What kind of grow light do I need for succulents?
There comes a point in every succulent addict’s journey where they begin looking into purchasing grow lamps to help their indoor collection thrive.
There are a lot of reasons you might want a grow light (aka grow lamp). Perhaps none of you windows provide enough light to your windowsill friends. Maybe you’re trying to overwinter your succulents indoors without them suffering etiolation. Perhaps, like me, you’ve just run out of space on every window sill. Grow lights are gonna change the way we play this succulent game.
What do grow lights do?
Grow lights provide a light to your plants which usually replicates the full spectrum of the sun. It allows you to keep plants inside, away from windows. Or, it can supplement windows with inadequate lighting. Many problems with etiolation and stretching can be fixed with a grow lamp. They’re integral to many nurseries, especially for promoting proper health and growth of propagations! While succulents can get along fine without it, this ideal light promotes vivid colors and attractive shapes. Those gorgeous succulents you see on pinterest are almost always grown with the aid of a grow light.
This is a generic graph of the light spectrum most utilized by plants. Notice that plants primarily use light of a wavelength that appears red or blue. There is a conspicuous lack of green – that’s because the chlorophyll that plants use to generate energy from light is green! It reflects green light, rather than absorbing it. That’s why most plants are green!
What kind of grow light should I pick?
There are a few main types of grow lamps. We’ll ignore the incandescent ones for a few reasons: they’re energy inefficient, the produce too much heat, and they don’t hit the proper light spectrum. Let’s talk about fluorescent and LED grow lamps.
Fluorescent Grow Lamps
These come in many styles, so we’ll cover the important ones. The long tube lights come in various dimensions, T5 being the most popular currently. T8 and T12 are a bit antiquated and less efficient. T5 is great for hobbyists and nursery growers alike as it boasts excellent efficiency over a great spectrum. It also comes in several sizes to fit any situation. I use a couple of single bulb lights to supplement my windowsill set up. This is the one I’ve been using, and I’m pretty pleased with it.
If you don’t have the space or don’t like the aesthetic of a long, tube light, grow lights also come in the CFL variety. These are just like regular light bulbs and can fit in any regular socket. If you have one or two plants on a desk in your office or at home, these are an ideal fix. Just switch out that old bulb on your desk lamp with one of these bad boys and get growin’!
Note that there also exists High Output and Very High Output (HO and VHO, respectively) fluorescent bulbs. They are exactly what you think – they put out more energy and light! If you choose one of these types, make sure you hang them further away from your plants, as they put out more heat!
LED Grow Lamps
LED stands for “Light Emitting Diode”. This presents a unique opportunity for growers – it allows you to give your plants specific wavelengths of light! Because each diode only emits one wavelength, they save even more energy and heat than fluorescent bulbs!
That doesn’t mean they are necessarily better though. Giving a plant only specific wavelengths of light can trigger it to behave differently. Some plants, for example, are encouraged to flower when exposed to more light from these spectra.
Like the fluorescent bulbs, LEDs come in many different shapes and sizes. You are sure to find one that fits your need if you look!
Where do I position my grow light?
There are a variety of factors that influence this decision. If you’re using a simple LED or fluorescent bulb without any extra gimmicks, anywhere between 3 inches and 6 inches away from your plants will give you the best results. Of course, it depends on the plant’s tolerances to light and heat. You are aiming to get as much of the light on your plant as possible without wasting any of it, but you don’t want to harm the little guys! Always monitor your succulents closely for a few days after changing lighting conditions to see how they react!
Does your grow lamp have a hood? Hoods reflect light down towards your plant, but they also reflect heat. When using a hood, give your plants a few extra inches of space so that you don’t scorch them.
If you wanna get a little crazy, you can direct a plant’s growth with light! In addition to pruning, this technique is used with bonsai plants to get that unique look! To try it, put your plant in a dark room with light coming from only one direction.
Did we miss anything? Do you have other questions? Ask below!