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Indoor Plant Lights: Which Lamps Are The Best

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Plants are wonderful to have around the house. They can bring a freshness and airiness to the most unlikely spaces. However how many times have we excitedly brought home a stunning new plant, only for it to die a few months or even weeks later. This can be heartbreaking as a new gardener. It can be even worse if we were doing everything by the book and still do not know what went wrong. A lack of available light is often the problem. Plants that are not getting enough light often grow poorly with smaller leaves, while the lower leaves turn yellow and drop off. One solution to an inadequate light source indoors is to install artificial lighting. When considering artificial lighting  for your plants you will need to consider the right amount of light, the correct intensity of light and the right colour, or spectrum of light.  homify has found the best lights for your indoor plants.

Incandescent Light

As your latest plant is showing the tell tale signs of a lack of sunlight, you become aware of the need to supplement the natural light in the house with an artificial lamp. However, which is the best light for your circumstances? If you have a single plant, or a few small plants an incandescent light may be your best option. Incandescent lights are amongst the cheapest of the lighting options for indoor plants. Individual bulbs can cost as low as Rupees 400 for a 150-watt bulb. These bulbs are also readily available at local hardware stores or nurseries. These lights are great for small single plants, but are not recommended for large set ups.

​The Intensity of Light Suitable for the Species

When choosing the correct intensity of light for your indoor plants it is important to consider both the watts in the individual light bulbs as well as the distance from the light to the plant itself. This will enable you to calculate the intensity of the light your plant will receive. The intensity of the light may differ depending on the plants you want to grow. A plant that is native to a hot and dry climate may require a more intense light than a plant that grows naturally in the undergrowth of a rainforest. Flowers such as African violets can be up to a foot away from the light source. If you intend to grow herbs or vegetables indoor, these will require a higher intensity light source. For these circumstances it is better to invest in stronger lighting. This plant was produced by Pflansenfreude. 

Fluorescent light

Traditionally florescent lights were not suitable for growing plants due to their low output compared to their large size. Although new technology in fluorescent lights called T5 Lighting Systems has meant they are now much brighter and very efficient. The new lights have been shown to produce more light that is used by the plant, and they produce significantly less heat than other lights. This can then allow plants to be placed closer to them. Other major developments in this technology has meant that they are no longer as physically bulky as they once were. This makes them suitable for many more plant types. When purchasing fluorescent bulbs be sure to choose a combination of cool and warm colours to ensure an even growth.

​The Right Lamp: Sodium Vapour Lamp

Sodium Vapour Lamps produce a light that is in the red orange spectrum. This light is best for flowering plants and as supplemental light. This can be a great light source if you intend to focus on growing flowers. Unfortunately, this type of lamp is not beneficial to other plants. The main disadvantage of these lights is that they cannot produce a light that falls within the blue spectrum. This light is essential for normal plant growth. Plants that are grown with only a red orange spectrum light source will grow up thin and unhealthy. To grow healthy flowering plants, vegetables and herbs consider using this type of lamp as a supplementary lamp to assist with the flowering of plants.

A Metal Halide Lamp

There are several types of High Intensity Discharge (HID) Lamps available; High Pressure Sodium, Metal Halide, Low Pressure Sodium and Mercury Vapour. Metal Halide is the only one suitable for growing indoor plants. Metal Halide lamps produce the best light for growing plants indoors. These lamps are unique as they produce light which is in the best spectrum for the largest number of plants. This light is blue-white in colour. These lights are also amongst the most efficient.  A single bulb will last for up to 10,000 hours. Unlike many of the other type of light sources, this light works best when used as a primary source. This light seems to promote compact and leafy growth in the plant.

​The right lamp: LED

 Interior landscaping by Abigail Ahern
Abigail Ahern

Faux botanicals

Abigail Ahern

LED or Light Emitting Diode lights are not well known for their ability to be used for growing plants. Although new advances in technology have meant that after significant research LED lights have advanced to the stage that they can be used to grow plants. LED lights have significant benefits over other plant growing lights. These lights use considerably less power than other lights. They also produce significantly less heat. One of the most impressive qualities of these new lights is their ability to refine the spectrum of light to only those that the plant uses. Although these advances are a very exciting prospect for growing indoor plants, these lamps are not yet available for sale commercially. These designs are crafted by Abigail Ahern.

Plants can be wonderful to have around the house. They bring in a freshness and an element of nature to any space. Although when they turn brown and die, we are often left wondering what we did wrong. The problem is often a lack of sunshine. By installing supplementary grow lights in your house, you ensure that your plants have enough light to survive the dark days of winter. There are many types of grow lights, now you can choose the best type. This will often depend on the plant you want to grow and your budget. Incandescent and fluorescent lamps are economical, but do not produce the most optimal light for growing. Sodium Vapour and Metal Halide produce the best light for growing plants, although they can be costly to set up. These are just a few inspirational ideas for growing plants indoors, for more ideas see 7 Ways to Create a Beautiful Indoor Garden. 

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