Common Care Questions

How to Use Grow Lights for Houseplants

Houseplants add a touch of nature to your indoor spaces, but they often struggle to thrive in low-light conditions. That's where grow lights come to the rescue! In this blog post, we'll explore the ins and outs on how to choose the best grow lights for your houseplants and how to use them.

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This post is in partnership with Soltech.

What are Grow Lights?

Grow lights are artificial light sources designed to mimic natural sunlight and provide plants with the necessary light energy for plant growth. They are commonly used in indoor gardening and hydroponics to provide the necessary light spectrum for photosynthesis.

Grow lights can be used to supplement natural sunlight or as the sole light source for plants in environments with limited access to sunlight. They come in various types, including fluorescent, LED, and high-intensity discharge (HID) lights, each offering different benefits and light spectrums tailored to different stages of plant growth. Properly selecting and using grow lights is crucial for optimizing plant growth and health in interior settings.

Why Do Houseplants Need Grow Lights?

Houseplants evolved in natural environments with abundant sunlight, and are constantly seeking light indoors to undergo photosynthesis, the critical process that allows them to transform light into energy and promote growth. In many indoor environments, natural sunlight may be limited or filtered, especially during certain times of the year like Fall and Winter. This lack of sunlight can hinder the plant's growth and overall health.

Grow lights act as a sunlight substitute, delivering the necessary light wavelengths plants crave. By using grow lights, plant enthusiasts can ensure their indoor greenery remains vibrant, thriving, and flourishing year-round.

What Light Spectrum Do Plants Need?

Plants require specific wavelengths of light for optimal growth. Blue light promotes vegetative growth, while red light encourages flowering and fruiting. Full-spectrum lights provide a balanced spectrum that suits most plants, and are often described as the closest thing to natural sunlight that we can reproduce. This broad spectrum allows indoor plants to undergo all their life stages, from germination to flowering, efficiently.

In contrast, purple lights, combining blue and red wavelengths, focus mainly on enhancing specific phases of a plant's lifecycle. Blue wavelengths encourage strong roots and robust vegetative growth, while red wavelengths stimulate flowering and fruiting. However, nature provides more than just blue and red light. The inclusion of green and yellow wavelengths in full-spectrum lights ensures that plants receive a well-rounded light diet, which is more in tune with the diverse light palette they encounter in the natural world. This balanced light exposure promotes not just growth but also plant well-being, making full-spectrum lights a favorite among many indoor gardening enthusiasts.

What Does Wattage Mean For My Plants?

In technical terms, wattage indicates the power a light draws and its intensity. Different plants, given their unique species and growth phases, have varied light intensity requirements for effective photosynthesis. For example, sun-loving succulents typically demand higher wattage than shade-preferring ferns. However, it's essential to remember that a higher wattage doesn't always translate to superior plant growth. Matching the wattage to your plant's specific needs is key to ensuring optimal growth and health.

Choosing the Right Grow Light

Types of Grow Lights (LED, fluorescent, HID)

Different types of grow lights are available, each with its own pros and cons. , Fluorescent lights are budget-friendly, while HID (High-Intensity Discharge) lights are powerful but generate more heat. LED grow lights are energy-efficient, versatile and are the best grow lights for houseplants.

LED bulbs have revolutionized the lighting industry due to their energy efficiency. They can generate substantial amounts of light while consuming significantly less power than traditional lighting options. Furthermore, LEDs boast a prolonged lifespan, often outlasting their conventional counterparts by several years.

One of the standout features of LEDs is their ability to produce light without emitting an excess of heat. This characteristic is particularly beneficial for plants, as excessive heat can stress or even damage delicate foliage. By selecting LED grow lights, plant owners can be confident they're providing optimal lighting conditions with minimized risk to their plants.

Having trouble finding the right grow light for you? Take Soltechs Lighting Quiz and find the perfect plant light for your space.

Determining Your Plant's Light Requirements

Different plants have varying light requirements, some can tolerate lower light, while most prefer medium-bright light. There are also some houseplants that prefer full sun conditions, like Succulents and Cacti. Be sure to research the specific light needs of your houseplants so you can choose a grow light with enough intensity. The intensity of light is referred to as "lumens" which is the total amount of visible light being emitted by the bulb, and the higher the lumens (e.g. 1,000L) the brighter that bulb will be for your plants.

You can research your plants light requirements in our plant care library. You can also reasearch your plant and which grow light would be best for it using Soltechs Plant Guide!

Grow Light Duration and Distance

Determining the optimal height and duration for grow lights can depend on the specific plants and the type of light you're using. However, a general guideline is to offer most plants 12-16 hours of light daily to simulate a natural light cycle. You can incorporate outlet timers to automate your grow light system to turn off and on at certain points of the day.

Regarding placement, maintaining a distance of 10-12 inches from the top of the plants is generally recommended. This positioning ensures an even distribution of light, fostering growth without causing undue stress.

It's important to note that these recommendations are starting points. Observing your plants and their reactions to the light will provide valuable information, and adjustments might be necessary based on individual plant species and their specific needs.

Can't find a lamp compatible with your space or plants needs? Incorporate a grow light bulb with Soltechs Modern Pendant and Socket to suspend your bulb to any height with an enhanced look.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Grow Light is too close

Watch out for signs that your grow light is too close to your plants foliage, such as brown leaves or even chlorosis. Identifying whether a grow light is too close to a plant is crucial for the plant's health. Raise the light source or reduce the light intensity to prevent damage.

Moreover, if a plant displays signs of wilting, or if its growth seems unusually stunted or deformed, it could be a clear indication that the light intensity is too high. In some cases, leaves may also become unusually dry or brittle. It's essential to monitor your plants regularly and adjust the light positioning if you notice any of these symptoms.


Overwatering can be a common issue when using grow lights. Ensure you follow the appropriate watering schedule for your plants, as they may require less water when growing indoors.

Not Rotating Plants

Rotate your plants regularly to ensure even light exposure on all sides. This prevents one-sided growth and promotes balanced development.

Not Cleaning Grow Lights

Dust and debris can accumulate on your grow lights, reducing their efficiency and compromising its thermal efficiency. To keep your light shining at its best, turn it off, let it cool, and then gently wipe it off with a soft cloth.


By following these steps and guidelines, you can effectively use grow lights to create a lush and thriving indoor garden, regardless of the natural light conditions in your home.

Words By The Sill

Empowering all people to be plant people—a collection of articles from The Sill’s team of plant experts across a variety of plant care topics to inspire confidence in the next generation of plant parents. Welcome to Plant Parenthood™.

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