Indoor plants are a welcome addition to any home. They help spruce up the atmosphere and bring literal life into the room. But sometimes it is difficult to grow these plants due to a variety of reasons, and one of the bigger reasons is the lighting. Throughout the year, the amount of light changes, and it is difficult to find a single spot in the house where a plant will always get sufficient light, due to the movement of the sun.
To solve this problem, grow lights were created, and have become increasingly more popular for home botanists. People have used different types of lights including fluorescent, incandescent, and LED’s (Light Emitting Diodes).
LED grow lights are quickly becoming the most common choice for growing organic plants indoors.
LED lights are the most common choice to go with because they are the most energy-efficient and have a wide variety of colors. The light color that works best for chlorophyll absorption, photosynthesis, and growth is a Violet-blue light in the 400-520 nanometer range. Red light(610-720) promotes flowering and budding.
LED grow lights produce a large spectrum of light, and the ones with the most complete spectrum will be the best ones to grow with. They also put off much less heat than the other options, making it possible for you to put the light closer to the plant in this case.
Types of LED Grow Lights
Standard Purple LED’s are the cheapest option for growing, which is their main selling point. They contain hundreds of small low wattage lights(3-5 watts per LED) composed of red and blue lights to emit a purple light.
COB lights (a.k.a Chip on board) lights have many hundreds of tiny lights to make up the one single small chip on the board. They emit a much stronger and brighter white light, which offers better light penetration than the purple LED’s.
Spread Style LED’s are another powerful light option, and are more specifically tailored to greenhouses with their “rack” style of lighting, which can cover a large area. They are one of the most efficient LED lights on the market, which also leads to them being a rather expensive option.
Plant position and light placement
The position of the plants and the lights should aim to mimic the natural position of outdoor plants.
- Give each of the plants an even amount of space(unless it is a plant that may help seed another plant), and space the plants accordingly.
- Use a level surface, and if possible, keep in a spot that is out of a cat’s reach(easier said than done, I know).
- Hang the lights straight over top of the plants to mimic the sun, at about roughly 6-12 inches over(this distance can change depending on the plant type) Adjust the lights accordingly as the plants grow.
- Make sure to test the lights out and confirm that all the plants are getting sufficient light. If you are looking to invest in more lights and more plants, testing out the amount of coverage that the lights have over a certain amount of plants may be the best way to determine how many more lights you should purchase.
How long should you leave the grow light on?
This again depends on the type of plant. Most flowering plants or vegetables grow optimally with a long summer day’s worth of light (12-16 hours), but remember that darkness is an important part of the cycle as well. Plants use the darkness to break down the energy that they produce during the day for growth and flowering, a process known as respiration.
To make sure that you do not exceed the recommended time to keep the lights on, you can set them up with timers. Once you set these timers up to go off at the appropriate time, it’s one less thing that can go wrong.
As stated multiple times, everything tends to be plant-specific, and even if you set something perfectly at first, the constantly changing plants will most likely require readjustment of the lights. Pay attention to the plants especially in the early stages to make sure they do not fall victim to LED burns or other complications from improper placement.
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