Can Plants Use Artificial Light for Photosynthesis?


Plant using artificial light source for photosynthesis
An artificial light source for photosynthesis

Most families have at least one houseplant in their homes. During prolonged periods of cloudy weather, your houseplants lack natural light to perform photosynthesis.

Also, when the cold season starts it is very difficult to leave them out in the sun. As they run the risk of withering due to the excessive cold.

The use of artificial lights during winter can help extend the growing season of indoor plants. In this article, I’ll discuss whether you can use artificial lights for your houseplants. 

Can Plants Use Artificial Light for Photosynthesis? Yes, plants can use the energy contained in artificial light for photosynthesis. Artificial light provides the energy necessary for their growth. You can ensure proper photosynthesis from germination to flowering. Nowadays, we have many types of modern lighting that help grow plants indoors. You can grow them isolating partially or completely from natural sunlight. The most popular artificial light sources are LED Grow lights, HPS, and CFL lamps.

Light: How important is It for Plants

Light is an important component of plant life. A plant (more precisely, its dry weight) consists of 45% carbon obtained from air. You know that the process of carbon assimilation is photosynthesis. This process occurs only with the participation of light, many external factors affect the intensity of photosynthesis. But the main thing is still the light intensity.

First of all, you will see that young plants and shoots suffer from a lack of lighting. Your plant leaf becomes pale, unsaturated, and smaller size. Their stem and internodes are extended, and the plant is leaning/reaching for a light source. In addition, here are some other signs: 

  • Your plant growth slows down the formation of new buds’ ceases.  
  • With a large deficit of light, you will see flowering may stop completely. 
  • Colorful species lose their decorative color, they become monotonous green 
  • Lower leaves dry and fall out

When You Can Use LED Lamps?

You can use LEDs in any situation. The role of artificial lighting is to increase the exposure of plants to light. Artificial light will ensure that your indoor plants make more photosynthesis and, consequently, develop better and faster.  The advantage of LED lights is that they do not heat up and therefore do not burn the plant.

Indoor plants using artificial light source for photosynthesis

You can have plants with lamps specially selected for them. This will facilitate care, as it will not be necessary to move the vase to receive sunlight.

Another way to use it is with succulents or small pots that you leave inside the house. An  LED strip will illuminate and still make the arrangement very beautiful.  

The bathroom is another interesting environment for flowers or foliage to look beautiful for longer. You can also use these artificial lights for outdoor potted plants.

Plants need more light in winter or in times of less sun. The additional light becomes important to guarantee the development of the plant.

Do Plants Grow Better Under Artificial Light or Sunlight?

You can grow Indoor plants both under artificial lights or sunlight. But it may surprise you that plants grow better in artificial light. In an artificial environment, you can provide all the elements necessary for plant growth.

In this way, you can provide the perfect duration of light and wavelength. As a result, the plants grow better under artificial light than sunlight.

Symptoms of Lack of Light in Plants

Abnormal growth: If your plant notices that it is too dark, it tries to get to where there is light. Usually, the direction is then as high up as possible in order to outgrow shade-givers. This behavior is known as abnormal growth. You will see the growth is very fast and unstable.

Loss of buds and leaves: In addition to abnormal growth, your plant may also simply lose its buds and/or leaves. The leaves first turn yellow and then simply fall off.

If you notice these two signs, you should immediately take care of a light supply. If the plant gets the light it needs to grow, you may be able to counteract the abnormal growth behavior and you will have a stable, healthy plant again.

Ideal lighting conditions for indoor plants

In apartments and houses, some rooms are better lit. Thanks to the right size and arrangement of windows. If you plan to introduce plants into individual interiors, you need to consider their need for light. Of course, there are species that can grow even in low light. 

In most cases, however, houseplants should stand as close as possible to the window. The most favorable conditions for the growth of your plants are near the window. The window should be free of shade from the outside trees or other buildings.

You should also consider the direction of the window. The brightest light comes through the south window for the longest period of the day.

However, do not place plants that have moderate or low light demand near it. Otherwise, it is easy to burn delicate leaves and damage the flowers. East and west windows are best and safest for most plants.

Now, what can you do if you do not have enough windows in all the rooms where you would like to place plants? Then artificial light comes to the rescue.

Types of Grow Lights for Indoor Plants: which to Choose

You will find different kinds of grow lights for indoor plants. Here I’ll help you choose suitable grow lights for your indoor plants. So that your plant gets the most favorable conditions at minimum cost.

