How to use grow lights with your indoor plants


When bringing plants into your home, you are essentially taking them out of their natural habitats where they receive natural sunlight without a roof, walls, and furniture and doting humans blocking them. If we want to see a plant thrive and grow in our homes just like they do outdoors, we have to replicate their environment as much as possible – especially when it comes to the amount of light they receive. This is where a grow light comes into place.

It can be heartbreaking to find the perfect house plant or spend time sowing seeds to have them die or never germinate because you couldn’t get the sun to shine through your window enough. You are not the first, nor will you be the last, to feel this way. The need to spend more time at home and move commercial food production indoors led to the creation and rise of grow lights, bulbs that replicate all the best parts of the Sun to give our plants the best chance of survival. These lights have been tried, tested, and trusted, so here is:

How to use grow lights with your indoor plants

First of all, why should you use grow lights?

When you live indoors, you are of course being exposed to significantly less sun than you would if you lived outside. However, if that amount of light was what you needed to survive, you would certainly bring something into your home to replicate those light conditions if you needed to, right? Well, doing this presents its own set of challenges but with the introduction of grow light technology and its increased availability over the last couple decades, indoor gardening is easier and more accessible to anyone with a little bit of space and some interest.

In adopting and bringing plants home, you should adopt the mindset that you are a caretaker, a parent to something living and should provide whatever it needs to live. Poor lighting in a home can quickly kill a plant and if you don’t have optimal conditions with the sun rising and setting directly into your space, your plants can grow weak, leggy, or wilt completely. Without knocking down walls and installing new windows, the next best solution is grow lights. If you fancy yourself an outdoor gardener too, you can use these same lights that feed your house plants to start your garden seeds while you wait for the Spring and Summertime weather to return.

There are different types of grow lights

As with any technology, there is a huge range of grow lights with differences in their construction, materials, and purposes. These are the most popular with indoor plant parents on the market today:

  • Tubular Fluorescent bulbs – these are a common choice for first time grow light users. These can be used in reflector fixtures that fit anywhere from one to eight bulbs at a time. You can pick a set-up to provide light for either a handful of plants on a single shelf, or you can dedicate entire tables with a large four to eight-bulb structure.
  • LED Lights – Just as this type of bulb became popular, overtaking every other household light bulb use, it has done so in the grow light world. These lights are more durable and can withstand the occasional drop without shattering as easily as a glass bulb. Because LED grow lights are designed specifically for plant purposes, they can provide better light more efficiently that fluorescent.
  • HID Lights – HID stands for High Intensity Discharge and bulbs of this design give off a brighter and more intense light from just one unit. These are typically better for starting (and growing) flowering plants, including fruits and vegetables, but because a single bulb can cover a large area, it’s a good option for indoor plants, too.
  • LEC Lighting – Light Emitting Ceramic grow lights are newer to the market and were created to be the most electrically efficient option currently available. Since this is a young product, there are less reviews or research studies, but the fixtures seem promising enough to consider bringing home to test.

What’s up with the red and blue lights?

Along with the different types of grow lights, there also comes a difference in the colors emitted by the bulbs, and this is for a good reason! As scientists first studied plants, they discovered that the foliage of our favorite plant babies absorb and feed on the entire spectrum of light, not just the clean, white light we receive from the sun.

Warm and cool colors like reds, blues, and purples benefit different parts of plants in unique ways. For instance, blue light is great for encouraging vegetative growth, while red is fantastic for flowers. “Full Spectrum” grow lights are available that offer both of those wavelengths and more, including yellow, orange, and even green. While these lights appear to be pure white in color, plants are able to pick on every subtle color to maximize photosynthesis and growth from the inside out.

Ideas for arranging your plants and grow lights.

You have social media to thank for all of the wonderful ideas floating around the plant community when it comes to the placement of grow lights in the home. As simple as a standing or desktop lamp would be, companies have created hardware, set-ups, and projects that allow you to have control over how to grow your plants.

Pre-assembled pendant lights are frequently used to care for one large house plant, while adhesive strips of grow lights are popular under cabinets or shelves to cover a larger area in a space-saving manner. The trendy thing these days is to take a glass cabinet and turn it into an indoor greenhouse, complete with air circulation, humidifier, grow lights, and instruments to measure all these factors all throughout the day. Where would you install your grow lights?

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