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Best Lights for Growing Plants Indoors

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Choosing the Perfect Grow Light: Made Easy

Plants need two things to live – water and light.  Water for the most part is a no-brainer; simple regularity and realizing when the soil is dry.  Lighting on the other hand can be a little trickier.  Most seem to think that a ledge by a window will be enough to keep their plants healthy and happy, but often times, that’s just not enough.

So you might have noticed your plants suffering in the dark and you know you need some additional lighting for them.  You’ve heard of grow lights before but once you Google search “grow light” you literally get “about 549,000,000 results”.  So where do you start?  You want healthy, happy plants – not a science lesson.  This should hopefully simplify the ability to understand get you and your plants the lighting help you need.

Aspect 40w Black Plant Light

First Things First – why plants need light

Light provides plants the energy needed to live and grow.  The leaves and pedals act as solar panels and absorb the specific photosynthetic light from the sun necessary to plant life.  This is why normal lights won’t grow plants, and why grow lights exist.  They mimic the sun’s photosynthetic spectrum and essentially provide your plant with synthetic sunlight.

So you don’t get enough natural sunlight throughout your home to the plants you want where you want, and you need a grow light.  Where do you start?  There are many to choose from- all different sizes, looks, and purposes.  Here are the popular grow light choices: Fluorescent, HID, CFL and LED.

The Starting Lineup:

Fluorescent grow lights

Fluorescent lights are popular for small plants and starting seedlings. They are fairly cheap but don’t usually last very long. These bulbs typically have a short lifespan.  Fluorescents are most effective for growing leafy greens or plants in their vegetative stages, but they are not ideal for forcing flowering plants and heavy-fruiting crops.

Pros

  • Medium initial cost

Cons

  • High power consumption
  • Requires a ballast or lamp
  • Ballast is an eyesore

HID, Metal Halide and HPS

High-intensity discharge (HID) such as Metal-Halide (MH) and High-Pressure Sodium (HPS) lights are bulbs popularly used in large commercial grow operations. These bulbs consume the most electric and produce the highest amounts of light and heat typically resulting in expensive electric bills for the entire life of each light.  HIDs are typically used if you intend to grow large groups of plants indoors in a space such as heavy-flowering flowering and fruiting plants.

Pros

  • Medium initial cost
  • High output strength
  • High crop yield

Cons

  • High power consumption
  • Produces high amount of heat
  • Eyesore

Red/Blue LEDs

Light-Emitting Diode (LED) lights have recently taken command of the grow light industry as they are able to precisely pinpoint the ideal photosynthetic spectrum while using little electricity.  While they are the most efficient type of grow light many have to use bright and obnoxious red and blue lights to reach that level of efficiency.

Pros

  • High output strength
  • High crop yield

Cons

  • High initial cost
  • High power consumption
  • Blue/Red light is an eyesore

White/ Full-Spectrum LEDs

This obnoxious and off-putting red and blue light put off by LED grow lights has led to the recent discovery and development of white, full-spectrum LED grow lights.  While they are not ideal for a larger crop-like growing operation they allow you to efficiently grow any plant without creating an eyesore and even complimenting your home.  With LED lights like the Aspect you can grow any plant can grow any plant, from lavender to a coffee plant, while yielding ambient lighting.  This light is ideal for growers who love their homes as much as they love their plants.

Pros

  • Low power consumption
  • Medium crop yield
  • Museum-quality lighting
  • User-friendly
  • Long lifespan

Cons

  • High initial cost

Tips and additional resources we recommend:

1. Bloom & Grow Radio podcast but specifically Episode 12: Everything You Need to Know about Indoor Grow Lights with The Sill’s Chris Satch

2. The recently released book Gardening Under Lights: The Complete Guide for Indoor Growers by Leslie Halleck.

To learn more about the ins-and-outs of plant lighting and their effects on your plants and their environment contact us at any time here!  Ask us about our consultation rates if you have a large project that needs some lighting expertise.

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