glowing plants
Firefly Petunia. Image Credit: Light Bio, Inc.

Glowing Plants that Turn Energy into Light Are About to Be Commercially Available for the First Time

Tapping into the magic of bioluminescence, Light Bio is preparing to ship its first orders for glowing plants this spring. The company provides flora that converts energy into light, making their offerings the first commercially available plants that glow in the dark.

After scaling up production to meet excessive demands, Light Bio says it will finally begin shipping orders for their glowing “Firefly Petunia,” which was so named because its glowing leaves resemble fireflies, next month.

glowing plants
Glowing plants can report their inner processes with bioluminescence – credit to Light Bio, Inc.

Bioluminescence and the Magical Powers of Glowing Plants

Some plant and animal species in nature convert chemical energy into visible light, causing them to glow. While the majority of these seemingly magical lifeforms are aquatic, some take the form of glowing plants. Among the most studied are bioluminescent mushrooms that glow in the dark.

Some laboratories have been able to combine the genes responsible for these glowing fungi into more aesthetically pleasing plants, including flowers. However, genetic engineering is complicated, and the most common process involves incorporating five different genes into the target plant to generate light. The science is also highly regulated, meaning glowing plants have thus far existed as a laboratory curiosity and nothing more.


Now, Light Bio says it has not only simplified that process but has also received approval from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to sell its glowing plants to everyday customers. The company also says it is expanding its research to create an even more comprehensive range of glowing plants, with the stated goal of sparking interest and curiosity about the natural world in the minds of its customers and students alike.

Based on That Plant’s Glow, He Must Be a Fungi!

To create commercially viable glowing plants, Light Bio had to focus on simplifying the complex genetic process used to create these bioluminescent flora. According to the company’s latest announcement, “Prior approaches for creating bioluminescent plants involved incorporating five genes derived from fungi.”

However, according to the company’s latest findings, “a solitary gene indigenous to plants can effectively substitute for two of the fungal genes.” The result is a plant that incorporates a more “compact” gene that is much simpler to create and less costly, making the resulting plants both simpler to make and easier to care for.

glowing plants
Firefly Petunia photo 1 – credit to Light Bio, Inc.

“The compact gene plays a pivotal role, acting as a bridge between plant metabolism and light production,” Light Bio explains. “This connection allows the plant’s inner dynamics to be translated into a constantly changing spectacle of natural light.”

For their maiden outing, the company says they selected the petunia because of its popularity as a decorative plant as well as its relative ease of keeping and maintaining in a domestic situation. “This plant is easy to care for,” they explain, “thriving without needing special conditions or treatments.”

“The Firefly Petunia emits a soft glow similar to moonlight. It can be grown in pots, baskets, or gardens, quickly attaining about 8 to 10 inches in size with abundant white flowers,” their website explains.

The company also says that due to their fungi genetic breakthrough, their glowing plants are 100 times brighter than previously possible “with the petunia standing out as the most radiant.”

glowing plants
Glowing chrysanthemum. Credit Light Bio, Inc.

Company Developing New Plants with an “Expanded Range of Varieties and Colors”

Founded in 2019, Light Bio has been taking pre-orders via its website for months. In fact, its CEO, Keith Wood, says the demand has been higher than expected.

“Sales for this remarkable plant have been impressively robust,” he explained. “We’ve had to ramp up production twice already to keep pace with the demand.”

Moving forward, the company plans to continue increasing the amount of light emitted by its glowing plants. This includes a recently announced partnership with genetic engineering pioneer Ginko Bioworks. By tapping into Ginko’s expertise, the company says it “envisions future plants to be at least ten times brighter, with an expanded range of varieties and colors.”

glowing plants
Glowing flowers. Credit: Light Bio, Inc.

The company is still taking preorders, and the first shipments of the Firefly Petunia to all 48 contiguous states are slated to begin in April.

Christopher Plain is a Science Fiction and Fantasy novelist and Head Science Writer at The Debrief. Follow and connect with him on X, learn about his books at, or email him directly at