Proper Lighting for Plants


Growing plants indoor is often possible using the natural light coming through windows. Sometimes the light is not sufficient. Several indoor plant lighting products are available to aid the growth of indoor plants. Choosing the lights necessary for the plants in your home garden will save money and energy.

Choosing Lights

Plants differ in the quality, quantity and duration of light required. The quality of light is determined by the wavelength of light given to the plant. Wavelengths are seen as different colors when striking a prism. Even a bulb that looks as though it is giving only white light may give light at different wavelengths. Incandescent bulbs give only red light, while fluorescent bulbs are available that give a "natural" lighting spectrum, "full spectrum" or a balanced spectrum.

Cheap System

A cheap system uses both cool white lights and incandescent white tubes in fluorescent fixtures, or cool and warm lights. Cool and warm is the appearance of the light, not the temperature of the bulb. Incandescent bulbs will require replacement earlier than the fluorescent bulbs due to running hours.

"T" Numbers

"T" numbers signify the diameter of the fluorescent growing bulb. The number accompanying the "T" gives the diameter of the bulb in 1/8 inches. T8 is 8/8, or 1 inch in diameter. Smaller numbers signifify a narrower tube, and the T5 bulb is much more energy efficient than wider tubes, according to the University of Vermont Extension. Using smaller bulbs in your fluorescent fixture can keep energy costs lower.

Setting up Your System

Attach lights to PVC pipe that is 1 inch in diameter and 10 feet long. Cut pipes to the size of the garden itself. Alternatively, use metal batons to hang the light fixtures on. Attach the metal batons or PVC pipe to chains or wire that can raise or lower the lighting according to the growing season.

How Much Light

Plants require different amounts of light. The University of Missouri Extension recommends 10 to 15 watts of fluorescent light per square foot of garden for low light plants. Medium light plants require 15 or more watts per square foot. High light plants require 20-plus watts per square foot of space. Lights are turned on for 16 to 18 hours per day. Use a timer to regulate the lights.

Keywords: Plant lighting, Indoor plant lighting, lighting indoor garden

About this Author

Cleveland Van Cecil is a freelancer writer specializing in technology. He has been a freelance writer for three years and has published extensively on, writing articles on subjects as diverse as boat motors and hydroponic gardening. Van Cecil has a Bachelor of Arts in liberal arts from Baldwin-Wallace College.