Will Houseplants Grow Under Normal LED Lights? Or Do I Need Something Special!

Have you ever questioned why it is that plants require light to thrive? In this article, let’s find out and answer the question will house plants grow under normal led lights.

will house plants grow under normal led lights

Photo Credit If standard LEDs work just as well, why buy pricey plant lights?

Does it matter what kind of light they are exposed to in order for them to grow, or is there something unique about sunlight?

These are all pertinent questions for anyone interested in gardening or plants, and the answers are just as fascinating. There have been others before you who have had the idea of cultivating house plants under LEDs. Some people who garden at home even try growing plants with incandescent lights, but the results aren’t that great. 

This is because in order for plants to carry out photosynthesis, precise wavelengths of visible light, also known as PAR (photosynthetic active radiation), are required.

Incandescent bulbs only give off a small amount of PAR radiation, so they can’t be used to grow healthy plants inside. And that is where LED lights and fancy plant lights come in.

Any source of light that produces enough Photosynthetic Active Radiation can be utilized to cultivate houseplants in indoor settings. The Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) meet this requirement; thus, they can be used to grow houseplants. However, keep in mind that LEDs come in various forms, colors, and sizes, and not all of those types are suitable for use as grow lights for indoor plants.

So, read on if you want to know what lights to use and how to use them.

Which Colors Are Important For Plants And Why?

Sunlight is made up of a spectrum of colors, each corresponding to a specific wavelength. For photosynthesis, which supplies the plant with energy and enables it to grow, plants use the energy carried by different colors of visible light. However, not every hue is significant to a plant’s growth and development. 

Only specific colors of visible light are absorbed by chlorophyll, which is a type of chemical pigment found in the leaves. There are two distinct kinds of chlorophyll cells: chlorophyll “A,” which predominantly takes in light that is violet, blue, and dark orange, and chlorophyll “B,” which primarily takes in blue light.

You can see a representation of this in action in the diagram below.

Which Colors Are Important For Plants And Why?

Photo Credit Wavelengths of light that are actively absorbed by different chlorophyll molecules in plant leaves.

This spectrum is referred to as Photosynthetic Active Radiation or PAR for short. You might be wondering what does this have to do with anything? Why is this information essential? 

Well, it is crucial because any LED light you use for your houseplants must generate all of these wavelengths that fall under PAR to be effective. But why exactly do plants require LED light? Isn’t the natural light sufficient? Hold on to your questions and read on.

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Why Do Plants Need LED Light?

Why Do Plants Need LED Light? - will house plants grow under normal led lights

Photo Credit Standard LED lights might also benefit your plants due to their white light.

In the absence of light, nothing can grow. Even though there are a few notable exceptions, such as mushrooms and fungi, light is required to survive all plants with the chlorophyll in their leaves. Plants are unable to synthesize carbohydrates if they do not receive sufficient sunlight. Their reserves of energy are depleted, and they perish as a result. 

As a result, your houseplants might not get enough light, which could lead to their death. This may be the result of any of the two primary conditions detailed below:

  1. If your home is on the smaller side and does not have a sufficient number of windows.
  2. If you live in a cooler climate and can’t take your plants outside so they can get sunlight. 

Your houseplants may experience slower development as a result of either of these conditions. Therefore, you should seriously consider making use of artificial light, such as LEDs, if any of the problems mentioned above exist in your home.

Can Plants Grow Under Artificial Light?

Can Plants Grow Under Artificial Light?

Photo Credit Low-light foliage plants can grow in offices that lack windows when provided with sufficient artificial light.

To answer your question, yes, plants can grow in artificial light! The only condition for any artificial light is that it should provide your plants with adequate PAR (Photosynthetic Active Radiation) light, as previously mentioned. 

The question now is, what choices do you have? You are aware that there is a vast selection of bulbs and lights available to purchase, correct? Additionally, each product comes with a plethora of different specs. For example, what level of luminosity and power usage would be optimal? All of your questions will be answered; just be patient. 

However, before we begin discussing pes of artificial light and compare them, you must have a solid foundation in the following terms and definitions: When you go to get a light for your houseplants, you will probably run into these terms for the first time.

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Color Temperature

The color temperature of a given source of light indicates the degree to which its colors are “warm” (yellow, orange, or red) or “cool” (various shades of blue).

The temperature of light is typically measured using the Kelvin scale, which is abbreviated as K. In situations where K is relatively high, the color of the light will be bluer. If the K value is low, on the other hand, the light will be at the red end of the spectrum.

