10 Tips for Using Artificial Light

on Your Houseplants


Outdoor plants are thankful to spend winter months inside where conditions are less harsh and they can get the attention they need. Being inside presents a few challenges such as moisture (or lack of moisture) in the air as well as lighting. Getting your plant the natural light it needs is not always possible when plants are moved to an inside space. Thankfully, there are alternatives!

Artificial lights serve plants well when natural light isn’t an option. Fluorescent bulbs, which are inexpensive and easy to obtain, can be placed above plants to provide them light. Be sure to watch for any signs of discoloration or stunted growth within the first week. If you are keeping your light on too long your plant may become faded or burnt.

Here are 10 tips to consider:

  1. GET COOL: Among fluorescent bulbs, look for “cool white” bulbs, which imitate sunlight the best. Incandescent spotlights are not as good, but they can work if you buy “self-reflectorized” bulbs.
  2. MIRRORS: If you are using a lamp on your plant, place a mirror opposite the light to create more reflection and light.
  3. EQUAL TIME: Rotate your plant regularly to make sure that equal light spectrums are being supplied to the plant.
  4. GET MORE: If your plant isn’t getting enough light, consider adding more bulbs or another lamp. You should match the indoor lighting to the outdoor lighting requirements a plant needs.
  5. ABOUT A FOOT: Although it won’t look beautiful, keep your light from 6 to 12 inches from your plant. Never allow the bulb to touch your plant.
  6. IS IT TOO HOT? Test out the intensity of your light. If it gets too hot when you hold your hand under it, it’s probably too hot for your plant. (Running a ceiling fan nearby can alleviate this a bit.)
  7. LOTS OF LIGHT: Some plants can require up to 16 hours of light per day. Read up on what’s best for your plant and try putting your lamp on a timer!
  8. WATER NEEDS: Plants under artificial lights tend to dry out faster. Try an automatic plant waterer to keep your soil appropriately moist.
  9. HUMIDITY: Help your plants maintain the appropriate humidity by adding pebbles to the bottom of their pot.
  10. IS IT GROWING? Is your plant getting enough light? If your plant would normally continue growing through the winter and it doesn’t, then it needs more light. If it gets limp and leggy, then it needs more light. Otherwise, as long as it stays green it should be OK.

You may be wondering why indoor gardeners prefer fluorescent lights over incandescent lights. There are many reasons, actually. Most fluorescent bulbs produce light from the blue and red part of the visible light spectrum, which plants need for photosynthesis. Fluorescent lights last longer and are also much more energy efficient. They also produce far less heat than an incandescent bulb, which keeps plants from drying out too quickly.

Your Experiences With Houseplants

What challenges do you have with your houseplants  or when bringing your outside plants indoors? Is it watering? Lighting? Air quality? Share your concerns with us in the comments below!

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