Last Updated on September 10, 2020 by woodcutter
Did you know that plant growth is affected differently by colors of light?. That’s right; the growing process of plants is not that straight forward. I shall shortly explain to you how such a mechanism goes on without us even noticing. Therefore, you have to consider this for your indoor plants, which are at risk of not getting enough sunlight. In this article, I shall share how you can use grow lights for your indoor plants effectively.
You will find ten tips that I have gathered from my own past experiences and other expert guidelines. These tips also serve to spare you some decision headaches when trying to choose which grow light to get. Let me start by taking you through how light functions in plants and its importance. I will then show you the different grow lights you will find on the market.
How light functions in indoor plants and how crucial it is
Visible light is generally known as just “light,” which is a form of a wave. This wave consists of other waves in what is called the light spectrum. Each wave has a different wavelength and exhibits a characteristic color. From the sunlight, plants receive a full-wave range, and they utilize it for photosynthesis. We all know how vital photosynthesis is.
What is available on the market?
A wide range of bulb types can get used as grow lights. Here is what you would typically find in hardware stores:
You will find these being used for lamps in most households. They offer light falling in the red spectrum of visible light. Their drawback has to do with their inability to provide light to several plants at once. In addition to this, you should not place your plants too close to them due to the production plant damaging heat from the filament.
These are more efficient with a higher lumination capacity compared to incandescent lights. The light they produce mainly falls in the blue wavelength of the spectrum.
LED abbreviated light-emitting diodes are energy-efficient lights. They are replacing incandescent lights for this reason. You will find led grow lights producing a red, blue, or full wavelength of the spectrum.
High-intensity discharge lamps (HID) are gas-filled electric lights. Two common types are metal halides (MH) and high-pressure sodium (HPS). Metal halide lights produce light of a wavelength in the blue section while high-pressure sodium lights produce that which is in the red part.
Tips to follow when using grow lights for your indoor plants.
Tip1: Use the right light wavelength for your plant
As I have mentioned earlier, the light of different wavelengths exhibits different colors, stimulating your plant’s growth differently. Some colors are more suited to foliage, while others promote flowering and fruit formation. Fortunately, LEDs can offer a full range of wavelengths. Here is how they function differently:
1. Blue light
It has wavelengths in range 450 to 495 nanometers. Its effect on your indoor plants is that it stimulates their growth, especially that of the foliage. Studies show that exposure of plants to this light enhances chlorophyll formation, which is crucial for photosynthesis. They also revealed that it controls cellular respiration, which limits the evapotranspiration during hot days.
2. Red light
This is best for flower formation and fruit development. By speeding up the photochromic conversion, time usually needed for switching to night time is reduced. In turn, this increases your plant’s yield.
Scientific studies conclude that plants exposed to this light show an improvement in the taste of produce, aroma, and color. They have also shown that its presence stimulates antioxidants that promote cellular repair. Its wavelength is of order 380 to 445 nanometers.
It has a wavelength in the range of 495 to 570 nanometers. The green pigment, commonly known as chlorophyll, results from the absorption of other colors from the spectrum, except for green light. Thus using such a color on your plants will have minimal effect, if any.
Tip 2.Select the right intensity of grow light
Luminous intensity is measured using a unit known as lumen. It determines the energy with which the grow light particles will penetrate your plant with ease. Lower intensity lights like the incandescent are suited for your low light requiring indoor plants. On the other hand, if you are to supply light to many indoor sun-loving plants, choose LEDs or HIDs.
Tip3: Opt for grow lights with timers
Different plant species require different periods of exposure to light to achieve specific characteristics. It will save you a lot of inconveniences if you get hold of grow lights with timers. These can be set to switch on or off automatically. In general, plants can be grouped as :
Short-day plants – these need less than 12 hours of light per day.
Long-day plants – these require 14 to 18 hours of light per day.
Day-neutral plants – these require 8 to 12 hours of light per day.
Tip4: Grow lights placement
Hanging or placing your lamps over or close to your indoor will work best. Gooseneck lamps that can hold your grow light bulbs and allow for adjustment are available on the market. However, when you use high-density bulbs like the UV ones, it is essential for you not to place plants too close to light source. Ultraviolet rays (UV) are known to be damaging to plant cells when the source is nearby.
As a general rule, incandescent lights should be placed 24 inches over your plant. However, you can set your fluorescent and led lighting sources as close as 12 and 6 inches to your plants, respectively. Do not forget to readjust the proximity of these bulbs to the plant as it grows. You may also want to place your bulbs at different angles to manipulate the direction in which your plants grow.
Tip5: Setting up an indoor growing area
To set up the ideal space, follow these:
1. Consider your indoor plants or garden and how much space you have left, then pot plants and beddings accordingly.
2. Group pots or trays 4 to 8 inches apart depending on which plants you have. This allows for ease in maneuvering during pruning and care.
3. Depending on the area you plants cover, you may need a light source that caters to them. This may require you to use several light bulbs.
Tip6: Monitor moisture being held by the soil of your plants
HDI and incandescent lights emit more heat than LEDs. Therefore you have to water your plants more frequently to prevent them from permanently wilting in no time. However, take due diligence when you switch from using incandescent to busing LED, which emits the least heat. This is because you will run the risk of continuing with frequent watering leading to overwatering. Such conditions harbor fungal infections.
Tip7: Avoid low-quality LEDs
Some light manufacturers produce very low-quality LED lights to cater to those with a tight budget. Do not be lured into buying such a product because the manufacture will be in it just for a quick buck. There is no guarantee of how effective those grow lights will be.
Tip8: Use lumens and not watts
When you decide which grow light will best suit your needs, use lumens instead of watts. The reason is that most people often confuse wattage, which measures power consumption as a measurement of quality of light. High wattage bulbs produce a lot of heat. Lumen is the right unit that measures the quality of light known as intensity, so do not get confused.
Tip9: Use a bulb life span
In addition to light intensity, use a bulb life span for selecting which grows light to buy. Neglecting this will end up disappointing you when your new bulb does not make it past a month!.
Tip10: Consider power consumption
LEDs consume the least power while incandescent bulbs top the list of heavy consumers. The requirement that grows lights be operation for as much as 16 hours depending on your plants can be of concern when using incandescent lights. Instead, use LEDs based grow lights to the fullest without ever worrying about the power bill.
Before you decide on hitting the hardware store, you need to assess the level of light you are getting indoors. This will help you to determine the best setup and on the number of bulbs required. Also, take your time exploring what’s available on the market; if resources permit, try all the lights. During the process, do not hesitate to seek expert advice that will guide you.
Let me also stress that you will have to switch off the grow lights to allow for respiration at some point. This only takes place in the absence of light mind you. Finally, when deciding which light spectrum to choose, I recommend you select full-range light. Having all the different wavelengths colors it will supply the plants with all the necessary stimuli. I hope this puts to rest the question of how you use grow lights on indoor plants.