Are Grow Lights Necessary For Indoor Plants? Expert’s Advice

by Lee Safin

Sunlight is a great source for plants. Since you are growing plants indoors, you don’t have the accessibility of providing natural lights. That’s why you need to set up grow lights/ artificial lights.

Are grow lights necessary for indoor plants?

Yes, grow lights are essential for indoor plants to ensure their maximum growth. Every day you need to provide around 14 to 18 hours of lights. But they don’t need 24 hours lighting. Keep them out of lights for at least 6 hours every day.

Let’s learn about “Are grow lights necessary for indoor plants?” in more detail.

Are Grow Lights Necessary For Indoor Plants? Expert’s Advice
Are Grow Lights Necessary For Indoor Plants? Expert’s Advice

Are Grow Lights Necessary For Indoor Plants?

Indoor or outdoor? Which one do you prefer? Many of us prefer to grow plants indoors since we have complete control over the weather, and more importantly, pests can’t harm plants.

Indoor plants don’t have the accessibility to have direct sunlight. Using artificial or grow lights is the most convenient option you have.

Why Plants Need Lights?

The existence of plants involves the photosynthesis process. To run the photosynthesis process, plants need an adequate amount of light. Plants get energy by converting lights, oxygen, and water in this photosynthesis process. So, no light means no energy.

Though natural sunlight has no alternative, something is better than nothing. Having grow lights helps plants to support the photosynthesis process. Although the procedure is slower than the outside environment, it still helps plants to get energy.

Which Lights to Use?

Most household lights are not suitable to use for indoor plants. They are not designed appropriately to support indoor plants. Not only that, but traditional incandescent lights are also not perfect for using indoor plants. They don’t have enough power and efficiency to fulfill your plants’ requirements.

Warm or Cool lights?

Grow lights are avoidable in both warm and cool versions, which you can identify based on the number. A higher number means cooler. You want to pick grow lights based on your plants’ growth stage and the type of plants you are growing.

For example, you will need 6500 K-rated grow lights (cooler lights) for optimal foliage growth. On the other hand, some plants may need 3000K rated grow lights (warmer lights) to produce flowers and fruits.

Various Type Grow Lights

Light Types Capability Which Plants Need Them
Fluorescent Grow Lights Decent lights Houseplants, starting seeds
LED Grow Lights Greater light intensity Handful of plants
HID Grow Lights Extremely powerful Large indoor plantings

We are assuming you will grow a vast number of seeds. A decent lighting system is necessary to support all these tiny plants. So, what is your budget? As per your budget, you can go for an affordable option or a premium option.

Higher-priced grow lights have greater light intensity. It means you will need a few of them compared to low-priced grow lights. Perhaps the type of plants you want to grow may not need too many grow lights.

However, remember it is more of an expenditure that you will incur once rather than ongoing. There is no yearly expense other than changing bulbs.

Choosing to grow lights requires you first to find your plants’ needs and internal conditions. Also, you need to be careful it doesn’t become intense for your plants.

You want to ensure the light is neither too much nor too little for the indoor plants. What happens when your plants don’t receive a sufficient amount of lights? Here are the symptoms you will notice:

  • Fail to produce chlorophyll
  • Appears white or yellow instead of pale green
  • Thin and long stems
  • Large spaces on plants stems
  • Falling leaves
  • No flower buds for flower plants

Can You Start Plants Without Grow Lights?

Yes and No! It depends on plants type and environment. When you want to start plants with grow lights, keeping them outside during the daytime is necessary. You will either choose sunlight or grow lights. Plants fail to grow without lights.

Whether outdoor plants or indoor plants, they need adequate light to live everyday life. How many lights a plant need depends on their types and their growth stage.

For example, seedlings need a large amount of light in their early stage of life to make them strong and healthy.

According to most garden experts, once the sprouting procedure is completed, seedlings need a minimum of 12 hours of decent lights every day. Also, keeping them in 6-8 hours of darkness is necessary. Both environments are necessary for them. If you can ensure 16 to 18 hours of light, it is enough.

How Can I Grow Indoors Without Grow Lights?

How Can I Grow Indoors Without Grow Lights?
How Can I Grow Indoors Without Grow Lights?

When growing plants indoors, grow lights are necessary as sunlight can’t get inside. Without enough lights, the seed will become leggy, thin, and tall. So, what is the solution?

The best solution is to keep them outside in the daytime to get sufficient sunshine from the sun. Keeping them in a shade zone won’t help you achieve your objective. They need sunlight, so ensure it.

