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(Last Updated On: November 26, 2022)
Gardening is more popular now than ever before, and as a market gardener and gardening educator, I love it. I believe that the more people who can eat fresh, affordable, organically-grown vegetables, the better. With the increased push to grow your own food, questions come up all the time surrounding grow lights. When do you need full spectrum LED lights? What kind do you need? There are so many questions to clear up surrounding this topic.
So, do you need full spectrum lights to grow seedlings? The answer may surprise you. Let’s take a closer look.
The purpose of this post is to clear up some questions surrounding Full Spectrum LED Grow Lights, so that you know exactly what you need to grow food!
How Do Plants Use Light to Grow?
Before we get into which lights you need, we should first understand how plants use light to grow.
Plants need light to grow because light is essential for photosynthesis, the process plants use to convert sunlight into energy.
This process occurs in the chloroplasts, organelles in the plant cell that contain chlorophyll.
Chlorophyll absorbs sunlight and uses the energy to convert water and carbon dioxide into oxygen and glucose. Light also helps plants produce food, flowers, and fruits.
So, if you’re looking to grow food, you will need a grow light that can provide your plants with the full spectrum of light they need to grow. That’s where full spectrum lights come in.
Photosynthetically Active Radiation (PAR)
Photosynthetically Active Radiation (PAR) is the spectrum of light that plants use for growth. This includes wavelengths from 400-700 nm, which is the range that plants can absorb and utilize for growth.
The light that falls outside of this range cannot be absorbed by the plants and is not useful for growth. Additionally, different wavelengths of light can trigger different responses in the plants, such as flowering or vegetative growth.
What Are the Benefits of Full Spectrum LED Grow Lights?
Full-spectrum LED grow lights provide your plants with the full spectrum of light they need to grow, including ultraviolet (UV) and infrared (IR) light. This makes them ideal for indoor growing, as they can replicate the sunlight that plants need to grow.
Full spectrum LED grow lights are also more energy-efficient than other grow lights, which means they’ll save you money in the long run. And because they don’t produce as much heat as other grow lights, they’re safer to use around your plants.
How Do Full Spectrum LED Lights Work?
A full-spectrum LED light is a type of grow light that emits the full spectrum of light, from ultraviolet (UV) to infrared (IR). This makes them ideal for indoor growing, as they can replicate the sunlight that plants need to grow.
What are Light Emitting Diodes?
Light emitting diodes (LEDs) are semiconductors that convert electricity into light. They’re made up of two parts: an anode and a cathode. When electricity is applied to the LED, it creates a flow of electrons from the anode to the cathode. This flow of electrons produces photons, which we see as light.
LEDs are different from other types of light because they don’t have a filament that needs to be heated to produce light. This makes them more energy-efficient and longer-lasting than other types of lights.
Full spectrum LED grow lights use a mix of different LEDs to produce the full spectrum of light. This means that they can provide your plants with the full range of light they need to grow.
What Are the Different Types of LEDs?
There are three main types of LEDs: red, blue, and white. Red and blue light are the most common in grow lights, as they’re responsible for driving plant growth processes. White LEDs are also used in some grow lights, as they help to produce flowers and fruits.
Have you ever wondered why some grow lights give off this freakish purple light?!! It’s because the combo of blue and red light makes purple, and blue and red light are the two LED colors that create the best light spectrum and the one that is most responsible for plant growth.
When Are Full Spectrum LED Lights Exactly What You Need?
Full Spectrum light is used to mimic natural light. When you want to grow entire plants from start to finish, including their fruits and flowers, you need a full spectrum light.
Examples of when you’d need this include growing flowering and fruiting plants like zinnias, sunflowers, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and similar vegetables.
When Are Full Spectrum LED Grow Lights More than You Need?
If you are only growing leafy greens like lettuce or kale, lights with a full light spectrum are most likely simply more than you need. Because there is no flower or fruit that you are harvesting, you don’t need the added expense of the extra light wavelengths.
Popular Examples of When You Need Full Spectrum LED Grow Lights
One area where full spectrum LED lights are required are in indoor hydroponic gardens. There are a ton of new brands and models on the market.
Indoor hydroponic gardens are a great way to grow your own food year-round, and they require full-spectrum LED lights. These lights provide the plants with the full spectrum of light they need to grow, including ultraviolet (UV) and infrared (IR) light. This makes them ideal for indoor growing, as they can replicate the sunlight that plants need to grow.
Hydroponic gardens are also very efficient, using less water and soil than traditional gardening. This makes them an excellent option for those who want to save money and resources.
You need a full spectrum grow light for these devices because you are growing plants from seed all the way to the fruiting stage. Therefore, the light needs to mimic natural sunlight so that the plants get the nutrients they need through the entire growing, flowering, and fruiting process.
Unless you grow entire plants in your house, you don’t need a full spectrum grow light.
So If You Don't Need These Expensive Grow Lights for Growing Seedlings or Leafy Greens, What DO You Need?
Alternatives to Full Spectrum Grow Lights
Shop lights are a source of artificial light that are surprisingly affordable and more than enough for what you need when you are growing seedlings and leafy greens.
Remember, broad spectrum is necessary for the flowering and fruiting phases of a plant’s life, and you are NOT worried about that when you’re growing seedlings or things like lettuce or kale.
You can get shop lights for super-cheap at Amazon.
These are another affordable option that will give you healthy plants if you’re just looking to grow your plant starts or fixings for a tasty salad.
Full spectrum LED lights are not necessary for all types of plants. If you are growing leafy greens or seedlings, shop lights or CFL bulbs will suffice. Full spectrum LED lights are only necessary when growing entire plants from start to finish, including their fruits and flowers. Indoor hydroponic gardens benefit from full spectrum LED lights because they provide the plants with the full spectrum of light they need to grow, including ultraviolet (UV) and infrared (IR) light. Full spectrum LED lights are an important part of successful indoor hydroponic gardening. If you aren’t growing full plants from seed to fruit, you don’t need the extra expense of full spectrum LED lights.