So, you’re ready to start indoor growing, now you need to know what type of grow lighting is best for growing plants indoors.
Here’s a handy little guide all about indoor grow lights.
Sometimes indoor plants need a little help to photosynthesise, this is where the correct grow light can help. Grow lights are used to supplement natural light by providing the type of year-round light needed to grow and cultivate indoor plants.
Grow lighting systems are no longer accessible just to professional growers. They can be relatively inexpensive, and easy to understand, so anyone can have a go at growing plants under artificial light.
Why use artificial light?
There are a number of reasons why artificial lighting may be a benefit in certain circumstances:
- For growing plants where there is a lack of natural light in your home such as a dark corner or windowless garage
- Starting seedlings early in the year when natural light is still low, before planting out in the spring
- If plants need more intense light levels than are naturally provided indoors
What kind of lighting do plants need?
Sunlight contains the full spectrum of light as it provides a balance of cool and warm light. Indoor plants grow best under full-spectrum bulbs as they replicate the natural growing environment. Plants absorb mainly red and blue light. Blue light to stimulate growth, and red for growth and flowering.
It is best to choose horticultural lighting rather than domestic light bulbs. Household bulbs are unsuitable as the intensity is too low and they are less energy efficient.
The type of lighting system depends on what is being grown, however, here are some of the options:
- T5 lights – offer low heat and provide exactly what is needed to stimulate plant growth without overpowering them which means they are often used for the propagation and vegetative stages of plant development. They’re also relatively inexpensive to buy, are long lasting, and economical to run.
- LED (Light Emitting Diode) – offer excellent energy efficiency, are long lasting and they benefit from low operating temperatures. They deliver just the right amount of light needed to improve growth and they are also perfect for starting seedlings off indoors.
There are two types of lighting under the HID (High Intensisty Discharge) umbrella:
- HPS (High Pressure Sodium) – produce a massive amount of light, which is especially good for flowering. HPS lights are most often used for vegetative growth because they provide an immense amount of raw light intensity which produces great yields.
- MH (Metal Halide) – They provide the full-spectrum of light, meaning that the light is more evenly balanced. This produces lush vegetative growth making them ideal to support big yields when plants are ready to flower.
It is important to get the right intensity of heat to your plants. This is determined by the bulb brightness and how close to the lights the plants are.
Plants also need a rest from the grow light. Plants respirate when it’s dark which forms an important part of their growth process. It depends on what you are growing as to how long the plant needs to rest but as a general rule, plants are usually divided into three preferred day lengths:
- Short-day which thrive on less than 12 hours of light per day
- Long-day which require 14-18 hours of light per day
- Day-neutral which need 8-12 hours of light all year-round
To make the process of choosing the right lighting easier, there are a range of grow light kits available at affordable prices which feature everything needed to get started with grow lights including an electronic ballast, bulb and reflector.