Do plants really need sunlight?

Electricity plays a vital role in plants. Usually in the form of Sunlight or Electromagnetic Radiation. Research workers are finding evidence that plant cells’ sensitivity to electric current can be exploited to enhance their growth.

Plants use Chlorophyll to produce their own energy for growth. But, what if we could grow plants faster by giving them a second source of energy (electricity)? Or what if we could grow plants completely in the dark by supplementing them with DC or AC current without giving them any sunlight at all?


A conductive helical coil is spaced around the stem of a plant


…It turns out, that we might be able to.

A while back i got the idea out of nowhere that we might be able to grow plants in the dark by giving them electricity instead. This led me on a deep quest to find out if anyone else had asked this question before. Long hours spent on Google produced some interesting results, which i forgot about until recently. It’s always been in the back of my mind.

I found several interesting results. One article i read, stated that a researcher had done experiments on trees in California, and discovered that they produce small amounts of electricity. At least i think it was California. A quick google search now, produces mixed information. Apparently researchers from Washington, Boston, Massachusetts all claim to have discovered that trees can produce electricity. So, who knows who discovered it first.

The next interesting idea is that by creating an alternating current through a coil around the stem of a living plant, results with the plant growing taller and larger, with more numerous and larger leaves, under otherwise normal growing conditions . That by itself is incredibly fascinating. It’s even got a patent!

“It is generally known that many types of life forces are affected by electrical phenomena. For example, proposals have been made to pass electrical current through the soil to regulate the growth of plants.

It has been found that passage of alternating current through a coil disposed closely around the stem of a living plant, and thereby subjecting the plant stem of induced EMF, results in significant modification of growing characteristics, with the plant growing taller and larger, with more numerous and larger leaves, under otherwise normal growing conditions .”

The third interesting experiment i uncovered was very close to the previous one. But instead used DC current applied to the plants root system. It not only goes on to state that the DC current increases growth like the precious one, but also states that plants were able to survive in the dark by feeding on the electricity instead of the sunlight. If true, this opens up whole new possibilities of growing food indoors or underground, without the need for expensive lighting. It might also help so our houseplants don’t die from lack of sunlight, like they normally do. (i couldn’t find the original research paper, but this seems to be the exact same info, and includes the idea of using a solar cell)

The last idea is about using ultrasonic sound waves to promote better plant growth. Apparently it seems it’s also well documented that plants can be affected both positively and negatively by certain frequencies. Even to the point of death in some cases. I honestly didn’t read much about the ultrasonic, because i was more interested in the other attempts. But, here is the info anyway.

I think i might attempt to build a helical coil, and attempt if i can successfully grow a plant inside during the winter. I’ve tried planting some plants indoors before, but because of the low amount of light they seem to die rather quickly. I may also try placing one of these around a corn plant in the spring, and seeing if it grows larger and taller than the rest.

6 thoughts on “Do plants really need sunlight?

  1. When I was in high school/gymnasium (at REALLY long time ago), we did experiments
    where we buried very strong magnets in the ground to determine the effect of plants.
    Great fun.

  2. How much power would you need? as much as a car battery? What kind of power source would i need to experiment?

    • Hi Eric,

      Not sure exactly, but upon reading the patent it says:

      a helical conductive coil, generally indicated at 10 and shown in vertical cross-section is disposed around the stem 12 of a growing plant 14 above ground level, with the ends of the coil 10 being connected to a source of alternating current 16 at low amperage. The distance between the coil and stem is preferably kept at a minimum, with the radial distance between the plant stem and newly installed coil being less than four inches and most preferably, less than one inch.

      The number of turns employed in the coil 10 has not been found to be critical. Also, the use of low currents are sufficient to significantly alter the growth characteristics of the plants tested, and current flow in the order of from at least 0.5 and preferably from about 0.5 to 3.5 amp turns has been found to be sufficient, with the term “amp turns” being defined as the number of loops in the coil multiplied by the current amperes. The coil is preferably activated continuously but also may be activated on a periodic basis.


      Eighteen induction coils having ten loops of #124 gauge insulated wire (16 inches long) per coil were prepared. Thirty-two bean seeds of the same variety were planted in individual containers in the same batten of potting soil and placed under artificial light sources (light bulbs) such that the plantings would receive the same degree of light radiation on a continuous basis. Each of the plantings were provided with equal amounts of moisture and nutrients on a daily basis. The ends of the coil were connected to a power supply providing an equal amount of alternating current to each coil at 60 Hz at about 2 amp turns.

      …It clearly mentions AC electricity, but mentions low amperage… Your certainly welcome to experiment with DC, but i’m not sure how much to use. The key thing i think, is to make sure you are not making a short, otherwise you will blow your transformer. I think the coil helps do this. I was thinking maybe 9V DC might be enough, but perhaps not… I will think about this some more, so check back in a couple days, and i will try to give you a better answer.

    • Okay Eric, I guess he used 10 Turns (16 inches long) 0.5 – 3.5A turns (0.05A to 0.35A). From what i can figure out, you could probably use AC or DC, but would need to limit the current either way. It’s probably easier to buy an AC transformer that has current limiting features built in, but perhaps a resistor could be used if calculated for the right value. Despite what you may have thought, I’m really bad with electronics, so i really struggle with this kind of stuff. Hopefully you can find someone who can help you. Good Luck!

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