If you want to grow houseplants in your home but there isn’t anywhere that seems light enough, you are probably wondering whether LED lights could be sufficient. Will houseplants grow under regular LED lights or do they need a special light or sunlight? Let’s find out!
Houseplants will grow under a standard LED light, yes; this provides enough of what they need to survive in most cases. However, it will not usually result in enormously healthy plants and you may find that your plants grow slowly or are more vulnerable to diseases and infections.
Do Houseplants Grow In LED Light?
If you’re wondering whether you can grow houseplants beside an LED bulb, the answer is that you can. They will grow reasonably well, but not fantastically.
Plants, of course, need plenty of light, and we all know this. Sunlight is ideal for plants because it emits rays in every color of the spectrum, so it gives plants everything that they need to grow strong and healthy.
If you can place your plant in sunlight (whether direct or indirect), most will thrive better than if they are placed in artificial light. However, not all places have suitable access to sunlight, and not all plants want to be positioned in the sun.
That means you might want to grow plants under LED bulbs instead, and this can be done in some circumstances. LED stands for Light Emitting Diode, and an LED bulb will emit enough light to keep many plants reasonably healthy.
Why Might I Use A LED Bulb?
If your plant does not get enough light, it will die. You probably already know this, but there are some situations in which you cannot give plants access to enough sunlight. These include situations where:
- There are no windows in the room you want to grow the plant in.
If your room does not have windows or only has small, narrow windows, you can’t easily grow plants in the room. Even if you position the plant close to the window, it may not get enough light to grow. It might also end up straggling towards the light, instead of growing strong and upright. This is not ideal.
You will probably need to install grow lights in this situation, but an LED bulb is better than nothing in the interim.
- The whole house is dark but you still want to grow plants.
One dark room is reasonably easy to overcome usually – just don’t grow plants in there. However, if the whole house is dark, you will need to depend upon bulbs to grow plants anywhere. This is true of many properties, and if you love houseplants, it’s very frustrating to have nowhere suitable to grow them. An LED bulb may solve the issue!
- You wish to add color and greenery to a dark corner, but there isn’t enough light in it.
Sometimes, you find the perfect spot for one of your plants, but it won’t grow there properly because there isn’t enough natural light. You might want to grow one in a corner behind a television set or on your bedside table, but these are often far away from the windows. Again, using an LED bulb will work.
- There isn’t enough light in winter, even by your windowsills (some plants need a lot of light!).
If you grow light-loving plants in a colder or darker climate, you are likely to find that they won’t grow readily when winter rolls around. While it’s fine for some plants to have a dormancy period, you don’t want them to be starved of light. Adding an LED bulb will supplement what light they get and help out.
- A sick plant needs more light than it gets normally.
If one of your plants is sickly or recovering from pests or a fungal infection, a boost of light may help, and LED bulbs are a good option for this.
- You have a plant that burns very easily.
Some plants are extremely fussy. They want lots of light, but not direct sunlight. They burn when it touches their leaves, but you can’t move them further from the window. This is very frustrating, and the best solution is to install an artificial light nearby. This will ensure they aren’t wilting in the dark, but equally aren’t scorching in the sun.
Any of these situations might cause you to start using an LED bulb to grow your plants, and there are plenty of other possibilities too.
How Effective Is A LED Light?
You have probably heard of grow lights and you might be wondering how these compare to LED lights and what the differences are? Grow lights tend to be more expensive, so can you just get away with using an LED bulb?
It rather depends on the situation. A grow light has been specifically designed to provide a plant with as much of the light spectrum as possible, mimicking sunlight as closely as it can. It is not as good as sunlight in many ways, but it is the best artificial alternative available.
An LED bulb does not do this. It isn’t designed to help plants grow, and it won’t provide such a wide range of the spectrum. That might leave you wondering if it’s going to be suitable for growing plants with.
If your plant also gets a reasonable amount of natural sunlight, an LED bulb will help it out and supplement this. However, if you are attempting to grow a plant in a very dark spot, you might find that an LED bulb is not sufficient to make the plant grow strong and healthy.
Often, an LED bulb will keep a plant alive, but the plant will grow extremely slowly or not at all. That might be fine for you; if your plants are already big enough, all that matters is that they stay healthy.
However, you should be aware that the plants aren’t getting as much light as they should be, and that they aren’t growing well. You should also be aware that they might start trying to lean toward any natural light they can sense, which may result in lopsided, leggy plants putting out long tendrils and not growing many leaves.
How Much Light Does My Plant Need?
It’s a good idea to do some research into the needs of your plant before you decide whether an LED bulb is suitable for it. Many plants that grow on rainforest floors will cope with low light conditions, especially at the start of their lives, when they are likely to be very shaded.
Sunlight needs will vary massively from plant to plant, and some require a lot of real sunlight in order to thrive. Before you decide whether an LED bulb is suitable or not, you do need to read up on your plant’s requirements. The more sunlight the plant requires, the less an LED bulb will do to satisfy its needs.
If your plant won’t be satisfied by an LED bulb, you will need to clear a space so that you can position it on a windowsill, or you will need to purchase a grow lamp that will provide a greater range of light. This will ensure your plant can photosynthesize properly and grows healthily.
Can I Grow Seedlings Under An LED?
Starting off seedlings can be a challenge in any home, because you often have a lot, and you might struggle to find a suitable place for them. Most homes have limited windowsill real estate.
However, unfortunately, you are very unlikely to be able to successfully grow seedlings using an LED bulb. When they are just starting their lives, seedlings need the maximum boost that they can get, and that means sunlight if possible.
You should position a tray of seedlings close to a window (with a sheer curtain if the sun is very strong) and rotate them regularly to help them grow straight and tall.
If you don’t have a suitable windowsill for your seedlings, you will need a proper grow light in order to help them grow. Without enough light, your seedlings will be weak and straggly, and will not produce healthy plants, so this is very important.
Where Is A LED Bulb Suitable?
In general, you should only be using an LED bulb in a few circumstances. These include instances where:
- The light levels are almost sufficient anyway
- The plant is a mature and shade-loving variety
- Your plant needs an extra boost because it’s winter or the plant has been sickly
- You don’t want your plant to grow bigger and it will tolerate low light levels
It’s a good idea to position the LED bulb nice and close so that it can have the maximum impact on your plant’s growth.
LED bulbs will help stimulate growth in houseplants, but you should be aware that the effect is limited. They are not a suitable substitute for sunlight, and if you can’t get enough or almost enough sunlight to your plant, you may wish to invest in grow lights instead.
These are often more expensive but should be much more effective in helping your plant to grow.
Can You Use Reptile UVB Lights For Plants?
Unfortunately, UVB lights may not be suitable to grow plants, and may actually harm them. However, that also depends on the type of plants, so you may have plants that can handle UVB lights, but others that are unable to grow under them.
Generally, plants grown at a higher altitute are plants that can sustain a higher input of UVB lights, as those usually produce more trichomes in response to UVB light exposure – which is a more potent type of light.
Can You Use Incandescent Lights For Plants?
Incandescent lights can be used to grow plants, but only plants with very low-light requirements such as vines, ferns or dracaenas. Incadescent plants release more heat than actual light, and for plants with higher light requirements, you’d need something with more light output.
Can You Use Happy Lights For Plants?
Happy lights, or Seasonal Affected Disorder light is a type of light that is used in light therapy to treat people that get depressed during Winter. This type of light has very low light output levels, and while it may work on humans, it’s not typically used for plants, as many plants have higher light requirements, unless we’re talking about vine, ferns, or what have you.