Light sanatorium for plants – we fight against etiolation

The most common reason for the loss of decorativeness in indoor plants is lighting problems. Thin shoots, small leaves that turn pale in the shade are the main symptoms of a lack of light. In the initial stages, coping with the consequences of a lack of light is easy. With an advanced problem, the plant may not recover or require many months of struggle to return its attractive appearance. You can deal with the problem in different ways – from a simple rearrangement to supplementary lighting and isolation with a controlled light regime – light sanatoriums.

Pulling out shoots and shrinking the leaves of a houseplant is a sign of etiolation.


Etiolation – the consequences of insufficient light

Even experienced flower growers cannot avoid problems in growing indoor plants. Any loss of decorativeness requires a comprehensive analysis. Improper care and inappropriate temperature conditions affect both the growth and the condition of the leaves in indoor plants. Many difficulties in growing them are associated with pests and diseases. But the first of all the reasons that are checked and diagnosed, it is also the most likely cause of almost any negative phenomena – insufficient lighting.

Etiolation is a disease caused by insufficient lighting and manifests itself in growth retardation, elongation of shoots, shrinking leaves and loss of luxurious colors, general depression, as well as plant health problems. In fact, this is chlorosis, which turns into impaired growth. The first and most obvious signs of etiolation are blanching of leaves and shoots. The longer the conditions are not adjusted and the symptoms are ignored, the more depressed the houseplant looks and the stronger the crushing, unnatural stretching, stunting, lethargy appear.

Etiolation threatens not only ornamental-deciduous plants, but also manifests itself most strongly in them, especially in plants with bright, variegated patterns on the leaves or unusual colors, in which the blanching is noticeably stronger and manifests itself faster. There are plants that demonstrate enviable resistance and for a long time retain only the initial signs of the effects of insufficient lighting, and there are those that change, stretch and wither before our eyes.

The reason causing etiolation is always the same – incorrect selection of conditions. Regardless of whether you are looking for a plant for a specific room and place, or, conversely, choosing a place for the location of your favorite green pet, it is the discrepancy between the illumination at the location and the individual requirements of the plant that leads to growth disruption and health problems. Etiolation is always a mistake of the owners.

The best way to combat etiolation is to prevent it. Avoiding mistakes, measuring the intensity of lighting, carefully studying the information about each species, clarifying the nuances when buying – these are the measures that will help to avoid difficulties. But even with careful selection, problems in the development of plants associated with insufficient lighting still remain. And the point is not only that the photophilousness of some cultures cannot be satisfied in city apartments, it is not always in the habits of plants grown and sold under ideal conditions with supplementary lighting or in unpleasant surprises that inevitably await during wintering. Even the most experienced growers can have problems with light-demanding plants. But they are not at all a reason to get rid of the plant or look for drastic solutions. As with any problem or disease, etiolation can be dealt with. And whether it will be possible to do this depends, first of all, on your diligence and patience.

Just as indoor crops differ in their ability to adapt to different conditions, they also differ greatly in their ability to recover from growth disorders associated with a lack of light. So, cacti and succulents that have suffered from etiolation, as a rule, do not recover at all; the area damaged or deformed in poor lighting remains so forever. Indoor annuals and ground covers, ampelous plants with strong shoots will not recover on their own. For them, in addition to correcting conditions or a light sanatorium, it will also be necessary to carry out formation and pruning, stimulating the growth of new normal shoots. In flowering crops, the consequences of etiolation will be to skip a whole flowering cycle. But the majority of ornamental deciduous plants, shrubs and woody plants, after correct correction and “light treatment”, are able to restore their beauty.

Before tackling the problem caused by insufficient lighting, it is worth excluding all other possible diseases or factors that could cause color loss, stretching and stunting. Some of the symptoms of chlorosis are similar to those of diseases and pests, and delay in resolving these problems can lead to disastrous results. The fight to restore a plant damaged by poor lighting is worthwhile after all other more serious problems have been eliminated.

Additional lighting for a houseplant
Additional lighting for a houseplant

Basic techniques for dealing with poor lighting

The first and most important step in dealing with any – both mild and serious problems associated with a lack of light – is the immediate correction of conditions. The plant must be transferred from a shaded and secluded place to one that fully suits it according to the requirements of a particular species. Dramatically increasing the light intensity is not the best option. The plant is moved gradually, closer to windows or to other rooms, softening the transition period. Direct sunlight is especially dangerous, from which it is better to protect even resistant crops for at least a few weeks. If the plant was already standing on the lightest windowsill, then you need to additionally illuminate the plants.

If etiolation is weak, you noticed the first signs of chlorosis and managed to take action, then you can stop there. A plant that is timely moved to a place that is comfortable for it will quickly recover. But if simple movement is not enough, the plant has suffered greatly, besides chlorosis, there are other symptoms, it is worth taking more serious measures – to start treating etiolation.

Light sanatorium, phytotron and their alternatives in the treatment of etiolation

Today, a small revolution is taking place in interior design and the approach to growing plants in the home. The return of florariums to fashion, the shift of attention to complex compositions and unusual containers from classic plants are not the only trends in recent years. Increasingly, kitchen projects began to include special indoor greenhouses or mini-farms for growing greens and vegetables in indoor conditions, and for lovers of exotic cultures, everyone is expanding the selection of terrariums, flower display cases and phytotrons, which are slowly turning from the dream of the owner of a modern greenhouse into an increasingly affordable one. luxury.

