Panicking About Indoor Grow Lights

Welcome, plant lover! You must be here desperately looking for all the info to help keep your precious houseplants in a low-sun environment. Don’t worry. We’ve compiled everything you need to know about using growth lights indoors (as well as the best lights for you to buy) to help your plants begin to thrive.

When to Use Grow Lights for Indoor Plants

You may be desperate to help your plants thrive indoors, but is lighting really your issue? One instance in which grow lights would really help your indoor plants is if winters are harsh where you live.

If the hours of daylight are substantially shorter in the winter than the other seasons, grow lights could help replace the hours of light your plants are missing in the colder, darker months.

Another reason to consider using indoor grow lights is when you live in a home with really low artificial light. Are all your windows on the north and south sides of your building? Do you have really small windows? Do you have no light at all? All of these instances would warrant the use of some artificial lighting to give your indoor plants a little help with the process of photosynthesis.

You may have winters in which the light really isn’t that much less than other times of the year. You may have great natural lighting in your home! All of that still may not be enough if you’ve got high-sunlight plants. Some plants just need more light! It’s okay to supplement with grow lights.

Fluorescent Grow Lights 

Fluorescent Grow Lights 

T5, T8, and T12 Tube Lights, as well as CFL lights (compact fluorescent lamps – you know, the bulbs that look like spirals?), are all examples of fluorescent grow lights! If you’re just getting into artificial lighting and want to test it out before making a large investment, fluorescent lighting is the perfect place to start!

If you’ve only got a small area of plant life that needs a little more light, get a CFL or two and try it out! If you have a few more than that, it may be wise to install a tube light!

Fluorescent lights are dim enough that they can’t burn your plants up, so you can experiment with how close your lights need to be for your indoor plants to thrive! Something to note about fluorescent grow lights is that they are pretty weak, so some of your flowering plants may not bloom if this is all the light they’re getting. However, for the price, you can’t beat it.

LED Grow Lights

LED stands for “light-emitting diode”, but you don’t need to understand what that means to understand that this type of lighting is wonderful for your indoor plants!

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Like fluorescents, LED lights won’t burn your plants. They’re also the most energy-efficient grow light out there, which is probably why they’re the most popular choice. Their efficiency makes them last a very long time, which means they really are a great investment, even though they’re a little pricier on the front end.

HID Grow Lights

HID (High-Intensity Discharge) Grow Lights are the expert’s indoor plant grow light. These types of lights are very powerful and very bright. The average house plant collector should never need a light this strong, but hey… you do you. (Seriously though, your pathos and your monstera are going to be just fine without an HID grow light setup.)

Comparing the 3 Types of Lights

It can be tough to know which lighting option to choose for your indoor plant space! Here’s a comparison chart for the three most common types of indoor grow lights.

Price Range:$$$$$$$$$
Light Strength:LowModerateStrong
Energy Efficiency:LowStrongModerate
Heat Production:LowLowHigh

Choose A Bulb That Looks Like Sunlight

Not just any lightbulb is going to really help your plant in its photosynthesis process. Think of it this way, the light from the sun emits wavelengths that cover a very wide spectrum of frequencies, or colors. Lightbulbs function the same way!

The more full-spectrum of a light you can find, the happier your plants will be. Sure, you could wander the store and spend hours trying to make sense of the Kelvin and CRI numbers on dozens of boxes… or, you could simply look for boxes that say “sunlight”, “daylight”, or “natural light” on them! These types of bulbs will make for the best grow lights because they’ll emit a fuller spectrum.

Imitate the Sun’s Natural Timing

No matter what the season is, your plants crave a good 12 to 16 of sunlight in each twenty-four-hour period! If you decide to use grow lights to supplement your indoor garden, you want to provide as close to that as possible, on a very consistent basis. There are even timers out there to help you do it!

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For starters, just set reminders on your phone to turn your indoor grow lights on and off at appropriate times.

Place Your Lights so Your Plants Get the Most Out of Them

Place Your Lights so Your Plants Get the Most Out of Them

Stringing up some lights in the general vicinity of your indoor plants just won’t do. You need to be strategic when setting up your grow lights! Think about how the sun moves across the sky throughout the day, providing every single part of the plant with tons of light! You want to assess your plants, and place enough lights in enough places that your plants are fully bathed in grow lights.

Keep in mind the distance your lights are from your plants as well. Pay attention to your plants in the first days after installing new lights. Are they still showing signs of too little light? Move your lights closer.

Are they getting a little crispy? Maybe back your lights up a bit. It may take some trial and error, but making an effort to help your plants be well-lit will pay off in the long run!

Bulbs or Fixtures? Which Grow Light is Right for You?

Grow Light Bulbs of any kind are usually going to be a more cost-efficient method to add some extra light to your space. These types of lights are often easier to install as well! Not to mention, when you have a bulb go out, it’s easier to replace. Bulbs are a good choice for beginners, for those with only a few plants that need some light, and for those with extremely small spaces!

Grow Light Fixtures can be a little more costly, as they’re designed to provide a more even and thorough lighting experience for your indoor plants! They can be tricky to install because there are usually multiple mounting points on the fixture, but the quality of light they provide is worth it. If you’ve got a bunch of plants to light, a big space, and a little wiggle room in the budget, fixtures are definitely the way to go!

Now that you’ve got all the info on grow lights, we hope you feel confident to pick the right ones for your space! Trust us, your plants are going to thank you for the extra boost.