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If you are planning on growing plants inside, you’ll need to give them plenty of light. This supports the photosynthesis process. So, what’s the difference between a grow light and regular light?
A grow light has been specifically designed to boost plant growth. It gives them the light spectrum they need to photosynthesize. A regular light can help, but the amount of usable light will be limited, which can slow plant growth.
Choosing the right light for your plants is essential. There are a few things you need to consider to make sure that you are getting the right one. Keep reading to learn more about the lights you can use and how to find the right one for you.
Purpose of a Grow Light
Let’s start by answering one of the most important questions. What do you need to use a grow light in the first place?
This is most common for indoor plants. In this case, you will be limited in the amount of natural light you are getting. This can turn into a big problem. Without this light, the plants can’t do the photosynthesis process.
As a result, they won’t be able to extract nutrients or water from the soil, and waste products will build up. Eventually, the plant will die.
There are a few other circumstances where using a grow light can prove very useful. These include:
- During the winter. During this time, the days will be shorter, so there will be less light. You can use a grow light to supplement the amount of sunlight you are getting.
- Helping seedlings grow strongly. A grow light can give seedlings the best start at life. You’ll be able to control the conditions, allowing them to develop strong roots.
- Growing plants that aren’t natural in your climate. If you don’t have a greenhouse, you can use a grow light to provide heat and artificial sunlight.
Can You Use Regular Lights to Grow Plants?
The type of light you use can determine how strong your plants will grow. Because of this, some people might want to avoid the expensive grow lights and stick to regular bulbs. But what’s the difference between a grow light and regular light?
As you can imagine, there are a few significant differences. Some of the most important include:
- Light intensity. If you are trying to grow plants, you’ll need to give them the right light intensity. This will boost the photosynthesis process. In this area, grow lights are best.
- Heat produced. Plants will need a little heat from the light. But too much and they risk getting burnt. Because of this, it’s common for an indoor growing rig to be paired with fans. A regular light will produce more heat, which can risk burning your plants.
- Light spectrum. As we’ll mention later, different plants will require a different light spectrum to thrive. Grow lights have more customizability, getting the spectrum that your plant needs and blocking out all other colors.
Though a grow light is preferable, a regular lightbulb can allow you to grow plants. However, this approach can come with a few caveats. First, you will need to use a lot of incandescing lightbulbs to provide enough light for the plant to grow properly. This can run the risk of burning the plants.
If you are using an LED bulb, though, the risks of overheating are less severe. These might be able to provide enough usable light for the plant to do a bit of photosynthesizing. But they won’t be enough to produce the strong growth that you have come to expect.
There are a few signs that your plants aren’t getting enough light. They can include:
- Smaller leaves. Since it will be harder to access nutrients from the soil, the plant will be able to dedicate less energy to growing. Because of this, you might find that the leaves are a fraction of what you might have expected.
- Growing towards the light. Sometimes, the plant might start to grow towards the light. This is most common when it is in a dark corner of the room. Some vine plants will have tendrils that stretch across the room and move towards the light source.
- Paler leaves. Often, the color will start to drain from your plants. They might turn a weak green or go yellow. The longer they are without light, the more pronounced this change will become.
- Lack of blooms. A plant’s blooms will take a lot of energy to create. If they aren’t getting nutrients from the soil, they might not make these blooms. If they do have a bloom, they will often be smaller than you would expect.
- Soil moisture levels remain constant. Sometimes, you will find that you don’t need to water the plants as often. This is because the plants won’t be photosynthesizing as much, so they will be drawing less water from the soil.
If you start to see any of these symptoms, it’s a sign that your current set-up isn’t working. You might need to invest in a grow light. Though they can be a slightly bigger expense than a regular LED light, you will be able to make sure your plants are getting the type of light they need.
Finding the Right Grow Light For You
If you have decided to use a grow light, it can be easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of choices you have. There are a few things that you will need to consider. These include:
- Choosing the right light spectrum. This will often be expressed as a particular color. The type of spectrum you need will depend on what stage of the cycle your plant is in. For example, if you want to encourage growth you should use a blue light. If you want to promote flowering, you should switch to red light. You can also choose a white light, which provides all spectrums and is a good all-round option.
- Amount of light needed. This will depend on the number of plants you plan on growing. You need to make sure that each one is getting the right amount of light.
- Type of bulb. You can get strip lights, that attach to the wall. But it’s usually best to stick to LED lights as they tend to be the easiest to work with.
Other Ways to Increase the Amount of Light Your Plants are Getting
While grow lights can be an important tool, there are a few other ways that you can increase the amount of light your plants are receiving. These include:
- Moving the plants closer to the window. This is the easiest solution, especially if you have small pot plants.
- Get the right orientation. You can also change the room that you are putting the plants in. If you are in the Northern Hemisphere, you should put it in a south-facing room. This is where the sunlight will be strongest. For those in the Southern Hemisphere, you will need to put them in a north-facing room.
- Use a mirror or light-colored wall to reflect the light. This isn’t the most effective way to get more light to your plants. But if they just need a little boost, this might be a good option.
- Choose the right plant species. If you are planning on keeping them indoors, you should choose a plant that is used to spending a lot of time in the shade.
If you are keeping plants indoors, the amount of natural light will be limited. Because of this, you will need to give them some additional light. You can use a regular light to do this. But it won’t provide the ideal spectrum for plant growth. If you start to see signs that they aren’t getting enough light, you’ll need to switch to a grow bulb.