The Sun's Functions & Plant Life

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Plants need certain amounts of sunlight to stay healthy.
Plants need certain amounts of sunlight to stay healthy. (Image: Sunlight image by Liga Lauzuma from Fotolia.com)

You’ve most likely noticed that plants that don’t receive sunlight lose their color and die eventually. The processes that make plants produce energy chiefly involve sunlight, water and carbon dioxide. The light of the sun provides two basic components for plant life -- radiation and heat. Plants use both forms of energy to fuel their internal factories.

Green Color in Plants

The spectrum of the sun’s light that plants absorb and reflect creates the green color in plants. Plants only use the red and blue parts of the sun’s light, according to Bayer Crop Science. The green light from the sun mostly reflects from the plant, emitting the brilliant green color you see in virtually all plants.

Sunlight in Photosynthesis

The sun’s radiation activates the chlorophyll inside a plant, which absorbs the sun's energy to produce a chemical reaction between water and carbon dioxide. The reaction creates sugars, which the plant later uses for its growth and development.

Sunlight and Temperature

Many plants need a certain temperature to grow. Sunlight not only helps plants produce energy, but it also helps plants maintain the temperature necessary to transfer water through their internal systems. Plants absorb water from the soil and evaporate that same water through their leaves. If the water leaves too slowly through the leaves of the plant because of low temperature, they suffocate. On the other hand, quicker evaporation rates might dry up the plant.

Picky Plants

Not all plants like to bathe in the sun, experiencing its full strength. In fact, many plants prefer some level of shade. Other plants don’t want any direct sunlight for most of the day. Plants like autumn fern, Brazilian plume flowers and forget-me-nots grow in shadier conditions and do not like a lot of sunlight.

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