What Kind of Lightbulb Do I Need To Grow Plants Indoors

If you don’t have a south facing window then you may be wondering “what kind of lightbulb do I need to grow plant indoors?” Lights are great for indoor plants as they offer your plant the light it needs but can’t get from sun.

Lights can also help you to grow plants you couldn’t grow otherwise outside of their usual growing season. So with lights you can have a longer supply of your favorite home grown herbs and vegetables. Lights are also a great for starting seeds inside before you place them in the outdoors.

There are many different types of grow lights available for sale. You can find anything from a simple bulb costing $5 to a high tech commercial lighting system. You can find incandescent bulbs, an entire grow light kit and much more.

Incandescent Lamps for Growing Plants Indoors

These lights are at the lower end of the price range when it comes to plant lights. You can get a 150 watt bulb for around $5. These bulbs are easy to find at your local mega store, hardware store or even a plant nursery. This is a great choice if you just have one small plant. If you will be doing a large indoor garden then you are better off with some other lighting solution for plants.

Fluorescent Lights for Growing Plants Indoors

With newer fluorescent grow lights, you don’t have to worry about large sizes and low output. The modern grow lights make use of fluorescence bulbs. These lights are not a good choice if you will be planting budding or flowering plants and are most useful for seeds and seedlings.

They are also a great light source for herbs and other indoor plants that don’t require too much lighting. These lights can be purchased in the garden section of your favorite store or at your hardware or home improvement store. Fluorescent bulbs will provide less heat than your incandescent bulbs, which can be a pro or a con depending on what you are planting.

High Intensity Discharge Lights for Plants Indoors

These are the brightest bulbs you will be able to get your hands on. These bulbs are also very energy efficient which is one of their biggest benefits. A 100 watt HID light can produce the same light that 50 40-watt fluorescent bulbs could. There are a number of different bulbs under the HID umbrella, which are

  • Metal Halide
  • High Pressure Sodium
  • Low Pressure Sodium
  • Mercury Vapor

The ones you need to look at are the first two; Metal Halide and High Pressure Sodium. Most of these will come in 400 and 1000 watts. With a 400-watt bulb you can provide adequate light for a garden that measures 4 x 4 feet or 15 square feet.

With a 100-watt bulb you can provide adequate light for a garden that measures 7 x 7 feet. A general rule of thumb is to use 25 watts per square foot of garden space.

Metal Halide HID Lighting

This type of bulb gives off a bluish-white light. It is a great choice for growing leafy plants and compact plants as well. If used as the primary light source for your plants one of these bulbs can last up to 10,000 hours. While the bulb will continue to give light past that time it will be giving off lower quality light so you will want to replace it as soon as possible.

These types of bulbs are also great when it comes to the amount of lumen they create. These bulbs will produce up to 125 lumens per watt. Compare this to a fluorescent bulb that only creates 39 lumens per watt and an incandescent bulb which will produce only 18 lumens per watt.

High Pressure Sodium Lighting

This type of bulb will give off a reddish-orange light and is most suitable for growing plants that flower or to be used as a supplemental light. These will last twice as long as metal halide bulbs and they produce a whopping 140 lumens per watt. Because they do not produce blue light if used as the only source of light for a plant you will find the plant will grow lanky and thin.

The Color of the Light Matters

In sunlight, plants get the full spectrum of light which includes every color of the rainbow. They need the full spectrum for the process of photosynthesis. It does seem that red and blue lights are most critical but whenever possible you want to choose full spectrum lights.

The Intensity of the Light Matters

The wattage of the bulbs will determine the intensity of the light. The intensity of the light determines the distance the light should be from the plant. Different plants require different intensities so again you have to make your choice based on what you will be planting.

Most flowers will do well with a light source 10 to 12 inches away. Foliage require the light to be around 36 inches away from the plant. Flowering plants, fruits and vegetables need high intensity so that they can produce their flowers and fruits.

No matter what grow lights you choose to purchase the needs of the plant always come first. Most vegetables and plants require up to 12 hours of light per day to grow at their best. If you are planting anything that will produce flowers or fruit then those will need up to 16 hours of light per day.

A set of grow lights can help you grow a number of different plants on the indoors. You can grow fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers inside with the right conditions.

You want to always give your plants rest. Plants respire in the dark and this is very important for them to grow properly. You will want to balance the amount of light and the amount of rest that your plants get to ensure they grow to their full potential.

The balance of rest time to active growth time affects many biological processes, including the growth rate, and the setting of buds and fruit. So what kind of light bulb do I need to grow plants indoors? – the one that is right for the plants you intend to plant.


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