These Glow-in-the-Dark Plants Will Light Up Your Nights

published Apr 24, 2024
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White petunias in a large planter box
Credit: Mazur Travel/Shutterstock

As far back as I can remember, I’ve always been fascinated by bioluminescence. Fireflies, plankton, fungi — things that glow in the dark naturally have always had a hold on humans, and with good reason. 

However, one place that nature has never managed to evolve bioluminescence is in plants. Thanks to science and human ingenuity, that’s set to change, according to a company called Light Bio. They just released their first glow-in-the-dark plant to the public: the Firefly Petunia.

Credit: Light Bio

What Are Glow-in-the-Dark Plants?

Any plant that emits light in a fully dark room could technically be considered a glow-in-the-dark plant. By that mark, the Firefly Petunia isn’t the first glow-in-the-dark plant on the market — Aldi had a glow-in-the-dark succulent last year, but those were regular succulents painted with glow-in-the-dark paint. The Firefly Petunia, by contrast, is genetically engineered to be naturally bioluminescent. 

How do the petunias light up? While the full process is much more complicated, scientists basically harnessed the glow of bioluminescent mushrooms and grafted it into the leaves and flowers of the Firefly Petunia through careful genetic enhancement. The plant takes in energy from the sun during the day and then emits it at night, with the youngest flowers glowing brightest. 

Credit: Light Bio

According to Light Bio’s website, the Firefly Petunia’s soft glow looks just like moonlight. While petunias are usually considered annual blooms suited to yards, this one can be grown indoors in pots and baskets as well, with white flowers that grow up to 8 to 10 inches in height. Best of all, you can get this little marvel delivered to your home for just $30. 

My Thoughts on the Firefly Petunia

I was lucky enough to get a free sample from Light Bio in April 2024, right as pre-orders opened up. My first impression of the Firefly Petunia was that it was incredibly pretty for a houseplant. Still, I was a little skeptical — surely it couldn’t actually glow. As soon as I unwrapped it, I took it to my bedroom, which has blackout curtains, turned out all the lights, and set it on the floor. And there it was — the whole plant emitted a soft, unearthly glow. 

Credit: Amrita Thakkar

Unfortunately, as you can see from the picture I took a week later, this plant needs light. My apartment faces another building and doesn’t get much natural light, which means my poor petunias quickly began to droop. I live in Wisconsin, which is currently experiencing a dreary spring, which definitely did not help. Lastly, I definitely do not have a green thumb, so if you’re a first-time plant buyer, I’d caution you against investing in these blooms. 

However, if you have plant know-how and lots of sun (also, ideally, a yard), this is a lovely plant to add to your collection! The plant initially looked exactly as advertised when I unwrapped it, and glowed beautifully. This would be a great addition to a living room, where it could add a little light during movie nights, or as decoration and lighting in a yard for nighttime summer picnics. Pre-orders are now open, so get to the Light Bio website before they run out!