Anyone who loves to garden weather it is in hobbyist level or professionally knows that once winter comes around and the cold weather sets in you need to stop gardening outdoors. But many also don’t consider the fact that you can actually continue to garden indoors all through the winter. You just need a little equipment and a bit of knowledge to achieve the best results no matter if you are simply over-wintering your plants or full on growing plants indoors. So let me tell you about grow lights and how to properly use them so that you can start growing your plants inside too.
Grow lights basically are artificial lights that are used to recreate sunlight in an indoors conditions so that the plants that are growing indoors get the light they need to grow and develop into strong, healthy and big-yield-producing plants. There are many types of grow lights available on the market from HID or high intensity discharge bulbs to CFL or compact fluorescent bulbs to T5 fluorescent bulbs and the newest developments in grow lights LED or light emitting diode bulbs. The latter two being the best and most efficient bulbs in terms of how they affect plants and your electricity bill.
Tube shaped fluorescent lights or T5 grow lights for short are 5 eights of an inch in diameter and have long been a favorite among indoor plant growers because of the light they emit and how powerful they are without consuming a ton of electricity. The two most popular lengths for these T5 lighting fixtures are 2 and 4 feet and you can choose a set up from 1 up to 12 bulbs per a fixture to tailor your light perfectly to your garden. But the LED grow lights also are becoming extremely popular in the grow light market because they too like the T5 grow lights offer great light in terms of being powerful and in the right color spectrum without giving out a lot of heat that could possibly damage your plants.
But choosing a grow light alone won’t give you big yields and huge plants because you also need to know a little about how to most efficiently use these lights so that you know exactly what to do and how to get the plants you want to have.
One of the first things I tell to anybody who asks me to give tips on using grow lights no matter what kind of grow light they are using is to figure out at what height they should hang their grow lights. The hanging height is important for a couple of reasons. Firstly it will determine how much light your plants get and how intense the light will be. For example if you hang your light a couple of feet from the tops of the plants they might not get the full benefits of the light and then there would have been no point in buying the grow lights in first place but then again if you hang the lights too close to the plants the light can be too intense for the plants and also cause damage. So do your research and chose the height that will be the most valuable for your plants. Secondly the height of the grow lights will also determine how big of an area is covered with light which will define how many plants you can place under the light. Anyone who knows even a little about physics knows that the higher you will hang your light the bigger area the lamp will illuminate however then again there is the issue of how powerful and useful the light will actually be if you hang it just to have bigger area covered with light. And the third thing regarding the height of the grow lights is also the issue of heat. The truth is that the older models like HID and CFL lights tend to heat up pretty quickly so they also give out a lot of heat that (depending of what lights you are using) could burn the plants or do some other damage to them so you need to also take that into consideration when you are choosing the height at which you will be hanging your grow lights. If you are using either T5 or LED grow lights then you should hang them about 6 to 12 inches from the plant canopies as this will give you the best results.
Speaking of light when it comes to grow lights you also need to know a little about the color of the light that you will be using. Many think that it doesn’t matter in what color the light is that you are giving to the plants but in fact the shade of the light is very important. There are a couple of different tinges the light can be in even thought to untrained eye these colors might look very similar. There are bluish or cool white color that is better for plants when they are growing, then there are warm or red-white color that is perfect for plants that are going into their blooming stages of growth and lastly there are neutral white colored light that can be used weather the plants still are growing or already blooming however won’t give you as good of results as specific light in specific plant growth stages would. For those who know a bit about grow lights and the lingo related to them (and also for those who are already growing plants under T5 grow lights of are thinking about doing it) the cool white light has the color temperature around 6,500 Kelvins, the color temperature of the warm white colored light will be closer to 3,000 Kelvins and finally the neutral white colored lights have the color temperature of 4,100 Kelvins. So keep this in your mind when you are choosing the bulbs for your grow lights and choosing the light for your plants.
And lastly when it comes to growing plants indoors and using grow lights to do it you also should consider that the care for these plants are a bit different than the care of plants that are growing outside. As I mentioned before grow lights usually are accompanied by heat issues and that means that you need to keep an eye on the watering of the plants because the plants might go through more water than they would growing outdoors. But also remember not to over-water the plants as that too can harm the plants. A tip I can give you about how you can know that you aren’t over-watering or under watering your plants is to check the soil at the edge of the pot or container where your plants are growing. If the soil there is dry that means that the plants need more water but if the soil there is still wet or moist then the plants are fine and they don’t need water yet.
I hope this article helped you to get a better understanding about grow lights and what you need to know to use them better. So set up your indoors garden, buy the grow lights of your choice and start grow your plants even when the weather outdoors doesn’t allow it.
Authors bio: My name is Ben Thorton and I am the owner and editor of T5Fixtures.com. Gardening is my passion and I couldn’t imagine my life without it which is why I made my website – to help others better understand gardening and succeed at it.
I don’t know about you but after reading this post by Benjamin I’m totally inspired to start some seeds indoors under grow lights. Do you grow year-round? I’d love to connect with you so please leave a comment below with your URL or social media link I can visit soon!