How to Use Incandescent Lights for Grow Lights


Incandescent lights work best when used as grow lights for a single plant, or to boost the amount of light in a room so that plants with high light needs can thrive with a moderate amount of natural light. The bulbs get hotter than fluorescent lights and provide less light, plus they are less energy efficient that fluorescent bulbs. If you need a quick grow light system while you save up for a fluorescent system, set up an incandescent bulb to supplement light levels in your home.

Step 1

Remove your incandescent light bulb from its package and screw it into the clamp light. The hardest part of using incandescent lights as grow lights is determining where to place them. They need to be 24 inches from the plant to avoid burning it, since incandescent bulbs get fairly hot.

Step 2

Set up your clamp light in a good location following the 24-inch rule. To attach the clamp light, squeeze the prongs together until the base of the light separates, then attach the light base to something and let go of the prongs. Clamp lights attach easily to shelves and bookcases. If you have a pole lamp you can use this instead of the clamp light and stand the pole lamp next to the houseplant, then train the light onto the plant.

Step 3

Plug in your clamp light, using an extension cord if necessary. Turn the light on to make sure it works.

Step 4

Leave the incandescent light on your plant for an average of 12 to 18 hours a day to provide supplemental light. Leave the light on during natural day hours and into the evening; avoid leaving it on overnight when the plant expects darkness. Turn the light off at the end of that time period to give your plant a night time.

Tips and Warnings

  • If your plant's leaves begin to brown, your incandescent light is too close to your plant and is burning its leaves. Move the light back by several inches.

Things You'll Need

  • Incandescent light bulb
  • Clamp light
  • Pole light (optional)


  • Progressive Gardening: Plant Grow Light
  • University of Missouri Extension: Lighting Indoor Plants
Keywords: incandescent grow light, incandescent plant light, install plant light

About this Author

Based in Northern California, Elton Dunn is a freelance writer and nonprofit consultant with 14 years' experience. Dunn specializes in travel, food, business, gardening, education and the legal fields. His work has appeared in various print and online publications. Dunn holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English.