What Three Things Do Green Plants Need to Stay Alive?

Written by rebecca mecomber
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What Three Things Do Green Plants Need to Stay Alive?
Green plants produce their own food through the process of photosynthesis. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Plants are living organisms that grow and reproduce. Plants have basic needs as do other living things: food, water and a suitable environment for proper growth and reproduction. If the plant lacks one of its basic needs, it will suffer. Green plants constitute a large majority of all plants on Earth.


Green plants need light to produce their own food through the process of photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is the process by which the plant converts the energy from sunlight to food. Solar energy is collected by chlorophyll, the pigment that gives plants their green colour. Chlorophyll is stored in chloroplasts, the plant's cells. The solar energy combined with water and carbon dioxide produce sugar glucose, or carbohydrate--the plant's food. A plant that does not consistently receive sufficient light, water and air in a suitable growing environment cannot produce enough food to survive.

Some plants need more light than others to generate their own food to grow and reproduce. For example, the hosta plant can tolerate as little as four hours of sun per day, while the sun-loving bougainvillea requires at least 8 to 10 hours of direct sun per day. Sunlight is not necessarily the only light in which a plant will thrive. Green plants need blue, red and infrared lights for growth and flowering. Artificial lighting that mimics the wavelengths of sunlight has proven to be as effective as natural sunlight.

What Three Things Do Green Plants Need to Stay Alive?
Chlorophyll gives green plants their colour. (Leaf image by Lion1st from Fotolia.com)


No organism can survive without water. Plants lose water through their leaves in a process called transpiration. If a plant transpires more water than it receives, the plant will wilt and eventually die. The roots of the plant use water to absorb nutrients from the soil or other growing medium. These nutrients are carried up through the plant's vascular system to the various parts of the plant. Some plants require more water than others. The desert cactus, for example, lives in an environment that receives less than 25 centimetres of rain per year, but the plant stores every precious drop in its succulent stem system.

What Three Things Do Green Plants Need to Stay Alive?
All living organisms need water. (Clean water and water bubbles in blue image by Suto Norbert from Fotolia.com)

Growing Environment

Green plants require carbon dioxide from the air for the process of photosynthesis. Carbon dioxide is obtained from the respiration of other living things, such as humans and animals. Most green plants grow in soil, a growing medium filled with rich minerals and other nutrients necessary for growth. Some plants require certain types of soil over others in order to thrive and produce fruit. The blueberry shrub, for example, needs acidic soil to produce its fruit, and languishes in chalky, alkaline soil. A green plant does not necessarily require soil as a suitable growing medium, however. Hydroponics is a method for growing green plants in a nutrient-rich, water-laden environment without any soil or support.

What Three Things Do Green Plants Need to Stay Alive?
Plants need a suitable growing medium, such as nutrient-rich soil. (growing plant in soil image by joanna wnuk from Fotolia.com)

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