Grow Lights

Grow lights

Most houseplants will survive in normal houses with normal house light levels–that’s why they’re called houseplants.

Whether you need extra lights, and which type, depends on a bunch of different factors.

What are you trying to grow?

Do you have any sunlight coming in, or are these going to be the only light your plants are getting?

If you do have sunlight, from what direction?

Do you want growth or just survival over the winter?

The cheap blurple sticklights off of Amazon are generally only workable as supplemental light for plants that don’t need lots of light to begin with. Any CFL bulb in a regular socket can be used as a grow light; there are grow bulbs which fit regular sockets that can be used as well. Large LED or tube fluorescent fixtures are the highest-end options.

Plants don’t benefit from grow lights placed more than a foot away from them, and benefit from them being placed closer, though the leaves may scorch if they’re closer than 2 inches or so.

Don’t keep your lights on 24/7: most plants need a night to rest.

For this reason, it’s better to have the lights on during the actual daytime.

Try out 14 hours daily for grow lights first, then decrease to 12 or increase to 16 hours depending on how the plants respond. Be sure to have them on a timer so you don’t forget to turn them on or off.

Why plants need light

Plants use energy from light to turn co2 into sugars that the plant can use. This means that without light, the plant will starve to death.

Different plants need different amounts of light: many houseplants evolved to live in jungles beneath huge trees, so they are used to not having direct access to the sun, but other plants need several hours a day of sunlight or more to “get their fill.”

Which plants may need grow lights

Succulents and cacti are the most common plants to be placed under grow lights; they are desert species which rely on having access to lots of sun.

Any plant you are trying to persuade to flower or grow fruit will be more likely to do so under grow lights.

Plants that “like” low light

Low light tolerant does NOT mean the plant likes low light.

In fact almost every plant would prefer bright indirect light over low light.

However, some plants will tolerate low light if it is all you can provide. Some plants that can survive and even grow in solely human-level artificial light or low light are: ZZ plants, snake plants, peace lilies, parlor palms, cast iron plants, philodendrons and pothos.