Op-Ed: Plant Growth Under UV Lights


Plants being grown beneath UV lights.

At one point, plant lovers from all around have been faced with asking themselves the question, “what can I do to help my plant grow?” In an attempt to quell this wonder, many might take to the internet in hopes of finding an answer. One potential solution the internet may offer is the use of ultraviolet lighting. Ultraviolet (UV) light is a type of electromagnetic radiation that emits various frequencies of wavelengths. With this in mind, a new question arises: does UV light really help to promote plant growth?

In short – yes, under proper conditions, countless green thumbs have reported their plants experiencing increased growth and overall better performance, but why is this? What does UV light actually do for plants? Ultraviolet light can come in three differing frequencies, UV-A, UV-B, and UV-C. According to Conserve Energy Future, UV-B has been beneficial in altering fungal DNA that is known to attack and cause plants harm. This process is gradual, though when the DNA is fully altered, the fungus can no longer spread, effectively curing the plant of such disease. If you prefer gardens to houseplants, UV-B also improves both texture and color in fruits, as well as boosts its overall nutrient level. UV-A is the most naturally present form of UV light and does the heavy lifting when promoting plant health. Under this light, plants produce glycoside, being stated as “a compound in which one or more sugars are combined with non-sugar molecules” by Science Direct. Glycoside is a key aspect of plant growth, as it increases levels of photosynthesis and act as a natural pesticide. All in all, ultraviolet light has its fair share of positive effects, but it can have an equal amount of drawbacks if not used properly.

Unlike the other frequencies of UV light, UV-C has the potential to be detrimental to plant growth, as it is known to overly alter and damage plant DNA. While UV-B can do wonders if used in an appropriate amount, leaving plants under it for too long can cause serious adverse effects. It impairs photosynthesis, which results in reduced size, productivity, and overall quality according to NASA Earth Observatory. Overexposure to ultraviolet light can fry plants, making the results of UV light the exact opposite of many botanist’s desires. Ultraviolet light can either make or break a plant, so make sure to do proper research before starting a new plant’s growth journey.