You may think you’ve fallen down a rabbit hole into Wonderland when you first see a Firefly Petunia—but these glow-in-the-dark flowers are real. These magical-appearing plants come from years of experimenting by scientists, including Karen Sarkisyan, a synthetic biologist at Imperial College London and one of the engineers behind the petunias’ development.
Sarkisyan expects the lit-up petunias to wow gardeners. They're now available for preorder for $29, and shipments begin to go out in April.
“I think there’s just a sense of intrinsic excitement about things that glow in the dark,” he told Wired.
Light Bio, the company bringing these plants to gardeners, describes the light the Firefly Petunia emits as a “soft glow similar to moonlight.” It can be grown in pots, baskets, or gardens, quickly attaining about 8 to 10 inches with abundant white flowers. This plant is easy to care for, thriving without special conditions or treatments.
The secret behind the plant’s ability to glow is the addition of genetic material from a type of bioluminescent mushroom called Neonothopanus nambi.
When the first luminescent plants were developed in 1986, a spray made with genetic material from fireflies was used to create the lit-up effect. Since then, scientists have been looking for something that would work more effectively, which this mushroom provides.
While the plants are USDA-approved, there are some concerns surrounding their safety since they’re genetically engineered. Jennifer Kuzma, co-director of the Genetic Engineering and Society Center at North Carolina State University, is surprised that there more studies haven't come out about the environmental risk of luminescent petunias. Possible disruption to plant andRead more on bhg.com