Do your indoor plants need a grow light? Most indoor plants are hardy enough to be grown out of their natural environment and survive in our homes. But sometimes they’ll need some extra love to thrive!
There’s many benefits of giving your plants the added energy received from grow lights. If you’ve never considered one, in this post I’ll explain a little about how grow lights work. I’ll explain why I think LED grow lights are the best choice. If you’re already a grow-light pro and are just after my best LED grow lights recommendations, skip down to the bottom section.
How Do Grow Lights Work?
As we all know, plants need sunlight to grow. They use sunlight in a process called photosynthesis, which allows them to produce energy for growth. A plant’s growth is inhibited when a plant doesn’t get enough sunlight. A grow light can enable a plant to get enough light for maximum growth.
Grow lights give off specific lightwaves in the light spectrum that are needed for plant growth. But not all colours and wavelengths in the light spectrum are used by plants. Which is why grow lights are specifically designed to give your plant the light waves it needs! Meanwhile the plant won’t have to waste energy filtering out the wavelengths it doesn’t use.
Why Use a Grow Light?
There’s multiple reasons why your indoor plants could benefit from a grow light. Here’s a few of the common ones you may or may not have thought about…
House doesn’t have enough light:
Maybe your indoor plants aren’t growing? This could be the result of a lack of sunlight. While our homes may appear bright to our human eyes, there can still be a lack of light that a plant needs to be healthy! Generally all indoor plants should be placed within a couple of feet of a window to get the required light. If this isn’t possible, or if you’ve got your plants located elsewhere at home, they may benefit from an extra light source. Keep in mind that plants naturally live outdoors in high light levels, so we need to mimic their natural environment as much as possible to keep them healthy indoors.
Lack of light in Winter:
During winter, sunlight levels decrease for a few reasons. There’s the decreased hours of light in the day; less direct sun because of the angle of the earth; and less sun due to weather. Indoor plants may benefit from a boost in light over the winter months to help them get through the darker seasons. Grow lights can help keep your plants healthier if they struggle over winter. They may even help them to grow in the cooler seasons when they’d normally be dormant.
Tropical houseplants such as fiddle leaf figs, ficus varieties, prayer plants etc can especially benefit from the extra light provided by grow lights as these plants are naturally used to large amounts of light.
Your plants just aren’t growing:
If your indoor plants appear healthy but just don’t seem to be putting out any new growth, a lack of light may be the issue. Without enough energy from the sun, plants may not be able to sprout new growth, but still appearing healthy. Supplementing a grow light can help give indoor plants an energy boost. For some other reasons your indoor plant might not be growing, see this post.
Grow lights are commonly used to grow seedlings or indoor herbs, and even fussy plants such as orchids. This way the light can be controlled and moderated. Herbs and fruits that normally have to be planted at a certain time of year can be grown anytime when using a grow light properly.
If you’re interested in finding out some of the symptoms of lack of light in plants, read these 8 Signs your Houseplants Need More Light.
Why use LED Grow Lights?
Halogen lights still can give a full spectrum of light, but both halogen and incandescents give off a lot of heat. This can be a danger to burning your plants. LED lights give off almost no heat, making them a safer option.
To be effective, grow lights need to be on for 10-16 hours in the day, making LEDs a whole lot more efficient and energy saving than any other choice.
Fluorescent lights have a better energy consumption and less heat output when compared to halogens and incandescents. However they still don’t compare to the efficiency, low heat, lifespan and technology of LED grow lights.
Using the latest technology, LEDs can combine different wavelengths of the light spectrum to maximise particular growth in plants. That might be specifically for photosynthesis, growing seedlings or fruiting and flowering.
Can I use any light or LED Globe?
While normal household lights are designed to brighten our homes, grow lights are specifically designed with the lightwaves that plants need from the spectrum. Full spectrum grow lights are handy for general plant growth such as for indoor plants, while certain colour grow lights help in different stages of a plant’s growth. For example, seedlings benefit from blue light, while for fruiting and flowering, red light is best.
LED Grow lights also protect the plant from burning as the bulb stays cool. Regular bulbs will often get hot. LED grow lights maximise the light spectrums used by the plant and the plant doesn’t have to filter the other spectrums out.
