Q. Can you provide some information on grow lights for plants?
For optimal plant growth you need a broad spectrum of light waves. Blue light waves promote foliage growth, while red waves promote flowering.
Fluorescent lights are far preferable to incandescent ones. Incandescent bulbs are a source of red rays but not blue, and they emit too much heat to be placed near most plants. In addition, the life of incandescent bulbs is 1/10th that of fluorescent bulbs. Special fluorescent tubes designed for growing plants have a higher output in the red range, balancing the blue output characteristic of ordinary fluorescent lighting.
Grow lights made specifically for plants can be expensive, so cost may affect your choice. Some people opt for cheaper lighting even if it doesn't provide quite the entire spectrum they want. Space is also a consideration. If your space can't accommodate really long bulbs, you may decide on a less expensive light in a more limited spectrum that fits in a small area.
The University of Missouri extension provides comprehensive information on lighting choices, including how much light is needed and mixing more than one type of light to optimize the spectrum.
For tips on a variety of gardening topics, see our Plant Information Guides.
- Courtesy of NYBG Plant Information Service
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