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Time laspe trick for a plant/tree

  1. May 7, 2008 #1
    Time laspe "trick" for a plant/tree

    This might seem absolutely absurd, and I have minimal knowledge of biology/ botany, but I'm going to ask anyway...

    Hypothetically, say you have a completely sealed temp/ humidity controlled box. You also use some type of artificial lighting {maybe like the bulb I had to buy for my turtle}. Could you place a plant or small tree in the box, simulate a 12 hr day, and have the plant grow faster?

    .. and so this doesn't come up, not its not an "illegal" plant. I have a small tree that is to tiny to put in my yard, and a friend and I were talking about how we could get it to grow faster...

    If this is a dumb idea, please delete the thread and send me a PM telling me so..
  2. jcsd
  3. May 7, 2008 #2
    ramp it up to a 18 hr day.

    Works for my 'other' plants. ;)
  4. May 7, 2008 #3
    Would that make it grow faster..?? I figured a shorter day would give me more day's , thus simulating a "faster" year...
  5. May 7, 2008 #4
    By that reasoning you could try off/on cycles of two hours each and really make the years go by. :)
    Plants need food water and light. You can control those and make the plant think it's in a sunny paradise. Nice long days is best for plant growth.

    I can make my 'plants' think its a fast year by giving them 18hrs. for a few months and then drop to 10 hours and the things go into flower mode. Long before nature would have.
  6. May 7, 2008 #5
    I understand that it needs ample amounts of sun/water/ etc to grow.. but by "shortening" the day's, would that create a small tree that was old {you could cut it open and see many rings} or what? Would it actually grow as tall as it should..
  7. May 8, 2008 #6

    jim mcnamara

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    Staff: Mentor


    Trees do not "age" the way humans do. They don't get older in the sense of the number of day/night cycles they see. Plants do respond to changes in daylength over time. In terms of fruiting for example.

    For plant growth you need to understand the concept of a 'limiting factor'.

    Plants need for the sake of example:

    light (of the intensity they are evolved to grow in, ie., shade, partial shade, full sun)
    light balanced to the correct color temperature
    water in the soil
    translocation of water from the roots to the stem to move nutrients up
    available nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorous, etc. and micronutrients like boron

    When a plant encounters a deficient supply or the wrong balance of any one of these things it stops or slows down growth. One of the factors in plant growth is limiting how fast it grows.

    A hypothetical optimal envrionment would be on in which none of those factors was limiting:

    correct, balanced light source for 18-20 hours per day.
    day/night temperature change
    light air movement
    correct water and nutrient levels in the substrate
    ample [tex]CO_2[/tex]
    -->example: from combustion source, greenhouses use kerosene stoves sometimes.

    This may not be feasible for your terrarium. But aging trees does not make sense. Tree growth rings are responses to limiting factors, not lights flashing on and off.... and you can sometimes see multiple rings from one year with abnormal weather during the growing season.
  8. May 8, 2008 #7
    Ok, thanks.. That pretty much answers my question.

    .. and just for the record, here is the tree...

    Attached Files:

  9. May 8, 2008 #8


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    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    If they see a lot of short days, they will respond as if it is winter, when they should be dormant. I don't think we have many botanists around here (I'm definitely not one of them, I'm happy if I can get my houseplants to survive the winter at all), but the optimal amount of daylight per day I think may differ for different species of trees (certainly optimal moisture levels and nutrient balances do). There's no reason to think you couldn't improve growth rates by optimizing conditions to mimic the season when the plant grows the fastest. Afterall, that's the whole point of growing things in greenhouses, to give them a jumpstart before planting outside.
  10. May 8, 2008 #9
    yes, split photo periods can be beneficial, but you need to have them longer than 2 hours. One of the big drawbacks is that every time yuo fire up a bulb, it shortens it's life. I think I remember some sort of optimization at like 6 hr. intervals with an hour or two in the middle of greater intensity. Basically it takes a while for photosynthesis to get started and then its function gets exhausted. There's a lot of things you can control, but you likely won't get a stronger light source than the sun without spending mega bucks on 400watt halides and bulbs are mega expensive, too, etc.
  11. May 9, 2008 #10
    Just use the scientific method. Buy a few other trees that are the same species of yours. Plant one outside and compare that one to others that are undergoing varying amounts of light/day (and whatever else you want to test to see if it goes faster or slower.) Measure each tree every few days/weeks and after a few months see which one is doing the best. This is your only best bet without a botanist helping you with experience.
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