Typically, you will see a grow light used most commonly in an indoor garden. The specially designed lights are used in all types of indoor horticulture, food production, hydroponics, plant propagation and even for growing aquatic plant life. A wide range of light types can be utilized in indoor plant growing, including, HID—high intensity discharge lights, LED—light emitting diodes—and fluorescent lights. Incandescent lights are another option but they are slowly being phased out in favor or more energy efficient types of bulb. Also, their ability to emulate natural sunlight is not as strong as those that are specifically designed to re-create real conditions for growing plants, fruits, vegetables and flowers.
Understanding the Spectrum and how Bulbs Work
According to many indoor gardening experts the spectrum of light emitted from certain LED’s can positively or negatively affect the growth of some plants. For instance, it is claimed that lights on the red spectrum positively affect the growth of flowers and flowering plants. However, vegetables tend to respond more positively to lights on the blue spectrum.
It is only in recent years that LED lights have eased their way into the vegetation market. It was largely due to experiments with indoor growing that lead to the discovery that diodes, using the exact wavelengths needed to activate photosynthesis were successful. NASA successfully tested LED grow lights in order to test their efficiency at growing food in space. In the plans to colonize extraterrestrial planets, it was deemed that the right growing conditions would be needed to grow food on planets that don’t currently support the same conditions as earth.
Because visible light color can vary according to weather conditions—more warmth and sun in the summer, less in the winter—exact quantities of certain properties of light are needed to assist photosynthesis and growth.
Most MH—metal halide—bulbs are made to mimick the blue spectrum and therefore the same conditions as spring and summer. Fluorescent lights are designed to emulate the right conditions for growing vegetables and LED’s can emulate both, according to the conditions they are made for. Flowers respond far more positively to red spectrum LED growing lights when grown indoors.
To be fully effective as an indoor gardener it pays to know your stuff about the plants you are growing and the right conditions you need emulate for the best results.