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Can Plants Grow with LED Lights? Well, Yes, But…

Can Plants Grow with LED Lights? Well, Yes, But…

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Growing plants can be confusing. We all know that light is important for plants and that sunlight is the best. But indoors, plants often do not get enough light, and now you are looking into LED lights. The big question is, “Can plants grow with LED lights?

Growing Lights for Plants

Watts, LUX, lumens, and foot candles are some measurements that tell you the intensity of the light source used. 

One universal truth about light and plants is that every plant needs light for survival. No plant can grow in the dark. 

Artificial grow lights can be beneficial for growing any plant indoors, but not every plant responds to it the same way.

But are LED lights good for growing houseplants, or should you use natural sunlight or revert to grow lights?

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Can Plants Grow with LED lights?

Plants can survive under regular LED lights, but they will grow much better under LED grow lights. The difference between a standard LED light and LED grow lights is that grow lights are designed to provide Photosynthetic Active Radiation (PAR), which the plant uses for photosynthesis. Plants need a light spectrum of 400-700nm for photosynthesis. This is done with a combination of blue light and red light. Hence, the regular white LEDs have little effect on a plant’s growth rate. 

Can Plants Grow with LED Lights?
Can Plants Grow with LED Lights?

What Grow Lights to Buy?

If you want to grow lights that do not look like grow lights, you can check out the Soltech grow lights that you can buy directly from TheSill. They come in 20w and the more powerful 40w versions and are available in timeless black or white.

Amazon has fantastic grow lights, such as the Mars Hydro series. If you want to buy a serious grow light with sufficient power and light emission

With the Mars Hydro TS1000, you can be 100% sure you provide enough light for your plants.

You might even have to dim it.

MARS HYDRO 2024 New TS1000 150W LED Grow Light for Indoor Plants, Patented Reflector Dimmable Lights...
MARS HYDRO 2024 New TS1000 150W LED Grow Light for Indoor Plants, Patented Reflector Dimmable Lights...
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MARS HYDRO 2024 New TS1000 150W LED Grow Light for Indoor Plants, Patented Reflector Dimmable Lights...
MARS HYDRO 2024 New TS1000 150W LED Grow Light for Indoor Plants, Patented Reflector Dimmable Lights...
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What exactly are LED Lights?

LED is a shortened term for Light Emitting Diode. This technology creates light through electro-luminescence, according to the University of Wisconsin.

Their two distinct advantages for houseplants are lower energy consumption and less heat output. 

LED alternatives lose energy to heat. When this light source is too close to plants, it can burn the leaves. 

LEDs are always cool-the-the-touch so that they can be as close as 6 inches without increasing temperatures. 

Does LED brightness affect plant growth?

LEDs are intended to be energy-efficient alternatives to incandescent light bulbs. But, introducing the LED bulb market changed how we shop for bulbs. 

Watts is an indicator of brightness. As for color temperature, it is the Kelvin Scale. 

Warm white or cool white are typical references. None of those terms tell us anything because our eyes only perceive the light’s brightness to meet the plant’s light requirements.

As for plants, they rely on it for energy. 

The full sun has an estimated luminance of approximately 100,000 LUX (lumens per square meter) in brightness. 

For bulbs referencing the Kelvin (K) Scale as an indicator of color temperature, between 5,600k and 6,500k is around the brightness of direct sunlight. 

The difference between regular LED and LED Grow lights 

The core difference between regular LED lights and LED grow lights is the light spectrum they emit.

  • The red wavelength is approx. 633 nm
  • The blue wavelength is 470 nm
  • The green wavelength is approx. 560 nm, but this is reflected off plants rather than absorbed, so it’s of little use. 

Blue light is preferable for chlorophyll production, and red light is better for blooming. 

Wavelengths between the 400 nm and 700 nm range are needed for photosynthesis. This spectrum is referred to as Photosynthetically Active Radiation or PAR.

Regular white LED lights have red, blue, and green components but don’t have fixed wavelengths. 

As white LED lights consist of red, green, and blue, they can help a plant survive. But lacking specific PAR light, they aren’t effective at helping a plant grow. 

MARS HYDRO 2024 New TS1000 150W LED Grow Light for Indoor Plants, Patented Reflector Dimmable Lights...
MARS HYDRO 2024 New TS1000 150W LED Grow Light for Indoor Plants, Patented Reflector Dimmable Lights...
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Amazon Prime
MARS HYDRO 2024 New TS1000 150W LED Grow Light for Indoor Plants, Patented Reflector Dimmable Lights...
MARS HYDRO 2024 New TS1000 150W LED Grow Light for Indoor Plants, Patented Reflector Dimmable Lights...
-
Amazon Prime

Do IR and UV Measurements Matter in Plant Growth?

UV light can help a plant protect against pests and increase its yield. IR light is beneficial for assisting plants in bloom, but too much can be dangerous. 

UV (ultraviolet) light falls under the PAR spectrum (315 nm to 400), and IR (infrared) is over 700 nm. 

Overexposing plants to IR can cause discoloration of the leaves and the stems to become leggy. 

It is still beneficial at certain times, though. 

For example, plants need more far-red and infrared light during the vegetation phase for fruiting plants. This can also be beneficial in the blooming phase for flowering plants. 

Full Spectrum Grow Lights and Their Effect on Plant Growth 

Due to plants’ various light requirements throughout their lifecycle, regular LED lights won’t help them grow. They can tide them over in periods of low light, but they won’t contribute to photosynthesis. 

On the other hand, full-spectrum LED grow lights combine blue, white, red, and green colors to create ideal lighting conditions. This color combination is what plants need for growth and flowering. 

Different models have different features. Some will have more control over the UV and IR lighting, while budget grow lights only use a blue and red LED combination within the PAR spectrum. 

You’ll only need to use full spectrum grow light if you’re growing a tropical plant under artificial lighting. 

Here is a list of the best houseplants for growing under artificial light.

That said, even houseplants tolerant to low-light conditions fare better when they use grow lights instead of the regular ones. 

What plants grow best with Regular LED Lights?

If you’re restricted on space and lighting conditions, no need to worry. Some plants will tolerate non-specialist lighting better. 

Typically, plants that do well as low-light houseplants or shade-loving plants will hold up better under regular LED lights.

Frequently Asked Questions About Grow Lights

How do you know your plants need more light? 

When plants lack light, growth can stop. Or, if they’re near a light source, any growth is likely to be straggly as the plant struggles to reach the light. Aside from limp and straggly stems, leaves turn yellow too. Without enough light, photosynthesis can’t happen. Since that’s the process plants use to create sugars for food, a lack of light will kill a plant eventually. 

Can container plants be overwintered with LED lights? 

Depending on the type of plant you are overwintering and the light needs, some may do well under an LED light. Keep in mind that some plants will go into dormancy naturally. Thus, no amount of light can keep them flowering year-round.

MARS HYDRO 2024 New TS1000 150W LED Grow Light for Indoor Plants, Patented Reflector Dimmable Lights...
MARS HYDRO 2024 New TS1000 150W LED Grow Light for Indoor Plants, Patented Reflector Dimmable Lights...
-
Amazon Prime
MARS HYDRO 2024 New TS1000 150W LED Grow Light for Indoor Plants, Patented Reflector Dimmable Lights...
MARS HYDRO 2024 New TS1000 150W LED Grow Light for Indoor Plants, Patented Reflector Dimmable Lights...
-
Amazon Prime

The Last Light

LED light can be used to grow houseplants, but they are not ideal. Much better suited than regular LED lights are LED grow lights.

Last update on 2024-03-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API