If you love having plants and want to take them with you in your car? You need to understand how long plants can survive in a car and the risks involved. You should know that leaving plants in a hot car, even for short periods, can lead to irreversible damage or death without preparation and caution. In this article, you’ll learn the risks involved with five signs of damage that may occur if you keep it in a car for a prolonged period. Here, we will discuss five factors that can affect your plant survival in a car: humidity, light, & temperature change. So, keep reading to learn more about how to keep your plants safe while traveling in your vehicle.

How Long Can Plants Survive In A Car?

How Long Can Plants Survive in a Car
How Long Can Plants Survive in a Car

Actually, this depends upon factors like the type of plant, the humidity level inside it, light, duration of exposure, and car temperature. For starters, the kind of plant you have will play a significant role in determining how well it can handle being in a hot, enclosed space like a car.

Some plants tend to be more resilient than others and can raise temperatures quickly, along with lower humidity levels. Oregon States University suggests that plants can experience stress at temperatures above 90°F (30°C).

At this point, your plant is likely to wilt or lose leaves. In addition, keeping your plant in prolonged exposure to these temperatures can ultimately lead to their death.

As per Fadeel et al.’s journal about Temperature Variations in a Parked Car, temperatures inside a car can reach up to 176°F (80°C) on a hot day, which is well above the threshold for most plant survival.

Additionally, the amount of sunlight and water your plant receives will impact its survival ability in a car. As a general rule of thumb, Most plants need at least 6 hours of sunlight per day to thrive, but excessive exposure to direct sunlight can cause them to dry out and dehydrate. Without regular watering, your plant in a car can quickly become parched and die. Let’s talk about the risk of leaving plants in hot cars.

The Risks of leaving plants in a hot car

First, you must understand that plants require specific environmental conditions to survive. When exposed to extreme temperatures, especially for prolonged periods, your plants may suffer irreversible damage or even die. This becomes a more severe condition for plants sensitive to heat or drought.

Therefore, Leaving plants in a hot car will have several negative consequences. For example, excessive heat can cause your plant to lose moisture rapidly, damaging its leaves, stems, & roots. The heat can also cause your plant’s cells to break down, further damaging its tissues and organs. This will also lead to wilting, browning, and even death.

As per MDPI, even short periods of exposure to high temperatures can cause damage to certain types of plants. The study found that temperatures as low as 86°F (30°C) can cause damage to some plant species, while others may not show signs of wear until temperatures reach 104°F (40°C) or higher. So, how can you tell if your plants have been damaged by heat exposure in a hot car? 

5 Signs of Damage In A Plant By Heat Exposure In A Car.

  1. If your plant’s leaves are drooping or wilted, it could be a sign that it’s been exposed to too much heat.
  2. As I told you earlier, Heat exposure can affect how long your plants survive in your care. It can cause the leaves and stems of your plant to turn brown or black.
  3. If the soil feels dry or powdery, it could mean that your plant has lost too much moisture and is struggling to survive.
  4. If your plants survive but stop growing or show signs of stunted growth, it is another sign of damage due to heat exposure.
  5. Lastly, consult a professional gardener or botanist if you’re unsure about your plant’s health.

5 Factors Affecting Plant Survival in a Car 

Several factors can affect plant survival in a car. In addition to temperature, several other factors can affect plant survival in a vehicle. These include:


You might already know that low humidity levels can cause plants to dry out more quickly if kept in the car, increasing their susceptibility to heat damage. Most plants prefer a relative humidity level of around 40-60%.


Another thing that will affect how long your plants survive in a car is exposure to bright sunlight. Exposure to high-intensity light or bright sunlight can also damage your plants, especially those not adapted to high light levels. This will ultimately cause your plant leaves to become scorched or burnt, possibly leading to sunburn.

Duration of exposure

The longer you keep your plants in a car, the higher the risk of damage when exposed to high temperatures. You should know that a few minutes of exposure to extreme heat can also cause irreversible damage to some plant species I told you about earlier.

Plant species

As I told you earlier, there are some plants that you can have in your car because they ARE said to be more tolerant of heat & drought than others. For example, cacti and succulents are adapted to arid conditions and can survive for extended periods without water.

Therefore you can always have a cavity order succulent in your favorite car. However, make sure you avoid plants like ferns & orchids which are more sensitive to changes in temperature and humidity.

Temperature Change

On a hot day, temperatures inside your car can quickly rise to dangerous levels, reaching up to 200°F (93°C). This will directly affect how long plants survive without showing any sings of damage. A sudden temperature rise will cause your plants to lose moisture rapidly, damaging their leaves, stems, and roots.

Can I Leave Plants In Car Overnight

Leaving plants in a car overnight is generally not recommended, as it can be dangerous for the plants. As per Stanford University, temperatures inside a vehicle can also rise rapidly on relatively mild days or nights( which can be directly harmful or fatal to some plants.) In addition, leaving plants in a car overnight can increase the risk of theft or damage to your vehicle.

If you still want to leave plants in a car overnight, below are some steps you must take to minimize the risks

  1. Park your car in a well-lit area visible from your home or other nearby buildings if possible. This will help deter potential thieves and increase the chances that someone will notice if something goes wrong with your plants or car.
  2. I will also recommend you cover the windows of your car with a shade cloth or reflective window shade to help reduce the amount of sunlight and heat entering your vehicle.
  3. If you plan a spray bottle or watering, you can leave plants in the car overnight; bring an s to help you keep your plants hydrated and reduce the risk of wilting or other damage.
  4. Before you leave plants in a car overnight, you must check the weather forecast to ensure no extreme temperatures or weather events are expected. 


So now you know “how long can plants survive in a car?”. In general, you should avoid leaving plants in a hot car or the car overnight if possible. After reading this article, I hope you know the risks that can quickly outweigh the benefits.

If you need to leave plants in a car briefly, take precautions to ensure their safety and well-being, as mentioned in the article. I tried my best to give you all the information on the question: how long can plants survive in a car?

If you find this article helpful and communicative, you must share it. Your share will help many people realize the potential risk of keeping their plants in a hot car or leaving them overnight.

It will also help them avoid putting their plant in the car or be prepared if they’re up to something like relocating the plant. You should consider checking our other helpful post on plant care and management if you are an Avid gardener or just starting. See you in the next post, till then, take care and goodbye.

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