Sunlight is one of the most essential elements required for plant growth. However, it is not possible to have abundant sunlight around the year. Also, there are places that receive little sunlight throughout the year. Even houseplants do not grow properly in the absence of direct sunlight. Grow lights are a great way of ensuring sufficient light for your indoor plants.
To ensure a normal and healthy growth of plants, it is a must that they receive a desired amount of light. Artificial lighting is one way of substituting the natural light. A special grow light for indoor plants can imitate the sunlight in terms of spectrum and intensity, thereby ensuring healthy growth of plants. Let us understand the various parameters of grow lights and their types.
Parameters and Requirements
Sunlight consists of a broad spectrum of colors, ranging from red to violet. Moreover, the intensity of these colors also differs a lot. All plants do not require same color and intensity of light for their growth. Plants absorb only the desired amount of sunlight from the available spectrum. Thus, while choosing grow lights, you should understand the specific light requirements of plants you wish to grow.
As mentioned above, sunlight is composed of broad color spectrum. Red and violet colors are required the most for the process of photosynthesis. Red color stimulates vegetative growth and flowering, whereas violet color is responsible for plant growth. Thus, violet is the most crucial light color for stocky seedlings and growing foliage.
If the plants receive too much of any of these lights, it can affect their normal growth. For instance, too much of red light can make plant tall and spindly. Hence, it is a must that you know what is the right light color for your particular vegetation.
The correct wattage of grow light bulb is equally important for promoting healthy growth of plants. Light intensity can be adjusted by choosing a correct wattage of bulb and placing the plant at right distance from the light source. For example, begonias and African violets grow well when placed at about 12” from a 40W bulb, but non flowering plants like philodendrons can be placed at farther distance (about 36”). Some flowering plants like orchids need a very high intensity light for growth.
Sunlight is not available throughout the day, all around the year. So, plants adjust their growth mechanism to utilize the maximum amount of sunlight when available. For the rest of the time, plants can do without sunlight. Due to this predisposition, you cannot subject plants to continuous exposure to artificial light. You need to know the right duration of light to be provided to a particular plant species. Plants need about 8 to 18 hours of light, depending upon their individual requirements.
Types of Grow Lights
Incandescent lights which are the common source of home lighting can also be used as grow lights for indoor plants. These light sources have a good wavelength of red light but poor wavelength of blue light. Fluorescent lights are very cheap and give about 3 times of light for the same energy input as the incandescent light. You may choose cool light (blue, yellow, green) or warm light (red, orange), depending upon the individual requirement of your plant species.
Full spectrum fluorescent lights are also available which have a perfect balance of cool and warm lights. High intensity discharge lamps are yet another type of grow light which are extremely expensive. They are mostly used for commercial vegetation by professional horticulturists. There are several types of high intensity discharge lamps available, varying in light color and intensity.
You can grow seasonal flowers and vegetables round the year by using grow lights. If you are a commercial horticulturist, your business need not get affected due to bad light or weather. You can easily adjust the light settings to provide your plants with ample light.