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Plants That Close their Leaves at Night – Nyctinasty – Oxalis and Others

Plants that close their leaves at night are interesting to look at, but have you ever wondered why they do this?

Have you ever walked out into your garden in the early morning, or early evening and seen that the leaves or flowers of some of your favorite plants are closed up?  

Don’t worry – there is nothing wrong with them. It is just nyctinastic movement at work.

Plants that open and close their leaves or flowers when day changes to night are called nyctinastic plants.

Read on to find out more about nyctinasty.

Nyctinastic plants are plants that close up at night

Why do plants close their leaves at night?

Plants move in different ways. For some it is just a “blowing in the wind way.” But for others, the movement is intentional, as in plant tendrils grabbing poles to climb on.

Another example of plant movement is nyctinasty – closure of the leaves entirely.Touching a sensitive plant

Nyctinasty is the movement of leaves and some flowers that happens in response to changes around them.

Think of it in human terms and circadian rhythms.  We sleep in response to the change of night and day but plants don’t sleep. They just take a little breather from the light.

Types of nastic movement in plants

Nyctinasty is just one type of nastic movement in plants (reversible and repeatable movements in response to stimuli that is part of a plant’s make-up.) 

The Venus fly try eating bugs is another example of nastic movement in plants.

List of plants that close their leaves at night

Not all plants close up in response to low light. Those that do fall into the category of annuals, perennials, vegetables and more. Here are some plants that do:

Legumessweet peas

The legume or pea family has many members that close up their leaves or flowers at night. Some example are:

Flowering plants that are nyctinastic

Many annual, perennial and bulb plants have leaves or flowers that open and close in response to light. Here are a few examples:Flowers that close at night

Trees and Shrubs that close up their leaves and flowers at night

Here are a few trees with nastic movements in response to light:magnolia flowers

  • Magnolia
  • Mimosa pudica – also known as a sensitive plant or mimicry plant
  • Rose of Sharon

Houseplants and Tropical Plants that close up their leaves at night

There are several tropical plants are commonly grown as houseplants in less temperate hardiness zones. Some have the habit of closing up at night. One popular one is the prayer plant.Maranta plant leaves

The whole Arrow root family of which Marantaceae is a member all close their leaves at night. Maranta, also known as the prayer plant.

Have you experienced other plants that open and close their leaves or flowers in response to day and night? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

Pin these Nyctinastic Plants for later.

Would you like a list of these plants that close up at night? Just pin this image to one of your gardening boards on Pinterest so that you can easily find it later.Plants that close up at night

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Thursday 16th of November 2023

I’ve grown paraserianthes (cape wattle) from seed and they close their leaves on an evening

Tanya G.

Saturday 5th of August 2023

My Texas star hibiscus flowers open for day sun and close up in the evening.


Wednesday 26th of July 2023

I have a butterfly pea plant and a Purple Heart that closes their leaves at night.

Sharon Grace Wesley

Saturday 22nd of April 2023

Thanks for the info!!

Sharon Grace Wesley

Saturday 22nd of April 2023

I had a green prayer plant bought at a Target eons ago that was potted in such a way to be in a larger bowl, the stems in one large circle so the when they laid down at night the overlapped each other in a resting circle. The rose each morning to stand in a lovely ring. Never found another like it.

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