What Is a Good Light to Use for Indoor Plants?


Plants produce their energy from light, and different wavelengths of light control different plant responses. Insufficient light, which results in inhibited growth, is a problem affecting many houseplants, according to the University of Missouri Extension.


Commonly available light sources for houseplants include incandescent and fluorescent lights. Incandescent bulbs provide red light wavelengths needed for flower production, but little blue light, which is needed for foliage. Fluorescent lamps designed especially to enhance plant growth provide a balance of red and blue light.


While flowering plants need red light in order to flower, incandescent bulbs also produce a lot of heat, which can dry out plants, and the lack of blue light causes them to grow spindly. Plants receive both red and blue light from sunlight, so establishing a balance of the two in your home promotes healthy growth.

Expert Insight

Alberta's Agriculture and Rural Development agency recommends locating lights about 12 to 14 inches above plants for 14 to 18 hours per day. The University of Missouri Extension recommends using the equivalent of 30 watts of incandescent light per 100 watts of fluorescent light in order to meet the needs of plants


  • University of Missouri Extension: Lighting Indoor Plants
  • Government of Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development: House Plants--Artificial Light
  • Oregon State University Extension: Light
Keywords: indoor plant lighting, lights for houseplants, houseplant lighting

About this Author

First published in 2000, Dawn Walls-Thumma has served as an editor for Bartleby and Antithesis Common literary magazines. Her work has been published academically and in creative journals. Walls-Thumma writes about education, gardening, and sustainable living. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and writing from University of Maryland, and is a graduate student in education at American Public University.

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