What Is a Grow Light?

Overview

Grow lights are useful tools for indoor gardening. They are electric lamps that work to encourage growth of plants. Grow lights work by giving off an electromagnetic spectrum that is necessary for the photosynthesis process. Photosynthesis is a biological procedure in which light energy is transformed into chemical energy. Plants use sunlight energy in order to produce sugar.

Process

Grow lights give off a light spectrum (electromagnetic spectrum) that resembles that of the sun. This emitted light spectrum, as a result, enables plant growth indoors that is similar to the conditions outdoors.

Varieties

Different varieties of electric lamps are used as grow lights. These types include fluorescent lights, incandescent lights, LEDs (light-emitting diodes) and convertible, two-way and switchable lamps.

Common Uses

Grow lights are generally used for propagation of plants (plant distribution procedure), indoor gardening and production of food (such as aquatic plants and indoor hydroponics). In general, these lights are used for industrial purposes. However, there are some instances in which they are used domestically.

Light Spectra

With grow lights, the light spectra is very important. This is due to the fact that for the varying stages of plant growth, different levels of light spectra are necessary. The first vegetative period calls for blue light spectrum, while later on, in the "flowering" stage, a spectrum that is reddish-orange is required. Specific spectrum color lights can be bought, while bulbs with the full spectra are also available.

Standard

To figure out specific lighting requirements for individual plants, it is vital to understand the individual needs of the plant. To replicate optimal growing conditions, it is necessary to imitate as closely as possible the natural outdoor environment of the plant. Also, for larger plants, more light is always necessary. With insufficient lighting, plants cease growing entirely. For instance, vegetable plants work best in full sunlight, while some foliage plants thrive in full shade.

Keywords: grow lights, grow lights indoor, indoor plant growth

About this Author

Isabel Prontes is a freelance writer and traveler residing in Manhattan, NY. She has traveled to five continents and counting. Her work has appeared on a number of websites, such as Travels, eHow.com and "Happy Living Magazine." Prontes has a professional background in public relations; she received a bachelor's degree in communication studies from Pace University.