A Guide to Cactus Grow Lights
The world of grow lights (also called grow lamps) can seem intimidating at first, but it’s not as complicated as you might think.
There are several types of lights, and they come in various shapes, so choosing the right one is as simple as determining your needs and picking the right one.
Incandescent light bulbs work great… if you’re still living in the 1950s.
The average incandescent bulb uses only about 2% of the electrical energy it receives to produce light. The other 98% is released as heat.
That’s not very energy-efficient, and it doesn’t produce much light. Basically, a waste of money as a grow light.
So, we’ll stick to our lamp alternatives instead of the incandescents.
Those bright white bulbs are the ones you see the most in your daily life and are easy to recognize.
You probably use fluorescent tubes that have a number of different standard dimensions. Some of the more common formats for grow lights are T5 and T8, and sometimes T12.
For home gardeners and hobbyists, T5 is a good choice. These are smaller and more compact than their larger-numbered brethren. T5 comes in several lengths, but the one and two-foot kinds are the most common.
It’s not essential that you invest in a long tube light in order to light one plant. Simply because you don’t want to burden yourself with a light that may remain suspended in the air for days on end.
CFL bulbs were invented for those people.
It’s not only about being able to save money on electricity, but it’s also about being able to build a more eco-friendly lifestyle.
The lightbulbs on my desk are CFL bulbs, which allow me to keep succulents near my computer.
Light-Emitting Diodes, or LEDs, are relatively new lighting technologies. They have some very appealing advantages.
It is important to keep in mind that these light bulbs are extremely energy-efficient compared to the other kinds of light bulbs. They produce very little heat and lots of light while using minuscule amounts of energy.
In addition to the narrower spectrum of light they emit, LEDs use fewer materials in their construction, meaning they’re even more energy efficient since they can use just red and blue LEDs (the primary wavelengths of light that photosynthesis occurs at).
Some cool stuff can be achieved with those specific wavelengths. For example, red light can stimulate flowering in many plants. Using lots of red LEDs might encourage your succulent to flower. Blue light helps to stimulate vegetative growth.
LEDs are tiny, too, which makes them perfect for many different applications. They come in tube and CFL varieties if you want to replace your fluorescents with LED. LED strips can also be used in places where you cannot fit a long tube or bulb.
A person who is imaginative might find LEDs useful.
Positioning Grow Lights
During the process of setting up grow lights, many people tend to overlook one of the most important things – where to place them.
The ideal height for most grow lights is 6-10 inches above your succulents.
Did that seem close to the truth? It did, but there was a reason.
Since most lightbulbs emit light in a 360-degree arc, or sometimes a 180-degree arc, plants in direct contact with them waste most of that energy. They occupy only a very small area of that arc.
The light and the plant absorb more light when moved closer to each other. That is so obvious, right?
There’s a sweet spot, though, because if the plant is too close to you it might get sunburned by excessive light or perhaps even burned by the heat.
These bulbs are mostly a danger with fluorescent bulbs. LED bulbs are able to be more closely placed, about four inches above the plant.
However, putting LEDs that close to succulents and cacti can be aesthetically unappealing. They require more frequent lighting adjustments as they grow.
There is a solution by using a grow light that comes with a hood or installing (or making) a reflector on your own. These fantastic devices take light that would otherwise be wasted and redirect it for your plants.
Be careful not to burn hoods and reflectors, which greatly increase the amount of light your plant receives. With a hood, you can double or triple the distance at which you place your lights.
A light’s temperature uses the scientific unit of heat to measure the light’s color.
Usually in the range between 2000K and about 4000K, low light temperatures cast a yellowish light. Incandescent lights fall into this range.
Those don’t do anything to help succulents grow. We need a light temperature of 6000K-6500K to grow succulents . It’s just like the sunlight.
Some bulbs are marketed as “full-spectrum”. That means they can emit a similar range of light wavelengths as the sun (including some infrared and UV). These are a good choice for the sun-stressed look.
Often referred to as light intensity or light quantity, light intensity measures the amount of light that is produced or received. The units used are footcandles (fc) or luxes (lx).
Plants’ tolerance for light intensity determines whether they grow in full sun, partial sun, partial shade, or shade.
The greater light intensity, up to the point of a plant’s physiological limit, the faster the plant will grow. It is, however, a delicate balance – how much light can you give your cactus without hurting it?
To maximize the speed of growth, we can use the same process we used to avoid sunburn – gradual acclimatization – to increase light intensity slowly and safely.
Q: Should I put my cactus on the windowsill?
A: If you have a sunny windowsill and you are thinking of putting a cactus plant there, then you can. Just make sure that your plant doesn’t get sunburnt or damaged in excessive sunlight or heat.
Q: Should I put my cactus on the bookshelf?
A: You can put your cactus wherever you like as long as the spot gets enough sunlight.
Q: What is the right amount of sunlight for my cactus?
A: Succulents and cacti should receive about four to six hours of sunlight per day.
Q: What room should my cactus grow in if it grows indoors?
A: Make sure your plant is located in a sunny part of the house if it is growing indoors.
Q: Can I grow cacti in artificial light?
A: Yes, you can grow cacti in artificial light, but natural sunlight is always best for plants.
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