Have you ever thought of growing plants under artificial lights? Well, it is possible to grow plants indoors to maturity using artificial lights in place of sunlight. However, the chances that this cultural method is economical or worth the effort is a different story.
Plants grown under artificial light can do as well as plants grown under sunlight, and can sometimes even grow better. The important thing is knowing the amount and type of light required by different plants. By using artificial light indoors, you get to control both the amount and the kind of light that comes in contact with your plants.
The opposite is the case outside where you have limited control over the variables of nature such as shade vs. direct sun, the number of hours of light, intensity based on time of year, weather events, and the typical spectrum of light emitted by the sun, to name a few of the variables.
How To Set Up Your Indoor Gardening Lighting
If you have a small garden with few plants in a room that has little or no access to sunlight, then, an adjustable or goose-neck standing lamp with at least three bulbs will work fine. To get the best results, you should use fluorescent bulbs with the highest wattage allowable by the appliance.
You should aim the light towards the direction of the plants. If the light appliance does have an adjustable arm, to avoid damage as a result of excess heat, you can adjust the fluorescent bulbs closer to the plants than an incandescent bulb. This is the best approach, especially when using glowing light.
To use the light from the bulbs effectively, it is essential to utilize reflective materials. This reflective material should have a flat surface, for example, a mirror or a reflective foil. It should be placed beneath the plants, for the light to reflect up towards the plants.
Finally, you can set an automatic timer to run for 14 to 16 hours a day. The timer should switch off the lights after the time has elapsed. You can still do this manually, but it is easier and more effective with a timer. You should not be worried about the cost implications as you can get quality timers at cheap rates.
Things And Factors You Must Know
Plant Growth Rate
Your plant preferences should act as a guide when you are setting out. If you prefer a well-sized plant, you should go for the plants that have a rapid growth rate and are likely to fill your garden within a short period of time.
Vining or creeping plants fit this category. If you are interested in hanging or trailing plants, then a golden pothos or a heart-shaped philodendron should do. Furthermore, if you want something you want to stare at thoughtfully, you should consider smaller plants.
The Right Color Spectrum
Sunlight radiates the complete electromagnetic spectrum of light, which includes all the colors of the rainbow from red to violet. Similar to plants that grow outdoors under direct sunlight, Plants that are grown indoors perform excellently under bulbs that emit the full spectrum.
These bulbs produce the ideal light that imitates the natural solar spectrum, and they are perfect for nurseries, houseplants, vegetables, edible herbs, and other plants. All the stands of grow light fixtures, regular stands, and replacement bulbs that we have radiate full-spectrum light.
The Right Intensity
Getting the right intensity of light that your plant requires is essential. The brightness of the bulb and the proximity of the plant to the light source determines the intensity of light that a plant growing indoors receives.
Plants have different tolerance for the same light intensity; this means that they require different light intensity. Typically, plants whose natural habitats are tropical or thick forests with lots of shady trees, do not need as much light as the plants that are natives of arid, sunny, and Savanah climates.
To be more precise, some plants, such as the African violets and begonias, perform very well when they are 10 to 12 inches away from a source of light. Place foliage plants, such as ivy or philodendron, at about 36 inches away from a light source. However, quite a lot of plants require a higher intensity of the light to flower and produce fruits. Some flowering plants, for example, orchids, gardenias and citrus, and vegetable plants fit into this category.
Duration & Timing
Irrespective of what type of plant you are growing, it is essential to give them rest, that is, time away from light. Plants respirate when it is dark, and this is a crucial aspect of their growth. Many biological processes are determined and affect by the ratio of rest time to active growth time. This includes the growth rate and the time for the setting of buds and fruit.
The amount of light received by your plants is also as significant as the type of light received. Outdoors, plants that grow outdoor experience a constant cycle of sunlight and darkness, although the amount of light received changes with the seasons. Therefore, when you expose your indoor plant to continuous light, the plant might wilt or perform poorly.
Generally, plants should receive about 16 to 18 hours of light per day. However, plants with lesser demand for light may need about 12 to 14 hours. Furthermore, you can sync your timer with the solar time of your region if you are having doubts about the amount of light.
