Can plants kill you at night? Sounds strange yet incredible, for many of us green thumbs, this is a question that troubles us. We are all aware that plants carry out a process called photosynthesis.
During the day this process is carried out with the help of the sunlight wherein the plants absorb carbon–dioxide and release oxygen which is known to be the life-giver for all living beings.
But the process reverses at night when the lack of sunlight makes these plants absorb oxygen instead and emit carbon-dioxide in order to continue their cellular respiration.
Table of Contents
- Can plants kill you at night? Are plants dangerous at night?
- Is it harmful to have plants in your bedroom at night?
- Why is it undesirable to place plants in a patient’s room at night?
- Do plants consume our oxygen at night?
- What do plants do at night?
- How do plants know whether it is day or night?
- How do plants do mathematics?
Can plants kill you at night? Are plants dangerous at night?
As a rule, plants emit carbon–dioxide at night which is harmful to all living beings. Hence continues the dilemma that is faced by plant lovers regarding keeping plants in our bedrooms. Studies indicate that although this is the case, the emission of carbon–dioxide is not in such large quantities that it can prove to be fatal to humans.
Truth be told, there have been cases when asthma patients have experienced their medical conditions turning for the worse when sleeping in a room full of plants and the reverse effect after removing them. In other cases, fishes have been known to suffocate to death in aquariums that are overcrowded with plants.
A conclusive deduction about the question “can plants kill you at night?” is not difficult to arrive at. Despite some adverse cases, we can safely state that these varying viewpoints lean more towards the lack of danger that the plants might pose at night.
Place the right variety of plants, at the right spot and you have nothing to worry about!
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Is it harmful to have plants in your bedroom at night?
This question has been under the scanner for the longest time. Theoretically, we all know that plants emit oxygen during the day while performing the process of photosynthesis and at night this equation reverses whereas the same plants release carbon–dioxide as part of their respiration process.
So, in essence, we love the plants all over our homes during the day knowing that they are adding to our health quotient however, their benefits are questioned at night. It is true that the emission of carbon – dioxide by the plants at night is harmful to living beings but is it really harmful to the extent that it can cause permanent damage?
Well, that is highly dependable. Some plants may not be right for your bedroom while some can be non-dangerous.
Yes, there are poisonous plants that contain toxins that can harm us but that is only through physical contact or consumption and not by respiration.
The emission of carbon–dioxide is only one aspect but even things like mould or the other fungal bacteria in plants or the soil could cause harm to our body system. Many individuals are sensitive to the pollen produced by plants and it can be responsible for many sorts of allergies.
Researchers today have proven that the amount of carbon–dioxide being emitted at night by the plants in your bedroom is insignificant and cannot really harm you.
For instance, you can compare the amount of carbon–dioxide being emitted by one person to about 600 plants in your house. Besides, there is enough oxygen in the air at any given point to ensure you do not suffocate and these plants do not have the capacity to overpower it or rather breathe in all the oxygen from the air at night and in turn leaving none for you!
Come on now, this isn’t really a horror film, is it?
One very pertinent example of this theory of plants consuming a very insignificant amount of oxygen at night is the forest where so many animals live amongst multitudes of trees and greens.
Botanists throughout the world are of the opinion that although it is true that the plants do emit carbon–dioxide during the night, the amount is so small that it does not create any harmful effects for us.
In fact, as humans, we emit more carbon – dioxide that these helpless creatures and yet we do not bat an eyelid when sharing the bedroom with each other.
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Why is it undesirable to place plants in a patient’s room at night?
It is a common occurrence that nurses remove flower pots and plants from a sick person’s room at night. When a person is unwell the body’s immunity is low and the body is not functioning to its optimal level.
In such a case, the presence of plants in the room at night is nothing but a precautionary measure taken to safeguard the patient’s respiratory interest.
With plants placed in the room, at night the oxygen levels may drop and that could cause complications and compromise the patient’s well–being.
Do plants consume our oxygen at night?
The answer to this question is a big yes! All living beings perform the function of respiration to keep alive. During this change in the plant’s respiration process at night, they combine the oxygen they breathe with the plant’s food that was created during the day while performing the process of photosynthesis in order to generate energy.
Since the plant emits carbon–dioxide during this respiration process at night, it in turn becomes the opposite of photosynthesis. Respiration does not depend on light whereas photosynthesis only occurs in daylight.
While photosynthesis is taking place during the day the plants require a minimum amount of oxygen. In fact, they release oxygen into the air which reverses at night. When the plants cannot perform photosynthesis during the night, they stop releasing oxygen while continuing to consume it as part of their respiratory function.
To put it in simpler words, plants produce food during the day and consume it at night. Since for plants the process of ‘eating’ requires oxygen, plants require to absorb this from the air around us however this is done in very small quantities and does not generally affect humans or animals.
