As we know, plants need light in order to grow. It is a crucial part of photosynthesis, in which plants use light, carbon dioxide, and water to produce glucose. The glucose is used to store their energy, making sure they have enough food to grow. Oxygen is produced as a by-product of this process. Click here for our full article on understanding photosynthesis. Sometimes, however, the sun isn’t quite enough for our indoor plants which will benefit from artificial lighting.
Finding plants for dark corners and rooms with less sunlight is a difficult task. There are, of course, plants that can do well in lower light conditions – like ZZ plants and pothos – but sometimes your plants need an added boost. This can come from grow lights: artificial lighting to support the growth of your houseplants.
When do you need artificial lighting?
During the colder months of the year, your home will receive less natural light. While this is fine for some plants, others will suffer because of it. If you want to keep them happy and healthy, you might want to use some artificial light.
You may also need artificial lighting for the rest of the year, depending on the light conditions in your home. If you’re growing houseplants in darker areas that receive little to no light – even in the summer – you may want the extra help.
If you’re growing your own seedlings, grow lights can be very helpful, offering the young plants the boost they need. Artificial light can help you grow seedlings in any space around your home, ensuring they have plenty of energy to grow into strong plants.
Types of light
Different grow lights will offer different types of light. Most will provide full-spectrum light – similar to sunlight – while others provide the specific tones that plants benefit from the most. These are red and blue light, usually combined to make a purple hue.
LED grow lights are great for offering the full-spectrum light that plants need. They can be pricier than other types of bulbs, but they have a number of benefits:
- They tend to last longer
- They don’t give off much heat
- They use less electricity than other types of bulb
- They’re long-lasting
Fluorescent lightbulbs also produce full-spectrum light. They tend to be cheaper than LED bulbs, but they tend to use more electricity and may not last as long.
Fluorescent lights often come as tubes that are specifically designed for growing plants. These tubes are convenient for attaching to the underneath of a shelf to provide light to plants on the shelf below.
Setting up grow lights
Setting up your grow lights at the right distance from your plants is really important. If the bulbs are too far away, the plant still won’t be getting enough light. If they’re too close, however, this could damage the plant. Generally, it’s recommended to keep grow lights about 20 inches from the plant, depending on how intense you need the light to be. For example, it may be slightly closer for succulents or further away for shade lovers like ferns.
Different plants require different amounts of light throughout the day. There are three categories of plants: day-neutral, short-day, and long-day.
Day-neutral plants are often foliage plants like ferns and require roughly 12 hours of light a day. Short-day plants – like begonias – need less than 12, and long-day plants like cacti could need up to 18 hours.
Make sure to research how much light your specific plants need and group together those with similar light requirements.
Houseplants suitable for artificial lighting
Most houseplants will benefit from some additional light when the sun isn’t doing enough. Here are some examples of more sun-loving plants that will benefit from a grow light: