How to Grow With LEDs

LED Grow Lights for Indoor Plants


Light Emitting Diodes or LEDs are high-intensity lamps or bulbs that operate on less electricity than fluorescent or incandescent bulbs and produce less ambient heat. Combined, these factor make LEDs cost effective and environmentally friendly in terms of resource consumption. Used as an artificial replacement for sunlight in growing plants indoors, LEDs are able to replicate the aspects of the light spectrum most advantageous to photosynthesis and therefore plant growth.

Step 1

Determine the natural light requirements of your plants in their optimal outdoor conditions. This is what you will need to replicate indoors with the LED setup. If you're growing shade-loving plants such as hostas, they will need less LED wattage and daily exposure than, say, a pepper that thrives with long days of full sunlight.

Step 2

Determine if your plants of choice require a fixed dark or photo period or if they are happy to be under lights the majority of the day. The optimal length of daylight varies greatly by plant species but is critical for effective growing under any artificial light set-up. An automatic timer hooked up to the lighting rig will help manage the daylight operations and won't require your time or worry about making daily adjustments.

Step 3

Hang the LED lights at the optimal distance for the size and light intensity needs of your particular plants. This desirable distance interval will vary between 3 inches to 24 inches. Because LEDs throw off considerably less heat than other types of bulbs, they can get closer to the plants without the risk of scorching.

Step 4

Choose a combination of LED bulbs that suit your plant needs and growing conditions. LED lights come in blue and red spectra at varying wattages and diameters. Usually a mix of red and blue LEDs are used to achieve the optimal spectrum mix.

Things You'll Need

  • LED bulbs of color spectrum and wattage choice
  • Electrified sockets to suspend bulbs over growing area
  • Plants of choice
  • Lights timer outlet controller


  • NASA Marchall Science Center study on growing plants in space with LEDs and wound healing
  • LED Lux measurments at various distances & corresponding chlorphyll production chart
Keywords: LED, light, emitting, diode, grow, plants, indoors, hydroponic

About this Author

An omni-curious communications professional, Dena Kane has more than 17 years of experience writing and editing content for online publications, corporate communications, business clients, industry journals, as well as film and broadcast media. Kane studied political science at the University of California, San Diego.

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