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Glow-in-the-dark plants could soon light up your home

Bioglow's autoluminescent plants will soon glow up for auction, giving the public their first chance to grab one of these living night-lights.

Starlight Avatar plant
You light up my life (with a dim glow). The plant in regular light and in darkness.

When it comes to living things that glow, a plant is probably your best bet for a low-maintenance conversation piece to have in your home. It's much easier to deal with than a jellyfish, or even a glow-in-the-dark cat. Bioglow is preparing to offer its bioengineered Starlight Avatar autoluminescent ornamental houseplants to the public.

Other glowing plant companies have popped up (notably the Glowing Plants project on Kickstarter), but Bioglow has been leading the movement ever since molecular biologist Alexander Krichevsky created what the company calls the first light-producing plants and published his findings in 2010.

There are a lot of caveats with these initial batches of glowing plants. They won't blind you with their brilliance. Bioglow says they are best viewed in a dark room after giving your eyes time to adjust. The plants also have a short lifespan of two to three months.

Each Starlight Avatar is shipped in a see-through box and grows in a nutrient gel. The plant can be transferred to a pot once it's outgrown its container, but about half of them don't survive the transplant. They also need to be kept away from direct sunlight.

Your first crack at buying a Starlight Avatar of your own will be through an upcoming online auction. You can currently sign up to participate and bid for one of 20 plants, though the official date of the auction hasn't yet been announced. The plants are only available to ship to the US, since restrictions on imports can make overseas shipments difficult.

Glowing plants may be a novelty now, but they could conceivably become renewable light sources in the future. Imagine strolling through your garden at night with nothing but plants to light the path. It's within the realm of possibility, but, in the meantime, you'll have to settle for spending a few months with a glowing tobacco plant.