How to choose artificial lights for your indoor plants
Often, indoor houseplants will benefit from certain kinds of artificial light. While we are accustomed to incandescent bulbs in the household, plants actually do much better with fluorescent or LED (or HID, although this costs a pretty penny). So, which of these should you choose, and how? Learn more about lights for indoor gardening below.
When Do You Need Artificial Sunlight for Plants?
To Supplement Low Levels of Natural Sunlight
When growing plants, the main reason they need artificial light is that they are located somewhere that’s dim or dark. Without enough sunlight, they can fail to flourish. Because of this, most indoor plants are grown near windows and in rooms that get plenty of sun. Sometimes there are obstacles, however.
Not every plant can be grown in a prime location, and this is when artificial light is called for! It will allow you to provide them with a glow anywhere that there’s electricity. These lights can even make the basement and garage viable options for growing crops or decorative plants (assuming there is sufficient warmth as well).
To Help Seedlings and Propagated Plants Grow
Seedlings are next on our list, and propagated plants are right alongside them. These babies have heightened growing requirements, and artificial lights are a great way to guarantee that your little plants get what they need to grow. As a bonus, they will grow greener and faster!
To Encourage Certain Plants to Flower
There are some plants that simply benefit from a little extra light. Most notable are indoor flowering plants, such as the African Violet or the Orchid. Both of these plants require plenty in order to bloom, and artificial lights can go a long way in helping growing plants flower!
Why The Light Spectrum Is Important for Houseplants
Although sunlight may look golden or white, it - as you may know - contains the entire spectrum of light. Every color in the rainbow is present. Plants rely on sun in its purest form, including all of the colors in the spectrum. With this in mind, plants should have artificial lights that provide the full spectrum. Red and blue are considered the most important for growth, however.
Blue is responsible for encouraging thick, healthy plant growth. This includes germination, leaf growth, and more.
While blue light provides the foundation, red encourages plants to bud, fruit, and flower.
How to Choose The Best Artificial Lights for Plants
There are a lot of confusing terms to measure various aspects of artificial lights. You can disregard most of these, because the wattage and lumens are what you really need to know.
While wattage is a measurement of electricity, lumens indicate brightness. So, it stands to reason that the best is one that’s nice and bright while using a minimal amount of power.
Types of Artificial Light
No matter the type, houseplants should always get 15-18 hours of light every 24 hours, but no more. An 8-hour dark break is also necessary. The primary types of artificial lighting suitable for plants are incandescent, fluorescent, LED, and HID, as below.
- Incandescent Light
Incandescent bulbs are those you’re most likely used to in your home. They provide a cozy, warm-looking, yellow light. While it is easy on our eyes, it’s not enough to support growing plants by themselves. It also tends to get warm, so it may not be possible to have it close enough to your plants. For indoor plants, incandescent bulbs won’t really do the trick.
- Fluorescent Light
For indoor plants, fluorescent lights are more what you’re after. These produce very little heat while emitting a bright, sun-like glow. They also cover virtually the entire spectrum of light. When it comes to rating, T5 fluorescent lights are typically what you’ll want to look for.
- LED Light
Compared to other types of lights, LED lights generally cost more up-front. They also produce very little heat and have a lower cost to operate, energy-wise. That’s the trade-off.
- HID Light
HID light is typically used in commercial gardens or crops because of electricity usage and their upfront cost. This being said, they do provide the highest intensity, so it depends on what you’re looking for.
Adjust The Artificial Plant Lighting as Your Plants Grow Taller
It’s always recommended to make your plant lights adjustable. This will allow you to move them with the plants as they grow, maintaining the perfect conditions. Compared to moving your houseplants around, this is considerably easier.
Provide Less Light in The Winter
Most houseplants experience a dormant season in the winter (although, there are exceptions, so you’ll want to double-check!). This means that growth slows and they’ll expect less light. Make sure to provide these changes in the winter. You can begin increasing the conditions again in spring-summer.
So, there you have it: the info you need for growing plants indoors with artificial light and how to choose plant lighting for indoor plants.