Growing plants indoors has long been a favorite pastime for many gardeners. There are the healthy benefits of having plants producing oxygen right there in your home not to mention the sheer joy of just growing them, especially in the winter when you can’t get outside to grow anything else. The number one concern that you will face when growing your indoor plants is sunlight. Even a southern exposure window may not cut it for a plant that needs a lot of sun.
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Fixing the Lack of Sunlight Issue
For many years, indoor plant growers have used different types of artificial lights like, Incandescent and Compact Fluorescent bulbs. These have all been an attempt to mimic the rays of the sun indoors, as they are hung or placed over the plants or pots to expose all the sides and leaves of the plant to the artificial light, all of these have a varying degree of effectiveness. The newest kid in town, LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) might be the best answer to any issue of lack of light.
What is So Great About LED
Let’s start with one of the easiest things to measure, heat. Compact fluorescent lights are not too bad, they stay relatively cool, even after being on for an extended period of time and can be placed reasonably close to your plant, usually somewhere around twelve inches away. The incandescent bulbs on the other hand, not so much. They send electricity through a filament that gets hot enough to produce light.
If your plants get too close to this, they can be burned, recommendations limit these lights to 24 inches away. The problem here is, Incandescent lights lose effectiveness when they are too far away, and your plant won’t be receiving as many of the benefits. LED lights create no heat what so ever and can be maintained as close as six inches away.
In the long run, LED grow lights will save you money. They have gotten to the point that they are so energy efficient some will last for as long as 50,000 hours. Let’s say that you want your plants to get a solid twelve hours of light, that many hours equal approximately eleven years. To be fair, LED grow lights are more expensive to purchase than CFL or Incandescent, but they will save you a bunch of money through the long haul.
If you have a relatively small growing area, you can purchase an LED Grow Light Array that can be customized to emit specific wavelengths of light, reds, blues, and greens to suit the specific plant type you want to grow. If you don’t want to mess with trying to figure out which color spectrum your plant wants, a Full-Spectrum light is also available; it is a little closer to mimicking true natural light.
Some General Tips to Picking the Best LED Light
Inside your LED light bulb is a chip which converts electricity into the light you see. To be strong enough to have enough light to work for your plants, this chip needs to be of high quality. Look for an LED light that has a chip listed as being at least 3 watts, so you can be sure it is bright enough to do the job.
Just because it is the most expensive, does not mean it is the best you can get. Read the label and find out what the life expectancy is for that particular light, not all LED lights are created equal or burn at the same rate. You will have to replace them eventually and knowing that it is coming later than sooner might be a little piece of mind.
Before you even start looking for your light system, decide how big an area you want to grow in and what kind of plants you are going to grow. Some plants will need more light than others and some will be taller growing than others. The suspension system needs to be considered, as well as how many lights you should purchase.
Having an indoor oasis of plants is easy, if you do a little homework, decide how big you want it to be, how much money you want to spend, and what kind of plants you want to grow. If you only have one or two plants, a small, simple, full-spectrum LED Grow Light array is just fine; if you decide you want to recreate the Amazon jungle, the light requirements might be a tad different and your budget a lot bigger.