Another common misconception is that the real color of the light is the same as the color temperature of the light. It is not the case that light is blue just because a color has a color temperature that makes it appear blue. Therefore, you ought to center your attention on the color of the light itself rather than the color temperature of the light.

Lumens And LUX

The “apparent” amount of light that is emitted by a bulb is measured in lumens, and LUX is simply lumens multiplied by the area that the bulb illuminates. A light bulb with a higher lumen count will look brighter to the human eye, and if it has a lower lumen count, it will look dull.

You need to understand that the quantity of light humans see measured in lumens. For instance, people’s perception of the brightness of green light is significantly higher than that of blue or red light. Therefore, even if blue and green light bulbs release the same amount of light, the green light will appear brighter because green is closer to the visible spectrum.

Because of this, you shouldn’t be too concerned about how bright the light is. To summarize, the intensity of the light does not correlate to the amount of light that a plant receives. It is not the intensity of the light but rather its spectrum that is essential for plant growth.

Watts

The Watt is the unit of measurement for power. The quantity of energy that is lost or consumed by the bulb in one second is the standard definition of this term. This one is significant since the value of this word will determine how much you will have to pay for your electricity. 

You should not believe that light will be brighter simply because it has a higher value of watts because this is not the case. It used to be the case in the past, but in today’s world, there is a greater availability of lighting options that are both more energy-efficient and produce a greater amount of light. Therefore, if you want to save money and energy, you should use light with low power consumption or wattage overall.

PAR And PPFD

The light waveband (color spectrum) that plants utilize for photosynthesis is called PAR (Photosynthetic Active Radiation). The wavelength range of the light spectrum (from 400 to 700 nm) that is optimal for photosynthesis is referred to as the PAR range. The photon activity ratio (PAR) is not a unit of measurement, nor does it measure the intensity of the light, contrary to what some people may lead you to believe. 

It refers to the spectrum of visible light that plants can absorb and use for the process of photosynthesis. This is the most useful metric for gardeners since it indicates both the quality and the intensity of the light as seen by the plant.

The photosynthetic photon flux density, or PPFD, measures the quantity of photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) light that is received by your crop on each square meter at any particular time. 

Regrettably, neither PAR nor PPFD is often listed anywhere on the package of conventional light bulbs. So, you will be responsible for determining it on your own.

Choosing The Best Light For Your Indoor Plant

If you have read and comprehended the definitions presented above, you probably already have a good idea why it is impossible to use any old light on your plants and call it a grow light. 

In order to provide a more in-depth explanation, we are going to investigate the various possibilities that are available and determine the reasons why we cannot use any of them.

Incandescent Lights Bulbs

Incandescent Lights Bulbs

Photo Credit Devices known as incandescent light bulbs heat a filament to produce light from electricity.

You are aware that the PAR rating of a light bulb is the most crucial consideration when selecting a bulb for plant lighting. This is because the light produced by incandescent bulbs is often yellowish, and these bulbs cannot provide enough blue light to satisfy the plant’s needs. 

In addition to that, incandescent light bulbs are becoming increasingly uncommon these days. Moreover, they do not have good energy efficiency; as a result, they use a great deal of power and thus generate heat. 

However, if you use them, it is also imperative that you maintain a significant distance between the bulbs and the plants to prevent heat damage.

Fluorescent Bulbs/Tubes

Fluorescent Bulbs

Photo Credit A fluorescent lamp is a low-pressure mercury-vapor gas-discharge lamp that employs fluorescence to produce light.

These bulbs, which are also known as T5 bulbs, are an upgrade over the incandescent bulbs that were used previously.

T5 bulbs have a long lifespan and generate less heat than other types of bulbs. They also have high efficiency in energy use, as they produce more light while using less. On the other hand, fluorescent bulbs can occasionally come in an odd shape and can only be used in fixtures designed specifically for tube lighting. 

The cost of these lights is also higher, and although fluorescent lighting produces blue light, it is impossible for it to provide the requisite amount of red color.

Related: Importance of Soil pH and Nutrient Availability for Plant Health

LEDs

LEDs - will house plants grow under normal led lights

Photo Credit LEDs, short for light-emitting diodes, are semiconductors that emit light when an electric current is passed through them.

These days, light-emitting diodes, sometimes known as LEDs, are the bulbs that are most commonly used in numerous countries all over the world.

Standard LEDs have remarkable energy efficiency and are available in virtually every conceivable form and dimension. LEDs generate very little heat while also being able to give the extensive spectrum of colors, wavelengths, or PAR light that is necessary for plant growth.