Since you have to move the plants in and out, set up a perfect spot to keep them at night. And bring them outside in the early morning to receive enough sunlight. Hence, they are getting both lights and darkness —which are essential for their growth.

However, you can keep them inside until they remain a seed. Seeds don’t need lights. You only have to bring them outside once the germination occurs. If you can’t keep them outside all day long, keep them as long as you can. The more sunlight they receive, the healthier they will become.

When the outdoor temperature reaches above 30 degrees, try to keep them outside as long as you can. The ideal range is 45 to 70 degrees during the daytime

Can I Just Use a Regular Light Bulb as a Grow Light?

Though some typical light bulbs may generate the particular light waves that are essential for plants. Most of them are effective. They are not designed in that way to fulfill plants’ growth requirements. They are only for lightening our home.

On the other hand, grow lights have different shapes, structures, designs, and functionality to assist plants for their maximum growth. They provide the optimal amount of energy plants need to grow.

Some grow lights are similar to regular lights, and we may think they are the same. But their functionality is not the same. After all, they are designed to fulfill different needs.

Where Should I Position My Grow Light?

Where Should I Position My Grow Light?
Where Should I Position My Grow Light?

Many people often set up grow lights under the plants or very close to them, just like a table lamp. Though they may look cool, they won’t be effective in supporting plant growth.

You have already seen how sunlight gives light to plants from above. Think it like this. If you can set up the grow lights from the upper position, it will be the best. The light can reach each part of the plants.

LEOTER Grow Light For Indoor Plants - Upgraded Version 80 LED Lamps With Full Spectrum & Red Blue Spectrum, 3/9/12H Timer, 10 Dimmable Level, Adjustable Gooseneck,3 Switch Modes
LEOTER Grow Light For Indoor Plants - Upgraded Version 80 LED Lamps With Full Spectrum & Red Blue Spectrum, 3/9/12H Timer, 10 Dimmable Level, Adjustable Gooseneck,3 Switch Modes

However, make sure nothing obstructs the light from reaching plants’ body parts. Keep them as close as possible without overdoing it. Setting up grow lights from the above position ensures a great follow of light. It gives a natural feeling too!

What Distance Should a Grow Light be From My Plants?

So, how close do you need to keep the grow lights? Keeping the grow light with a few feet is the ideal option.

The more closely you set up the light, the more intense the light will be. However, it also depends on your light type and how much power the light is.

First, you should keep the light a little bit away and gradually bring it closer to find out how your plants react. Keeping the lights too closer means you will get less coverage from the plants.

However, if you are growing only 1 or 2 plants, keeping the grow light as close as possible is a rule of thumb. But when growing several plants, consider keeping a few feet away. It helps you to cover several plants.

You may need to use several grow lights for more than average plants that a single grow light can cover. Alternatively, you can purchase more powerful grow lights with a high range of light intensity than regular grow lights. They will be expensive, though. Regardless of the light you choose, make sure they are long-lasting because you will use them for at least several years.

What Color Grow Light is Best?

Hytekgro LED Grow Light 45W Plant Lights Red Blue White Panel Growing Lamps For Indoor Plants Seedling Vegetable And Flower (2 Pack)
Hytekgro LED Grow Light 45W Plant Lights Red Blue White Panel Growing Lamps For Indoor Plants Seedling Vegetable And Flower (2 Pack)

Grow lights are available in several colors. Different color generates different waves to fulfill a particular plant growth requirement.

For example, plants like leafy, green growth will thrive best when using full-spectrum bulbs. They have a decent range. Choose the white one if possible. They look attractive.

Apart from that, you can choose red, blue, or even a combination of red and blue. The blue color is more appropriate for vegetative growth, while the red color is suitable for flowering plants.

Final Takeover

Setting up grow lights for indoor plants is essential if you want to ensure sufficient growth. Otherwise, they won’t grow appropriately and will look dull. We believe the answer to the question “Are grow lights necessary for indoor plants?” is clear from the above discussion.

Last update on 2023-01-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

About Lee Safin

Lee Safin was born near Sacramento, California on a prune growing farm. His parents were immigrants from Russia who had fled the Bolshevik Revolution. They were determined to give their children a better life than they had known. Education was the key for Lee and his siblings, so they could make their own way in the world. Lee attended five universities, where he studied plant sciences and soil technologies. He also has many years of experience in the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a commercial fertilizer formulator.

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