How to Use your Grow Light
Any grow light you buy should come with specific directions on how to use. In general, grow lights should be placed above the plant (to mimic the sun). Plants generally lean and grow towards the light source, so positioning the light above the plant will stop any unusual growth.
As LED grow lights have a low heat output, they can be placed closer to your plants. The top of the plant should be at least 6 inches away from the light source. If you have a large area, you may need to use multiple grow lights to fully cover the area.
Keep in mind that plants still need darkness to grow. While plants photosynthesise during the day, they need at least 8 hours of darkness to continue the process called respiration, where they break this energy down further. Aim to give your plants a rest by having at least 8 hours at night where the lights aren’t on.
BEST LED Grow Lights:
The Best LED Grow Lights for your plant will partly depend on how you’d like your plants to use the light. Are you growing seeds, looking for flowers or just general leafy growth? A full-spectrum grow light is best if you’re unsure, would like an all-rounder grow light, or are using it for indoor plants. They can be beneficial for all types of growth.
You also may want to opt for a full-spectrum white LED grow light if your grow light is going to be placed in a well-used area of your home. They’ll give you bright, white light, as opposed to blue or red grow lights that will give a coloured glow.
Here’s my roundup of the best LED grow lights, depending on what suits your situation:
LED grow light bulb:
Single LED grow light bulbs are a great option for a subtle addition to your home. They can be placed in any lamp or light fixture to help your plants grow while looking natural. If you’re just delving into the grow light world and are looking to test it out, this is a cheap option to start with.
Need a hanging fixture to put your new grow light bulb in? Try these pendants which can be hung at the needed level and turn your indoor plant collection into a well-lit feature.
Soltech grow lights:
For a sophisticated touch or for the more serious indoor plant person, check out the Soltech Aspect pendant grow lights as featured in the above image. They are a beautiful and powerful grow light and are my personal favourite!
You can also use my code dossier22 to get 15% off a Soltech Grow Light (giving you a saving of up to $30!).
Desk-style Grow Light:
For smaller plants, a desk-style light with a broader reach may suit. If you’re not a fan of the hue it gives off, try turning it on when you won’t be using the space.
Powerful Hanging Grow Light:
If you are after a powerful light and are more keenly interested in cultivating plants indoors, check out a hanging light like these. They’ll need to be hung at the required distance from your plant and while they may not be as aesthetic, are designed for maximum plant health with just the right ratio of LED colours your plant will use.
Use a light timer to automatically turn your grow lights on and off each day. That way you won’t even have to give it a second thought!
I hope these recommendations help you pick the best LED grow lights for your situation! They’re a great way to supplement artificial light for indoor plants and keep them happy & healthy.
If you have any questions on grow lights or indoor plants, feel free to ask me in the comments.
For more great plant tips, check out my other posts here.
This post contains affiliate links.
What’s the best option for shelves?
I have some lowlight bookshelves that are too far from windows for plants, as well as some even darker corner wall shelves.
I also have some more corner wall shelves that are between my NW and NE facing windows (northern hemisphere), that seem to not quite get enough sun (I think they shadow each other, plus my NE windows have a porch overhang directly outside of them).
Hey Tera, you could definitely implement any kind of grow light bulb with shelves by utilising something like a desk lamp or clip-on reading light! Soltech have a small-size bulb caled the Vita that might work. Unfortunately there’s limited strip-style grow lights for shelves but I think they might be working on something along those lines too.
Hi! I am moving my 6 ft tall fiddle leaf fig from a bright sunroom to an apartment that won’t be getting much of any natural light. Would the soltech light be enough light for him? He is also very wide and takes up a good bit of space. I will be heartbroken if i can’t take him with me. I’ve had him 4 years! Thanks!
Hey Sarah, I think the best bet would be to get one of the large aspect lights from Soltech if possible! They are powerful enough to sustain even large plants even with no other light sources.
Any tips on growing dawf bananas?
I don’t, sorry! Although if you are growing it indoors, it will need plenty of light in which case a grow light would be beneficial!
Thanks so much 🙂
Hi. Can i use led color grow lights on rubber plants and ficus audrey? It has 3 kinds of light warm white, white and red. Thanks. How many hours should i keep my grow light on during the day? 8hrs?
