What is more beautiful than the sight of plants, the serene greenery and the pleasure of growing something in the house! Having plants indoors doesn’t just bring a peaceful atmosphere to the home but they also help improve the quality of air. If it is a herb garden that you are seeking to grow, then having the plants in the kitchen handy when needed and the their fresh aroma spreading throughout the space can be a wonderful thing. But the plants in an indoor garden, unless placed beside windows or places with good amounts of sunlight and warmth, cannot survive without at least an artificial source of light which emits the right spectrum for photosynthesis. There are many variations in power, temperature and color among the lights available in the market and they tend to be very expensive. Knowing about them beforehand will help you choose the right one without spending your money on the wrong ones.
Temperature, Spectra, Intensity and Distance
The intensity of the light is inversely proportional to the square of the distance between the source and the plant. If the distance is increased twice then the intensity is decreased to one-fourth, and if increased thrice the intensity is decreased to one-ninths of the original amount. So the lights must be placed very close to the plants, at least an inch or two away from them to be able to make the emitted light reaches the plants. Using reflectors is another way of increasing the efficiency of the lights and prevents the light from escaping the area.
The plants need different intensities of light and in different spectra at different stages of their growth. The plants during their vegetative stage, the time between the plants germination and flowering, need light in blue spectrum to grow properly, whereas while flowering or to trigger flowering response you need light in red spectrum. Now-a-days LED grow lights are being increasingly used as the wavelengths of the lights emitted can be easily controlled.
Another important aspect is the temperature of the light. Natural daylight has color temperatures between 5000 K and 5800 K and different types of lights have different color temperatures depending on what they are made from.
Types of Grow Lights
The color temperatures of fluorescent lights range between 2700K and 10000K, produce more amount of light than incandescent bulbs for same amount of energy and have a life of 20,000 hours. There are various types of fluorescent lights: full spectrum or daylight produce light with a color temperature of 5000K and can be used for houseplants, seedlings and indoor herbs; cool white fluorescent bulbs produce blue and yellow-green light where as warm white bulbs produce orange and red light and must be used together to benefit from both blue and red spectra; compact fluorescent lights and high output fluorescent lights.
High Intensity Discharge (HID)
Apart from fluorescent lights, HIDs are the most widely used grow lights for professional work. High pressure sodium lamp is a HID lamp that produces red visible light and lights in other spectra in small amounts. These are used a lot in greenhouses as the plants would get blue light naturally there. The lack of enough blue light might be an impediment when used indoors and must be supplemented with other lights.
Light Emitting Diode (LED) Lights
LED lights are the most promising smart grow lights that most gardeners are turning to. They produce less heat than all other grow lights, which means that the plants loose less water increasing the time period between consecutive watering. Another advantage of using LEDs is that the wavelengths of the light they emit can be changed according to the requirement. Recent developments in LED technology have produced lights that can be even more closely tuned to the light requirements of the plants. White LEDs can also be easily used for growing plants as they contain various compounds that might provide all the useful wavelengths of light with the right color temperatures.
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