It is rare to find people who don’t love plants. However, many have to resort to growing a handful of indoor plants because they do not have access to a lot of space. To keep these plants healthy, you need to know how to use grow lights for indoor plants.
The use of a grow light might seem redundant because indoor plants supposedly require less light. However, that doesn’t mean the light you’re providing them is adequate. To provide optimum growth conditions, the use of a grow light bulb might be prudent.
I was quite skeptical about grow lights myself. But after I got the proper grow lights for my houseplants, I was astonished to see their lavish growth. If you’re not used to the idea of grow lights, let me introduce you to them. They’re amazingly efficient, and would reinvigorate your fading plants in no time!
Table of Contents
- How Much Light Do Plants Need
- Does Your Plant Need a Grow Light?
- What Kind of Lights Can Be Used as a Grow Light
- How to Use Grow Lights for Indoor Plants
How Much Light Do Plants Need
Indoor plants are often advertised as low maintenance and hard to kill. But you will soon learn that the task of keeping an indoor plant healthy and vigorous isn’t so simple. You’ve probably left it on a windowsill with indirect sunlight and fed it water regularly. But it’s still fading. Why?
It might have something to do with how much light you’re letting your plant have. Let’s take a look at the different types of light requirements for your plants:
- Full sun: Indoor plants usually aren’t the ones who prefer full sun. Even plants that are supposed to be grown outdoors don’t always prefer full sun. Only some plants such as cacti and succulent plants enjoy full sun. These plants should be left outdoors or on a south-facing windowsill.
- Partial sunlight and shade: Some plants enjoy bright morning sunlight and then indirect light or shade the rest of the day. Many flowering plants fall in this category. Placing them on an east or west-facing window would be conducive to their growth, as this will enable them to avoid the scorching midday sun.
- Full shade or low light: Not all plants enjoy a lot of light for long hours. Some plants prefer the comfort of a shaded nook. These are good for you if you’re a beginner trying to grow indoor plants. To grow a shade-loving plant, a north-facing window is your best bet.
- Indirect sun: Some plants prefer bright sunlight, but not direct. A lot of popular indoor plants are of this type. These plants are mostly grown for their foliage, but some are also flowering types. If you have an east or west-facing window that gets plenty of light, then place this plant near this window but a little way back so it isn’t directly touched by sunlight.
Sometimes you have obtained an indoor plant with a light requirement that you cannot fulfill. In cases like these, it’s best to provide grow lights for indoor plants. As not everyone can have a sunny window, there’s no shame in providing what your plant needs artificially.
Does Your Plant Need a Grow Light?
There are two cases when your plant might need a grow light- when it’s not getting enough light where you put it, or when it’s getting too much light. In either case, you can move the plant away from that window and put it under a grow light that will provide what the plant needs.
Too little light may deprive your plant of what it needs. On the other hand, Aside from sitting in intense light, being exposed to light for too long also has adverse effects. But how would you know which is the case, or if your plant needs a grow light at all? There are some signs to look out for.
Signs of an Indoor Plant Lacking Light
- Plants can turn pale, yellow, or even white
- Plants become leggy
- Start leaning towards the source of light
- Leaf dropping occurs, especially in the case of lower, older leaves
- Variegated plants may revert to being solid green
- Doesn’t flower properly
Signs of an Indoor Plant Getting Too Much Light
- Leaf tip or edge browning or yellowing
- Wilting of younger foliage
- Dry patches on the plant
- Scorched and bleached leaves
These are all symptoms that you’d be able to notice easily. You can try moving your plant to a sunnier location if it seems to be getting inadequate light. Similarly, if it seems to be suffering from too much light, move it to a shadier location.
However, sometimes, measures like these aren’t that effective, and it might be prudent to get a grow light. But before you run out and purchase any old grow light bulb, you need to know how to use grow lights for indoor house plants.
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What Kind of Lights Can Be Used as a Grow Light
First of all, you cannot expect household lighting to work the same way a grow light would. Can you use led lights for growing plants? Absolutely. But not just any old LED lights. You need to use ones that are specifically designed as grow lights. Other than LED, there are also a few other types of grow light. Here’s an overview of them all:
LED (Light Emitting Diode)
Nowadays, most grow lights come in LED variations. Even among LED lights, there are choices such as bulbs, tubes, and arrangements. There are also red and blue spectrums to choose from. On the other hand, if you’re investing in a light arrangement, you’re probably going to get the whole spectrum.
Do LED lights help plants grow? Yes. LED grow lights tend to be rather an energy-efficient choice. So even if they cost a little more when buying up-front, maintenance costs lower than other types of grow lights. It also produces less heat, so it’s healthier for your plants.
The problem is that this sort of grow light can sometimes seem too glaring and unnatural with your decor. However, the pros still outweigh the cons. Later on, we’ll discuss how to use led grow lights for indoor plants.
Fluorescent lights fall in the medium range in terms of cost and energy efficiency. The problem with these is that they don’t last as long as LED lights, and you might not be able to get a wide spectrum of light if you’re going for the cheaper ones.
Incandescent grow lights are the cheapest out of the bunch, but that’s about all that’s good about them. They’re less efficient than both LED and Fluorescent lights, don’t last long, produce heat, and produce more red light than blue.
High-Pressure Sodium and Metal Halide
These are also called High-Intensity Discharge (HID) grow lights. If you’ve got a lot of indoor plants to pamper, this sort of grow light is a good idea. They cover a wide surface area, so they’re quite popular in the commercial scene. However, they use older technology and release a lot of heat. Unless you have a lot of space, using this sort of grow light would be quite a bit of a hassle.
How to Use Grow Lights for Indoor Plants
Ultimately, a grow light is a replacement light source for your plant. Think about how you’d want your plant out in the sun, or near a window, and you’ll be able to use it much easier. Here are some pointers to keep in mind while you’re using a grow light:
- I prefer the sort of plant light bulbs that I can hang from the ceiling right above my plants. It should mimic the light that the plants get from sunlight, hence the overhead positioning. Yes, you can use a grow light bulb inside a table lamp or some other lighting fixture, but that might not give your plant sufficient light. What’s more, when you place the light to a side of the plant, it might start to lean towards the light, the same way indoor plants tend to lean towards a sunlit window. In cases like these, the plants often look leggy and unsightly.
- So, you decide to hang the grow light above the plant. But how close should a grow light be to plants? Well, the light should not be farther than 2 feet from the plant. However, you can start from as far as 2 feet and then gradually bring it closer to the plant to see how it responds to the change.
- If you’ve picked up one of the grow lights that emit heat, make sure to place it far enough away that the heat doesn’t affect your plant. Do not place it so close that the light touches your plant and its foliage.
- Young and/or shade-loving plants will prefer the sort of grow lights that are smaller and less intense. On the other hand, larger and sun-loving plants will prefer high-intensity grow lights placed close to them. So think about your plant and its light requirements.
- Grow lights generally should be kept on for about 8-10 hours. In some cases, you might even need to keep it running for 16 hours at a stretch. Due to this, I always recommend you spend the money to get a long-lasting grow light.
Now that you know how to use grow lights for indoor plants, you don’t have to worry about your plants suffering from inadequate light anymore. You can pick a grow light that your indoor plants will love. Let me tell you a secret- if you position your grow light with care, it will even add beauty to your decor. So what are you waiting for?