Hello! I have a very interesting question for you. I have a room at the back of my condo which gets NO natural light. I have set up various hydroponic units around my house, some in that area and I have veggies growing NO problem. For this room, I wanted to convert it into a “parlor” with house plants and some veggies as well, so I am looking to set up some mobile units with grow lights as well as some floor stand lights with a spot application. Basically I am going to have to light the room as if it was daylight. Do you think it’s possible?
Hey Melissa, I’m sure its definitely possible! Just as veggies can be grown only with artificial lights, the same can happen with plants. You may just need some trial and error on how many grow lights you’ll need depending on how the plants respond to them 🙂
Where would be the best place to purchase a full spectrum grow light in Australia? Struggling to find any options!
It’s tough isn’t it!! I used to stock them before covid because of this reason (unfortunately I had to close the store). Soltech Solutions ship to Aus and their lights are beautiful & powerful. Other than that, I know Ikea had a plant light bulb but it is more often than not, sold out!
I have a table lamp with a grow bulb sitting on a console table next to my fiddle. Do you think that will do the trick or is it def not ideal since it’s next to as opposed to over head? The area would look strange with a floor lamp. This tree gives me stress! 😁
Hey! this post on using grow lights might help – generally its best if the bulb is above them and within a couple feet to simulate sunlight. If the bulb is covered by a shade it would drastically reduce the effect and I don’t think it would be helping the plant unfortunately!
Hi! Do you have any recommendations for attractive options for grow light floor lamps? Also, don’t forget about under-cabinet and under-shelf lighting! There are a lot of options for screw-in or stick on strips of grow lights to go underneath your shelves or cabinets where the light has a harder time reaching 🙂
Hey Lauren, if you’re using a grow light bulb you can really choose any style of floor lamp you like to use it in 🙂 Gardeners.com also have a specific floor-lamp style grow light.
Just wondering if you have any suggestions for what/where to buy grow lights in Australia?
The ones on amazon don’t ship to Aus 😔
Hi I just purchased two fiddle leaffig trees for my apartment but they get minimum sun where I have them located the leafs are about 4 inches away from the ceilwing I also bought two grow led from Walmart how should I place them on the ceiling? Or on the wall I also have a peace Lilly plant are they save around UV light
Hi there, it really is best to place grow lights above plants to mimic the sun. They do need to be at least a foot away from the plant so it might pay to see if there’s another location that works better for your Fiddle Leafs? Grow lights can help with light although if your Fiddle Leafs are very large you may find they still need moderate sun light too.
If you’ve purchased the bulb type, they can generally be fitted into any lamp or light fixture that can work with the light requirements for the plant! Grow lights can be used on any type of plant so the peace lily should be fine 🙂
Where did you get that gold cage pendant that goes around the light? Thanks!
I found it on clearance actually! I’ve spotted a few similar ones on Amazon though 🙂
Hi Emily, I haven’t purchased FLF but planning to have one as well. My concern is about my rubber plant, I have tried to propagate it when I noticed that the 2 leaves at the bottom suddenly died. And the stem is turning brown as well. Did I make the right decision to cut my rubber plant and propagate before it will die? Thank you for your and sharing your tips.
Hi! If the stem is turning brown from the bottom up, then it’s normal for this to happen as the plant matures. As they mature they can also drop lower leaves. However if it’s still a small plant this could also be due to not enough light or possibly too much water. I don’t think your rubber plant will be dying but nevertheless now you can have two with the cutting you’re propagating 🙂
I have a bird of paradise, unfortunately my house gets absolutely no sun so will a grow light help him stay super healthy. I only purchased him yesterday and have been researching these plants like crazy. What grow light would you suggest. Tia x
Hi Ashley, Bird of Paradise plants do need very bright (and if possible) direct sunlight to thrive, which can make them tricky to keep indoors if you don’t have a very bright space! Grow lights can of course help supplement light – whether it is enough for your plant will depend on a bunch of different factors, such as how bright your space is and how big the plant is. For all indoor plants, a full spectrum grow light is best as the goal is foliage growth over fruiting or flowering. All the best!
Very interesting, good job and thanks for sharing such a good blog.
Thank you! Glad it was helpful!
Are grow lights are safe for plants that require only indirect light, or will it burn them the way direct sunlight does?
