Discover the ultimate guide to artificial lighting for indoor plants. Learn why indoor plants need artificial lighting, the different types of lighting available, and factors to consider when choosing the best option. Keep your plants thriving with the right amount and quality of light.


Are you struggling to keep your indoor plants healthy and thriving? One of the key factors for successful indoor gardening is providing the right amount and quality of light. While natural sunlight is ideal, it is not always sufficient, especially in areas with limited natural light or during the winter months. This is where artificial lighting comes in. In this guide, we will explore everything you need to know about artificial lighting for indoor plants and how to choose the best option for your specific needs. So, let’s shed some light on this topic!

Why Do Indoor Plants Need Artificial Lighting?

Indoor plants require light for photosynthesis, the process by which they convert light energy into chemical energy to fuel their growth. Without adequate light, plants may become weak, leggy, and fail to produce flowers or fruit. While some plants can survive in low-light conditions, most plants have specific light requirements to thrive.

Understanding the Different Types of Artificial Lighting

There are several options when it comes to choosing artificial lighting for indoor plants. Let’s explore the most common types:

1. LED Grow Lights

LED grow lights are one of the most popular and efficient options for indoor gardening. They produce little heat compared to the brightness they provide, making them energy-efficient. LED lights come in various forms, including screw-in replacement bulbs, clip-on fixtures, and high-intensity greenhouse lights. They offer full-spectrum lighting, which includes the blue and red light wavelengths necessary for plant growth. LED lights can also be programmed to provide different levels of intensity at different times of the day. Some LED products even have smart technology that allows synchronization with a smartphone.

2. Fluorescent Lights

Fluorescent lights are another common choice for indoor plant lighting. They are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and come in different sizes. T5 systems are considered the most efficient and brightest fluorescent bulbs available. They use 75 percent less energy than incandescent lights and can provide light output comparable to a much higher wattage incandescent bulb. Fluorescent lights provide full-spectrum lighting and can mimic greenhouse or outdoor growth conditions. They are suitable for a wide range of plants, including culinary herbs, greens, and starter plants. Houseplants needing lots of light, such as cattleya orchids, succulents, and carnivorous plants, also perform well under fluorescent lights.

3. Incandescent Lights

Incandescent lights are better suited for lighting up a room or growing low-light houseplants. They are not ideal for light-loving plants as they release only about 10 percent of their energy as light and 90 percent as heat. Incandescent lights may be suitable for low-light-loving plants like vines, ferns, or dracaenas.

4. Other Types of Lighting

There are other types of lighting options available, such as high-intensity discharge (HID) lights and halides, which are used in larger spaces or for larger plants. These lights are often utilized in commercial growing operations due to their high intensity and coverage.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Artificial Lighting

Now that we’ve discussed the different types of artificial lighting available, let’s delve into the factors you should consider when choosing the best option for your indoor plants:

1. Light Spectrum

Plants primarily utilize the blue and red parts of the light spectrum for photosynthesis. Blue light promotes leaf and stem growth, while red light is crucial for flowering and fruiting. Full-spectrum grow lights are recommended as they mimic natural sunlight and provide a balanced spectrum. LED lights and fluorescent bulbs are both capable of providing the necessary spectrum for plant growth, but LED systems are generally considered a better choice. They consume less electricity, have a longer lifespan, produce less heat, and can be more cost-effective in the long run.

2. Light Intensity

Light intensity refers to the brightness of light and can be measured in various ways, such as lumens, foot-candles, and photosynthetic photon flux (PPF). Different plants require different light intensities, so it is essential to know the light requirements of your specific plants. Aim for 20 to 40 watts per square foot of illumination. Divide the wattage of your bulb by 20 to obtain the minimum light intensity range and divide by 40 for the maximum range. For example, a 400-watt system can light between 10 and 20 square feet of interior landscape. Ensuring the appropriate light intensity is vital for healthy plant growth.

3. Duration of Light

The duration of light exposure also varies depending on the specific plant. Some plants require longer periods of light, while others need a dark period for proper growth. A general guideline is to provide indoor plants with 12 to 18 hours of light per day. However, it is important to research the light requirements of each plant to ensure they receive the ideal duration of light exposure.

4. Distance from Light Source

The distance between the light source and the plants is crucial for optimal growth. Placing the light source too far away can result in leggy and weak plants, while placing it too close can cause the leaves to burn. The optimal distance varies depending on the type of lighting and the specific needs of the plants. As a general rule, seedlings should be placed 4 to 6 inches away, hydroponic lettuce and herbs require 6 to 12 inches, foliage houseplants need 12 to 24 inches, and flowering houseplants should be positioned 6 to 12 inches away.

5. Temperature

Some types of grow lights can generate heat, which may or may not be suitable for certain plants. LED lights are generally cooler and do not produce excessive heat, making them a preferred choice for indoor growing. It is crucial to consider the temperature requirements of your plants and choose lighting options accordingly to avoid heat stress and damage.

6. Regular Monitoring and Adjustments

Observing the growth of your plants is key to optimizing their indoor lighting conditions. Be sure to regularly monitor the overall health, development, and response of your plants to the artificial lighting. If necessary, adjust the intensity of the light by changing the placement of your plants or light fixture to make them closer or farther from the light source. Each plant is unique, so paying attention to their specific needs is essential.


Artificial lighting plays a vital role in the success of indoor gardening. By understanding the different types of artificial lighting available and considering factors such as light spectrum, intensity, duration, distance, and temperature, you can choose the best lighting option for your indoor plants.

LED grow lights and fluorescent lights are often the top choices for most indoor gardeners due to their efficiency, energy-saving capabilities, and ability to provide the necessary spectrum for plant growth. It is important to match the lighting requirements of your plants with the appropriate lighting system to ensure they receive the ideal conditions for healthy growth.

Remember to regularly monitor your plants and make any necessary adjustments to the lighting setup as needed. With the right artificial lighting, your indoor plants can thrive and bring life and beauty to your home all year round.


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Remember to always consult the specific light requirements of your plants and consider their individual needs when implementing artificial lighting. Happy indoor gardening!