The Best Lights for Growing Plants Indoors
- Fluorescent lighting has been a favorite among indoor gardeners for a long time. The lighting is safe, cool and inexpensive to generate. The bulbs have a much longer life than incandescents and are cheaper to operate per each kilowatt hour than the more traditional bulbs. They are also cool burning and therefore can be kept closer to plants than incandescent lights.
One thing to keep in mind when looking at fluorescent lights is that the bulbs may or may not provide a full spectrum of light. Gardeners can buy special bulbs for this purpose and or use two different tubes. A warm tube, producing more red light, and a cool tube, producing more blue light, provide for the full spectrum of light.
- Ordinary incandescent bulbs are not necessarily the best for growing plants indoors, but they often substitute for natural sunlight. They are more expensive than fluorescents to operate, produce mainly red light and do not last as long, but are generally cheaper to buy and easy to find. Despite their shortcomings, gardeners may choose to use them because of those last two qualities.
Some incandescent bulbs are especially made to foster growth in plants, and their globes are made with filters that provide a full spectrum of light. It is necessary to keep an incandescent higher than fluorescent bulbs because of the heat they put out. Therefore, most incandescent bulbs require the use of a reflective fixture for maximum effectiveness.
Light Emitting Diodes
- One of the newest options in the plant lighting market is the LED lights. These lights are becoming more popular as the price continues to come down and more people are seeing the benefits they possess. LED lights may still be more expensive than the other options in most cases, but they are becoming more competitive.
Advantages to LED lights include not only color replication but also cost to operate. Unlike incandescents and some fluorescents, which rely mainly on filters to produce light across the spectrum, LEDs produce light at precise bandwidths to more accurately portray the color spectrum. They also are cheap to run and give off almost no heat.
- Another option, and perhaps the cheapest, is to use natural sunlight through the use of a greenhouse, sunroom or windows. Placing plants near or in these locations may provide all the light they need. However, in the winter, some supplemental light may be necessary, especially for those trying to grow tropical species in northern climates, where the days are much shorter.