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succulent in white pots in dark room

How Long Can Houseplants Go Without Light? With 30 Examples!

Have you got a rather dim home or are you moving houses and planning to keep your plants in a dark box for days on end? 

Not many houseplants will tolerate getting no sunlight for long, so it is critical for the health of your houseplants to understand how long they can stay without sunlight before disaster strikes.

In this article, we will explore how long can some of the most popular houseplants survive in complete darkness.

Here’s How Long Houseplants Can Go Without Light

A healthy low light tolerant plant such as a Snake Plant can go as long as 20 days without any light before it dies. However, most will die much more quickly and will start to curl up and shrivel after just 4 to 10 days with no light.

There is more to it though.

The length of time that houseplants can go without light for will depend on a number of factors, including:

  • the species of plant.
  • the health of the plant.
  • how old the plant is.
  • how well its other needs are being met.

Some plants may be able to last for nearly three weeks with no sunlight, while others will not even survive for a week.

Let’s have a closer look at some of the most popular houseplants and how long they will live for if you leave them in total darkness.

Note that this is a general guide and how long your particular plant could survive without any sunlight depends on a lot of factors.

Here’s How Long The Most Popular Houseplants Can Survive In Complete Darkness:

Plant nameLight requirementsCan survive as long as
Dracaena  medium light, bright indirect sunlight10 – 14 days
Snake plantlow to medium light14 – 20 days
Chinese Evergreenmedium or low light up to indirect sun10 – 14 days
Bromeliadmedium to bright light10 – 14 days
Spider plantmedium light up to bright, indirect light14 – 20 days
Pothosanything from low light to bright, indirect light 14 – 20 days
ZZ plantmedium indirect light14 – 20 days
Rubber plantmedium to bright, indirect light4 – 10 days
Peace lilylow to medium light14 – 20 days
Prayer plantno direct sun, prefers medium indirect light10 – 14 days
Hoya plantmedium light10 – 14 days
Zebra plantbright, indirect light4 – 10 days
Amaryllismedium-light and tolerant of varied conditions; but will not flower in full shade10 – 14 days
Cast iron plantlow to medium light14 – 20 days
Monsteramedium to bright indirect bright light10 – 14 days
Aglaonema silver queenmedium to bright, indirect light10 – 14 days
Sword fernmedium indirect sunlight, will tolerate shade10 – 14 days
Dumb canemedium to indirect bright light10 – 14 days
Parlor palmmedium to bright indirect light10 – 14 days
Elephant earmedium light10 – 14 days
Peacock plantmoderate but bright indirect sun4 – 10 days
English ivylow light, but will grow in almost any conditions14 – 20 days
Rattlesnake plantmedium indirect sunlight10 – 14 days
Birds nest fernmedium to indirect sunlight10 – 14 days
Begoniamedium light requirements10 – 14 days
Philodendronmedium, indirect light10 – 14 days
Devil’s ivylow light all the way up to bright indirect sunlight14 – 20 days
Anthuriummedium to bright indirect sunlight10 – 14 days
Boston fernmedium-light, with some indirect sun each day10 – 14 days
Lucky bamboobright light, but will tolerate medium light4 – 10 days

A healthy plant that has lots of food reserves will tolerate darkness much better than an unhealthy one, but even the healthiest plant will soon start to wilt and shrivel if it is kept in the dark for too long.

In general, you shouldn’t keep a houseplant away from the light for more than a couple of days if you want to keep it healthy.

If you are planning to go on vacation and leave your plants in the darkness for a few days because nobody is able to open the curtains for you, you might be able to leave some plants for about 4 days, but longer than this will risk them dying.

Which Houseplant Survives The Longest Without Light?

The houseplants that survive the longest without any light are plants that thrive in low light to begin with, such as the English Ivy and the Devil’s Ivy. These plant species can survive as long as 20 days without any sunlight.

Tough low light plants such as the Snake plant can also survive longer without light than others.

However, regardless of how tough your plant is, avoid keeping them in total darkness for more than a day. Light is an essential requirement for any plant’s survival.

What Happens To Plants Without Light?

Plants will die without light because they will not be able to produce food. Firstly, the plant will slow its growth until it stops completely. Then it will enter a leggy plant phase, where it grows long and thin trying to reach for any sunlight, and eventually, shrivels up and dies.

