Whether you have a houseplant you want to keep alive over the winter, or you’re looking for a way to propagate your favorite plant indoors, lighting is important.
Some people are blessed with large sunrooms or living areas with a lot of natural light, but, unfortunately, not everyone is this lucky. If you’re looking for a way to give your indoor plants the light they need to thrive, an indoor grow light is the way to go.
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Benefits of Using Grow Lights for Your Indoor Plants
There are many options to choose from for an indoor grow light, and each has its pros and cons. Before we get to the specifics, let’s take a look at the general benefits of using a grow light indoors.
A grow light makes up for low natural lighting
House plants have different light needs. Some plants do just fine in medium to low light, but many beautiful plants require high-intensity light. If you don’t have enough natural light in your home, you might think there’s no way you can have a plant with a high light requirement.
That’s where a grow light comes into play. With an indoor grow light, you can have any plant that you want, even in a shadowy corner of your home.
You can start seedlings indoors
If spring is still a little way around the corner and you’re waiting for days to get longer to start the seedlings for your summer garden, an indoor grow light can help you get a head start.
By getting your seedlings going a little earlier in the season, they’ll be stronger and more advanced when it’s time to transplant them outside. Using grow lights is the best way to make sure these immature seedlings have the light they need to sprout and grow strong.
Now that you know the basic benefits, let’s look at the four types of grow lights and what you need to consider before deciding which is the right type for you.
Types of Grow Lights For Indoor Plants
Now that you know why you need a grow light, it’s time to think about what type of grow light is best for you. There are a lot of options out there, but here are the four main types.
1. Incandescent Bulbs
Incandescent lights are what probably comes to mind when you think of a lightbulb. They have a thin filament inside and used to be the most common type of household lightbulb.
The best thing about incandescent light bulbs is that they’re inexpensive. If you only have one or two small plants or you want to supplement a room that has a fair amount of natural light, they might do the trick.
This type of light also creates more red light, making them a great choice for flowering plants. That said, it emits less blue light, so it’s not so good for healthy leaves.
Other than these perks, though, there’s not too much to say about incandescent lights. They’re the least efficient type of grow light. They also put off more heat than other types of light, so there’s a chance they can dry out your plants.
2. Fluorescent Lights
Fluorescent lights are a popular choice. Traditional fluorescent light bulbs emit a lot of blue light, so they’re great for stimulating growth in young plants. Unlike incandescent bulbs, they are not good for flowering plants.
That said, there are some newer types of fluorescent grow lights that have a wider spectrum, so make sure you read the product information of the fluorescent light you’re thinking about getting.
Fluorescent grow lights run cool, so you don’t need to worry about your plants getting too close. Because of this, they’re good for small spaces where you don’t have the room for a lot of distance between your grow light and plants.
This type of grow light is also really affordable, so it’s a good place to start if you’ve never had a grow light before. That said, if you go with a standard option, the lack of red light makes these bulbs less effective for mature plants.
3. LED Lights
When LED lights first became popular, they didn’t put out enough light to be effective as grow lights. But a lot has changed since they were first introduced.
Modern LED lights are extremely efficient and intense despite having low energy consumption. Because they don’t rely on a filament, LEDs last a long time – somewhere between 30,000 and 60,000 hours, believe it or not. They also stay cool, so you don’t have to worry about them getting too warm for your plants.
LED grow lights are a little expensive in the beginning, but because they use so little energy and last so long, they’re a great investment. They’re reliable, durable, and don’t normally need replacing very often, unlike other types of bulbs.
The only thing you need to be careful of when shopping is that you choose a broad-spectrum LED light. That way, you know your plants are getting the type of light they need.
4. High-Intensity Discharge (HID)
HID grow lights typically use metal halide (MH) or high-pressure sodium (HPS), so you may see them referred to by these names as well. These lights are extremely efficient, though they are also the most expensive option.
Keep this in mind when choosing between MH and HPS. MH lights emit a lot of blue light, so they’re great for vegetation and leaves but not so great for flowering. HPS lights have an orangey-red hue, making them amazing for flowers.
Some people find that using both an MH and HPS balances this out, especially if they’re growing a large number of different plants indoors. Using both types of lights lets you switch between red and blue light as needed for the stage of growth your plants are currently in.
The biggest downside to HID lights is that they’re expensive. They also get hot very quickly, so you have to watch the distance between them and your plants and ensure they have enough ventilation.
How to Use Grow Lights for Indoor Plants
Installation is a little different depending on what type of lights you have. We’re going to focus on LED lights as they are the most popular option for most people.
1. Figure out the type of plants you’re going to grow or consider the ones that you already have. Each plant has its own lighting needs, and it’s important to know what your plants need before you start setting up your system.
Low light plants might do fine in a room that doesn’t get a lot of direct sunlight. They might not even need a grow light. But, if you’re adding a tropical plant to your home or trying to propagate seeds, a grow light is essential.
2. Consider the amount of space you have to work with. Larger spaces likely need more lights. To avoid your plants getting leggy, make sure the light is evenly distributed. Plants want to reach toward the light, and they will stretch to find it. Make sure they don’t have to.
3. Choose the best color light. Most LED lights are broad-spectrum, but you should verify that to be sure your plant is getting what it needs to grow.
4. Figure out how much distance you need between your plants and the light. This distance should depend on how much light your plants need and how powerful your light is. Generally, the distance between your plants and the light should be anywhere from 12 to 36 inches.
5. After your system is up and running, remember to rotate your plants. Rotating your plants ensures that they grow evenly and that each side of the plant is getting the same amount of light.
6. Monitor the growth and make adjustments as needed. The amount of time the plants are exposed to light, the color of the light, and the distance between the light and the plants can all affect your plants’ growth.
As you can see, grow lights come in very handy when you’re trying to grow plants in your home. Whether you’re getting things started for your summer garden or trying to keep your favorite houseplant alive, there’s a grow light out there that can help.