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7 Tips for Using LED Lights to Grow Plants Indoors

Posted by Birddog Lighting on Jul 9th 2019

7 Tips for Using LED Lights to Grow Plants Indoors

Who says you need the great outdoors to grow plants? In fact, you actually don’t. With the help of new technology growing with LED lights is a great way to take your gardening out of the ground and bring it indoors.

You can grow all sorts of plants with a set of LED grow lights including herbs, houseplants, certain fruits and vegetables, orchids, and salad greens. Using grow lights is ideal for starting seed and helps to ensure your seedling turn out green and stocky.

LED grow lights are an eco-friendly and effective way for your plants to get the energy they need. Just follow these 7 tips and you’ll be growing in no time!

1. Choosing The Right Light

When growing outside, plants receive the full spectrum of light from the sun. Meaning they get all the colors in the rainbow, from red to yellow to violet.

Plants grow best under this spectrum of light conditions so you want to use full spectrum bulbs that mimic the spectrum of natural sunlight. Although both fluorescent and LED bulbs produce this necessary spectrum, LED’s are better for the environment and are more cost friendly.

LED lights are mercury free and won’t shatter the way glass does, meaning that less end up in landfills. These bulbs also use half the electricity of a fluorescent bulb and last about 5x longer.

2. Positioning Your Lights

Plants needs are unique to their specific species, and based on their native regions you can determine the accurate distance to position your LED light fixtures for optimal growth.

Plants that come from tropical or shady climates don’t need the lights as close as those coming from sunny and dry areas. Flowering houseplants are normally happy with about 10 to 12 inches of distance from the light.

Where foliage plants need to be much further and do best being around 36 inches away. Seedlings often need the most light and at first, need to be around 4 inches from the light source.

3. Give Your Plants A Rest

Regardless of what type of plant you are trying to grow, you’ll need to give it a break from the lights. Plants go through an important growth process while its dark called respiration.

Achieving the right balance of rest time has a huge impact on the growth rate and the setting of fruit and buds. Consider purchasing a power strip for your lights that has a built-in timer so you can set the proper duration and not worry about forgetting to turn them off.

Plants are typically divided into three categories: short-day, long-day, and day-neutral. Short-day plants do best with less than 12 hours of light per day and include begonias, azaleas, and chrysanthemums.

Long-day plants need between 14-18 hours of light each day for proper growth. These varieties include most vegetable seedlings and garden flowers. Day-neutral plants are happy with anywhere from 8 to 12 hours of light and include foliage plants.

4. Taking Care Of Your Lights

You’ll want to keep your lights clean to avoid dust and bugs causing the lights to run hotter. Maintaining a smoke, dust, and insect free grow space is the best way to prevent unwanted damage to your lights.

LED lights can be cleaned by blowing air on the vents while the lights are turned off. Another way to protect and take care of your lights is to hook them up to a surge protector just in case of any power issues.

5. Finding The Perfect Temperature

Temperature serves as a metabolic regulator in plants, and the hotter it is the faster the plants tend to grow. This is because as the temperature increases so does the need for water, oxygen, and CO2.

The widely accepted prime temperature of a room for running LED grow lights is about 83-87 degrees Fahrenheit. But sometimes this will vary, so gaining your own growing experience is ultimately the best way to get the temperature exact.  

6. Know Your Nutrients

Temperature and nutrients go hand in hand, as the temperature increases, it causes more water to evaporate. This can increase nutrient concentrations in the dryer areas of the plants which can cause toxic levels at the roots if not taken care of.

Because when using LED lights you need a higher room temperature than other methods of growing it’s advised to reduce your nutrient concentrations by at least 25%.

Another option to help solve this issue is to use plain water to water your plants occasionally. This will help to balance the nutrient levels at the roots. Try doing this for 1 out of every 3 water cycles.

7. Transitioning From Vegetative Growth To Flowering

For vegetative growth, you’ll want to give your plants around 18 hours of light a day. This will help to mimic the environment of a long summertime day and develop a deep green color in your plant.

After a month or two of being in the vegetative growth cycle, your plant will begin to move into the flowering stage. You will most likely start to see pre-flowers beginning to develop as an indication this change is happening.

If you wish to continue to grow your plants larger then you can maintain the current light cycle and prolong vegetative growth. If you wish to switch to the flowering stage then change your light cycle to around 12 hours a day.

Growing With LED Lights

Growing with LED lights can be a great alternative to other growth methods and allows you to have your hand in every step of the process. This environmentally friendly method can also be a fun way to experiment with other aspects of growing plants, such as cloning.

Keep these tips in mind when beginning your new grow room. And remember that each plant species is somewhat unique and may need slightly different care. For more info on LED lights, check out our website!