Which table lamps (lights) are suitable for growing plants?

Which table lamps (lights) are suitable for growing plants?

If you are fond of gardening and do not have enough space outside for the plants to grow, do not worry, you can still grow them inside your house. You can cultivate plants indoors at any time in the year. The perk of growing plants indoors is that your plant will never catch the pest, and you have full control over the climate of the plant.

The best lighting for growing indoor plants include:

  • LED lights
  • Incandescent Lights
  • Compact Fluorescent Lights
  • Halide lights

Plants, whether grown outside or inside the house, they need light to germinate. Along with other factors like water, soil, and other nutrients, light is vital for the plants. Light is necessary for the plants to synthesize their food by the process of photosynthesis.

The conventional lighting system of our houses does not provide the full spectrum of light, so a particular lighting system in the form of grow lights is necessary. Sometimes your home is dark enough that the growth of indoor plants may suffer. Without sufficient light, the growth of plants may suffer.

Indoor lighting - Lamp On The Table
Indoor lighting – Lamp On The Table

Its leaves may wilt out or start looking pale. For a seed to burst out, an intense amount of light is required, and afterward, when it starts blooming and growing, low intensity of light can work.

In this article, suitable lights that are used for growing indoor plants will be discussed. These grow lights are the substitute for natural sunlight. The intensity of these lights is controllable.

Factors affecting the Choice of a Grow Light

The following questions can help you choose the best grow light according to your need.

  • You are going to grow which type of plants?
  • Will you grow the plants in spring only or throughout the year?
  • What maximum height will the plant attain?
  • Where would the light be placed?
  • Will the light be mobile or fixed in a place?

While choosing the correct light, different factors are taken into account.

Color of light

Sunlight is a complete spectrum of light, i.e., it is made up of seven colors, which are Red, orange, yellow, indigo, violet, blue, and green. These seven colors join to form the white light. The plants growing inside the room also need this full spectrum of light to grow. This is provided by full-spectrum bulbs. These bulbs produce both warm and cool lights similar to that of the natural solar spectrum of light.

Intensity of light

The correct strength of light is necessary for the growth of plants. The intensity of light is determined by two factors, first how close is the plant to light and secondly the brightness of the bulb. Succulent plants and those that grow in dry and sunny habitats need a higher intensity of light as compared to those of the forest’s plants.

Some indoor flowering plants, e.g., African violets, can grow well at a distance of 12 inches from the spectrum bulb while some foliages can grow well up to a length of 36 inches. Many vegetable and flowering plants show good growth at a distance of 36 inches from the source of light. These plants need this much intensity to produce fruits and flowers, respectively.

Duration of light

Irrespective of the type, a plant does not require light all the time. Plants have light and dark cycles. In the presence of light, they prepare food, while in the dark plants respire. This balance between the presence and absence of light is necessary for the dynamic growth of a plant. For indoor plants, this duration of light is measured with a built-in power strip inside the light source. Depending upon the period of light used by the plants, they are of three types.

Short day plants

These plants can grow if the light is provided to them for 12 hours or less. Light duration for 12 hours is required by these plants to produce flowers and buds; otherwise, light exposure lesser than this is also fine. Chrysanthemum is a short-day plant.

Long-day plants

These plants require light for 14 to 18 hours daily. Most of the vegetable plants are long-day plants. When these long-day plants do not get enough light, they can get pale and eventually die out.

Day-neutral plants

These plants require light for 8 to 12 hours a day. Foliage plants are day-neutral plants.

Best lamps(lights) for plants

It is not necessary that plants require light all the time for their growth; rather, they require a period of darkness too. The appropriate intensity of light for a period of 12 to 18 hours in a day is necessary for the optimum growth of the plant.

Different types of lights are available for the plants. One can choose from them according to the needs and type of plant grown.

LED Lights

LED is the abbreviation for the light-emitting diode. These days the most common light used for the plants is LED. As compared to the brightness, the little amount of heat is produced by these lamps. LED lights come in a wide range of options when to be used for growing plants.

Most common are stand-alone, clip alone, desktop fixtures, high-intensity greenhouse lights, and screw-in replacement bulbs. Usually, LED lights will give you a full spectrum of light, but a light of specific wavelength can also be selected depending upon the type of plant.

In addition to this, some LED lights give the different intensity of light at different timings in a day while some may be operated with mobile technology, and these LED lights can be controlled with a smartphone.

Incandescent Lights

It is an electric light having a filament that is heated, and light is produced. These lights are good for those plants which need a low intensity of the light to grow—e.g., ferns and vines. For the plants that require more light to grow, these lights are useless for them, e.g., desert plants like cactus and succulents. In these lights, only 10 percent of energy is in the form of light energy, while 90 percent is dissipated as heat.

