Plant Light Basics: How To Choose The Best Solution

Plant Light Basics How To Choose The Best Solution

Grow lights are heaven-sent for gardeners: they are the perfect indoor plant light solution. With them, you can grow almost every plant you want inside, regardless of climate and season. You can even boost your plants’ growth with grow lights.

However, choosing the best plant light solution appropriate for your plants is essential if you want your plants to grow fast, healthy, and strong. There is no one-size-fits-all answer for your indoor gardening setup.

Plant Light Types

Your plant lighting setup entirely depends on the type of plants you grow and grow lights you use. To pick the best plant light options for your planting needs, you need to know what’s available.

LED Lights

Led lights plant light basics

Light-emitting-diode (LED) is the most common and versatile type of grow light for your plants. It is highly efficient and does not produce a lot of heat. LED grow lights come in many forms, such as clip-ons, fixtures, and screw-in bulbs.

The color and intensity of LED lights are even customizable to suit your plants’ needs. You can adjust the light bandwidth of your LED setup and target the range where plants thrive. Most LED grow lights you can get nowadays come with a controller to change the color and bandwidth.

In addition to the light color customization, some have timers that can simulate day and night cycles.

Incandescent Lights

Incandescent lights are ideal for ferns, dracaenas, vines, and other low-light houseplants. The biggest problem with these lights is that they are wasteful. Incandescent bulbs have a poor lumens-to-watt ratio, resulting in the US implementing legislation in 2007 to phase out incandescent bulbs.

Most home gardeners use incandescent lights if they live in cold climate zones. The wasted heat that these lights generate helps manage an indoor garden’s temperature.

Fluorescent Lights

Fluorescent - plant light basics

When it comes to plants that require low to medium lighting, you can use fluorescent lights. They can also start vegetable seedlings and even grow them with the proper setup.

Fluorescent grow lights often come in T12, T8, and T5 sizes. The narrower the size of the bulb, the brighter it can shine. As for energy efficiency, fluorescents are more efficient than incandescent bulbs but less efficient than LED.

Fluorescent bulbs produce wide-spectrum lights, unlike incandescent bulbs with redder or yellower warm lights and white LED lights that have intense bluer lights.

Most house plants and herbs can benefit from fluorescent bulbs. You can even use this type of light in your indoor greenhouse.

Compact Fluorescent Lights


Full-sized fluorescent grow lights can take a lot of space and are not ideal for single houseplants. Instead, consider using compact fluorescent lamps.

They are cheaper and more compact. Therefore, you can place them in strategic locations to ensure the proper growth of your houseplants and orchids.


For extensive indoor gardens and plants, many gardeners swear by halides. This type of plant light can light bigger rooms. However, note that most halides grow lights have a 1000-watt rating.

Also, when using halides, make sure that you limit the amount of time they are on. Most plants love some amount of darkness as well. It is advisable to let them have at least six hours of rest away from a powerful halide light.

Plant Light Considerations

There are other considerations before you purchase your grow lights. Below is a quick list of the things you need to do before you buy grow lights:

  • Count the number of plants that will rely on your new plant light.
  • Think about how much space you want to illuminate.
  • Determine how close you can place the grow light to your plants.
  • Buy a single light first and test if it can support your plants’ growth.

Taking the above steps will allow you to purchase the right amount of appropriately sized bulbs.

Choosing the Best Plant Light Solution Leads to Growing the Best Plants

Knowing the best and appropriate setup for your indoor or greenhouse plants seems complex at first, but knowledge and experience can clear things up and make things simple in due time. Choosing the right type, quantity, and size of bulbs is crucial to ensure that your plants can thrive.

FAQ for Plant Light Basics

Yes, it is okay. However, there is a difference between the light that regular bulbs produce and the light that full-spectrum ones produce. Most regular bulbs are blue lights coated with chemicals to give off white light. They are not as efficient as actual full-spectrum lights when it comes to growing plants.

Red light helps plants bloom. Blue light helps plants grow. Plants mainly use these two light wavelengths to thrive. To be efficient, grow lights only produce these two colors. Red and blue lights, when combined, produce purple light.

Light spectrum often refers to the visible light people see. The Sun provides the Earth with full-spectrum light, which ranges from infrared to ultraviolet. Most plants require the red end of the spectrum and a bit of blue to grow.

A: Some plants can thrive with constant light. Also, seedlings can benefit from it. However, leaving the light on carries a lot of risk and concern.

First, plants need darkness to metabolize normally. They store energy when there is light, and they use it when it is dark. If you keep the lights on, they will stock up on energy, leading to abnormal growth.

Secondly, lights can cause your plants to overheat.

Thirdly, your grow lights can overheat, and this could result in a fire.

Yes, you can. Most grow light bulbs use the same voltage as a regular light bulb. However, note that some bulbs have different wattages. A lamp fixture with a thin power cord will heat up if you place a high-wattage bulb in it.

To be safe, choose the appropriate fixture for your grow light bulbs.


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