Posted on May 02 2019
Without photosynthesis plants could not grow, form beautiful leaves and flowers and produce lovely fruit. So, photosynthesis is of vital importance to plants.
What is photosynthesis?
Photosynthesis is the process in which plants - stimulated by the energy of (sun)light - convert carbon dioxide (CO2) and water (H2O) into glucose and oxygen. This conversion takes place in the so-called chloroplasts, inside the leaves. Glucose and oxygen are two indispensible elements for a plant, but also for mankind and the animal kingdom:
During photosynthesis plants process glucose (sugar) into starch, which they temporarily store in their leaves. At night - when plants are not exposed to light and no photosynthesis takes place - in a reverse process this starch becomes glucose again. Subsequently plants transport the glucose - dissolved in water - from the leaves to other parts of the plant. There the glucose is converted once more, for instance into nourishing materials or energy-sources for the plants in question. Glucose also strengthens the plants' cell walls, thereby improving their resistance to diseases and plagues.
The fact that plants are able to form glucose is of vital importance for both mankind and the animal kingdom, enabling animals and human beings to eat the plants' leaves and fruits. For many animals plants are top of the food-chain; for human beings plants form a major food source too.
Photosynthesis enables plants to produce oxygen which they exude to the environment through stomata. And don't we all acknowledge the importance of oxygen? Most organisms (including human beings and animals) cannot breathe, or indeed live, without it.
Photosynthesis at night
At night no photosynthesis takes place, so plants do not take in CO2 nor do they exude oxygen. However, combustive processing of glucose does continue at night. During this process plants take in oxygen and emit waste materials like carbon dioxide.. Not all plants stick to this routine. For instance, house-plant Sansevieria does absorb CO2 at night, thereby keeping up the oxygen-level in the air, which makes it a valuable plant to put in bedrooms. Amazingly Sansevierias cleanse the air from (for example) formaldehyde, xylene and toluene, waste toxins caused by us, when printing documents.
During the photosynthesis process plants convert carbon dioxide into carbohydrates like glucose and exude oxygen. So, plants purify air and offer us oxygen.
No photosynthesis without greenery!
For photosynthesis plants need chloroplasts, stored in their leaves. So, when plants lack rich greenery, little or no photosynthesis takes place.
More CO2 in winter
Since the majority of trees lose their leaves in winter, a slight increase of CO2 into the air occurs. This causes hardly any or no decrease in oxygen, as the air comparatively contains much more oxygen than carbon dioxide. Besides, fortunately our gardens continue to sport some remaining greenery as in (ornamental) grass, spruces, pines and other evergreens!
In order to keep our plants beautiful and healthy, it is important to treat them well. Water them in time and provide plant food, stimulators and, occasionally, a booster. Nitrogen, phosphor, potassium, iron, zinc and manganese are essential in stimulating photosynthesis and are therefore present in many plant fertilizers.
Gardening indoors and in the greenhouse
Outside the summer season it can be quite dark indoors, so little photosynthesis occurs, causing only restricted growth. Why not stimulate your houseplants by allowing them a suitable light source? For this purpose special lights are available in several colours and wattages. Both red, blue and yellow-neutral colours generate photosynthesis. Lights like these prove their value in greenhouses too. Greenhouse lighting enables you to grow plants even in the dark winter months.
Photosynthesis during a plant's growing phase
Since photosynthesis induces plants to grow and flourish, light is of the greatest importance during a plant's growing phase, but also during the germination phase, when the cotyledons (their first leaves) develop, and also when plants produce flowers in their ready-to-bloom-phase. Even during a plant's ripening phase photosynthesis is indispensable. Read on about a plant's various growing phases.