Fluorescent lamp/light

It is a mercury vapor gas discharge lamp with low pressure. Visible light is produced by using the process of fluorescence. Those plants that require low or medium-light, fluorescent lights are an ideal choice for them. If you wish to grow vegetables indoors, then these lights are quite suitable. These lights come in different sizes like T5, T12, and T8 and types include long and tube-like bulbs and sizes like

Approximately 75 percent less energy is consumed by fluorescent bulbs when compared to the incandescent lights. The narrow shape of the bulb is thought to be more efficient and brighter due to the smaller surface area. For example, a 100 watt incandescent light bulb and a 25-watt fluorescent bulb emit light of equal intensity. As compared to a standard fluorescent light, T5 produces double the amount of light. They give temperatures up to 6500 Kelvin, and this is a very intense amount of light. They produce a full spectrum of light.

Indoor lighting - Lamp On The Table
Indoor lighting – Lamp On The Table

The degree of warmth and coldness of light is measured in Kelvin. Kelvin basically indicates the temperature of the color of light. It is the basic unit used to measure the light’s whiteness.

The higher degree of Kelvin indicates coldness, and the lamp appears blue in color; similarly, the lower degree of kelvin is indicated by red color, and the lamp appears to be warm.

The light bulbs between 4000 to 6000 Kelvin produce a full spectrum of light and are ideal for most of the growing plants. By using these lights, one can grow the plants indoors in the same way as grown naturally in the outdoors or in a greenhouse.

You can grow some culinary herbs and plants using fluorescent lights throughout the year. Some plants like succulents and cacti can show much better growth in these lights because they are light and heat-loving plants. For a seedling to germinate and grow, a T8 or T5 bulb should be placed 2 to 4 inches away from the plant. Similarly, for grown plants and herbs, the distance of one to two feet is fine from the light source.

Compact Fluorescent Lights

They are a good source of light for the growth of plants that require low light or to increase the length of the day, and they produce an extra amount of light. Less heat is produced by Compact Fluorescent lights as compared to the fluorescent and incandescent bulbs. These bulbs produce a lesser intensity of light as compared to sunlight, so more than one lamp is needed to produce enough intensity of light required by a growing plant.


For larger plants that are grown in larger spaces, halides are used to provide light as their light covers more distance and penetrates far away as compared to others. A smaller halide gives the same intensity of light and covers the same distance as done by a 1000 watt light. The same intensity can also be provided by a T5 fluorescent system.

There are two types of Halide bulbs. One is the high-pressure sodium bulbs (HPS), and the other is metal halide (MH) bulbs. For flowering, when a low spectrum of light is required, HPS is the ideal choice. On the contrary, to support the vegetative growth of the plant when a high spectrum of light is needed, metal halide bulbs are used. These two bulbs are used side by side for a plant as it has both the vegetative and flowering phases during its life cycle. Each of these bulbs is fixed individually.

Which Color of Light is Best for Growing a Plant?

The spectrum of sunlight consists of seven colors. All these colors are not necessary for the growth of plants. The process of photosynthesis, chlorophyll absorption, and plant growth occurs at the range of 400 to 520 nanometers. This range of wavelength indicates violet-blue light. Similarly for the process of budding and flowering, red light is necessary, this wavelength lies within the range of 610 to 720 nanometers on the light spectrum

The purpose of these grows lights is to provide a spectrum of light that is a key element for photosynthesis. This process of photosynthesis is directly linked to the growth of plants. Make sure that before buying a grow light, check out what range of color spectrum it gives.

Those lights that provide a full range of spectrum are ideal to buy for household purposes.

How Long Should the Grow Lights Be Left on?

Plants usually do not need light all the time for 24 hours. Light for about 12 to 16 hours is needed by some flowering and vegetative plants. Flowering plants usually need light for 16 hours a day. So a period of darkness for about 6 to 8 hours should be provided to the plants.

The dark and light period goes side by side. In the day time, during the presence of light, plants prepare food and energy through the process of photosynthesis.

However, during the dark, the plants break down this energy for the purpose of growth of the plant, and the process is called respiration. When you are going to grow plants, check the suggestions on the package of the seedlings that how much intensity and duration of light do they need during a day for optimum growth.

As the growth process of the plant has been initiated, it is necessary that the grow light fixture should also be raised accordingly to maintain a safe distance and to provide the optimum intensity of light.

This intensity of the light also depends upon the type of bulb used and its Wattage. If your bulb has more power then the required for the plant, then it should be kept at a distance; otherwise, it would burn the plant and vice versa.

Fluorescent Grow Light should be kept at a distance of 3 to 12 inches from the plant. While LED grows, light and halide bulbs should be kept at a distance of 12 to 24 inches and 24 to 60 inches, respectively.

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