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The ultimate guide to cultivating with grow lights

10 December 2020

Grow lights are crucial when it comes to cultivating plants indoors during the darker months of the year. Here’s everything you need to know about them and how to get started!

Light is an essential ingredient for a successful cultivation, especially when it comes to cultivating indoors. However, this can be tricky during the darker months of the year. Plants that don’t get enough light will get long and slender. On the other hand, using grow lights will always have a significant impact on the growth of the plants. Not only will your plants grow faster, but they will also be more healthy and strong. You’ll also be able to start cultivating earlier in the year and grow at a larger scale. To summarize; you no longer have to be dependent on the weather to cultivate.

When to use growth lights

Many of the plants we grow originate from countries with a warmer climate and where the sunlight is more evenly distributed throughout the year. Since we can’t provide the plants with enough sunlight all year round, we have to pre-cultivate them way in advance to make sure they’ll provide us with fruits before fall arrives. Chilli, pepper, eggplant and artichoke are some examples of plants that should be pre-cultivated under grow lights for best results. It’s also important to remember to pre-cultivate the plants of your choice in the right time period. Make sure the outside temperature has risen enough when it’s time to replant your plants outside. If not, you’ll end up with big plants with nowhere to go since the temperature is too low.

The grow lights are also great to use when the darker months arrive and you still have some fruits that haven’t ripened. Bring the plants indoors and place them under the growth lights to help them ripen faster.

Besides pre-cultivating seeds and helping the fruits to ripen, grow lights enable you to harvest fresh vegetables all year round. They work specifically well for herbs and green leaves. The plants grow fast, need little soil and taste the best newly harvested.

How to choose the perfect growth light

Your grow lights should try to imitate real daylight as much as possible since it’s the most effective light source. Your grow lights should point towards and hang close to the plants so the leaves can absorb as much light as possible. Today’s LED-lamps don’t get as hot as light bulbs, which allows you to place them even closer to your plants. The recommended distance is between 10-15 cm. The choice of grow light depends on the area you’re cultivating on and how you can install it in your home. You can choose between fluorescent lamps or local lighting LED-lamps.

When you’ve chosen the perfect grow lights for your plants it’s important to know how long your lights have to be on. A great tip to consider is that strong lights need less time on, while weaker lights naturally need to be on for a longer time period. However, it’s not necessarily true that much light means great growth since the plant needs time to recover. Plants that are overwintering indoors need approximately 8-10 hours of light every day, preferably even more. Seeds and sticks on the other hand, will require 12-16 hours of light. Attach a timer to your grow lights if you want to keep track of the time and make sure your plants always get the amount of light they need to grow. However, if your plants are placed in a window and getting exposed to the daylight, you could consider turning your grow lights off for a while to spare the environment as well as your wallet!

How to measure light

When choosing your grow lights you’ll notice that there are several ways of measuring light. Here’s a list of some of the values you might stumble upon:

Micromole (μmol) per square meter and second is considered the best way of measuring how well a grow light works for plants. It tells you how much light a specific part of the plant is exposed to every second. The amount doesn’t only depend on the capacity of the lamp, but also the distance between the plant and the lamp.

Lumen tells you the total amount of visible light in all directions. It is related to Lux which indicates the amount of lumen per square meter. These units are adapted to the human eye’s sensitivity and are not measuring the balance and intensity of the light that affects the plant most.
Kelvin (K) tells you about the colour temperature and is a measurement that’s adjusted for the light that we see with our eyes. Higher values indicate a more blue colour, while lower values give you red colours. Generally, a higher value is better suited for plant grow lights.

Watt (W) has nothing to do with the light but measures the effect of the lamp. A higher W basically means that the lamp uses more power, which could - but doesn’t have to - mean that the grow light shines brighter.

Now that you’ve read our complete guide, we want to wish you good luck on cultivating your own, fresh vegetables indoors - all year round!