The Effect of Different Colored Lighting on Plant Growth


Photosynthesis, the process by which plants create food, requires light to occur. Plants grow best in natural sunlight. However, it is sometimes difficult to find the right lighting for indoor plants that do not have direct access to the sun. Plants need light in the blue tone range, which not all indoor lighting provides. Plants grown inside will may struggle without the right light.


Sunlight, which contains every wavelength of color, is the best for plants. To prove that sunlight contains light wavelengths throughout the light spectrum, place a prism in direct sunlight and all the colors of the rainbow will appear. All plants require varying amounts of light, according to the Cheap Vegetable Gardener. Plants that require full sun should be planted where they can get at eight hours or more of sunlight a day. Partial-sun plants can do with several hours a day of sunlight.

Best Light

According to Gardening Know How, all plants need to have access to light that is blue toned in order to grow. Light that contains blue tones includes sunlight, professional commercial lights and fluorescent lights. According to Oregon State University, blue light is crucial for vegetation growth, while violet light is needed for plants to flower.

Worst Light

Nikole Ankrom, a participant in the California State Science fair, came to the conclusion that black light is by far the worst light for plants. All plants that only received black light died. Scientists at NASA have learned that green light is also not necessary. Plants do not absorb green light, they reflect it.


According to Western Michigan University, photosynthesis is the process in which plants take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen molecules. More specifically, plants are able to "synthesize food directly from inorganic compounds using light energy." Plants do not need to eat other organisms to survive because they undergo photosynthesis.

Incandescent vs. Fluorescent Light

Fluorescent light provides adequate light in the blue-spectrum wavelength. According to Future Garden, plants need light in the blue-light spectrum to grow. Incandescent light can get too hot for plants and it provides light in red spectrum wavelengths that, according to Gardening Know How, will not help a plant. Fluorescent and incandescent light can be used in combination to create violet light, which plants use to flower.

Keywords: lights growing plants, grow lights planting, planting using lighting, best plant lighting, healthy plant lighting

About this Author

Melissa Nykorchuk has been writing professionally since 2002. She has contributed to various online publications and obtained a Bachelor of Arts in English from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.