The 8 Best Grow Lights of 2021
Mimic the sun’s rays with these top picks
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Keeping plants alive and helping them flourish can be hard as is, but growing things indoors is even more tricky. You have to give them enough—but not too much—water and make sure they have enough soil and a large enough pot. Aside from that, one of the most crucial factors of growing plants inside is light.
Positioning your plants in front of a window where they can drink up natural sunlight is ideal. But as you probably know, this is easier said than done. Whether your window situation is less-than-sufficient for plants or you live somewhere that only gets sunny a few months of the year, a grow light is an excellent solution.
Want to flex your green thumb inside? Here are the best grow lights to help your indoor plants live their best life.
Best Overall: Roleadro LED Full Spectrum Grow Light
The best overall option is the Roleadro LED Grow Light. Thanks to the brand’s proprietary spectrum with 460 to 465 nm, 620 to 740 nm, and a 6,000 to 6,500 K waveband, it provides indoor plants with a diverse range of light. This helps promote growth and allows even the most delicate, tropical plants and flowers to not only grow but bloom year-round. You can also grow seasonal vegetables and herbs in the winter, spring, summer, or fall.
This 75-watt grow light also has an aluminum cooling plate to effectively dissipate heat, even on the highest setting. It comes with hanging brackets and is easy to set up. You can put it together in about a minute and hang it from almost anywhere in your home.
“In our test, the grow light gave our seedlings ample nourishment early on, so they didn’t outpace themselves. The light also proved to be the perfect size for a standard seed tray. It distributes light evenly so each seedling gets an equal share of light.”—Stacey L. Nash, Product Tester
Best Bulb: GE Grow Light With Balanced Spectrum Seeds & Greens LED Light Bulb Clear
You can also get special bulbs for growing indoor plants, like the GE BR30. This full-spectrum bulb offers high-quality lighting that encourages houseplants, indoor gardens, cacti, and flowers to flourish every month of the year. Unlike some other grow lights that produce harsh lighting, it provides soft, natural illumination and warmth.
The GE BR30 features innovative LED technology, which allows it to last for 25,000 hours (or about five years) and use only 9 watts of energy. With a balanced light spectrum designed for seeds and greens, you can grow herbs, lettuce, cucumbers, peppers, and other vegetables right in your home.
Best LED Bulb: Haus Bright LED Grow Light Bulb Original
The best LED bulb for indoor plants is the original Haus Bright LED Grow Light Bulb. Compared to others in its category, this bulb is notably bright with full-spectrum power.
Though it’s a little more expensive than the GE option, it produces 1,200 lumens of brightness and 140 micromoles per second while only using 20 watts of energy. This LED bulb provides adequate, nourishing lighting for houseplants, bamboo, cactuses, succulents, flowers, tomatoes, vegetables, and seed starts, no matter how cold or dark it is outside.
Best Mounted: Feit Electric Dual Full LED Plant Grow Tube Light
Looking for something you can mount? Your best bet is the Feit Electric Dual Grow Tube Light. This grow light is lightweight, durable, and easy to install. It arrives fully assembled and can be hung or mounted flush against your ceiling or walls. Designed to mimic natural sunlight and work as a replacement for traditional greenhouse bulbs, this product delivers.
It emits 450 nm of blue light and 655 nm of red light, the perfect combo for indoor gardening. The blue encourages the growth of tall, leafy plants and vegetables, and the red promotes budding, fruiting, and flowering. Plus, it has a low heat emission, which prevents burnt leaves and reduces your electric costs.
Best Hanging: Soltech Solutions Grow Light
The Soltech Solutions Grow Light is an aesthetically pleasing hanging lamp. It has a 15-foot fabric cord and comes with an LED bulb, three ceiling hooks, two wall fairleads, and a swag hook. Choose from either white or black, both of which offer a chic, minimalist vibe.
You can get this grow light in size small (5.8 x 3.8 inches with 2,000 lumens) or large (7 x 4 inches with 4,000 lumens). The lamp provides sufficient lighting for houseplants of all sizes and varieties, and it lasts for 15 years.
Best for Herbs: TorchStar Plant LED Kit Indoor Herb Grow Light
The best option for herbs is also from TorchStar. With full-spectrum solar simulation, the LED Plant Kit provides both the right lighting and a container for growing herbs indoors. Mimicking natural sunlight, it illuminates for 16 hours a day and then turns off for 8 hours at night.
This herb grow light measures 19.9 x 2.2 x 14 inches. It’s the perfect size to place on your windowsill, desk, kitchen counter, mantle, dresser, or side table.
Best Adjustable Spectrum: iPower 10W Dual Head LED Grow Light
The iPower LED Grow Light has two flexible gooseneck arms and two light heads. But the rotatable necks aren’t the only thing that’s adjustable on this lamp. It has three light modes (red, blue, and a red/blue combo) and 11 dimmable settings. The smart timer allows you to set it to turn off after a certain amount of hours, and then turn on at the same time the next day for a 24-hour cycle.
Like the CFGROW lamp, this grow light has a large mounting clip, which you can attach to a desk, table, shelf, or any other slim ledge. It comes with a USB cable and plugs into standard outlets.
Best Desk Garden: AeroGarden Harvest Elite with Gourmet Herb Seed Pod Kit
Are you in the market for a desk garden? If so, we think you’ll love the AeroGuard Harvest Elite. The high-performance 20-watt LED light provides full-spectrum rays for growing a wide range of herbs and veggies. We’re talking mint, basil, parsley, thyme, rosemary, sage, and dill.
