For the indoor gardener, there are few (if any) matters more important than that of ensuring adequate and appropriate light is provided for the plants being grown. Indoor plant lighting has the potential to be a rather tricky subject to say the least – light duration, color and intensity will all have a marked effect on the speed and strength with which the plants will grow.
Of course, the biggest bonus of all when it comes to indoor gardening is the way in which complete control can be taken over growing conditions and ‘artificial’ seasons created by the gardener. In terms of getting it right, there’s a fair amount of specialist knowledge and information to get to grips with in order to ensure any indoor garden hits its peak potential. But at the same time, the vast majority of what matters most boils down to just five key considerations, which are as follows:
1 - Knowing the Needs of Your Plants
First and foremost, you can’t expect to give your plants exactly what they need without first understanding and acknowledging what it is they need. Every plant has its own unique requirements when it comes to light – some benefit from a solid 18 hours of light each day while others do better with six hours, for example. Technically speaking, every plant comes with its own in-built instruction book with regard to how to look after it – it’s up to you to follow these instructions to the letter.
2 - Bulb Intensity
The distance between the plant and the bulb combined with the bulb’s wattage will determine how intense the light provided is Unsurprisingly, plants native to cooler, shadier natural habitats will need less intense light that those native to drier, hotter and harsher climates. Intensity is a crucially important consideration and will play a key role in the development and life-cycle of your plants.
3 – Bulb Color
Getting to grips with the various ends of the color spectrum is also a matter of importance for the indoor gardener. Blue growing lights mimic the natural conditions of the spring and summer months, while red light replicates the kind of natural light more closely associated with the autumn. It is therefore a case of providing both as needed in accordance with whether the desired outcome is vigorous growth or flowering/reproduction.
4 – Bulb Types
There are so many different types of growing lights and bulbs on the market that it can be tricky to know where to start. Fluorescent bulbs make attractive options as they are cheap to buy, economical to run, do not produce a great deal of heat and emit plenty of light. High-intensity discharge (HID) lights - Metal halide lamps and High-pressure sodium lamps – are considerably more powerful than fluorescent bulbs, though tend to cost a fair amount more to buy in the first place. LED growing lights are beginning to make an impact on the market, though provide a quite limited color range and are rather on the expensive side. Incandescent bulbs are on the whole not suitable to be used for indoor growing purposes.
5 - Combining Sunlight with Artificial Plant Lights
Last but not least, never forget that the most valuable and effective lighting source of all is also 100% free of charge. If the plants you are growing naturally benefit from a good amount of natural sunlight each day, you may only have to think about giving them something of a top-up with a few supplementary hours of artificial light. So when and where possible, try to make the most of all available natural light which is not only the best light for your plants, but also the most environmentally friendly and cost effective.