Light is a vital ingredient for plant growth. Unfortunately, seasons such as winter limit plant growth not only because of the extreme cold, but also because of poor light quality. However, this does not have to curtail your gardening – there is a wide variety of light sources for indoor gardening.
Do indoor plant lights work?
For plants to grow optimally, several aspects of light, such as intensity, color spectrum, and even the duration of exposure, are involved. Indoor plant lights are designed to offer just the right quantity of these aspects, ensuring proper plant growth and supporting food production, synthesis, and storage.
However, comprehensive research is necessary before planting as different plants have different light requirements. For instance, some plants require long hours of exposure to light while other may turn pale with prolonged exposure. Other plants require a full range of the color spectrum for food synthesis and production while others require very low light intensity.
With a comprehensive analysis of the plants’ light requirements; it becomes easier to choose and install the ideal indoor plant lights based on the underlying aspects.
Factors to consider in indoor plant lights
The light sources you intend to use for indoor gardening should be ideal for the plants you are growing. Their suitability will depend on factors such as:
• Type of bulb
Not all bulbs are ideal for indoor gardening. Additionally, different plant types fare differently under various types of bulbs. Proper consideration should hence be given to the type of bulb you intend to use to not only ensure optimal plant growth, but also to prevent damaging the plants’ leaves.
Fluorescent bulbs are great for indoor gardening as they provide ample light and are cool, eliminating the risk of burning the plants. Fluorescent bulbs come in a cool blue, a warm red, and with both colors combined to provide a broad range of color spectrums. However, they have to be placed very close to the plants to ensure the different color spectrums are fully harnessed.
HID bulbs are also idea for indoor plant growth and unlike fluorescent bulbs; they project light at twice the same intensity. They come in two types – high-pressure sodium lamps for flowering plants that need very bright light and metal halide lamps that cover a broad area, ideal for large indoor gardens.
• Color spectrum
Plants need exposure to the full-color spectrum for optimal growth. While the sun provides this abundantly, artificial light sources for indoor gardening project partial light spectrums. To this end, blue lights project a different array of the light spectrum as compared to red indoor planting lights. This can lead to unhealthy plant growth and poor yields at the end of the season.
However, you can combine both blue and red indoor lights to achieve a full-color spectrum for optimal growth.
• Light intensity
The light intensity of the bulbs you use will determine how well the plants are able to harness the light, consequently affecting their growth and yields. As such, perform a comprehensive research beforehand to determine the ideal light intensity for the plants you intend to grow indoors. This will then guide you when choosing the wattage of different bulbs while also determining the ideal distance to separate the plants and the bulbs.
Usually, plants that grow in shady environments require a lower light intensity as compared to those that grow in sunny environments.
Supplementing with sunlight
Supplementing the artificial light sources with natural light from then sun not only supports healthy and fast growth, it also saves you some time and effort too.
Depending on the plants you are growing indoors, reliance on indoor plant lights alone will require about 8-16 hours of lighting per day. However, you can reduce this time and consequently cut the costs involved by allowing the plants a few hours of exposure to sunlight.
As mentioned earlier, not all light sources are ideal for plant growth. Caution should be especially applied when using incandescent bulbs as they produce a lot of heat and have poor color spectrums. As such, they should only be used for highlighting potted plants and should leave a space of at least 24 inches to avoid burning the plants.
LED grow lights, on the other hand, have high light intensity levels, making them convenient for large indoor gardens. However, their color spectrum is poor as the orange color is very limited, posing risks of poor yields.
Indoor gardening is fun and rewarding. However, make sure you use the ideal light sources to avoid damaging the plants while ensuring that they give off optimal yields.