A plant's exposure to sunlight can have a major effect on its overall size and health, not to mention its ability to produce a substantial yield. Obviously, this means that cultivators need to prioritize the quality and quantity of the light their crop receives. Grow lights can be a valuable supplement in cases of inadequate sunlight in outdoor grows, and an essential addition to any indoor operation. That being said, it is possible to make some critical mistakes when introducing grow lights into a growing environment that can cause serious problems for the plants.
Here are the top 4 mistakes growers make when using grow lights:
Not Enough Light
If you notice a plant that appears to be stretching upwards as it grows, it’s usually straining for more light. These plants often become spindly, using its energy to strengthen the stems instead of leaves or flowers. To fix this problem, make sure the your lamps have sufficient wattage and are close enough to the grow.
Too Much Light
Having too much of a good thing can seriously compromise the health of your grow. Plants have a set schedule - they use light and water to make starches and oxygen during the day, and at night, the plant converts those starches to sugars and stores them.
Some growers choose to leave the lights on around the clock to spur fast growth, which can result in a plant becoming pale, and in some cases sunburned. Plants need a period of at least 8 hours of darkness to maintain their health and grow efficiently.
The basic rule for greenhouse lighting is that it should provide 20 to 40 watts of light per square foot, spread evenly. That light must be able to reach all the leaves for everything in the greenhouse; plants that are too close together will have some leaves that are shaded all the time. This results in only part of the plant being able to grow to its full potential.
The Wrong Kind of Light
Light has a wide spectrum of colors, and the reason plants love sunlight is that they benefit from the red and blue light it emits for photosynthesis. Manufactured bulbs all produce different waves at different strengths.
For example, sodium lights are bright, but if they're not produced specifically for growing, they will emit yellow waves that are unusable by plants. Incandescent bulbs do put out more waves that plants can use, but they also emit heat, which can harm young sprouts.
The best lights for growing are metal halide and fluorescent bulbs, which both produce beneficial light waves while staying cool. Plus they are more energy efficient than the alternatives.
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Since light is one of the main factors to consider when cultivating your crop, it is essential to give the topic the respect it deserves. Your plants will thank you will a bountiful harvest in the end.