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Guide to the Best LED Grow Lights

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.

Guide to the best LED grow lights | Dossier Blog

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.

Ficus rubber plant with grow light | Dossier Blog

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.

New growth:

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, 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 around 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.

Grape Ivy under a plant LED grow light | Dossier Blog

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 growth? A full-spectrum grow light is best if you’re unsure or would just like an all-rounder grow light. 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 this is what you’re after, choose the white full spectrum globe. You can also get individual globe colours if you’re after a specific type of growth. They are a great low cost option.

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.

Dossier Blog Full-Spectrum white LED Grow Lights

Because grow lights can be a little confusing (and hard to find nice aesthetic choices), I’ve recently stocked my own in the Dossier Blog Store! These full spectrum bulbs can be placed into any e27 light fitting and I love the daylight-white colour that doesn’t look like I’m hosting a disco in the living room (haha).

Soltech grow lights:

For a sophisticated touch, check out these soltech grow lights. They are a beautiful minimalistic light but are a little pricier.

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:

For serious use, 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.

Guide to the best LED grow lights for indoor plants such as Fiddle Leaf Figs | Dossier Blog

 

 

 

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8 Comments. Leave new

  • 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?

    Reply
    • 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! 🙂

      Reply
  • Where did you get the geometric grow light pendant used in all your photos?

    Reply
    • 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 🙂

      Reply
  • Hi, Emily,

    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…)

    Reply
    • 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! 🙂

      Reply
  • 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

    Reply
    • 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!

      Reply

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