How to Light Up an Indoor Garden

There are several reasons you may want to maintain an indoor garden. City dwellers with no outdoor space may want to grow houseplants or even herbs and small vegetable plants indoors. Those with outdoor gardens may be interested in moving plants indoors to wait out a cold winter. In either case, lighting your indoor garden plants adequately is essential. Plants rely on sunlight for photosynthesis, and helping them to achieve the same thing using electric light can be a challenge. Follow the steps below to learn how to light up an indoor garden correctly.


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    Utilize as much natural light as possible. Designing a lighting scheme for indoor plants begins with acknowledging a simple truth: plants will never respond to electric light as well as sunlight. If you have a windowsill or covered porch that gets a lot of natural light, position your garden there. Even diffused sunlight can produce much better results than wholly artificial light.
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    Familiarize yourself with the aspects of lighting that are relevant to plant growth. Before buying lights and setting up your indoor garden, you'll want to consider just what type of light is needed. Plants respond to 3 different aspects of light: color, intensity, and duration.
    • The color of light is determined by the wavelength of the light waves. Sunlight contains the full visible spectrum of light, and plants respond to each of these colors. However, red and blue light are the most important for plant growth. Lights marketed as grow lights will typically be predominantly red and blue.
    • The intensity of light needed will vary between plants. Succulents, cacti, and other plants originating in arid regions typically require a large amount of light. Rainforest understory plants like pothos and philodendron prefer lower amounts of light.
    • The duration of the light is also important. Plants do not like to be exposed to light for 24 hours every day. In fact, plants can be classed as either short-day or long-day varieties, which prefer 8-10 hours or 14-18 hours of daily light respectively.
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    Browse for different types of grow lights. Grow lights can be purchased from nurseries, home improvement stores, some lighting stores, and some specialty online retailers. While plants will benefit a little from any type of electric light, it is important to consider a few different features of grow lights when planning your indoor garden.
    • Fluorescent tube lamps are the standard choice for lighting indoor plants. Full-spectrum bulbs are the best, and will often be packaged as "grow lights." Bulbs marked as "cool white" will have a preponderance of blue wavelengths, while "warm white" bulbs will have more red wavelengths. In general, blue light boosts leaf growth, and red light aids in flowering and fruiting.
    • Newer LED lamps can provide the same spectrum and intensity of light as fluorescent lamps while using much less energy. LED bulbs also last much longer. Look for LED lights specifically packaged as grow lights.
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    Position your plants and set up your lighting. Once you have purchased your lighting, you can set up your indoor garden. Use a mix of natural and electric light if possible, and be careful to position plants that prefer full sunlight closest to the grow lights. You may want to rotate plants through different positions regularly to ensure each is getting adequate light.


  • Consider wiring your grow lights to a timer so that you can set the length of light per day without having to remember to switch the lamps on and off.

Things You'll Need

  • Indoor plants
  • Grow lights

Article Info

Categories: Indoor and Patio Plants