From the day any plant begins life as a seedling, itsgrowth is influenced by climatic and biological conditions. Climates vary considerably over large and smallgeographic regions. Differences in climates are determined by amounts of rainfall, sunshine, mountainranges, longitude and latitude, elevations and bodies
The ability of plants to grow and survive in any particular climate is called
Growth of all plantsis influenced by the following conditions:• Sunlight, Day Length and Temperature.• Air, Wind, Soil and Water.• Wildlife and Diseases.• Genetic Heritage.Scientists have been studying these influences forcenturies. In many cases, their effect on the way someplants function is still not completely understood. Fortunately, the gardener only needs to understand a fewbasic facts about how plants grow and the influencesthat affect them.
Sunlight and Day Length—
All plants are
This means they respond to light in a positive way.Shrubs, trees and vines all grow toward light.
or solar energy, is essential for plants tolive. Leaves are solar collectors. Leaves orient themselves towards the sun. Through a process known as
leaves manufacture food for the tree.Photosynthesis converts energy from the sun intostarches and sugars, or food. This food is a basic sugar.When leaves don't receive enough sunlight to manufacture food, they drop from the plant.Shaded areas of plants tend to become bare of foliage. Shaded parts may fail to bloom, or if theybloom, only a few blooms will set fruit. Pruning helpstrees or shrubs arrange foliage to intercept the sunlight.
or more correctly the length of night,is the determining factor that tells
deciduous perennial plants
when to develop flowers or drop leaves. Deciduous plants lose all their leaves each year. Perennialplants live from year to year. Studies have producedlittle knowledge about how day length initiates flowering or leaf-drop.
tropical and subtropicalplants are not affected by day length. Evergreen plantsdon't lose all their leaves each year.
Daily and seasonal temperatures havea pronounced effect on plants. Each climate differs inamount and intensity of sunlight, temperature extremes and many other variables. All the factors abovehave various effects on plants depending upon theseason of the year.Day length and temperature initiate a series of physical and chemical changes in plants each year. Thesechanges are called
The acclimation processhelps plants acquire resistance to cold. Acclimationenables plants to survive winter months.The initial phases of acclimation are started by decreasing day length. Latter phases of acclimationdepend on the occurrence of colder temperatures.
Left: The side of a tree that faces a larger tree is dwarfed because the smaller tree is shaded from the sunlight.Center: A tree growing in an open field is more symmetrical because light evenly illuminates all sides. Right: Leaveson plants will always orient themselves toward the dominant light source.