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How to Use a Grow Light to Help your Plants Grow

If you live in an apartment or within a large city, it may be nearly impossible to find adequate garden space to have a garden. Even the tiniest gardens require life-giving light to help them grow, after all, plants can’t go through photosynthesis and make their food without it! Even if you don’t have a large area to plant and water your garden, there are plenty of other options that will help plants grow just as great as natural sunlight. Grow lights are typically LED lights that can match the sun’s natural UV rays and keep your plants growing healthy and strong. And, contrary to what most articles out there will say, they’re not just for weed growing!
After you determine what plants you’d like to grow and how big the space is, you can easily do some simple research to find out which light bulbs work best for certain plants. If you have pre-existing plants that you need to bring indoors for the winter or acclimate weather, make sure to position bulbs high enough to not burn the petals or leaves of a plant. Here is a nifty tutorial to help you get started!

General Materials

Material needs may differ depending on what kinds of indoor plants you have or what kind of space you’re working with. The larger the area, the higher voltage bulb you’re going to need. If you have grown, mature plants, you may also want to make sure you’re using adequate light. The same goes for seedlings that don’t require too much UV strength.
     
 
  Some plants require red or blue lights, while others flourish under regular white lights. Do some quick research online to determine which light bulb color would be best for the plant you have. Keep in mind that some bulbs are high density while others are low density. It’s important to match the plant with the correct bulb density so as not to harm the plant and promote proper growth.  
  Gooseneck or movable lamps work best when it comes to pointing them in the direction of plants

Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Seedlings vs. Plants

If you are working with seedlings or even start seeds, make sure to find appropriate pots for each plant. Seedlings grow best in peat starter pods that can be found in any home improvement store or garden center. Seedlings can grow just fine in regular pots. Gather these materials beforehand so you don’t have to worry about it later.

2. Choosing Bulbs

It’s important to make sure you are using the correct bulb for the right plant. High-density bulbs work super great for hardier plants such as ferns or rose bushes. Lower density bulbs need to be used for succulents or soft-stemmed flowers such as peonies and poppies. Depending on the area you live in, certain plants will grow better than others. Colored bulbs are also necessary when it comes to helping plants grow. Some plants thrive off of red or blue lights instead of just regular white light.

3. Setup

Once you have the area you want to use cleaned out or cleared for plants, you can start to set up your grow bulbs. The gooseneck lamps work best in this situation since you can easily bend them and move them to target certain plants or growing groups. Simply attach the necessary bulbs into the gooseneck lamp and install the base on either a wall or stand. (We recommend setting up lamps directly to a wall with a mount for better light to plant accessibility, but stands will work out alright, too.) When attaching lamps to a wall, be sure to use adequate screws to prevent the lamps from falling and breaking. A fall from a grow lamp could easily hurt your plants or even cause a dangerous area due to broken glass.

4. Positioning

It’s important to set up your grow lamps with distance from the plants. A safe distance for most plants is 4 to 5 feet away from the actual plant. Some hardier plants would require a closer grow distance, but be careful when using high density or strong UV bulbs. A strong bulb positioned too close to a plant can damage the plant, especially if growing seedlings or younger plants. Vegetable plants can also become damaged very easily when using a high density or high heat bulb. Make sure to look at the growing instructions for each plant you are growing to determine how much sunlight each one requires. After you figure the sunlight needs out, you can adjust the grow lamps accordingly.

On/Off Switch

Depending on your light setup, you may want to use an on/off timer switch to make sure all your plants are getting adequate light without having to remember which ones to turn on or off. You can easily set up any kind of LED light system with a nifty switch that can be turned on and off with the ease of a button. For those technologically inclined, there are also phone apps that can set up times for you and can be monitored via your cell phone. Cool!

5. Overall Care

The overall care of your plants should coincide with your careful grow lamp monitoring. Just because you have an awesome grow lamp feeding your plants essential light, you still need to be sure each plant is getting sufficient water and has plenty of drainage at the bottom of the pots. Drowning a plant is quite easy when using pots with no holes, so if you have a pot that came without holes, use a drill to create 4 to 5 holes so that all the extra water can drain out.

6. Repositioning

As your plants grow, odds are you are going to either need to change out bulbs or reposition bulbs. The gooseneck lamps make this process super simple since they are so versatile and will stay in any direction you bend them. If your lamp is a bit lower and you need to make it higher due to your plant’s growth, simply raise the lamp by the neck. You don’t need to unscrew and set up a wall mount again. Just move the neck of the lamp to accommodate growing plants.

Conclusion

Although we are demonstrating how to access and use grow bulbs via gooseneck lamps, you can easily get creative and make your own system. Some people prefer to use long bulbs suspended by cords or wire, while others prefer to use pop up bulbs that turn on just by pushing them. Our demonstration is using the gooseneck lamps since they are easily adjustable and will hang above your plants to keep them safe from overpowering due to inadequate distance. Either way, whatever method you decide to go with, all grow bulb structures are mostly the same. We can’t stress enough the importance of using the right bulbs for each plant, so please do some extra research beforehand to make sure you are giving your plant the best lighting it needs. This is a relatively easy setup and your plants will definitely thank you for it! This is a great way to keep your plants happy and healthy, and they won’t miss having an outside garden bed at all! Have any experience with grow lamps that you’d like to share? Please let us know about your experiences and methods in the comments!

About The Author

Candace Osmond

Award Winning Designer, Candace Osmond has been in the industry for over a decade. She studied Interior Decorating & Design and is also an accomplished writer and multi-published author. When she's not typing away from the comforts of her desk, Candace can be found travelling to warm destinations, tending to her garden, or enjoying the outdoor haven that is her backyard. Candace currently resides in the breathtaking Maritimes of Eastern Canada with her husband, two beautiful kids and one slobbery bulldog.

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