Regular LED (Light-emitting diode) lights provide some of the wavelengths needed by plants, but they do not offer the full spectrum of wavelengths necessary to grow healthy, happy plants.
For this reason, you must use LED grow lights, which provide the red and blue light spectrums that help plants grow.
The blue wavelengths help foliage grow and thrive, while the red wavelengths support the development of flowers and fruit.
The green wavelengths that are typically provided by household LED lights are not usable by plants.
They make plants look greener, but this is only because their green rays are reflected off the plant’s leaves.
If you want to grow plants using artificial lights of any kind, you must use bulbs that provide a full spectrum of warm and cool wavelengths that replicate those provided by the sun.
This article provides good guidance to help you use artificial light to grow plants indoors. Read on to learn more.
Important Light Source Guidelines To Add To Your Plant Care Regimen
Sunlight is the perfect light for plants. It has just the right balance of light wavelengths to help plants grow, bloom and set fruit.
Even so, you can provide an excellent habitat to help your plants thrive in any room in your home or office through carefully selected and correctly used artificial light.
Choose The Type(s) Of Lighting You Want
When choosing indoor lighting for plants, you may wish to go with full spectrum fluorescent or full spectrum LED lighting, or you can mix and match.
LED Lighting For Plants
There are many advantages to using full spectrum LED lights to grow plants. These bulbs are very energy efficient, offering cool, safe operation.
There are also many different types of LED light bulbs for use in various settings.
While it is possible to calculate the amount of red and white wavelength of various common household LED light sources to produce to customize your plant setup, it’s better, easier, and safer to purchase and use LED grow lights.
One caveat, though, double-check to be sure the bulbs you buy really do provide a full spectrum of wavelengths.
Also, remember that some LED lights are sold as “plant lights” but only offer the green spectrum, making your plants look green – until they die.
Fluorescent Lighting For Plants
Fluorescent lighting is inexpensive and versatile.
You can buy handy CFL (Compact Fluorescent Light) bulbs that can be used in any light socket or get tube fixtures that are easy to hang anywhere.
The advantages of fluorescent lighting include cool and economical operation and a very long bulb life.
If you cannot find full spectrum fluorescent bulbs, you can use cool white bulbs, which also deliver a full spectrum of wavelengths.
CFL vs. LED
Compared with fluorescents, LED lighting also runs cool and is safe, efficient, and easy to use.
In addition, even though LED lighting may be a little more expensive to set up, bulb life is even longer than fluorescent lighting.
On the downside, LED lighting doesn’t cover as much area as fluorescent lighting.
LED devices are often heavier than those designed to be used with fluorescent lighting, and for use in your living space, these receptacles may not be as attractive as those that can use CFL bulbs. [source]
Artificial Lighting Tips & Questions
1. Get A Fast Affordable Start On Plant Lighting.
You can begin by simply replacing all of your regular light bulbs with CFL or LED bulbs.
Then, add LED grow light bulbs or CFL bulbs to hanging lamps or table lamps to create a good growing space for individual or small groupings of potted plants.
This will help your plants grow and thrive, and it will also help you save energy and money.
2. Examine Any Bulb You Plan To Buy Carefully.
Remember to read the description of the bulb’s wavelength carefully.
If you buy “plant bulbs” or “plant lights” without double-checking, you may end up with a green wavelength LED light or a green tinted incandescent light.
3. Always Pay Attention To The Safe Wattage Range Of Lamps And Sockets.
Remember that you can use LED or CFL bulbs in any household light fixture but stay within the wattage range.
4. Set Up A Proper Growing Space To Get Your Garden Started.
If you want to do some serious gardening indoors or start seeds indoors to transfer to your spring and summer garden, you’ll need a space equipped with hanging tube fixtures that provide concentrated light to your plants.
5. Use Halogen Or Incandescent Lights Carefully Or Not At All.
You can include halogen and incandescent lights in your plant lighting mix, but they don’t provide full spectrum lighting
They burn hot and use a lot of energy, so, overall, you’re better off leaving them out.
6. Mix & Match Bulbs Successfully.
If you decide to include incandescent and halogen lighting in the mix, be sure to position cool bulbs (e.g., CFL and LED) closer to plants.
Place hot incandescent or halogen bulbs in higher settings to provide light to the room without burning your plants.
7. Use Reflective Surfaces To Increase Lighting.
Mirrors and white walls can increase the light output of your fixtures and brighten your home or office.
In a grow room, reflective materials, such as Mylar, will greatly increase light output.
8. Make Use Of A Timer To Provide The Right Amount Of Light.
It can be hard to remember when to turn your plant lights on and off. Set up timers or use a “Smart” program to provide your plants with 16 hours of light and 8 hours of dark daily.
Why Use Full Spectrum Artificial Light For Plants?
When you use full spectrum LED or CFL lights in your home gardening ventures, you can improve the health of your existing plants and make it possible to expand your indoor gardening efforts to even the darkest corners of your home or office setting.
Adding artificial light improves both the quality and the quantity of light available to your plants and you.
Plants are not the only entities that benefit from full spectrum lighting. All living beings can benefit from exposure to abundant, natural spectrum light—even you! [source]