The Benefits of Grow Lights for Indoor Plants

How can you keep your houseplants thriving inside? Read on for everything you need to know about grow lights for indoor plants!

If you love the sight of a room full of greenery in all different shapes and sizes, you know that there's no such thing as too many plants! However, there's one problem that may stand between you and the lush living space you desire: lack of light.

Will adding a few lights to your living space solve the problem? Not necessarily—standard LED lights don't have the same capabilities as grow lights, which are created specifically to support plant growth.

What makes a grow light different from a standard light? Factors like light intensity, energy efficiency, and light spectrum all come into play. Keep reading as we put a spotlight on the differences between light options for your houseplants and illuminate the benefits of grow lights in helping them flourish!

Why Do Your Plants Need Artificial Light?

Have you ever brought a gorgeous new plant home from the nursery with lots of dense, sturdy foliage, only to realize a few months later that it's become thin, pale, and straggly? Those are signals that your photosynthesizing friend is struggling to get the light it needs.

Most plants need at least 3 to 4 hours of natural sunlight a day, and many (especially vegetables) require as much as 12+.1 In indoor environments, plants may not get enough light exposure, so it's important to understand how much light your plant needs and whether your current conditions allow for that.

The tell-tale signs of insufficient light exposure include:2

  • Thin, weak stems that lean toward the light source
  • Leggy growth (too much stem and too few leaves)
  • Leaves that fade from dark green to pale green, yellow, or even white

Types of Lights

If you've identified that your indoor plant needs more light, the next step is to determine the best type of supplemental lighting. Let's look at three types of bulbs many people use to support a growing plant:3

  • Fluorescent lights – Think of this as a Grow Light Classic. Fluorescent grow lights have been used for decades—if your grandma had a grow light, it was a fluorescent tube. These are a standard among indoor gardening enthusiasts because they offer full spectrum light and they stay cool. They're generally less expensive initially than LED bulbs, but they can be more expensive in the long term. That's because they aren't as energy-efficient as LED bulbs, and they burn out much more frequently.4

    The large, industrial, inefficient metal halide and sodium grow lights of the early 2000s have given way to the specialized, high-efficiency lights we use today. From lights with temps of 2000 degrees fahrenheit in the year 2000, to cool enough to touch for a quick on, dim, off.

  • Standard LED lights – A general-purpose LED light bulb does not provide full spectrum light. This means that they don't cover all the wavelengths that plants require. On the other hand, they are more energy-efficient than fluorescent grow lights, and they won't need to be replaced as often. That said, they can provide some supplemental light for plants that get most of their light from natural sunlight.
  • LED grow lights – This option provides the best of both worlds. LED grow lights offer the energy efficiency and long lifespan of an LED bulb but provide full-spectrum light like a typical fluorescent light.

    They can be more expensive initially, but over time they offer cost savings because they consume so little power and can last as long as five to ten years before the bulb needs to be replaced.

AeroGarden's indoor grow lights utilize the energy-efficient lighting technology of LED in order to use minimal energy while maximizing plant performance. While output varies by model (the Stem Grow Light uses 6W, the Tabletop Grow Light uses 12W, and the Trio Grow Light uses 18W), the cost of using these grow lights daily is anywhere from a third to a tenth as expensive as conventional bulbs!

If you're looking for a powerful, planet-friendly, and energy-efficient light to help your plants reach their full potential, an LED grow light may be the best option.

How Does the Light Spectrum Affect Your Plants?

When you're shopping for grow lights, you'll find bulbs that put out full spectrum white, blue, and red light wavelengths. So what do your plants really need in a grow light? Let's break it down:

  • Full-spectrum – Different parts of the visible light spectrum appear to our eyes as different colors. Sunlight naturally contains all colors—in other words, it's full-spectrum. All plants require at least some full-spectrum light to thrive. That said, plants particularly like blue and red light. As such, many grow lights are customized to emit more blue and red hues.
  • Red light – Grow lights with more red lightwaves can help to promote flowering. This part of the spectrum can also help plants stay more compact.5
  • Blue light – Blue hues can support healthy foliage. Grow lights with more blue output are good for sprouting seedlings and growing lettuce indoors, as well as foliage plants, and other leafy greens.6
  • White light – White light, whether it's LED, incandescent, or fluorescent, is not necessarily full-spectrum. Full-spectrum LED lights appear white because they contain all colors (just like sunlight).

Light Up Your Life With AeroGarden

Your plants brighten up your home every day, so make sure you return the favor by giving them all the full-spectrum light they need. A sunny window can work for some, but for plants that are sensitive to direct light or don't have enough access to sunlight, a grow light can keep your greenery looking its best. Each AeroGarden Indoor Grow Light - the Stem, the Tabletop, or the Trio - is designed to help houseplants thrive even with NO natural light present.

Flowering plants and those with variegated foliage will be especially grateful for an LED grow light that provides every wavelength they require, without the risk of leaf burn. AeroGarden Indoor Grow Lights can be customized via the AeroGarden app, where you can adjust the intensity of light, the color oflight, and your lighting schedule to best support your plant's growth.

Whether you're a born "green-thumb" or you're just learning how to make your plant friends flourish, AeroGarden can help. With our countertop garden systems, grow lights, plant food, and more, you'll have everything you need to grow indoors. Grow smarter with AeroGarden!


1Kansas State Research and Extension. Defining sun requirements for plants.

2, 3, 5, 6University of Minnesota Extension. Lighting for indoor plants and starting seeds.

4SF Gate. Fluorescent vs. LED grow lights.