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Keep your plants growing inside this winter

As we enter the shortest days of the year and officially start the winter season, many of us are looking for a little extra life and light to warm up our spaces. Here are some simple ideas to keep holiday plants alive and to start anew.

Indoor grow lights can satisfy both needs, stimulating plant growth year-round and bringing added brightness to living spaces even on the darkest days of winter.

Light in adequate quantity and quality is one of the most important factors for plant growth. During the cold season, lower temperatures and light levels may require use of grow lights to sustain and establish tender plants. Although many low light houseplants do not require supplemental lighting, most edibles, large floor-plants (fiddle-leaf fig), succulents and flowering ornamentals (e.g. African violet and orchids) will benefit from lamps.

In general, plants need significant quantities of blue and red wavelengths of light to perform photosynthesis. People can also respond and benefit from exposure to those spectra. Blue light is known to be an energizing component of daylight. It helps suppress the melatonin hormone and is a common component of cool-white colored bulbs. Soft and warm bulbs tend to be more on the warm spectrum and are often used for flowering plants and in bedrooms because it allows for melatonin release and promotes sleep.

Like many light bulbs in homes or office building, LEDs are a popular option for plant production because of their energy efficiency, low heat and highly customizable color options. There are increasingly more LED grow lights sold to fit standard light sockets and produce full spectrum, white-colored light that is visually pleasing for us humans. This allows for grow bulbs to be used in fixtures all around the house with traditional lighting needs—think desk lamps or artful pendant light.

Story: Zac Hoppenstedt, Horticulture Agent, Johnson County K-State Research and Extension

Photo by Zac Hoppenstedt: Christmas cactus is grown under 9W GE LED grow bulb.


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