Relative to the preferred day length of plants, Botanists divide plants into three categories. They are short-day plants, long-day plants, and day-neutral plants.
Short-day plants will perform very well when exposed to light for less than 12 hours a day. Sometimes, they need a shorter time to be exposed to them to set buds and flowers. Examples of these plants are Chrysanthemums, Azaleas, Begonias, Kalanchoe, etc.
Long-day plants perform excellently when exposed to about 14 to 18 hours of light per day. When plants in this category do not get enough light, they wilt and die off. Examples of long-day plants are seedlings for vegetables and garden flowers.
Day-neutral plants need between 8 to 12 hours of light all through the year. Examples include some foliage plants, geraniums, coleus, and African violets.
When projecting the size of the grow light that you need, you should consider the number of plants you need to be covered. Furthermore, if you intend to move the light from place to place, you should find something lighter and movable, However, if it is going to be static, that should not be considered as a criterion. Also, you should put the space of the room into consideration and ensure it takes an ideal position where you can operate it with ease.
Type of Lightings
There are various types of grow lights available today. It ranges from panels to the ones that hang overhead or the ones that are screwed into a regular light fixture. Your choice will most likely be streamlined by the type of plants you have, the amount of natural light that enters the room, and the location of your plants.
Plants That Can Grow Well Under Artificial Lights
It should be known that plants can grow every bit as well under artificial lights indoors in the same way plants that grow outdoors grow under sunlight or even better. Plants grown in these conditions usually do great because there is a perfect environment with the right amount of light, humidity, fertilizer, heat, and precipitation, which supports optimal plant growth.
Snake plant also known as mother-in-law’s tongue, it has sword-like, hard leaves that bear bright green and gold stripes.
The Cast-iron Plant
It is an unusual plant that can grow as high as 24 inches (61 cm) tall. It is a long-day plant that requires a lot of attention and does not tolerate low light, dampness, and dust.
peace lily has sword-like leaves like the snake plant, but it produces a creamy white spathe that resembles a big cupped flower. The peace lily grows best in moist soil and prefers average interior temperatures.
Dracaena and Philodendrons
It comes in many shapes and sizes, often with different colors on its leaves or sprinkles of alternate color, and are excellent options as indoor plants for artificial light areas.
They include Spinach, radishes, kale, lettuce, mache, chives, carrots, sorrel, tomatoes, peppers, chard, basil, etc.
Chive, catmint, cilantro, basil, parsley, oregano, lavender, and rosemary.
Alyssum, bromeliads, geraniums, pepperomia, petunia, pothos, roses, orchids, Aglaonema, daisies, etc.
Oranges, apples, berries, etc.
Aloe vera, haworthias, gasterias, flaming Katy, crassulas, etc.
Peacock plant, croton, spider plant, English ivy, asparagus ferns, prayer plant, philodendron, African violet, etc.
Which Lighting Is Best, and Why?
Various houseplants have different lighting needs, but in general, most of them require less intense light compared to plants that generally grow outdoors. For houseplants that thrive well under lower light conditions, providing regular room lighting and natural light through windows may prove sufficient. Plants that need more radiation can get supplementary light from an LED, compact fluorescent, or full-spectrum plant light bulbs that are designed to fit standard fixtures.
Fluorescent lighting has been proven to be the most cost-effective way of providing light to indoor plants.
However, HID or LED grow lights are the best if you want to achieve healthier growth and flowering of plants. Their popularity is not far-fetched as they have had a good track record so far.
How To Setup an Indoor Garden or Planting Area
How can you provide optimum light for your indoor garden or houseplants? Below are three tips that will guide you on the best way to setup.
Firstly, consider the space taken by your indoor garden. Regardless of the position, shape, and size of your garden, you must make sure they were adequately planted with sufficient distance of space between each plant. In that light, you should ensure that the beddings and plant pots are rightly spaced.
By considering the nature of your plant, arrange the pots or trays 4 to 8 inches apart to allow for better growth. Also, such kind of spacing creates easy access for movement and pruning.
Also, you should go for the lights that will shine brightly and cover your entire planting area. The size of your growing area should help determine if you need more than one bulb. The same goes for houseplants.