Long-Day Plants: Examples & Explanation

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  • 0:00 Long-Day Plants
  • 1:16 Examples
  • 3:05 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Ryan Hultzman
Plants are living organisms and require sunlight to survive, though some plants require much more sunlight than others. In this lesson, we'll learn about a group of plants known as long-day plants.

Long-Day Plants

All plants require sunlight, whether for the process of developmental growth, photosynthesis, or photoperiodism. The term photoperiodism refers to the specific biological responses and reactions experienced by plants that's based upon how much sunlight they receive. However, the actual amount of sunlight a particular type of plant needs to get more or less of to develop and grow is referred to as its critical photoperiod.

There are three main groups that plants can be put into depending on the amount of light or darkness needed for survival and development: short-day plants, long-day plants, and neutral-day plants. Despite being named after the amount of daylight a plant requires, botanists have discovered that it's the amount of darkness a plant experiences which actually determines how it will grow and/or bloom. Long-day plants flower and thrive when the daylight they receive is more than their critical photoperiod, which typically happens in the late spring and summer when the day length lasts more than 12 hours or so. They need more light than short-day plants and usually flower in the Northern Hemisphere as the days begin to get longer and the temperature becomes warmer.


There are many species of long-day plants. You may even have some in a flowerpot or in a vegetable garden at home. In fact, many of the most common vegetable and herb plants are long-day plants. For example, just about everybody has heard of and eaten dill and spinach, which are two very popular long-day plants. Dill has a critical photoperiod of about 11 hours, and some types of spinach feature a critical photoperiod of about 13 hours.

Some other common examples of long-day plants include carnations, clover, and ryegrass. The next time you go shopping somewhere that sells plants, take a moment to look at the carnations. These plants have been cultivated for more than two thousand years, grow up to 80 centimeters tall and have beautiful fragrant flowers in a variety of colors. Carnations are long-day plants because they begin to grow fiercely at the end of spring and reach full bloom and flowering potential as the summer solstice approaches, when they receive the maximum amount of sunlight possible.

As children, many of us were fascinated with finding a four-leaf clover in our lawns or on the playground. Horses and cattle also love clover; that is, they love to munch on clover as they forage through their pastures. Clover is a very important plant to many ecosystems, because it balances nitrogen in the soil and helps other plants grow well as a result. Clover thrives and blooms as daylight hours increase, making it a true long-day plant.

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