If you have any regular LED lights around the house and want to grow some indoor plants, this question may have crossed your mind.
Of course, natural sunlight from the sun is best for growing plants, but what about indoor plants?
The simple answer is yes, you can use a regular LED bulb to grow plants. However, there are some specifics and caveats that you need to know. Let’s take a look at what those are, and the best ways to use light to aid in plant growth.
You should also read:
LED Grow Lights Versus Regular LED Lights
While both can be used to grow plants, there are specific advantages and disadvantages to each.
- Typically less expensive
- You probably already have some around the house
- They do not emit much heat, which also helps plants grow.
- You’ll have to be careful about their color and light to make sure they will work for plants, which means extra research/time on your part.
LED Grow Lights
- Made specifically for growing plants, so you know they’ll work.
- Work with existing lamps.
- Need to be specially ordered or purchased.
- Sometimes more expensive.
- Not usually good for other purposes.
Why Your Plants Need PPFD
PPFD, or photosynthetic photon flux density, tells us how much of the light being delivered to a plant enables photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is the process by which plants make their own food and energy, and are able to survive and thrive. Therefore, it is essential for plant growth.
LED grow lights provide the PPFD on their packaging. Typically, regular LED lights do not; you will have to calculate it yourself.
Quick Tip: Wattage doesn’t tell you much about a bulb’s helpfulness for plant growth. Look for PAR and PPFD.
Color Matters with Grow Lights (Kelvin Color Temperature)
Did you know that even incandescent bulbs that appear clear or white emit a “color”? This color temperature is measured using the Kelvin scale.
Plants need different numbers of Kelvin at different stages of growth. Red and blue are the most important light colors on the light spectrum for plant growth.
Initially, plants need a blue light, or about 5,000 Kelvin. Blue light helps with leaf growth and at the seed stage, while red helps with flowering. Once they have reached maturity and begin to bloom or are flowering, you can switch from a blue to a red light, which is about 2,700 Kelvin.
Keep in mind that we’re referring to the light spectrum and not to the actual color that is visible to the human eye!
Frequently Asked Questions
Let’s look at some FAQs regarding plant growth, light sources, and more.
How many LED lights do I need
It depends how many plants you’re trying to grow, what kind of LED lights they are, and the types of plants.
Different plants need different amounts of light. In addition, one small potted herb needs far less light than a long bed of herbs and flowers, for example, or a much larger plant.
Can fairy lights work?
If your fairy lights are strung with LED bulbs, then they might be able to work for growth. However, it’s doubtful that they will provide enough energy to meet your plants’ needs. They should be used as a supplementary light source only.
Is light intensity important for growing plants
Yes, light intensity is crucial. Light intensity impacts photosynthesis, which in turn impacts your plants’ ability to grow.
What is the difference between regular lights and grow lights
Grow lights are specifically made to provide the kind of light that plants need, including adequate amounts of both red and blue light.
Regular LED lights are made for human consumption. They are usually multifunctional. While they can help plants grow (certainly using LED lights is better than incandescent bulbs), they probably won’t be sufficient on their own unless you make sure they are the right type and give off red and blue light.
Can white LED lights grow plants?
Yes, they can. They should emit a high amount of light, though.
Both regular LED lights and LED grow lights are effective for growing plants indoors. LED grow lights emit red and blue colors on the Kelvin spectrum, which is ideal for plants at both early stages of growth as well as around time for harvest. Therefore, grow lights are ideal.
That said, regular LED lights are easily accessible; you probably have them lying around your house and if not, you can buy them at most supermarkets or pharmacies. They also tend to be less expensive.
Further reading: Can Grow Lights Cause Eye Problems?