Lighting: the source of sun for your indoor garden, clones and germinating seedlings. Indoor container gardening, hydroponic, aquaponic and aeroponic systems all rely on artificial lighting for photosynthesis to occur. Photosynthesis is the plant’s way of processing light into energy. The strength of the light source and the spectrum of light aid in the proper development of indoor plants. Growing indoors and using indoor grow light systems for your container gardening is a great way to avoid seasonal fluctuations, allowing you to enjoy gardening all year long. Let’s look a few options to learn how to grow plants indoors with lights.

Do all lights work for all stages of growth? Just like in our own lives, we out grow things and mature. During this process, it is important for us to recognize these different stages and help with the transition. The same applies to plants. During the cloning stage, indoor lighting is the least of your worries. When attempting to root cuttings its important to encourage root growth as opposed to encouraging the production of foliage and leaves. Using HID or any other form of high powered indoor lighting will confuse your cuttings into trying to grow more foliage instead of propagating or developing roots. During this process, your cuttings will begin to exhaust their limited supply of nutrients. Yellowing of the leaves is one indicator that your cuttings are running low on nitrogen and are hungry. If roots have not yet developed, then your cuttings will have a difficult time absorbing the much needed and desired nutrients. Just like the difficulty one has trying to concentrate when we’re hungry, your cuttings will not be devoting 100% of their attention to producing roots. Powerful indoor lighting is best suited for later stages of plant growth, such as flowering, when your plants are mature with a solid root system and are ready to bare fruit.

Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. Too much light during the early stages can stress out your cuttings and prohibit root development. Confusing a cutting by providing excessive light not only can deplete nutrient reserves, but can also delay rooting and even kill young cuttings. During the cloning stage, concentrate on producing roots.

On top of that, the use of unnecessary light wastes electricity and creates potentially unneeded excess heat. Dual bulb T12 florescent indoor lighting fixtures work well and are a very inexpensive option for great propagation lighting and indoor seedling germination. T5 lighting is a great option as well, but is commonly used in excess. Single bulb T5 indoor lighting fixtures are more than sufficient during these delicate stages of plant life. If you are currently using the more common 4 bulb lights, then it would be advised to turn off or remove 3 of the bulbs. Once your cuttings have rooted, you can begin introducing more light and start the transitioning from the cutting stage to the vegetation stage. Once in full vegetation, increase the light for the desired growth structure and rate. Other florescent lights like CFLs – or compact florescent lights – can be a good option for seedlings and cuttings as well.

LEDs are another suitable light for plant propagation. LED indoor grow lights offer a more precise spectrum of lighting that may help encourage root development over a more broad spectrum. LEDs are also a good choice as they require little energy consumption and produce minimal amounts of heat.

Whichever way you chose to provide light for your young plants, be sure to consider the stage of plant life, the cost of producing such artificial light, and the goals you are after. If your goal is to propagate roots, then concentrate on that and then transition into later stages of plant growth. Stay tuned for the next stages of growth, where we will talk about the lighting needs of your plant during the vegetative phase. Keep it green!