What Are Grow Lights?


Sunlight provides the best kind of light for your plants, but growing your plants outdoors in full sun is not always an option. If you don't have space for an outdoor garden, or you want to grow sun loving plants in the middle of winter, you can use a grow light to supplement or completely replace natural sunlight.


Most standard indoor lights do not provide the right kind of light for sun loving plants to do well. Grow lights mimic the sun by providing the full spectrum of light plants need for optimal growth.


You have several types of bulbs and fixtures to pick from when choosing a grow light. Choose a fixture size and bulb type that will best fit your growing area.


Incandescent bulbs do not make good grow lights. They are not bright enough, don't provide a full spectrum of light and burn too hot.


Fluorescent bulbs are a good, inexpensive choice for a grow light. Use cool and warm light bulbs together or a daylight balanced bulb to provide the full UV spectrum for your plants.

Metal Halide

Metal halide bulbs provide an intense light in the blue spectrum that is necessary for leafy growth. Metal halide bulbs are a good choice for growing plants that don't produce flowers or fruit.

High Pressure Sodium

High pressure sodium bulbs provide an intense light in the red and yellow spectra that promotes flowering and fruit production. Because there is very little blue light, plants grown under high pressure sodium lamps usually don't look very healthy.

Combining Lights

You can combine bulbs that emit different spectra to provide your plants with the right kind of light. For example, combining metal halide bulbs and high pressure sodium bulbs provides a nearly ideal substitute for sunlight.

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About this Author

Pamela Keene has written professionally since 2007 with articles published on USAToday.com, eHow, Travels.com and other websites. She writes about a variety of topics including home projects, gardening, health, finance, travel and parenting. Keene holds a Bachelor of Science in biochemistry.

Article provided by eHow Home & Garden | What Are Grow Lights?