Without wanting to fully admit that Autumn is in the air, the drop in temperature of just a few degrees has already started to slow down growth on some of my houseplants. This led me to start doing a bit of searching online to find some grow lights to help keep my plants happy in the darker winter days. Last year (2018) was my first foray into supplementary lighting; where I used a very affordable clamp light for my office plants and a neutral screw-in bulb in my living space, both of which I found on Amazon.
This year though, I wanted to do a bit more research + up my grow light game, whilst sharing my findings with you in this blogpost. I have had quite a few enquiries over on my Instagram about recommendations, so thought this post would be helpful with a few comparisons and links all in one place to help deduce what could be best for you. I asked on my Instagram Stories for you to have some input on this topic by telling me the lighting set up that you use, and to share any favourites you might have. I received some excellent suggestions, thank you so much to those that got in touch.
As I’m in a new (albeit temporary) place this Autumn, I wanted to check in with a bit of a grow light update. As the two photos below show, things are a little cramped in my temporary accommodation + there are some very dark corners here! I have got myself another lamp + grow light + for the last two weeks, have been running them both for around 3-5 hours per day when it has been particularly dark (not everyday). I used one of these Phillips bulbs last year in a similar set up + didn’t notice any difference in my electricity bill — they are LED so are more efficient. I’ve included more details about the bulbs I use later in the post.
In terms of the lamp, this is my favourite for style + affordability — its the TERTIAL light from IKEA + costs just £9! I did a plant styling installation for a client last year + I installed a row of these lights straight onto a black wall + I must say, they looked fantastic. If you don’t want to wall-fix them, they can clamp onto a shelf + point down, or pivot to their desired position. I’m definitely using this wall display technique when I get to somewhere more permanent. From a design perspective, they are very Anglepoise-like without looking like they are trying too hard to emulate the exact design. These ‘task style’ lamps are everywhere right now so there really is one for every budget. One day I will treat myself to this classic 1227 Anglepoise though! I love lighting design as much as I love chairs… + plants of course!
Ok, back to the original blogpost…
I have included screenshots for illustration purposes to offer some visual comparison. I’m aware that I have readers from all across the globe, so have tried to curate a varied selection of lights; some of which should be available in your location.
Style + function
As someone that loves interiors and design, I am the first to admit I’m a little fussy about having some less…stylish, lighting in my apartment. My clamp light from last year in the photo above was useful as it was in a room that I didn’t use much in the evenings (my office). It simply clamped onto my desk, which is the most densely populated-plant area of my home, but I could also move it around if I needed (the clamp was great for that). Yes it was that weird purple-y light, but I didn’t have to look at it so wasn’t too bothered. But I must admit, living on the second floor of an apartment block with that vaguely psychedelic light glowing around the windows was quite entertaining.
I quite liked my screw in bulb I popped in one of my lamps in my living space last year, as it was neutral in tone and think it really did help my big monstera and coffee table plants, it was by Phillips and I’ll include it in the list below. I’d like to find something that will work in my other rooms that doesn’t look too much like ‘woah crazy plant lady‘ …I mean, the amount of plants already creates this impression… So ideally I’m looking for something that basically doesn’t look like a grow light, that is not too harsh or clinical looking.
LED / CFL bulbs
Bulb buying can be a bit of a minefield… light spectrums, wattage, degradation…it’s easy to get lost down a lightbulb sized rabbit hole online and end up 20minutes later feeling very confused! To keep things very simple, the main comparisons with grow lights are CFL which stands for compact fluorescent lamps, and LED’s. The important thing to note here is that whilst CFL’s can use up to 30% less energy than regular (incandescent) bulbs, they contain mercury, which is toxic and need to be handled with care and disposed of correctly. LED stands for light emitting diode and are much more energy efficient (up to 85% less energy) than incandescent bulbs, have a low heat output and last a looooonggg time. This is why the prices of some of the mid-range LED recommendations below could seem expensive at first glance, but when you think that the average life span of an LED being 25,000 hours, their ‘cost per use’ is very low really!
- I’ll start with the screw-in bulb I used last year from Phillips; they come in both a 60w and 100w version and are very affordable (around £7) and easy to get hold of. Here is the 60w one and the 100w one. They are neutral in colour which I really appreciated and fitted into a lamp I already had [photo credits: Phillips/Amazon]
- If you have a larger set up that requires lighting, GrowWell Hydroponics had really helpful customer service and these T5 Grow lights were recommended (£60-£170) [photo credits: GrowWell] There was also a single tube version for £19.95 which looked pretty sleek and would blend in quite well to a home environment. The rigged lights in the photos below came in various tube sizes but are obviously more chunky. They do have quite an industrial feel which I actually don’t mind; in the right interior style these could actually look pretty interesting!
Some other recommendations from my readers you might want to look into; LG lights were meant to be very good, the Miracle 10w Full Spectrum LED, and for CFL lighting, the Sunblaster compact florescent 13w.
Summary: positioning / watering / what I’ll be buying…
I hope you found some of these ideas helpful + that it will encourage you to find the best grow light for your needs. I wanted to add a quick note at the end to say that there are two important factors you need to remember when using grow lights; positioning and watering. You want to make sure you follow the specific instructions of the bulb in question for positioning so that your plants are neither too close or too far away from the bulb to reap the benefits of its use. Additionally, if this is your first year of using grow lights, it might be necessary to alter your usual watering habits at this time of year. Generally as light levels and temperatures drop, watering can be reduced quite substantially. Root rot is NOT what you want to be battling with as a result of soggy cold compost.
On more of a ‘housekeeping’ note, as I have international readers please be aware that if you ship lighting between countries + use adapters, some home insurances can be invalidated by fitting such lighting. Please check this carefully before installing any luminaire.
So what will I be buying? I think I’ll definitely pick up another Phillips bulb (the 100w one), and will get some of the VÄXER bulbs from IKEA. I’ve bookmarked the SANSI ones though and will check to see if the price drops at all; If it does I’d be very tempted to see how they compare to these other two. *2020 edited note from me: As of Autumn 2020 I’ve now got two of the Phillips bulbs in the IKEA lamps as I mentioned earlier in the post + also a VÄXER cultivation bulb in my office lamp. I don’t work in that room in the night so just use it as a grow light for a few hours in the evening as the light tails off sharply due to the cottage roof.
Thanks again to my insta friends that shared their favourites with me, and if you have any recommendations please send me a DM on IG or leave a comment.
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*Some affiliate links are used in the post which means I can receive a (very) small amount of commission if you make a purchase — thank you for supporting my blog. I have bought all these products with my own money.
One thought on “Grow lights for happy houseplants”
As much as I dislike modern technology, the engineering of electrical illumination is quite impressive. I can remember those old fashioned grow lamps. They were effective, but not nearly as efficient.
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