New ideas in the organization of phytotrons and flower terrariums also reminded of a much simpler, affordable and do-it-yourself option for caring for plants – a light or sunny sanatorium. The technique of growing plants without lighting, interesting studies that have been forgotten for a long time, are again attracting attention. The idea developed by N.M. Verzilin for the treatment of indoor plants suffering from a lack of light is being discussed and implemented again today. Of course, not everyone will allow themselves to build a special meter-long plywood box for plant restoration in a limited area of ​​apartments, but the idea underlying the method itself should still be used to combat the consequences of etiolation.

A solar or light sanatorium is a way to compensate for the lack of sunlight, seasonal or general lighting characteristics in a room using electric light. In fact, the same principle is used as in the lighting of greenhouses, heated or in the climate systems of greenhouses and terrariums, but with a new purpose. In apartment conditions, for indoor plants it is not even necessary to use special phytolamps with reflectors – ordinary, modern bulbs with a power of 100 to 200 watts help to heal plants no worse. Incandescent lamps, obsolete and slowly being replaced by modern solutions and technologies, are associated with the risk of overheating. But even they make it possible to solve the task of etiolation treatment. The easiest way to buy a ready-made lamp especially for terrariums and florariums in a store specialized in aquariums.

The goal of the light sanatorium is to provide affected plants with ideal conditions with intense lighting, literally “saturate” the leaves and stems with light and restore their healthy appearance in stable optimal lighting under controlled conditions. Such methods are used not only if the plant has suffered significantly from etiolation – in addition to blanching, other symptoms appear, the plant is in a very depressed state. Light sanatoriums also use:

  • for the purpose of prevention, placing plants to prevent stretching and loss of shape for several days a month or regularly for several hours;
  • for rooting cuttings;
  • to stimulate and control flowering;
  • for growing seedlings.

There are four methods of treatment based on the principles of light sanatoriums:

1. Phytotrons – automated or semi-automated portable greenhousesfully controlling the microclimate – from light and temperature to humidity and irrigation. They have not yet become fashionable in our country. But the tendencies of Western design, actively using phytotrons for growing greens for the table, are already beginning to manifest themselves in our market. If earlier the phytotron was considered more of a scientific or industrial technology, today it has moved to a room and portable format. In the phytotron, the intensity of illumination and its duration can be set so as to achieve the effect of etiolation treatment. Phytotrons help to cope with a lack of light or its consequences, and are suitable for growing exotic or capricious plants.

2. The classic method of the solar sanatorium according to Verzilin – placing the plant in a closed box (box or camera) isolated from light with a working phytolamp or a standard household lamp for 100-200 W for 2-4 weeks until decorative effect is restored. You can build a plywood box yourself, use ready-made plywood boxes, or shade the walls of an aquarium or terrarium with a dark film. The main condition for the “work” of such a sanatorium is to control the intensity of illumination, the duration of daylight hours and constant high-quality ventilation (the holes should be sufficient for a constant flow of air, but preserve all the light inside. To protect against dry air for most plants, containers with water or moist pebbles, moss and expanded clay (with the exception of succulents) In such a sanatorium, all the light is directed exclusively to the plant.

3. Placing moisture-loving plants in a backlit terrarium or florarium – transferring a simple room culture to a controlled environment with stable lighting. The organization of flower showcases for growing capricious crops can be attributed to the same option. Such options do not have a therapeutic effect similar to phytotrons and sanatoriums: they are inferior to closed boxes with darkened walls, they are aimed not so much at light therapy as at creating an optimal environment.

4. Using proximity to the lamp without insulating the plant… Indoor plants suffering from a lack of light can simply be placed under the lamps, placing them at a distance of 30-50 cm above the plant for constant stable supplementary lighting. A shade that guides the light or a hood will greatly enhance the effect. This option does not provide for the isolation of the plant in a separate “box” or container, it is the simplest and least effective. True, most of all it affects the owners: constantly working lighting devices can interfere with the use of the room for its intended purpose, cause discomfort.

Additional lighting for indoor plants
Additional lighting for indoor plants. Farmer Tropics @Home

Seasonal lighting problems

Any florist has come across signs of a lack of light at least once: even with an ideal selection of growing conditions, the seasonal decrease in light causes temporary etiolation in light-dependent stars. In autumn and winter, in regions with harsh winters, insufficient lighting is a pattern that can be compensated for, but difficult to avoid.

All indoor plants, without exception, suffer from the effects of seasonal changes. But they do not have to be dealt with in all cases. When studying the individual preferences of indoor plants, it is worth paying attention to whether the plant needs stable lighting and whether it is necessary to take mandatory measures in autumn and winter. If the plant can do without additional lighting or rearrangement, its wintering coincides with the dormant period, then even the signs of lack of light that appear in the winter months are not a reason for panic. As soon as active growth begins in spring and the intensity of light increases, the plant will recover on its own. For all crops that are recommended to be rearranged in winter to more illuminated places to maintain unchanged, familiar conditions, or for which it is recommended to organize supplementary lighting, measures to prevent etiolation are the only reliable way to avoid problems.

Several measures can be taken to prevent the blanching, stretching, and growth impairment associated with seasonal darkening of light:

  1. Rearrange the plants located inside the interior on the windowsills.
  2. Move plants from northern or western windowsills to lighter southern ones.
  3. Organize partial supplementary lighting with phytolamps, increasing the duration of daylight hours.
  4. Provide constant supplementary lighting to increase the intensity and duration of illumination.
  5. Move plants to flower display case or phytotrons.

If a light sanatorium was built to treat other plants, then in winter it can be used to prevent the stretching of shoots. Additional lighting for 20-30 hours a month (several days in a row or a couple of hours a day) will prevent etiolation.

  • , title : 'De-etiolation and Etiolation of Plants and role of HY5 in De-etiolated plant- Analysis in Strand NGS
    De-etiolation and Etiolation of Plants and role of HY5 in De-etiolated plant- Analysis in Strand NGS

Anna Evans

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