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Why are plants green?

Like humans, plants need energy to get through the day. With the help of a chemical called chlorophyll, plants are able to convert energy from the sun into chemical compounds that they can use. This process is referred to as photosynthesis. Chlorophyll, the primary facilitator of photosynthesis, absorbs blue and red light and reflects green light. Because of this, plants appear green in color.

Why do leaves change color?

There may be a number of reasons that leaves change from green to another color, but there are generally two categories of color change: season and plant health. Outdoor plant leaves often change colors during the fall. As the weather gets colder, chlorophyll pigments break down. This allows other pigments to reflect light, resulting in leaves of other colors such as red and orange. Conversely, if your plant is receiving too much or too little light, the green color may fade or turn to brown. Incorrect amounts of water or fertilizer and the presence of pests may also turn plants brown.

Why are some plants not green?

Though plants are generally thought to be green, there are some that are not. If a plant appears another color, such as red, it is not necessarily because the plant does not contain chlorophyll. Other pigments may cover up the green pigment, making the plant appear a different color. In this case, the plant is still an autotroph (self-feeder), using photosynthesis to generate energy. However, the chlorophyll's hue is just being masked.

There are also plants that do not contain chlorophyll and therefore also do not appear green. These plants are called heterotrophs, meaning "other feeding." As their name suggests, they cannot make their own food and will either obtain nutrients from other plants or will feed on fungi. 

Examples of non green plants:

  • Phantom orchid
  • Snow plant
  • Indian pipe
  • Broomrape

Color psychology of green

By nature, plants bring great value to their environment through an extensive list of benefits. As an added bonus, their green color has indications of its own. Green is the color of balance and calm, so incorporating it in office design can help to combat the inherent stressors of the workplace. Furthermore, cool colors such as greens and blues recede, creating depth and making objects look smaller. This effect can help a small space appear larger.

Learn more about our office design services here.

Green plants from Ambius

From table top Hedera helix plants to free-standing Schefflera plants, Ambius has plant offerings to suit any space. Adding a little green to your office will help to foster a healthy and productive working environment. To see what plants we offer, visit our catalog or contact us today for a free quote from one of our design consultants.