The quantity of oxygen consumed by plants is very minimal compared to humans. In fact, the amount of oxygen that these wonderful organisms consume has nothing on the quantity of oxygen that they produce during the day! What’s a ‘little’ when you’ve got a lot?
What do plants do at night?
During the day when the sun shines, plants are busy performing the process of photosynthesis in which they convert sun light, oxygen, and carbon–dioxide into glucose which is a form of stored energy for them. At night when there is no sun light the process reverses and the plants use their stored energy to keep the process of their growth going. It is almost as if they are performing mathematics at night!
During the night time, plants conduct cellular respiration which should not be confused with photosynthesis. In actuality, photosynthesis is the process which makes the cellular respiration possible.
It’s simple! Through the process of photosynthesis, plants create their food which then provides nutrition for their growth however during cellular respiration the plants use these very nutrients for their survival and growth. The aggressively growing plants naturally use more nutrients than slower-growing ones.
During photosynthesis, the plants use water, sunlight, and carbon–dioxide while producing oxygen and glucose. During cellular respiration, they consume oxygen, glucose, and in return produce carbon–dioxide, heat, energy, and water.
Lastly, photosynthesis only happens during the day in the presence of sunlight while the plants continue to respire throughout the day as well as, at night.
For some varieties of plants, the stoma closes at night however this does not stop the plant from respiring. They still continue the process, though the intensity might slow down. In the darkness, plants consume oxygen and release carbon–dioxide.
In dim sun light, things go a little differently because the rate of photosynthesis and respiration become equivalent. At such a time the plant consumes the oxygen created during photosynthesis but does not release any carbon–dioxide which it is supposed to during the cellular respiration process.
When this happens, there is no gas exchange between the plant and the surrounding atmosphere.
How do plants know whether it is day or night?
Plants, unlike human beings, do not possess a nervous system or a brain that tells them what time of the day it is. However, like human beings, they possess something known as circadian rhythm which is a natural and internal process that repeats itself every 24 hours and can help in regulating the sleep-wake cycle in plants.
This creates an awareness of the night time darkness around them. It then makes them reverse their processes and do things differently at night as compared to the day.
Even though they cannot perform photosynthesis at night due to the lack of sun light available, plants do not waste this time in going dormant.
Instead, they keep themselves busy with the process of respiration. Certain proteins found in plants known as “phytochromes” help keep plants informed regarding the time of the day. They are light-sensitive microscopic machines that are found in the leaves of all plant forms.
During the day plants create special types of glucose that are then moved around to different areas of the plant at night.
In short, plants create their food during the day and consume it at night. It is advised not to provide any additional food or water to plants at night as this can waterlog the roots causing irrevocable damage.
How do plants do mathematics?
This might sound bizarre, but plants can actually calculate! It might not resemble the way humans evaluate things however even without the functions of a brain, plants spend their night time working out and calculating exactly how much food they can consume during the night before the sun comes up the next day.
Plants possess a chemical calculator which makes them aware of the amount of energy that they have been able to store during the day.
They then divide this energy with the estimated length of the night hours. In this way they control the portions of the energy that is available for consumption, ensuring that they do not run out of it before the sun rises the next day.
This theory was discovered by scientists from the John Innes Centre in England. This theory concludes that plants under no circumstances will starve themselves to death. They are quick to adjust to the amount of food produced during the day time when the sun is out and use it methodically at night for their optimal growth.
For the experiment that was conducted by these scientists, they altered the duration of the light provided to the plants. Plants that were previously used to a 12 hour light period were suddenly given only 8 hours of light one day.
To the amazement of the scientists, the chemical reactions within the cells of the plants quickly adjusted their metabolism to the lesser quantity of food that was able to be produced and stored during the shorter day period and portioned it accordingly to be consumed during a long night period.
In the morning they still had some food left in reserve! This ability to perform mathematical calculations is truly a remarkable flair!
While there are deadly plants around the world harbouring poison within their fruits or seeds, none of them can harm you without ingestion.
Plants are an asset to possess in our homes especially for all of us who are deprived of the blessing of greenery while residing in cities or what is otherwise known as ‘concrete jungles’. Plants add beauty and splendor to our homes besides giving us numerous health benefits! And let’s face it, we as humans are social creatures that seek companionship and nurturing plants can give us just that if not so much more.
So, let’s appreciate and love our little green friends without harboring any doubts. Because can plants kill you at night? Most definitely not!
I am Elsa, love gardening. I spent lots of time with plants, flowers, it gives me lots of happiness.
I am sharing all the practical tips on how to grow various plants, flower plants, vegetables in the garden. Read more about me.