Young plants from seeds are delicate and need special care in order to germinate. Most people put some seedlings on a windowsill and expect nature to take care of the rest, only to be disappointed when they realize there isn't enough light to get them going.
The astute gardener, however, has other tools at their disposal and uses grow lights to expedite the process. You can get your seedlings up and running quickly by providing them with artificial sunlight using a set of grow lights.
But how can you pick the most effective grow lights for young plants?
A decent set of grow lights will be constructed for plants, provide adequate illumination for the seedlings beneath them, and be adaptable to the specifics of your indoor garden. It's up to you to find the type of illumination, such as LED lights or another type, or a complete lighting kit, that works best for your gardening needs.
If you're at a loss as to where to find the most effective lighting for germinating seeds, have no fear; assistance is on the way. We have compiled a list of the best lights for this purpose, along with an explanation of why we think they are the best option for ensuring the continued growth and vitality of your seedlings from the moment they emerge from their containers.
Last update on 2023-09-27 / Affiliate links / Images, Product Titles, and Product Highlights from Amazon Product Advertising API
When shopping for a grow lamp, it's crucial that you pay attention to the wavelength of light it emits. To maximize photosynthesis, plant growth need light that covers the entire visible spectrum. Seek out versions that provide the complete visible light spectrum, including the blue end of the PAR scale. White-light capabilities are being built into some models.
Your LED grow light needs to be versatile. For your preferred growing circumstances, look for models with blue, red, and full-spectrum modes. The growth of your plants can be influenced by switching between different illumination settings.
The color rendering index, or CRI, measures how well your LEDs render colors other than white. In order to get the most out of your new grow light, look for a model with a high PAR rating.
The most effective seed starting grow lights have timers. Depending on what your plant requires, you can choose between a 3-hour, 6-hour, or 12-hour light cycle.
The ability to set a timer on your lamp is an excellent convenience. If yours doesn't, you'll need to buy a separate timer or operate it manually.
The LEDs' light output can be amplified with the aid of a reflector. Depending on the reflector's design and construction, it is possible to get a 30% increase in lumen output. Reflectors that are constructed with polished aluminum or mylar are the best you can get.
You can get by without a reflector for your grow lamp. If you want to speed up the development of your seedlings, however, we suggest looking at versions with reflectors. The canopies on some versions are removable, whereas on others they are fixed.
Shapes and sizes
You may buy grow lights in a wide variety of forms, from standard-sized incandescent bulbs to clip-on rods and even extended shop lights. Depending on how you intend to use your seed starting arrangement, different sizes and shapes will work best.
Place your light right above your seedlings for the best results. If it's too far away or too high up, they'll have to stretch to get it, which will weaken the stems.
Therefore, if you only need to grow one tray of seedlings, a model with a single bulb might suffice, especially if you also have access to natural light from a window. A tube lamp the length of your seedling tray would provide more uniform illumination, but it is also more expensive.
A longer shop light will allow for more even covering of your seedling trays if you are beginning numerous flats at once.
To illuminate their gardens, most people today choose either fluorescent or light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs. Sodium vapor lights are another sort of grow light, however they aren't as widely available and are typically exclusively used in industrial greenhouses.
Before LEDs became popular, fluorescent shop lights were the standard for beginning seeds indoors. LEDs are more expensive than fluorescent lights, but they save money in the long run and last much longer than regular bulbs. Furthermore, they are now offered in a wide range of sizes and shapes, and they generate no unnecessary heat. You can find both at your neighborhood hardware shop, on the internet, or at a garden center.
The visible light spectrum from about 400 (violet) to 700 (red) nanometers is known as the photosynthetically active radiation spectrum, and it is used by plants for photosynthesis. In general, plants absorb more blue and blue-green light as seedlings and more red light as they mature into flowers and fruit-bearing plants.
Stick with lights branded as blue-green spectrum or balanced light spectrum if you're only starting seeds or growing leafy veggies. The terms "for greens and seeds" and "for flowers and fruit" are appearing on the packaging of grow lights.
The Kelvin Scale
The Kelvin scale measures the temperature of light and runs from 1,000 to 10,000, with higher numbers indicating colors that are closer to those of natural sunlight. The capital letter K denotes a Kelvin degree.
Lower than 3500K, the color temperature tends to be warm and exhibit an amber cast, whereas higher temperatures approach a more pure, or cooler, white.
An approximate temperature of 6500K is optimal for green, leafy vegetative growth. The production of flowers and fruit, however, requires a time of exposure to warmer colours at around 3000K.
Lumens vs. Watts
In the past, watts was a reliable measure of a light bulb's intensity. Comparatively, the light output of a 100-watt bulb was 1.5 times that of a 40-watt bulb.
Nonetheless, with the introduction of energy-saving light bulbs, wattage is no longer a reliable measure of illumination quality. Lumens have replaced watts as the standard measurement of a light bulb's efficacy, but watts still indicate how much power is used to create the light.
One 1,600-lumen energy-efficient LED uses as little as 22 watts of power while providing the illumination of a 100-watt incandescent. And a compact fluorescent light bulb with the same amount of brightness would consume about 26 watts.
Simply said, if the lumen rating is higher, the light will be brighter. About 2,000 lumens per square foot is suitable for young plants. Some flowering plants need as much as 10,000 lumens of lighting per square foot in order to thrive.
Are LED Lights Good For Growing Seedlings?
Seedlings are typically grown under LED lights since they are more energy efficient than fluorescent lights and produce less heat.
Their low-heat output makes it easier for the gardener to regulate the temperature and keeps damaging sunlight away from tender seedlings.
How Far Should A Grow Light Be From Seedlings?
Grow lights' wattage is the most important factor in determining how far away from seedlings they should be placed.
However, it is recommended that a conventional LED light arrangement be hung at a height of 24 to 36 inches above the seedlings.
How many hours of light do seedlings need each day?
For optimal growth, experts recommend providing your seedlings with 16–18 hours of light per day. This lighting schedule mimics the conditions plants experience throughout the summer when photosynthesis is at its peak. Lights shouldn't be configured to automatically turn on and off every 24 hours. Taking a break from the light for a few hours will help your seedlings recover from the strain of the day's growing hours.
What is the best color spectrum for my seedlings?
Investigating the system's output before buying your grow lamp is crucial. By simulating the shorter days of autumn, red LEDs encourage flowering and fruiting in young plants and push them into full bloom earlier in the growing season. Since red light is so important for plant development, it shouldn't predominate in your grow lamp. The vegetative growth phase of plant development is aided by blue light LEDs. The addition of red light is necessary to achieve a perfect spectrum for young plants.
A weak and easily damaged plant is the result when poor quality seedlings are used as a starting point. If you invest in a high-quality grow light for your seedlings, you can be assured that only the healthiest, most robust plants will eventually emerge from your efforts.
Any of the options we've suggested would work well as a start-up lighting system for your seedlings. Investing in one of the top growth lamps or lights is an essential for serious gardeners, since this will ensure that only the healthiest seeds germinate.