If we aren’t talking extremes, plants that do not get enough light will suffer from a variety of issues, depending on the kind of plant and how much light it is lacking.

Often, too little light will just cause the plant to grow more slowly, but sometimes it can make the plant sick and more vulnerable to pests and diseases.

Plants need light in order to photosynthesize and make food, so if they aren’t getting enough light, they will struggle to create new tissues. Even if they are getting sufficient nutrients from their soil, they still need enough sunlight, or they cannot grow.

Sometimes, too little light will cause a plant to stop flowering, because it will lack the energy needed to build new blooms.

This can be a problem if you have something like an amaryllis, where the flowers are the most attractive aspect of the plant.

In severe cases, lack of light will cause the plant to die. Many houseplants will only survive for a few days if you cut off the light completely.

Even if you just reduce the light so they are getting less than they need, some may gradually die, curling up and shriveling because they don’t have the energy to sustain their growth.

It’s therefore important to know how much light your plant needs and provide it if you can.

Do not leave any plants in a completely dark room, or they will die quickly.

Can Houseplants Stay Alive Without Light?

No houseplants can survive when their access to light is completely cut off. If you place a plant in a room with no light, it might manage to survive for a few days, using up its reserves of energy, but it will quickly die if it doesn’t get access to light soon.

Even tough plants that are well established and don’t need much light will die after a week or so in a completely dark room.

It is crucial that you don’t leave plants without some light, so if you’re going on vacation, you will have to leave a curtain or shutter open so that your plant doesn’t die while you are gone.

Remember that although plants that like low light conditions can sometimes survive for a week or two with no light, this is not good for them, and most will die within this time period.

Can Houseplants Recover After Getting No Light?

If you have accidentally left a houseplant somewhere without any access to light, you may be able to revive it if you provide plenty of light and good, stable conditions going forward. If your plant is still alive, it will often recover, although its growth may be significantly slower for a while as it adjusts.

It’s important not to put your plant in a really bright spot to make up for the lack of light.

It takes time for plants to adjust when their environment changes, so you should increase the light gradually, even if the plant prefers bright light.

Read up on your plant’s preferences, and then put it somewhere that fits its needs but is on the low end of the scale. For example, if your plant can tolerate direct sunlight, put it behind a thin curtain or other shade.

Gradually increase the amount of light so that the plant can adjust.

Make sure you also provide everything else your plant needs, minimizing its stress levels. The right amounts of water, nutrients, and the right temperature will help the plant to recover.

Also, avoid feeding until the plant bounces back.

Can Houseplants Survive Without Natural Light?

Some houseplants can survive without natural light as long as they are given the right kind of light from an alternative source. However, for most plants, natural light is the better option.

It is free, provides all the wavelengths that they need and that they are used to, and it follows the patterns of light and darkness that they evolved under. Most plants, therefore, prefer to be kept in natural light, and will do better in sunlight.

On the other hand, sunlight can be a problem indoors because windows filter out a lot of the light’s intensity. For plants that prefer bright light, filtered sunlight might be too weak.

Can Houseplants Survive With Artificial Light?

Yes, most houseplants can survive and even thrive when they are only getting artificial light. They need the right kind of artificial light though. They will survive with grow lights, but not with light from a standard light bulb because these don’t produce the same wavelengths as sunlight does.

Even grow lights cannot exactly duplicate the wavelengths that the sun produces, but they can come close, and they are a great way to provide supplemental light for most plants.

So most plants will even be able to survive with just a grow light, although not as happy as with sunlight.

It’s thought that 13 hours of light from a grow light is equivalent to approximately 6 hours of direct sunlight.

Bear this in mind if you’re using a grow light to keep your houseplants happy. Remember that plants do need a period of darkness too, so you’ll have to turn the light off each day.

Conclusion

Houseplants cannot survive in complete darkness for more than a few days, but there are many resilient plants that can do well with minimal amounts of light.

If you are moving houses and your plant is kept in a dark box, make sure you don’t leave it in there for too long.

If you live in a dark home, make sure you position your plants to maximize the light that they get, or use grow lamps to supplement the sunlight so that your plants can flourish.

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