I had this weird idea of making plants grow faster when I first visited an indoor nursery which used floodlights instead of sunlight. They turned on during the day and went off during night in cycles.

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If the time period of the cycles are decreased, it would seem to the plants that the earth just switched to fast-motion. Will this trick the plants into growing faster?

If not the current generation, would the later generations of plants grown like this adapt to the new rhythm ?

(Given that the plant is provided with surplus nutrients to meet the new requirements.)

I would love to do the experiment myself if it would actually work!

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Hello, This is an interesting question. I'm sure there is an effect of day-length on growth (number of hours of light). However your question is more about effect of whole day-night cycle modification? like a cycle of 30h (15day/15night) or a shorter cycle? I would see that more like an adaptation to a whole new planet where the length of a day is not anymore 24h (climatic change won't affect that). $\endgroup$
    – Untitpoi
    Commented Jul 13, 2018 at 15:04
  • $\begingroup$ @Untitpoi Hello there! I meant a decrease in day-length, for your information. $\endgroup$
    – AlphaLife
    Commented Jul 13, 2018 at 15:11
  • $\begingroup$ How can altering the clock prevent global warming? If plants grow faster, they will also die sooner, releasing all their saved carbon to the environment. The long term effect will be close to none. $\endgroup$
    – jmster
    Commented Jul 16, 2018 at 8:52
  • $\begingroup$ @jmster I googled how to decelerate plant growth. It is possible with a method called Topping. So, you can slow down the growth after it has reached full growth. This should decrease global warming, or at least provide some shade! $\endgroup$
    – AlphaLife
    Commented Jul 19, 2018 at 14:14
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I'm sorry but I think the idea of preventing global warming is not the principal point! The question is can we accelerate the growth using in-vitro technics (related to day-length). Whether it could be used to prevent global warming is another issue. $\endgroup$
    – Untitpoi
    Commented Jul 20, 2018 at 7:06

2 Answers 2


This is not the best answer, but see that as a starter! Feel free to use my answer to build yours!

I have found a so-called professor speaking of advantages to go on a 24h light/12h dark cycle (36h cycle) to accelerate the growth of cannabis. I'm not sure of the reliability of this source.

I think the main problem we will encounter with that reduction of cycle would be the trouble with the circadian clock inside the plant. This clock is quite stable and I suspect some deregulation would happen if you desynchronize your day-night cycle with that clock.

See the effects we show on humans in the section Enforced longer cycles of Wikipedia or this stack question

Researchers are allowed to assess the effects of circadian phase on aspects of sleep and wakefulness including sleep latency and other functions - both physiological, behavioral, and cognitive.

  • $\begingroup$ Do you think this clock inside plants would itself get altered, in the new generations at least? $\endgroup$
    – AlphaLife
    Commented Jul 13, 2018 at 16:10
  • $\begingroup$ The circadian clock seems to be complex, it is highly improbable that it will change in one generation. But I think some arabidopsis mutant showing an absence of circadian clock exists and show a high suspeptibility to diseases. You could be interested in that article theconversation.com/… $\endgroup$
    – Untitpoi
    Commented Jul 13, 2018 at 16:19
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Note that many plants grow north of the Arctic Circle, where they get continuous sunlight for part of the summer. (And very long days in subarctic latitudes.) The same varieties of (domestic) plants grow in more southerly latitudes. For instance sites.google.com/site/alaskafruittrees $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Commented Jul 14, 2018 at 17:35

I'm not sure if it's right to post an answer like this but anyway, seeing is believing!

Three days ago, I (finally) gathered enough resources to do this experiment. I'm testing on a pea plant as it comes in handy. I have set up two samples, one for the test and the other for reference.


Today's Day 3, and the results have started to show up. I thought it would be nice for you to see it yourself. The experiment is not over, it's still going on; so I would update the news every three days from now on.

Everything was done in my study room, which is not a laboratory, so the results may not be accurate. I have tried to bring uniformity in the amount and type of soil used, water content, no. of seeds in each sample, seed spacing and other parameters.

I'm providing the link here.

EDIT: Today's only day 5, but the test plant has grown out of my simulator box! I have modified the setup and started a fresh experiment.

The updated record here.


Maybe I should give an update for future readers. I asked this question a couple of years ago and forgot about it. I did this experiment when I was in high school, and I am currently an undergrad in science :).

I can confirm that this experiment was seriously flawed, be it the control parameters or the theory used. The plants grew bigger just because they received more light.

My past self was too enthusiastic about the results that he forgot to think about any of these. I am not deleting this answer as I want it to serve as a reminder for myself how not to do an experiment.

  • $\begingroup$ Interesting input, Are you trying a 30 seconds day-length there? It seems rather fast. In your document it is not clear what is the day-length for your reference. It seems more like your control had less light than your tested peas, but I am just guessing. $\endgroup$
    – Untitpoi
    Commented Jul 23, 2018 at 7:36
  • $\begingroup$ @Untitpoi My reference sample is sitting in bright sunlight right now ! I am not sure of the previous days, as I was out of station.Today the seeds has just begun to open up. But the test seeds are on its own legs already! But the initial results cannot be depended upon. I am looking forward to day 6! $\endgroup$
    – AlphaLife
    Commented Jul 23, 2018 at 7:48
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe I misunderstood, but your control should also be in a box similar to your test with the same length of light exposition. If you don't do that, we can't know for sure if the effect you are measuring is not due to the quality of light (sun VS articifial light) or the total amount of light. $\endgroup$
    – Untitpoi
    Commented Jul 23, 2018 at 14:04
  • $\begingroup$ @Untitpoi Do you mean to place the reference sample in another test environment with a 12-hour on and off period? $\endgroup$
    – AlphaLife
    Commented Jul 23, 2018 at 14:19
  • $\begingroup$ Yes that's exactly what I mean. $\endgroup$
    – Untitpoi
    Commented Jul 23, 2018 at 14:20

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