Why Use a Grow Light?
The main purpose of grow lights is to provide strong light to your seedlings from above, similar to the sun’s light. They are especially helpful when you don’t have a window that lets in a good amount of light each day. The bonus? You can set them up in any area of your house, including the basement or a closet!
With just sunlight alone, seedlings tend to get leggy and weak. They grow tall but can’t support themselves, so they end up flopping over. Grow lights are beneficial to the seed starting process, as they promote rapid growth and stronger plants. Other advantages include more consistent germination rates and higher survival rates.
While they are an investment, grow lights will eventually pay for themselves by helping produce healthier plants. In the long run, you’ll save money with a grow light with less waste of seeds, dirt and your time.
How to Use
To get the most out of your grow light, position it directly above your growing area, imitating the sun’s light. What you grow and the type of light you choose determines how far away your light should be from the growing area. As the plants grow, they need more vertical space, so be sure your equipment is height-adjustable. Indoor seed starting also requires more light than outdoor gardens, so keep your grow light on for 14-18 hours per day, making sure to give your seedlings at least 6 hours of darkness each day.
Vegetables, fruits and flowers can all benefit from grow lights while starting seeds indoors. Many require a longer growing season, so getting a head start is key. Some plants, like root vegetables should not be started indoors, as they tend to grow better in outdoor gardens once it warms up.
The following are great for seed starting:
- Most varieties of flowers
Types of Grow Lights
Many types of grow light bulbs exist, but the main two are fluorescent and LED. Both have their own set of benefits, depending on your growing needs.
Fluorescent Grow Light
This type of light has different qualities than your standard fluorescent bulb, which can be found in lamps or ceiling light fixtures in your home.
Fluorescent grow lights are known as T5 lights, which are stronger than standard bulbs and can be placed slightly further away. T5 bulbs have a long, narrow look and have a higher light intensity. If you choose to use this type of grow light, look for full-spectrum grow bulbs.
If the long fluorescent lights aren’t what you are looking for or you have a smaller growing area, CFLs will work as well.
LED Grow Light
LED grow lights tend to be more expensive than fluorescent bulbs, but use about half the amount of electricity. Regular LED bulbs found at most department stores don’t work great for plant growing. Instead, look for specialty LED grow light bulbs. Some benefits to LED grow lights include longer life, better for larger growing areas, more light intensity per square foot and they produce less heat compared to other bulbs.
Dayspot Bulb - Compact fluorescent bulb equal to 100W bulb. Fits any fixture and reduces energy costs.
T5 Light with Timer - Built-in timer to set 12hr on/12hr off or 18hr on / 6hr off. Lightweight construction includes 6400K full-spectrum light
Daylight Grow Bulb LED- Red and blue light up to 100W equivalent. Fits standard light sockets.
Miracle LED Daylight Blue Grow Light- High quality with lower cost. Equivalent to 100W.
Ultra Grow Light LED- Full-spectrum light that lasts up to 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs. Produces little heat. Eco-friendly and durable. Lasts up to 30,000 hours.