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HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST INDOOR LIGHTING FOR YOUR PLANTS

HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST INDOOR LIGHTING FOR YOUR PLANTS

Your beautiful indoor plants require regular watering, some nutrients, a bit of TLC and a little light. 


Of course, there’s a remarkably wide-ranging variety of fantastic house plants - with quite different requirements. Some are much needier than others. 


For instance, a cactus can go a long time without water obviously, whereas those beloved Maidenhairs need heaps. As do those little kitchen helping hands such as basil or oregano, which you might have sitting near the sink or on the window sill. 


All indoor plants need some sort of light. House plants need light so that they can photosynthesise - it’s their food - along with the nutrients provided by a quality Indoor Plant Food, of course. Without enough light, plants will eventually turn anaemic and perish. 

Some need to have lots and they thrive in direct sunlight - such as Geraniums, Croton, String of Pearls and the Giant Bird of Paradise. Others can get by with very minimal light, like Lucky Bamboo, Birds Nest Fern and the popular ZZ Plant. And certain plants amongst these will actually suffer in conditions where they are being exposed to an abundance of light. Just like you can over-water some indoor plants, you can over-illuminate others. 


Many people living in cities these days don’t have very much natural light entering their space. Indoor plants which don’t need much light are best for such abodes of course. Naturally, most people are going to do their best to optimise the light they do receive through windows, sliding doors and skylights. And obviously no-one wants to keep their indoor plants in the dark - because we want to see them! 


Lighting is really the number one factor in determining what types of plants are suitable for your indoor landscape. But how do we know how much natural light is present in a room? It can be difficult for humans to ascertain actual natural light levels within interior spaces, because of the ways our eyes adapt. Our eyesight is so sophisticated that it actually makes it hard for us to judge light intensity in indoor precincts. 


Light is measured - along with pretty much everything else - in specific units. There are different processes for different situations, but light measurement scales are generally based upon human eye sensitivity. One common unit for measuring light within a house with regard to indoor plant growth is thefoot candle. The term relates to the approximate brightness of a single candle, one foot away. We also use the unitlux.They measure the same thing; the two units are just like miles and kilometres, that’s all. You can get an app on your Phone to measure light, calledLight Meter (there are other similar apps as well). You can measure the light intensity in the various rooms of your abode, and work out the best positions for different indoor plants according to their needs. 


Hmm, interesting. But how many of us are really going to do that!?


It’s not rocket science and doesn’t require a light meter to see where indirect natural light is most often present in your house or apartment; and for a good majority of house plants, indirect sunlight works fine. 


But what if you are struggling for a decent amount of indirect natural light? More and more this is the case for inner city dwellers. And it can be an issue for people living in certain locations which tend to be darker or overcast for more of the year.


What about fabricated light?


Light created by humans is known as artificial light. It includes electric lighting like downlights and side lights, lamps, signs, televisions and computers. It might surprise you to learn that plants actually grow very well indeed around most ‘artificial’ light. In some cases, specific ‘grow lights’ will work just as well as sunlight. 


Sunlight will always be preferable, and indoor plants do best when they receive the fullspectrum of the sun – it’swavelengths and rainbow colours. However, technology has come a long way in recent years, and grow lights or lamps are able to replicate light from the sun extremely well. Although artificial light cannot fully match the intensity or the heat of natural sunlight, they can certainly provide the light to make plants reallygrow


Grow lights can be used in combination with natural light, for instance in locations where there’s long dark winter months. In this way grow lights can be relied upon year-round to give indoor plants consistent light.


But the best thing about grow lights these days is the direction their design has taken. When you think of grow lights, do you envisage big, bulbous ugly lamps which you might find in a dodgy old sealed off room? Not that you’ve ever actually seen any ofthose..


In recent years the demand for grow lights has increased enormously and hence a lot of research & development and clever conceptualisation has gone into the design and production of grow lamps. There are grow lights available now which will fit in seamlessly with different architectural spaces and interior stylings. There are grow lights of various sizes and shapes; some of which are subtle accessories, others bold statements of form and function. The new wave of grow lights are designed to radiate rays which are not only beneficial for your gorgeous indoor plants - but also create atmosphere, ambience andmood lighting in your home.


So which ones might be the best options for you? 


LED GROW LIGHTS


LED stands for light emitting diode. These are the most common bulbs used in grow lights. They achieve maximum brightness with minimum heat and are very energy efficient. There are many different sorts of bulbs and lamps available. The majority of the designer grow light products are LED, including stand alone and clip on lamps, from small desktop fixtures to large high-intensity greenhouse lights. Many LED grow light products can replicate full-spectrum lighting (the sun’s rainbow-coloured wavelengths). Some can be customised to administer the particular bandwidths which certain indoor plants prefer, which does vary. This sort of scientific application is unlikely to interest the average indoor plant enthusiast, but the more technically minded may enjoy programming their LED grow lights to deliver varying levels of intensity at different times of the day, week, month and year – which can all be controlled from a smart phone. LED grow lights are terrific for all indoor plants, which is why they are by far the most advanced products on the market now, and the most popular.


INCANDESCENT GROW LIGHTS


Incandescent lights are really the opposite of LED grow lights. They put out a lot of heat, and not nearly as much brightness. They aren’t especially energy efficient either. They do lend themselves to more subtle, cosy ambient lighting and they can rather elegantly illuminate an interior. They are great for indoor plants such as ferns, vines and dracaenas. 


FLUORESCENT GROW LIGHTS


For plants which require low to medium light, fluorescent grow lights do the trick. They are good for growing vegetables indoors and plants like African Violets. The bulbs themselves typically come in different tubular lengths. Fluoro lights are energy efficient, cheap to run and replacing tubes inexpensive. They have a very bright, intense, ‘white’ light. Light output, in terms of its ‘colour’ and ‘temperature’ is measured in units calledKelvin. Colour here refers to the whiteness or blueness as opposed to yellowness or redness of a light, as perceived by the human eye. Temperature in this context assignscoolto the bright blue/white light andwarmto yellow light. As you will know, fluorescent lights tend to be more blue and cool, traditionally. However they are now manufactured to provide warmer light as well. Most indoor plants like light with a Kelvin range between 4000 and 6500, so look for those bulbs if you’re going to go fluoro. The fluorescent grow light set-up known as the ‘T5 System’ has been a favourite with growers who wish to replicate outdoor greenhouse conditions indoors. Fluoro grow lamps are popular with folks who are not too interested in aesthetics but in results. Old school, cheap, simple, efficient and effective.


HALIDES GROW LIGHTS


These are for larger spaces and bigger plants. Halides are really for more serious horticultural  endeavours. They come in 1000W, so you’ll need to wear sunglasses inside when you’ve got these babies running. 


LED grow lights are definitely the best option these days, if you’re looking for indoor lamps which look good, provide nice light, are efficient to run and keep plants happy.


Like your indoor plants, the range of LED grow light products is growing all the time, so your options are becoming quite exciting in 2021. The products are often super versatile – able to be converted from table lamp to standard lamp, suspended from the ceiling or attached to various surfaces. They triple as a stylish interior accent piece, a bringer of ambience and a nurturer of indoor plants. LED grow lights are well-crafted products, built to last. They’re terrific additions to your interior décor inventory and of course they make fabulous gifts for fellow house plant lovers. At the Plant Runner, we have an excellent range of high-quality grow lights. Let us help you choose the right one for your place.