Incandescent Lamps

You should not use this type of bulb as a light source for plants. Firstly, there are no blue spectrum waves in their spectrum, which are very important for the photosynthesis process. 

Incandescent Lamps

Secondly, these lamps are very hot, so if you place close to plants they can cause thermal burns on the leaf plates. 

Thirdly, the lamps of this type have very low (only about 5%) efficiency. The lamp itself is quite cheap. But it will cost you high energy if you want to use it for a long time.

Tip! You can use an incandescent bulb in small greenhouses along with a fluorescent lamp. The fluorescent lamp has a little red light in the spectrum. Plus, incandescent bulbs will provide additional air heating.

Fluorescent lamps

Fluorescent lamps

Unlike incandescent lamps, fluorescent lamps practically do not heat up. Therefore, they do not affect room temperature. So you can prefer them to provide artificial lights for your plants. You will get a high light output (although over time it tends to decrease). 

They will save your pocket and also low in energy consumption. You should use fluorescent Phyto lamps for lighting large plantings. Because of their size, they are not suitable for installing in the windowsill or small space.

Now, you may wonder if you can use the conventional lights for your plants! You can not use normal fluorescent lights for this purpose because they have very weak red waves. 

The weak waves are not beneficial to plants for photosynthesis. You should buy specialized fluorescent lamps that will provide the spectrum closest to the plant’s needs.  

Tip: The use of lamps with directional reflectors can increase efficiency by 25-30%.

Mercury lamps are also classified as fluorescent lamps, which are similar in operating principle. But they have a much larger red part in the spectrum. However, mercury lamps will cost you more power than fluorescent lamps.

Energy Saving

Energy-saving lamps have a blue radiation spectrum, so you can use them for non-flowering plants. These are basically the same as fluorescent phyto lamps. You can install this kind of lamp very easily. All you need to do to connect a light bulb is screw it into a standard cartridge. 

Another undoubted advantage – energy-saving lamps consume much less electricity (if you take for comparison fluorescent lamps or incandescent lamps) and have a much longer (up to 15 thousand hours) lifetime.

Energy-saving phytolamps come in three types: “Cold” – You can use this to accelerate the germination and development of seedlings during the period of active vegetative growth.

Warm” – best suited for lighting plants during flowering. 

Daylight” – You may use this at any time, using as an independent (additional) source of lighting for the entire plant life cycle.

Sodium Lamp

Sodium Lamp

A sodium lamp is one of the most effective light sources when you compare to light output. It is economical, highly efficient. You can easily light plants on a 1.5 m long window sill with a medium power phytolamp. These lights are durable (up to 20 thousand hours of operation) and easy to use.  Its main radiation is within the orange and red parts of the spectrum. 
In combination with a sufficient number of blue waves, sodium lamps will accelerate the flowering of your plants. The drawback is that your pocket will cost a bit higher. You can light up a fairly large area with only one 220 W ceiling lamp

LED Lamp 

LED providing artificial light for photosynthesis

LED lamps are the most acceptable option for you in all respects for creating a light regime for plants: 

  • They have the lowest power consumption and high efficiency 
  • A long life – the operation of one LED lamp can last up to 50 thousand hours
  • compact sizes, for lighting plants on shelves. You can use LED for herbal tape plants. 
  • LED lamps capable of producing waves of the useful spectrum (red, blue, orange). You can actually regulate the development of the plant, slowing down or accelerating it. This allows you to reduce energy consumption.

Besides choosing the type of phytolamp, it is very important to choose the right power. I’ll make this easier for you to calculate the lamp power to use. You should use a 70W lamp for lighting a 1m2area. 

In addition, you should keep in mind that the closer the lamp is closer to the plant, the greater and fuller will be the highlighting effect. 

You should consider the negative influence of thermal radiation. Therefore, an optimum distance should be about 20-25 cm.  The properties of the LED lights allow you to place them close to the plants.

Tip! As the LED lights produce practically no heat, they can also be installed below.

So, light is an essential part of plant photosynthesis. If you don’t have access to natural light you can still grow your plants with the help of different grow lights. I am curious to know how you grow your plant using artificial lights. Let me know by leaving a comment below. 

Arifur Rahman

I'm the owner of gardenforindoor.com. After completing my bachelor of science in agriculture, I'm serving as a civil service officer at the Department of Agricultural Extension, Bangladesh. I started Garden For Indoor to make your indoor gardening journey easy and enjoyable.

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