Best Types Of Light For Plants

grow lights above a leafy plant
  • 1-20 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 0-1,000

The best types of lights for plants depend on the needs of your plants and its environment. Artificial light is as good as sunlight and is used primarily for indoor plants for several reasons. Artificial light can supplement light during the shorter days of the winter months and can be used to trigger specific growth and flowering. While most plants need a minimum of 12 hours of light each day, there are others that require some shade, so use a timer to ensure consistency.

Understand Light Spectrum

Plants use energy from different parts of the light spectrum for critical processes. Unless you're growing blooming plants, you don't really need full spectrum light, although they are readily available.

The most common bulbs are incandescent and fluorescent. There are also more intense sources, such as halogen, metal halide, or sodium. HID (High Intensity Discharge) lights are even better, but are more expensive.

Know Your Bulbs

plant beneath a grow light

Incandescent bulbs provide good light and are the least expensive to buy. But since they produce so much heat, they can't be placed near plants and they’re costly to run. Incandescent light is mostly red light – not the best for most plants, but during flowering and fruiting, plants do better with some red light.

Fluorescent light is mostly green or blue hued light. Plants use fluorescent light when they are growing or leafing. They provide good light, burn less electricity, produce the least amount of heat and are quite cost effective. Regular fluorescent bulbs are adequate for foliage plants and you can get ones that fit into standard light fixtures. There are also compact units and full spectrum fluorescents especially designed for plants.

Remember that plants also need their quiet, ‘dark’ time as well, so be sure to use your timers properly.