How to Choose the Right Grow Light for Your Plants
If you have plants that need a little more fun in the sun, but you’re lacking the sunny climate or the south facing window of your dreams, you might be thinking about supplementing with grow lights.
More specifically, you’re probably wondering what kind of grow lights are the best for your indoor plants. And let’s be honest - that brings up a whole other host of questions.
While picking the right kind of grow lights for your plants might seem a little overwhelming at first, don’t panic. We’ve got the lowdown on all the basics you need to know to keep your plants happy, healthy, and photosynthesizing with the best of ‘em.
Kinds of Grow Lights
LED (light emitting diode) grow lights are a popular option for basic houseplants, and for good reason! They are energy efficient and long lasting compared to other options, and you don’t have to worry about them getting too hot.
You can find the super efficient Sunblaster 48” LED Grow Light right here at PLHC, which is a fantastic LED grow light for most of your indoor plant needs.
Fluorescent grow lights (t5, t8, t12 tubes and CFL’s) offer a cheaper option if you’re on a budget and looking for a simple solution. Keep in mind the intensity is not as strong so the light might need to be kept a bit closer to the plant, but can work if you’re just looking for a modest supplemental light.
Fluorescent and LED lights aren’t at risk of burning your plants either, so no fear of harming the plant babes here.
HID (high intensity discharge) lights are a much more powerful option if you’ve got particular plants that need some high intensity light lovin’. That being said, these are much more expensive and will use more energy than your other options.
The average houseplant keeper likely won’t need to fork over the change for one of these puppies, but they are intense and effective if that’s what you’re looking for.
Choosing the Right Color Spectrum
Seeing things like 4500k and warm vs. cool come up when you’re trying to figure out how to find the right grow lights might be a little intimidating, but we got you.
Simply put, the higher the number, the cooler the light. If you’re shopping for basic houseplant grow lights, you’ll most likely want something that mimics sunlight as much as possible, so look for a higher number.
An easy trick when shopping for fluorescent or regular bulbs is to look for “daylight” or “sunlight”, which should generally range from 4500k to 6500k.
All that being said, if you’re looking for a grow light for a flowering or fruiting plant, it might be best to go for a lower spectrum bulb. Or, if you need to cover all your bases, you can pick up a full spectrum bulb.
How Long Should You Leave Your Grow Lights On?
Generally speaking, you won’t need to leave your lights on all the time. A good rule of thumb here is to try to mimic the sun as best you can, meaning you should have periods of “night” when your grow lights are off.
The total duration, though, is really going to depend on the individual plants. Do a bit of research for your specific types of plants to find out how many hours of direct light they thrive in.
So after all is done and said, do you need grow lights to keep healthy plants? Not necessarily, but they can be very beneficial depending on your local climate, the amount of sunlight you get in your home, and the season (hours of daylight within a day).
Of course, if you do live in a place with sparse sun another option is to stock up on some gorgeous low light plants to begin with. Check out our best low light plants and see if any tickle your fancy.