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Effects of Temperature on Photosynthesis in an Indoor Garden

Plants need light to grow, but how do you maximize the effects of photosynthesis? Plants need light to grow, but how do you maximize the effects of photosynthesis?


Photosynthesis can be broken down into a chemical equation. Each contributing factor in that equation, when manipulated, will directly change the end result. Indoor horticulturists of high-value plants take various steps to manipulate these factors to produce optimal growth. Light, water, nutrients, humidity, and temperature all play vital roles in the overall equation that makes photosynthesis possible. For indoor growers light energy is usually the most limiting factor for producing optimal growth. When compared with the sun our indoor lighting equipment is horribly inefficient. This is due to the inverse square law (light diminishes exponentially from its source).

Because indoor horticulturists are, in a way, at the mercy of the given light energy, they take extra measures to ensure all other factors in the photosynthesis equation are as perfect as possible. One of the easiest and most influential factors for indoor horticulturists to control is temperature.

Temperature affects photosynthesis in a few different ways. Up to a point, the higher the temperature the faster the rate of photosynthesis. This is assuming growth is not held back by other limiting factors. CO2 enhancement is a good example of how higher temperatures affect the rate of photosynthesis. Under normal conditions, the desired temperature range for the optimal rate of photosynthesis in an indoor garden is 72-78 degrees F. When higher levels of CO2 are supplemented the photosynthesis equation is altered and a higher temperature is required to maximize the rate of growth. For growers who supplement CO2 at a rate of 1000-1500 PPM the desired running temperature would be 80-87 degrees F.

As with most factors contributing to the rate of photosynthesis, consistency is key.

Temperature doesn't just influence photosynthesis during the day time (lights on) period of the light cycle. The night time (lights off) temperature plays a vital role in photosynthesis as well. This is because the night time temperature affects the rate at which a plant can transpire. The optimal night time temperature is 10-15 degrees F lower than the maintained day time temperature.

Temperatures colder than the desired temperature range will always result in slower than optimal growth. Extremely cold temperatures will cause growth to come completely to a stop. Many growers of high-value plants who are experiencing low yields may never attribute this to a low operating temperature. In some cases, a matter of a few degrees can make a noticeable difference in growth. This compounded over an eight week or longer period can have a dramatic impact on a garden’s production.

One of the best things an indoor grower can do is to set up a way to monitor the garden’s temperature for the entire 24 hour light cycle. Many digital thermometers offer a high/low temperature setting which allows the grower to record the highest and lowest temperature over a 24 hour period. As with most factors contributing to the rate of photosynthesis, consistency is key. A consistent temperature in the desired range, combined with a proper night time temperature, will allow growers of high-value plants to optimize one of the largest contributors to overall garden performance.

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Last modified on Wednesday, 14 August 2013 21:37

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