As with any form of gardening, a good light source is essential for proper growth. But no where is lighting more important than with hydroponics. When growing plants without soil, the right type of hydroponic lighting ensures that your plants grow lush and healthy from seedling to maturity. When choosing the best hydroponic bulbs for your indoor garden, the size of the growing area matters most. Considering both small and large indoor wet gardens, there are three types of lighting that fit the bill as the best hydroponic bulbs.
When it comes to cost-effective lighting, standard fluorescent lights are the cheapest in terms of purchasing and energy consumption. Fluorescent bulbs are the most popular form of lighting among home gardeners. However, fluorescent light bulbs have low light intensity and heat output, so they should be used only for starter plants, seedlings and low growing plants like spinach, basil and lettuce.
Compact and high output T5 fluorescent bulbs can be used for all stages of plant growth. Since their heat output is low, the lights need to be placed about 6 inches above the plant. But one of the advantages of compact and T5 fluorescent bulbs is they emit uniform light distribution so there is no need to rotate plants.
High Pressure Sodium Bulbs
High pressure sodium bulbs are a type of high intensity discharge lighting that allows for indoor gardening year round. These bulbs are ideal for plant growth and maturity and are the most efficient type of indoor lighting. Considered a multipurpose light source, high pressure sodium bulbs work best as secondary lighting to natural sunlight. While these bulbs cost more than other indoor lighting methods, they are energy efficient, do not consume much energy when in use and last the longest. Because of their heat intensity, you are likely to need fewer bulbs to light your indoor garden area. Depending on the wattage, place high pressure sodium bulbs about 3 feet above your plants.
Metal Halide Bulbs
Another type of high intensity discharge lighting, metal halide bulbs are traditionally used when the growing area receives no natural sunlight. These bulbs are preferred over other types when growing leafy vegetables because the light emitted produces compact, vigorous plant growth. The wattage of the bulb determines how many feet it should be installed above plants. The bulbs are energy efficient and have a good life span, but they are more expensive than the rest.