-18 hours a day. Allow at least 6 to 8 hours of darkness per day for the plants to grow and utilize the starches and sugars.

Plants digest sugars by a process called respiration, which takes place at night. Respiration releases these sugars and carbohydrates and uses them for cell division, protein creation and water movement in the stem. If plants cannot rest and perform respiration, they will become weak and die. Darkness is not only important but also is temperature. If the temperature is too high, plants will respire at a high rate and utilize too much of the plants carbohydrate and sugar reserves, thus weakening the plant. It is best if the plant respires at a lower temperature to somewhat lower this process. This is why a basement is a good place for young transplants: it will normally be cooler than the rest of the house at night.

Recent studies reveal that if a person does not get complete darkness when they sleep, it can affect their physical health, energy level and alertness. I don’t know if this is true as well for plants, but I believe that it is. So complete darkness means complete darkness: no night-lights, no moonlight, no stair lights, no nothing. Absolute darkness for your plants 6 to 8 hours per day is required. This is why the basement is a good place to grow seedlings. You can regulate the amount of darkness, as well as the amount of light, easier in this area of your house than in most other areas.

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