Designing an indoor garden is both challenging and creative. One of the important factors that needs to be artificially provided in indoor gardening is sunlight. Grow lights offer a good alternative to sunlight for proper growth of indoor plants. However before buying grow light, you should understand the lighting requirements of your garden. For example, leafy plants require less intensity light whereas flowering plants require slightly high intensity light.
Consider the following factors while determining the right type of grow light for your garden:
The color of the light: Outside plants grow in sunlight (which is a full spectrum light and includes all rainbow colors). Similarly, indoor plants too grow well under full spectrum grow lights. Plants use PAR or Photosynthetically Active Radiation type of light for the process of photosynthesis. Blue light is used for leafy vegetables or herbs and orange-red light is preferable for flowering plants.
Intensity of the grow light: The intensity emitted by a grow light has a huge impact on the growth of indoor plants. Hence proper positioning of seeds and plants is crucial. Also, the amount of light that a certain type of grow light uses should be considered from the view point of energy efficiency. It is said that LED grow lights consume less wattage than high intensity discharge lights.
Duration of the light: Plants can be categorized into short day, long day, and day neutral plants. Light should be served to them depending upon the category they fall into.
There are various types of indoor grow lights available in market. Following are some major ones:
1. High Pressure Sodium (HPS) Bulbs
One of the common types of grow lights is high pressure sodium bulbs. Many people opt for planting flowering and fruiting plants inside their home. You need orange and red lights for such plants. Since these plants require high intensity light, HPS bulbs make the right choice in such cases. Take care not to place the top of the plant less than 12 inches from the light else it might burn the plant. Flowering stage requires more light i.e., at the final stage, red and orange spectrum is needed.
2. Metal Halide Grow Lights (MH)
These lights emit blue spectrum and are suitable for vegetative type plants like leafy vegetables and herbs. If your indoor garden has only vegetative plants, then metal halide grow lights would be enough.
3. Ceramic Metal Halides (CMH)
These lights are quite in demand because they work differently. They have a mixture of blue, red, and orange lights. They can be used for the full life cycle of plants. They are more efficient with all types of spectral output a plant needs for growth.
4. Fluorescent Lights
Fluorescent lights usually do a better job when the plants you are growing do not require a lot of light. The intensity of fluorescent light is much less than that of high intensity discharge (HID) bulbs, which makes it beneficial for vegetative stage. The top of the plant should not be kept farther than 18 inches since the intensity of light emitted would be very low. High efficiency fluorescent T5 are still very famous among indoor horticulturists for vegetative growth and seedlings.
5. LED Grow Lights
LED grow lights are different from other types of grow lights in terms of the device structure. They are durable and have a longer lifespan. LED lights are energy-efficient; they give more light with lower heat. The intensity of light loss too is very less. They contain more advanced wavelength ratios with high wattage and the light penetrates into the plants. You can also adjust the wavelengths according to the requirement of plants. However, compared to HID lights, LED lights cover a smaller area.
6. Plasma Lights
Plasma is a relatively new technology. These grow lights are costlier. However, they are beneficial too since they work for fruiting and flowering plants as well as for vegetation.