How to Pick Out Grow Lights for Succulents

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How to Pick Out Grow Lights for Succulents

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Buying Considerations

Types

Cost

How to Choose a Grow Light

Where to Shop

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Let’s face it: contrary to popular belief, succulents can be hard to keep alive indoors. They require a lot of light in order to thrive (remember they are native to desert conditions), which can be difficult to provide in most indoor environments. Even the brightest south-facing windows may not provide the amount of light that your succulent desires. That’s why grow lights are a great choice for those who are growing succulents indoors, and while they may seem a bit daunting if you have never bought a grow light before, they are actually really simple to use and set up.

There are a few important things to consider before you purchase a grow light for your succulents. Grow lights come in various sizes, strengths, and price points so it is important that you buy one that will be useful for your unique situation. Here are the top things you need to know before buying a grow light for your indoor succulents.

The 8 Best Grow Lights, Tested by The Spruce

Buying Considerations for Grow Lights

Spectrum

All light, visible and invisible, exists on a spectrum that is measured in nanometers. Visible light falls between 400 to 700 nanometers on the spectrum, which is also known as Photosynthetically Active Radiation (PAR). PAR is the wavelengths of light that plants can actually use for photosynthesis.

When it comes to grow lights, you have likely heard of “blue light” versus “red light.” These two types of light refer to different subsections of PAR that are used by plants during photosynthesis for specific purposes. “Blue light” exists in the 400-490 nanometer range and helps support vegetative growth, while “red light” exists in the 580-700 nanometer range and helps support flowering and fruiting.

Many grow lights available on the market today are “full-spectrum” lights, meaning that they cover the full PAR spectrum, plus a little extra. However, you will also see grow lights that are specifically manufactured to cover the blue or red light ranges as well, which can help you to tailor the light to your specific growing goals if desired.

Light Output

Light output refers to the strength and intensity of the light being emitted from a light source and is measured in lumens. The higher the lumen rating, the brighter the light. For succulents, a grow light with a lumen rating between 2300 to 9300 (similar to full daylight) per square foot is sufficient.

Power and Efficiency

The amount of electricity used by a grow light is measured in watts. To understand the efficiency of a grow light, you will need to understand the lumens (light output factor) per watt. The higher the number, the more efficient the light is in terms of energy consumption.

Types of Grow Lights

There are a number of different grow lights available on the market today including metal halide (MH), high pressure sodium (HPS), fluorescent, and LED. However, for the purposes of smaller indoor applications (versus medium to large greenhouse setups), we are only going to cover fluorescent grow lights and LEDs in detail. These two options are great for succulents and are some of the most widely available grow lights.

LEDs

LED grow lights are the most popular choice for growing succulents indoors. LEDs are energy efficient, long lasting, and have low running temperatures—meaning growers don’t have to worry about plants being burned if the light is placed too close. The one major disadvantage to LED grow lights is the initial cost, although as these lights become more popular and widely available the relative cost has decreased over time.

Fluorescent Lights

Fluorescent grow lights come in two different forms: compact fluorescent lights (CFL) and fluorescent tubes. Both can be used for succulents successfully, and your choice will likely be based on the amount of space you have available for your grow light setup. Fluorescent lights tend to be cheap to purchase, efficient, and versatile. However, they do not last as long as LEDs and they tend to run hotter than LEDs as well, meaning growers should be careful about how close they place fluorescent grow lights to their plants. Fluorescent lights also contain mercury, which means they are less environmentally friendly to dispose of.

Cost

Grow lights come in a wide range of sizes, strengths, and applications, so the cost that you can expect to pay for a grow light also varies depending on what you need it for. If you are looking for a small light to support the growth of one or two plants in your home, you can likely find a grow light for between $50-$100 that will do the trick. Alternatively, if you are hoping to use grow lights to grow lots of succulents in a larger space, you may be looking at a heftier investment—several hundred dollars at least.

How to Choose a Grow Light

Now that we have covered the basics when it comes to grow lights, it is time to figure out which option will work best for you. Here are some questions to consider as you choose a grow light to add to your home.

How Will the Grow Light Be Used?

Will you be using the grow light to supplement the existing light that your succulent is receiving indoors, or are you hoping to create a setup for your succulent in a location that doesn’t normally receive natural light (i.e. your basement)? If your succulent already receives a good amount of light, the grow light that you choose won’t need to be as strong as if you are planning to have the grow light be your plant’s primary source of light.

What Is Your Budget?

As previously mentioned, grow lights are available at a wide range of price points. Setting a budget for a new grow light will help to narrow down your potential options.

What Kind of Space Do You Have?

The space that you have available for a grow light will also help to narrow down your choices. Grow lights come in various different sizes—from single bulbs to tabletop lamps, to large overhead tube lights—so measuring your space carefully is another important consideration when it comes to choosing a grow light.

Where to Shop

Grow lights can be purchased from a number of different online and brick-and-mortar retailers, depending on what you are looking for. Some growers prefer to shop in-store so they can see the lights in person before committing to a purchase, while others prefer the convenience of shopping online. If you are comfortable with shopping online, you will have a much wider range of products to choose from.

Buying In-Store

If you are shopping in-store for a grow light, you will have the advantage of being able to speak with a customer service associate and ask any questions that you may have. Ensure that you go prepared with the type of light that you are looking for (size, budget, light spectrum, type, etc.) to ensure a seamless experience. Before purchasing, it is also a good idea to ask about the return policy, as well as any warranties that may be available.

Buying Online

If you are looking to purchase a grow light online, one of the most important things you can do (outside of ensuring you have chosen the right light for your needs) is read reviews thoroughly. Also ensure that you check out the company’s return policy, and any warranties that may be offered on the product.

Where to Buy a Grow Light

Most big box centers, nurseries, garden centers, and superstores sell grow lights. Always ensure that you do your research on the particular product and brand before committing to a grow light. With so many options available, it is important to remember that not all grow lights are created equal!

FAQ

Do succulents need a grow light indoors?

Technically, succulents don’t need grow lights in order to survive indoors. However, it is usually recommended, especially if your home doesn’t get at least several hours a day of bright, direct sunlight.

Do white grow lights work for growing plants?

In short, yes! Grow lights that emit white light, versus the red or blue light, simply cover a wider range of the visible light spectrum, so are not as narrowly focused on vegetative versus fruiting/flowering growth. For hobbyists and indoor growers in particular, these lights are popular since they provide a more aesthetically pleasing environment.

What is the difference between a standard LED light and an LED grow light?

Put simply, LED grow lights are designed to cover the specific ranges of visible light that plants require in order to grow, while the primary purpose of standard LED lights is to provide illumination. This means, while regular LED lights might provide some of the PAR wavelengths that plants require in order to photosynthesize, they will not provide all of the light that your plants require. If possible, investing in dedicated LED grow lights is always recommended.

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