Let Them Grow with Grow Lights!
If you’ve succumbed to the call of the plant parent life at home, you know the secret to keeping healthy plants is striking the balance between two essential ingredients: water and light. Water transports nutrients from the soil to the plant. Light, through photosynthesis, is turned into chemical energy to feed the plant. A number of plant issues can stem (pun intended) from the excess or lack of water and light. While you can increase or decrease the water you give your plants as needed, light is an ingredient harder to come by if you’re living in a space where adequate, natural light is lacking. This is where grow lights come in handy.
A grow light is an artificial light source that attempts to mimic the spectrum of light produced by the sun. While some indoor plants can survive in low light, light-loving plants like the fiddle leaf fig, bonsai, succulents, herbs, vegetables, flowers like chrysanthemums, and microgreens will not. If your space doesn’t have enough light to fit the needs of your plants, that can explain a lot of plant issues and even why your plants don’t live too long.
So you think you need a grow light?
There are a number of factors to consider when choosing a grow light, because they come in various shapes, sizes, types, and offer various color, brightness, and bulb options. Making the choice can get overwhelming, but that’s what this guide is for. Let’s take it step by step, shall we?
First thing’s first: Evaluate which plants need to be kept under the grow light by taking note of how much light each plant needs daily. Which plants will need full light? Prioritize those first. Second, where will you keep your plants and grow light? Find a dedicated space where your selected plants can stay permanently or visit occasionally. Once you’ve answered those two questions, it’s time to go through the five factors to consider before you buy your first grow light: Type, color, brightness, placement, and duration.
Most commonly, grow lights come in 2 types: Light Emitting Diode (LED) and Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL). LED is the most common and modern type available. Like your LED house lights, LED grow lights cost more upfront, but last longer, are more powerful, and are cost efficient. On the other hand, some traditional gardeners still prefer fluorescents as they’re cheaper, but are still bright enough to get the job done. Among the fluorescents, T5s are the best fluorescent choice as they are brighter and more effective. However, T8s are the cheaper option that are almost as good.
Light Color Temperature
The color temperature of your grow light refers to the scale of light it radiates. For example, an office setting would have a cooler color temperature, while your dining room would have a warmer color temperature. Grow lights come in blue, red, or full spectrum.
Cool blue grow lights are at around 4000 Kelvins and are used to regulate plant growth during the vegetative stage, when growing stems and foliage is important. This is used mostly for seedlings and microgreens. In excess, blue lights can cause stunted growth in plants.
Warm red grow lights start at around 3000 Kelvins and are used to stimulate growth in vegetables and flowering plants. In excess, red lights can cause leggy plants.
Full-spectrum or broad spectrum lights have a Kelvin rating range of 5000 to 6500K. They best resemble natural daylight and give the best of both blue and red lights. They are used for growing houseplants and seedlings indoors, and don’t cause eye strain the way blue or red lights would.
The wattage of your grow light doesn’t indicate how bright it will be, because watts indicate the rate at which electrical power is used. Instead, check the light’s lumens or measure of visible light emitted. The higher the lumens, the brighter the light is. For example, a 6 Watt LED light and an 8 to 9 Watt fluorescent light both emit 450 lumens, but the LED light will use less power and generate less heat.
If your plant requires full sun, the equivalent lumens is around 2000 to 3000 lumens.
The spacing between your grow light and your plant varies depending on the type of grow light and the space available. Most manufacturers already mention on the packaging the spacing and distance guides of their grow lights.
Generally, LED lights and fluorescent lights emit less heat, so they can be placed 6-12 inches above plants. However, keep in mind that the stronger the light, the more space is needed between the plant and light. The placement of the light also depends on the size of the plant and the plant’s light requirement. In most cases, the height of the grow light adjusts as the plant grows. This is where an adjustable floor lamp could come in handy, especially if you don’t have a lot of overhead space available.
How long you keep your grow lights on depends on the light requirement of your plant. Most house plants are happiest with 6 to 12 hours of light daily, so gardeners recommend keeping your lights on for 8 to 10 hours. This is where the cost and energy efficiency of LED grow lights come in handy.
Frequently Asked Questions
Did we miss anything? Don’t fret, our friendly customer support will be happy to help you out. Read on for some quick FAQs we might be able to answer right now.
What’s the difference between your lightbulb at home and grow lights?
The short answer is that your regular 45 or 60 watt incandescent light bulb or LED equivalent is not strong enough to support plant growth indoors, especially if the plant is light-loving.
Are grow lights expensive?
Grow lights come in various price points, so it won’t be much trouble finding one that fits right into your budget. To get the most bang for your buck, go with a long-lasting and energy-saving option, like LEDs.
Can I use grow lights to start seeds?
Grow lights are best used when seedlings are above the soil, so the plant can photosynthesize better. Some gardeners recommend heat mats placed under seed starting trays and to use your grow light as soon as a seedling peaks out.
How do you know how much light your plant needs?
Research! Find out whether your plant likes full light, bright and indirect light, shade plants. A rough guide is about 6 to 8 hours for shade plants, 10 to 12 for bright, indirect light-loving plants, and 14 to 20 hours for full light-loving plants. Purdue also provides a guide for some plants, for easy reference.
What happens if you leave your plants under grow lights for too long?
Grow lights can burn and even kill your plants with too much exposure, similar to leaving your plants out under the sun for too long. Set a timer or alarm to make sure you don’t forget your plants and know how much light they can take.
Can grow lights burn your skin?
At high enough intensity or prolonged exposure, yes! Like plants, humans can get sunburnt from grow lights, too. Ultraviolet, blue light, and infrared light can also harm your eyes.
Tools of the Trade
Now that you have a good idea of what to look for in your grow lights, we’d like to introduce you to our beginner-friendly Sansi Grow Light. A gift to your indoor plants, the Sansi grow light is a full spectrum LED light that fits right into an E27 lamp socket or base. All you need to do is pop it into an available base and you’re ready to grow!
We love it for all these other reasons, too!
- The SANSI LED mixes the full spectrum to mimic natural sunlight, which is perfect for whole plant growth! Your plant gets all the benefits of full spectrum lights, without the glare and eye strain from blue or red lights.
- Get more savings with improved heat dissipation using patented technology that conducts less heat and prolongs the bulb’s lifetime to 25,000 hours (that’s a little over 1,000 days!).
- Made from eco-friendly materials.
- One-year warranty. Need help? Our customer support will happily assist you.
A single SANSI grow light can cover an area of up to 3.6 square feet. Keep it mounted 12 to 39 inches above your plants for 10 to 12 hours, depending on your plant needs. If you don’t have a mount available, this custom-made Shopleaf Floor Lamp is the perfect fit. Plus, it has an adjustable height and flexible neck, so you can direct light where it’s needed. The floor lamp is also made with sustainable materials that allow us to produce without leaving much of a footprint.
To learn more about the Sansi Grow Light and the Shopleaf Floor Lamp, get in touch with our customer support or visit the product page.