Can Plants Grow Under Normal LED Lights?

Can Plants Grow Under Normal LED Lights?

Photo Credit Despite emitting some plant-friendly wavelengths, regular LED lights cannot be used as “proper” grow lights.

Despite the benefits outlined above, not all LED lights can be used to grow plants indoors. There are LEDs that are specifically designed to function in this capacity.

These lights are called LED grow lights. These unique LEDs do not use strange colors; instead, they are just more brightly lit. They have a higher power output and a greater number of diodes. 

If the LEDs you have at home are strong enough, you can use them to light your houseplants. However, if you want the finest results possible, we recommend using grow LED lights. LED grow lights are preferable because they emit the specific wavelengths of light that plants require for photosynthesis i.ePhotosynthetic Active Radiation. 

They produce more light and are built in such a manner that the light is directed where it is most needed rather than being distributed evenly all over the space.

In addition, these grow lights have been fine-tuned to create a broad spectrum of light, particularly rich in red and blue wavelengths, which is essential for achieving optimal plant development.

Conclusion

The environment in which you engage in indoor gardening can be rather dim, and the addition of artificial lights can significantly assist in growing healthy plants under your care. However, this assistance is highly dependent on the kind of light that you use. 

You may cultivate a wide range of plants, herbs, and even some varieties of fruit indoors, regardless of the season, with the assistance of LED growth lights, also known as horticultural lights. These lights are becoming both more sophisticated and more economical. 

However, you should not attempt to grow plants that require sunlight under a standard LED light because they will inevitably perish if you do so.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are LED lights OK for houseplants?

When compared to using fluorescent or incandescent bulbs, growing plants at home with LED lights is the most cost-effective, productive, and user-friendly option.

They are low-heat-emitting, energy-efficient, and provide a growth-optimized color palette. Remember, while plants will survive under standard LED lights, they will only thrive under special LED grow lights.

Can any LED light be used to grow plants?

Even while regular LED lights can emit some of the wavelengths required by plants, these lights cannot be utilized as grow lights since they are not powerful enough.

White light is typically produced by LED bulbs and strips, which is beneficial for the overall development of plants. However, the best way for plants to thrive is with a combination of red and blue light.

Can live plants grow with LED lights?

Some high-end LED lighting fixtures have made remarkable strides in cultivating exotic plants. Still, even the cheapest LED lamps designed exclusively for indoor plants will be sufficient for effective and healthy plant growth.

In contrast, LED plant growth light is an artificial light source promoting plant growth. The spectrum of grow lights is either an approximation of the sun’s or deliberately designed to be different from the sun’s.

Do plants like LED lights?

LED light bulbs, similar to fluorescent light, provide the light essential for plant growth. Even while plants can make it under standard LED lighting, they need special grow lights. Growing plants with LED lights are the most efficient, effective, and customer-friendly method. LED lights consume less energy, produce less heat, and have colors that are optimal for plant growth.

What is the difference between a grow light and a LED light?

Standard LED lights just offer illumination, while LED grow lights have a wider spectrum of light, including both blue and red light, that encourage vegetative development and flowering, respectively. To put it another way, an LED grow light is a specific kind of light that is intended to supply the ideal amount of light for growing plants.

How far should LED grow lights be from plants?

LED grow lights for seedlings should be hung from the ceiling at the height of 24 to 36 inches above the plant canopy. Initially, seedlings should be placed as far away from the LED grow light as possible due to their vulnerability. Commonly, a distance of 12 to 30 inches is recommended between LED grow lights and the tops of plants. As your plants get taller, you’ll have to adjust the distance, though.

What color LED is best for plants?

Plants develop best when all colors of light are present. The rate of photosynthesis can be improved by using more green light. Plants respond positively to red light, which controls their development and promotes the development of blooms and fruit.

Chlorophyll, the pigment plants need to flourish, is synthesized in response to blue light. It also aids in the germination and growth of roots in young plants and seedlings.

Sources For Further Reading

Lighting Indoor Houseplants. (2022). Curators of the University of Missouri. Retrieved 7 November 2022, from https://extension.missouri.edu/publications/g6515

Lighting for indoor plants and starting seeds. (2022). The University of Minnesota Extension. Retrieved 7 November 2022, from https://extension.umn.edu/planting-and-growing-guides/lighting-indoor-plants

Light for Houseplants – University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. (2022). Retrieved 7 November 2022, from https://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/plants/houseplants/light-for-houseplants.html

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