The truth to why plants are red or green.
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Old 05-14-2013, 02:15 AM   #1
DaveFish
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The truth to why plants are red or green.


Why plants are red or green



It is a myth that iron makes plants turn red. The reason a plant is red; inefficient chlorophyll, rapid growth, lighting and Anthocyanin. Red coloration in all plants is from primitive Anthocyanin pigment. The more red a plant is the more it needs light to compensate for the fact that it cannot take up red light, because it is red, so it needs more green, yellow and blue light. The reason being; plants are most sensitive to red light and it is very important for photosynthesis. A plant that turns from green to red under high lighting is from the fact that it is growing so fast that the chlorophyll production cannot keep up with the rapid growth. So what you see instead is red Anthocyanin.
You can turn a plant red by reducing Nitrogen and increasing Phosphorus.
This is because Nitrogen is a key element in chlorophyll production. When botanists test to see if a plant is low in Nitrogen they measure the chlorophyll levels in the leaves. Phosphorus promotes rapid growth of new leaves. So if your plant is growing super fast the chlorophyll cannot keep up and if you are inhibiting its growth by not adding Nitrogen it will not produce chlorophyll. Therefore your plant will turn super red. That is the way you do it through human manipulation.
A plant that is naturally red is because it produces inefficient chlorophyll, so more light is needed. Some plants that are green need high lighting because they produce less chlorophyll. That is why they are a light pale green.
The interesting thing is that when a green plant turns red, the plant, in a way, seems to be compensating for the fact that it doesn't need any more light so it produces less chlorophyll and turns red and puts on its “sun-screen”. Also it is because the plant is growing so fast that it cannot produce enough chlorophyll. In reality it is both reasons, but the relationship is so closely connected it can be confusing. Now this is done because plants are most sensitive to the red wavelength and this is most important in photosynthesis. So plants have evolved to produce Anthocyanin which so happens to be red to block excessive photosynthesis from taking place. The plant turns red to block excessive light and from rapid growth simultaneously.
This relates to why tree leaves become red in the fall. The tree has evolved to conserve energy for Winter and needs to drop its leaves as to not waste energy photosynthesizing and producing chlorophyll. All of this takes a great amount of energy, so the first thing to do is shut down chlorophyll production to stop photosynthesis. What remains is Anthocyanin. Now Anthocyanin does allow the tree to continue photosynthesizing, but the weak indirect sun light in the Northern Hemisphere during Autumn months and the primitive inefficient nature of Anthocyanin will not allow for proper production and the leaves fall and the tree goes into hibernation.
The Sun and tilt of the Earth are of course the cause for deciduous forests in the Northern Hemispheres of the Earth and for the seasons. I am explaining, in simple language, how plants have evolved in regards to affects from the Sun and tilt. If they be from indirect PAR (photosynthetically active radiation) or the weather patterns, such as Winter.
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Old 05-14-2013, 03:06 AM   #2
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True, but high iron, and nutrients in general, along with excess available carbon and light are needed to achieve the high growth rates you allude to. This is why high growth set ups have the best and brightest of red plants: excessive resources to achieve high growth rates. Thus, iron does play it's role in this process. Iron deficiency certainly is not helpful in attaining beautiful plants and colors.

Perspective.
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Old 05-14-2013, 03:15 AM   #3
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ECO-Complete=high in iron and other minerals= plants
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Old 05-14-2013, 03:39 AM   #4
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this is a good read, even though very repetitive in some parts. Learn something new about my plants though =)
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Old 05-14-2013, 03:43 AM   #5
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Saying that the red plants need blues and greens (and to some extent the yellows) seems a little incomplete, IMO. I feel that it would be a little more complete to first discuss that the red plants absorb shorter wavelengths of the visible spectrum, like blues and greens, really well while it reflects the longer wavelengths of light (reds and some yellows), thus the need for more of the anthocyanins [to compensate for the lack of the photosynthetic complexes that absorb red light well], giving the plant a red color.
That may just be the nit-picker in me, though then that would open up a whole other can of worms talking about how the wavelengths of light they are able to absorb can vary depending on pH conditions and whatnot.

But anyways, it's a great post for a "crash course" on the topic

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Old 05-14-2013, 04:43 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crazydaz View Post
True, but high iron, and nutrients in general, along with excess available carbon and light are needed to achieve the high growth rates you allude to. This is why high growth set ups have the best and brightest of red plants: excessive resources to achieve high growth rates. Thus, iron does play it's role in this process. Iron deficiency certainly is not helpful in attaining beautiful plants and colors.

