Plants need light in order to manufacture food and use the nutrients from that food they produce. The amount of light a plant gets will influence all aspects of plant development. So for anyone who wishes to grow plants indoors, it is necessary to supplement the light through artificial means.
To understand exactly what the light requirements for healthy growth are, it is helpful to understand how light works and how different types of light can benefit different aspects of plant growth.
Plants absorb red and blue light and when those colors are combined, photosynthesis can occur. Red and blue light are important for other aspects of plant growth, however.
Red light is largely responsible for flower and seed production, but it is an essential requirement for plant maturation. If plants only grow under red light, they will grow very tall and spindly.
Blue light is needed for leaf development and growth. Plants that are only exposed to blue light will not grow tall. They will be short, stocky and have thick stems, and the leaves will be very dark and the plant will produce few flowers, if it produces any at all.
The typical round light bulb that we have in our house is called an incandescent light. These lights are perfectly effective and acceptable for plants that have low light requirements. These plants are foliage plants, not flowering plants. Incandescent light won’t meet the needs of flowering plants or plants that require a lot of light.
Incandescent lights give off lots of red light as well as infrared radiation, and that is converted to heat. This is why a light bulb feels so hot to the touch. The high amount of heat that these lights give off can damage the leaves of plants, but because the bulb is only giving off red light, the light doesn’t get distributed and it only covers a small area.
Florescent lights are considerably more efficient than incandescent lights. The amount of light they emit per watt is 2 1/2 times the amount of an incandescent bulb. But florescent lights vary when it comes to red-blue output. Cool bulbs tend to be bluer on the red-blue spectrum, whereas warm bulbs tend to be much redder.
In order for plants to grow, thrive, flower and be generally healthy, they need both the red and blue output. Cool bulbs may be acceptable for starting seeds.Once the plants start growing, however, then it becomes necessary to provide the full spectrum.
It is possible to accomplish this by using an equal number of cool and warm florescent
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