Hey Natasha, yes they are safe! Most indoor plants are shade lovers, and grow lights can supplement light for plants generally without much risk of burning. There’s a slight chance that grow lights can burn plants, but this is mostly if they’re positioned too closely to the plant or are extremely powerful (like commercial) grow lights.
Hi Samantha, I am wanting to have more decorative Grow lights. Wondering if I can use a grow bulb in a regular hanging lamp, floor lamp etc. I assume it should be metal as well so it’s not a fire hazzord?
Hi Mary, it’s fine to use a grow light bulb in a standard fixture. LED lights shouldn’t give out much heat so any decorative lamp should be up to standard!
Hey, I was wondering if it was okay to use a led light that gives the option of using red and blue light at the same time for my fiddle leaf fig tree. My tree is about 2 feet tall and just doesn’t get enough light during the day in my east facing window.
Hi! As long as it’s a grow light (rather than a household light), it should help! I would probably recommend full spectrum (generally white) bulbs over coloured ones, as different colours are for specific types of growth. So while it should help, a red-blue light still may not necessarily give the plant all the light colours it needs for growth. I think generally red-blue lights are used with seedlings and red is helpful for fruiting and flowering. 🙂
Hi, Emily , i love thr fiddle fig big time . I have two that i purchased over a year ago . They are so easy to take care of . I have a cluster of plants encluding my FF in my home with a full spectrum grow light and its perfect . Love reading all the materials on your post😊
Hey Amber, thanks for your feedback 🙂 I agree, Fiddle Leaf Figs are such a great indoor plant!
What wattage do you recommend for a FLF? I purchased 15watt LED bulbs, but looks like the light meter only gets to 600 if I’m less than 12” away…should I be using a 40w bulb instead? Or do lower leaves getting 100-200 light readings okay as long as the top branches get 600?
Hey Farrah, wattage actually refers to the amount of electrical energy a light is using, which isn’t really relevant when it comes to grow lights! LED lights are very energy efficient, so they appear to have low wattage. A better measurement to look out for is kelvin. Full spectrum Grow lights should be at least 3000 kelvin to be effective. Is the light you bought specifically a grow light, or just an LED bulb? While some household lights *may* be in the right kelvin range, its best to get a specific grow light to make sure your plant is getting the wavelengths it needs for growth.
There’s no specific grow light required for FLFs – however a full spectrum (white) grow light is best as they don’t need specific colored light for flowering or fruiting.
I’m not sure what light meter you’re using or how it compares to sunlight but that does sound low. It’s natural for lower leaves to receive less light (just like in nature).
Whatever grow light you choose should come with specific directions for how close to place it to your plant etc, depending on how powerful it is. Hope that helps! The links in this post lead to some good grow light options, depending on what style you’re after! 🙂
Where did you get the geometric grow light pendant used in all your photos?
Hi! The pendant is from Bunnings in Australia but is a couple years old now. You can use a grow light bulb in any normal pendant or fixture you like though, which makes it easier to blend in to your style or decor 🙂
Thanks for the informative post! We recently moved, and as we anticipated, our fiddle leaf fig is going through some shock. We’ve placed her in an east-facing window with filtered light but I worry that might not be enough light for her.
Would clip-on grow lights at the bottom of a planter help supplant light? (Unfortunately, we can’t hang an overhead light…)
Hey Samantha, so glad the info is helpful! 🙂 Yes, FLFs definitely don’t like being moved to a spot with less light than they’re used to… I think it would partly depend on how big your FLF is, as grow lights do need to be within around a 6 inch distance from the leaves.
Overhead is best as it mimics the sun and plants naturally lean towards the light source. You could try adding a grow bulb to a floor lamp or table lamp if that’s easier than hanging one. Or is there anything nearby you could clip the light onto that would be higher? If you can’t do these options, I’m sure adding one at the planter level would still be better than not having one. FLFs love all the light they can get! 🙂
I have a flu that is 4’ tall and single stalk. I would like to have it branch out. What is the best way to get this accomplished
Hey Ron, pruning is definitely the easiest way to get FLFs branching. Choose the height where you’d like your FLF to branch and prune on an angle, just above a leaf. You may be able to see small bumps where a leaf meets the trunk – these are dormant buds and should activate into new branches. I think its best to prune in a spot where you can identify multiple close buds or there are leaves close together.
Make sure you prune during the growing season for best results!