Grow Lights for Your Hydroponic Garden – Minneapolis St. Paul, MN
Of the four basic things every plant needs – light, water, nutrition, and climate – proper lighting is the most important. Adequate light is the key to photosynthesis. Without adequate lighting, plants grow weakly, are leggy, and may even die. Our eyes automatically adjust to varying light conditions, so what seems like bright lighting can be useless for plant growth. Natural sunlight is ideal for plant growth. For indoor gardening, it is up to the gardener to supply proper lighting, in adequate quantities and with the proper color spectrum, to replace that natural sunlight.
Making the Right Choices for Your Grow Lights
There are only three basic types of lighting suitable for indoor and hydroponic gardening. Each has it’s own advantages and disadvantages. On this page, you’ll find a very brief explanation of each type of lighting. Click the links for additional information on the individual lighting types and to check out products available at Interior Gardens.
Grow Lights are a special category of lighting. Normal household lamps simply are not adequate for proper plant growth. Plants need bright, high-powered lighting to thrive. Here’s a chart to demonstrate why that’s so:
Light Output Chart
In addition, normal household lamps just don’t have the proper color spectrum for gardening success. The sun produces a full range of colors, and plants require parts of the color spectrum not present in typical household light bulbs. Also, different periods in the growth cycle of most plants require different parts of the color spectrum.
Color Temperature Chart
For each type of bulb, the light output is centered on the color spectrum as shown in this chart, and measured in Kelvin Temperature. As you’ll learn, each type of bulb is best suited for different uses in the indoor garden.
3 Basic Types of Grow Lights
- High Intensity Discharge (HID) Lighting – Both Metal Halide (MH) and High Pressure Sodium (HPS) bulbs fall into this category. Their intensely bright light makes them ideal for indoor planting. Both require reflector housings and ballasts to operate. In almost all cases, the same reflectors and switchable ballasts can be used to for both MH and HPS bulbs. The area covered by these powerful lamps depends on their wattage. Ranging from 150 watts to 1000 watts, a single fixture can cover from a small self-contained hydroponics garden up to 20-40 square feet. Large installations will require multiple fixtures. Since HID lamps create a great deal of heat, proper venting or even ducting and fans are usually needed.
- Metal Halide – These bulbs produce intense light in the blue-white spectrum – excellent for vegetative plant growth. A plant grown under a metal halide light will often exhibit increased leaf growth and strong stem and branch development. They are less suited for the flowering and fruiting stages of most plants.
- High Pressure Sodium – These lamps produce an orange light, which simulates the autumn sun. This light is best for fruiting and flowering – flowers and fruit will be larger and more prolific when these bulbs are used. Flowers and vegetables finished off under high-pressure sodium will show tighter, stouter blossoms with increased yields. High-pressure sodium lights are often used in commercial greenhouses. If there is to be only one light source for the entire life of a flowering plant, HPS is the best economical choice. Many indoor and hydroponics gardeners switch between MH and HPS bulbs, depending on the growth cycle. Almost all lighting ballasts and reflectors from our Minnesota gardening store support both types of HID bulbs.
- Fluorescent Grow Lights – Since fluorescent grow lights produce just a fraction of the power of Metal Halide and High Pressure Sodium grow lights, they are generally unsatisfactory for general use. They are useful for starting new plants and for some compact hydroponics planting, but must be placed very close to the plants. To cover a 2′ by 4′ area, you’ll need a minimum of four 54-watt 4′ fluorescent bulbs, placed as close to the growing plants as possible. Even then, results may not be satisfactory and producing fruits and vegetables will be difficult. Still, fluorescent grow lights are well suited for the very early stages of plant growth, and are often used to start new plants.
- LED Grow Lights – Grow lights using efficient LED sources are relatively new. Early versions of these lights had insufficient power to be effective for most growers. Recently, however, Kessil has introduced a new high-density LED array technology, which packs more LEDs and offers more power than previous LED Grow Lights. Interior Gardens now carries the Kessil H150 line of 32W LED Grow Lights. Finally, efficient but powerful LED Grow Lights are ready for your plants.
Essential Plant Lighting Rules
- Create Your Own Seasons Indoors With Grow Lights – In the outdoor world, plant growth is based on the time of year. As the cycle of light and dark varies from season to season and from month to month, plants move from vegetative growth to flowering and fruiting periods. Indoors, it’s up to you to create a schedule that gives plants the signals they need. Using grow lights, it’s possible to control every phase of plant growth by varying timing and the color spectrum.
- Controlling Indoor Lighting and Hydroponic Nutrients – One of the most powerful of reasons for growing indoors is control. With outdoor gardening, you’re at the mercy of nature. Indoors, you can control everything. From lighting periods and spectrum to hydroponic nutrients and CO2 levels, you can create an ideal environment for your plants. You’ll find everything you need at our Twin Cities garden store to achieve success, including our dark room tents that give you maximum control.
- Choose The Right Light – when choosing a light source the requirements of the plant you are growing is important. Most vegetables, herbs and flowering plants require high levels of light, while some tropical plants including orchids and African violets will thrive at lower light levels.
- Have Enough Light – the biggest mistake people make when purchasing grow lights is not getting enough light. It is always possible to reduce the level by moving the bulbs farther away, but it’s not possible to add light by moving the lamps closer, since the coverage area decreases.
- Maintain the Proper Distance – Fluorescent lights need to be 1 to 4 inches from the plants. High intensity discharge lights should be 1 to 3 feet from the plant. And make sure you change your bulbs on a regular basis. Fluorescent and HID bulbs will last about 15,000 hours, but they lose 25-35% of their intensity after 4,000-6,000 hours. You eyes won’t be able to see this decrease because they adjust, but your plants can feel it.
Grow Lights For Every Indoor Garden – Minneapolis St. Paul, Minnesota
Interior Gardens knows that nothing is more important to the success of your hydroponic indoor garden than the proper lighting. We’ve carefully selected the best products on the market for this crucial need. At our Minneapolis Retail Store, our expert staff can help you put together exactly the system and configuration you need for your indoor planting, and at prices that are unmatched. You can also assemble your own system from individual components. We’re dedicated to matching your needs with the best, most affordable system possible.