Which Kind of Light Is Better for Plants?

Which Kind of Light Is Better for Plants? image by Photograph by em connell mccarty


Different plants have different lighting needs. Some plants prefer little light and do best in shady spots, while other plants do best with at least 8 hours of bright, direct sunlight. When planting plants outdoors, be aware of how much sunlight they require and plant them appropriately. If you are keeping plants indoors, as decoration or for the purpose of starting sprouts which will be moved outdoors at a later time, you need to meet their lighting needs as well and give them the best kind of light.


Plants use light as a source of energy. Sunlight naturally provides plants with the red and blue rays they need for growth and flowering. In your house, to provide your plants with the best source of sunlight, place them in a window with southern exposure. If you cannot give them sunlight from a southern window, an east- or west-facing window will give your plants 60 percent of the intensity a southern window will. A north-facing window is the least desirable view for your plant, supplying only 20 percent of the intensity a southern view will.

Artificial Light

If you cannot give your plants the intensity of sunlight they need, you can supplement their light using artificial lights. Though no one artificial light has the intensity and balance of red and blue rays the sun has, it is possible to stimulate growth and flowering using artificial lights. Know what intensity of light and how many hours of light your plants need in order to find the best artificial light for them. Additionally, place your plants on a light-colored, reflective surface to maximize the sunlight and artificial light they receive, and make sure they are not crowded, allowing every plant to receive plenty of light.

Incandescent Lights

Incandescent lights are one form of artificial lighting that is commonly used to light plants which are not receiving enough sunlight. Incandescent lights are hot lights with a lot of red rays. Due to the heat they give off, they need to be placed a distance from your plants to ensure that they do not damage your plants. Incandescent lights are not energy efficient, and they do not have a very long life span.

Fluorescent Lights

Fluorescent lights are better lights for plants because they are a cooler source of light, supplying plenty of blue rays. Fluorescent lights supply a high intensity of light without overheating your plants. Fluorescent lights are also much more energy efficient, three times as efficient as incandescent lights. Similarly, fluorescent lights last about 10 times longer than incandescent lights.


Better than using fluorescent lights by themselves to light plants not receiving enough sunlight, you can combine fluorescent lights with incandescent lights. Ideally, for every 100 watts of fluorescent lights, you should also give your plants 30 watts of incandescent lighting. This will provide your plants with a better source of light because your plants will be benefiting from a supply of both of the red and blue rays they need to grow healthy leaves and to flower.

Keywords: lighting indoor plants, better lights for plants, artificial lighting

About this Author

Em Connell McCarty has been writing for 27 years. She studied writing at the University of Iowa and at Hollins University in Virginia. She writes fiction, creative non-fiction and essays. McCarty's work has been published in Hip Mama magazine.

Photo by: Photograph by em connell mccarty