Perspective.
Well after Nitrogen Iron is probably the most important element in chlorophyll production. Red plants are either lacking in chlorophyll or disengaging its production because of high light. So it is just the opposite. I agree you need a good balance of all elements, but the true reason a plant is red isn't from iron alone like everyone boasts.

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this is a good read, even though very repetitive in some parts. Learn something new about my plants though =)
haha, damn straight it was. Just have to make sure everyone gets what I am saying no matter what language the speak. It's good to explain something in several different ways for multiple different readers. I just did it again in this response. LOL
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Old 05-14-2013, 04:49 AM   #7
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Is the "LED lights wont grow red plants" a myth also then ?
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Old 05-14-2013, 05:06 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ngrubich View Post
Saying that the red plants need blues and greens (and to some extent the yellows) seems a little incomplete, IMO. I feel that it would be a little more complete to first discuss that the red plants absorb shorter wavelengths of the visible spectrum, like blues and greens, really well while it reflects the longer wavelengths of light (reds and some yellows), thus the need for more of the anthocyanins [to compensate for the lack of the photosynthetic complexes that absorb red light well], giving the plant a red color.
That may just be the nit-picker in me, though then that would open up a whole other can of worms talking about how the wavelengths of light they are able to absorb can vary depending on pH conditions and whatnot.

But anyways, it's a great post for a "crash course" on the topic
I agree that is a good point to start out with. I like that. Feel free to share. Better to explain it like that for other readers to comprehend. We all don't speak the same language. I came this conclusion through personal experience, reading University studies posted by Tom Barr on the report and other books I own. You are correct this isn't some deep scientific study, which would be way way too complicated for most people, including myself. It is a introduction to the true science, not the myth. I agree plants are affected by pH, but if ones pH is above 6 or below 10 and you have really high lighting I highly doubt you will notice a difference in most plants and you will be able to attain a red color. Feel free to share whatever you want, I don't care. We are here to learn. That is what I have studied about the pH affect, that below 6 or above 10 is bad, but no real concern otherwise. Overall this is a deep science and I am not claiming to know it all or understand it all. The scientists don't even know it all. For the most part my post is solid and beneficial for the general aquarist.

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Is the "LED lights wont grow red plants" a myth also then ?
That is what people say?
That is bullcrap!
I have high LED lighting and the tips of my Ammania sp. Bonsai AKA "True Rotala indica" are turning red and it is way down close to the substrate in the foreground.
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Old 05-14-2013, 05:36 PM   #9
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plant can also become red when water is cold and they can also become red when nitrates are low, however they can also stay red in high nitrates.
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Old 05-14-2013, 09:35 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by happi View Post
plant can also become red when water is cold and they can also become red when nitrates are low, however they can also stay red in high nitrates.
I agree, what is the reason they become red in cold water? That is interesting...
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Old 12-04-2013, 04:24 PM   #11
Raymond S.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveFish View Post
That is what people say?
That is bullcrap!
I have high LED lighting and the tips of my Ammania sp. Bonsai AKA "True Rotala indica" are turning red and it is way down close to the substrate in the foreground.
My indica has pink about the top 3" of it, but it should be noted that I did this using two T8 bulbs on a ten G tank. Close
to the sub and in general. I now am having trouble getting any red in a Magenta which didn't have red but rather pink at
the top half when bought. Very suspicious of this BTW. As in could it have been indica which was pawned off as Magenta ?
The growth is great/was stunted from the LFS and had about 1-1.5" of it was 1/3rd the diameter but now from there up
is the same or better than the bottom diameter is. But a slight pink only. And one stem has no color other than green.
Had virtually no ferts when this plant put in but now as of two weekly doses it has Flourish Comprehensive for the Micro
and only Potassium Nitrate(have yet to receive the Potassium Phosphate) so far for the Macro.
It has a two bulb(on a ten yes) T5 light. And gets 1ml of Excel daily.
This is why I'm reading this thread...to get some RED color...LOL...

All the way to the substrate you say...great...one more plus I've read for the LED's which I've shyed away from since my
first one was a bummer(A Marineland Double Bright of course).
Thinking fairly hard about a Finnex Fuge Ray Planted+ though.
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