With a sleek design and an LCD control panel, it looks almost like a high-end countertop kitchen appliance. The Harvest Elite comes in light green, white, black, or a stainless steel finish. At just 11 x 8 x 15 inches, it’s the perfect size for a tiny desk garden. The kit also includes seeds for six different herbs—and since they grow in water, you can get started right away.
Our top pick for grow lights is the Roleadro LED Grow Light (view at Amazon) due to its unmatched waveband emission. If you want a complete indoor garden kit, opt for the AeroGarden Harvest Elite (view at Amazon), which comes with a starter pack of seeds.
What to Look for in a Grow Light
When deciding what size grow light you need, think about how many plants you’ll need to cover. Also, if you’re planning to move your light from place to place, you may want something lighter and portable, whereas if you know it’s going to stay put, that may not be as much of a factor. Also, consider the space where you plan to put it and make sure there’s room for it to operate safely and not up against furniture, drapes, or other items.
There are various types of grow lights to consider, from panels to ones that hang overhead or screw into a regular light fixture. The type of plants you have, the amount of existing natural light, and where your plants are located will help you narrow down your choices.
Ease of use
From installation to keeping them operating properly, some grow lights require more effort than others. Also consider how much noise a grow light makes, particularly if it’s going to be placed in a busy area.
The best grow lights will support your indoor garden to achieve maximum growth. We researched the top options for making your garden light up.
How to Choose the Best Indoor Lighting for Plants
Whether it’s for your full-grown houseplants or starter seedlings, check out these grow light options for your indoor plants.
African Violet ‘Persian Prince’ (Heather Demers)
Fluorescent lights are ideal for plants with low to medium light requirements, like African violets.
Photo by: Winston J. Goretsky/African Violet Society of America
Winston J. Goretsky/African Violet Society of America
It can be difficult to provide enough light to your houseplants due to seasonal changes or lack of window space. See these pointers on how to choose the best indoor lighting for your plants.
LED, which stands for light-emitting-diode, is the most common type of grow light these days. The bulbs are highly efficient, producing very little heat in comparison to their brightness. A wide variety of options can be found, including screw-in replacement bulbs, stand-alone clip-on and desktop fixtures, and even high-intensity greenhouse lights. LED grow lights typically provide full-spectrum lighting, but many can also be tailored to the specific bandwidth your plants need. Several LED products can be programmed to provide different levels of intensity at different times of day, and some can even offer smart technology that lets you synchronize them with your smart phone.
Shop for Indoor Grow Lights
Gooseneck Grow Light
Clip-On Grow Light
Screw-In Grow Bulb
4000W Greenhouse Light
Fluorescent Grow Light
630W Metal Halide Kit
Incandescent lights are good for lighting up a room or growing low-light houseplants, such as vines, ferns or dracaenas. They have limited utility for growing plants with higher light requirements. These lights put out only about 10 percent of their energy as light while 90 percent is heat. So, unless you want to cook your plants, they aren’t ideal for light-loving plants like many tropicals, cacti or succulents.
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Fluorescent lights are ideal for plants with low to medium light requirements, like African violets. They are also good for starting vegetables indoors. These lights typically come in long, tubelike bulbs in a range of sizes including T5, T8 and T12.
The narrower the bulb, the more efficient and brighter it is, due to the smaller surface area. In addition to this, fluorescent bulbs use 75 percent less energy than incandescent lights. So, for example, a 25-watt fluorescent emits about as much light as a 100-watt incandescent light bulb. T5 systems put out about double the amount of light per tube as standard fluorescent lights. They are 6500 Kelvin and also full spectrum, which is very intense light.
Kelvin is a basic unit of color temperature used to measure the whiteness of a light’s output; it’s the degree of visual warmth or coolness of a light source. So the higher the degree of Kelvin, the bluer, or “cool,” the lamp appears. The lower the degree of Kelvin, the redder, or “warm,” it appears.
When growing most houseplants, use light bulbs between 4000 and 6000 Kelvin, as the bulb’s color temperature will borrow from a full spectrum of colors—cools and warms. With these lights, you can actually mimic the growth you would get in a greenhouse or outdoors. Culinary herbs, greens and starter plants can be grown year-round with them. Houseplants that need lots of light, like cattleya orchids, succulents and carnivorous plants, also perform much better under these full-spectrum lights. With starter plants and seedlings, place the T8 or T5 bulbs two to four inches from the plants to mimic the sun. For established plants, including herbs or houseplants, place them a foot or two from the light source.
Compact Fluorescent Lights
Compact fluorescents are great for lighting indoor houseplants without having to use a full T5 system and for a fraction of the cost of incandescent lights. Wattage varies, so be sure to ask a specialist what will work best for you and your lighting needs. Carnivorous plants and phalaenopsis orchids do well under compact fluorescents.
Halides are generally used in larger spaces or on larger plants, as they cover more distance in terms of lighting. In most cases, you’re not going to need a 1000-watt light. You can get by with a smaller halide or the T5 fluorescent system.
Remember, plants need darkness too. Although they can grow under continuous light, all plants prefer a dark period. Provide them with 12 to 18 hours of light per a day.
HGTV helps you find the right indoor lighting to help your houseplants grow and flourish. New options include full-spectrum LED bulbs and fixtures that can be programmed to give the right brightness at the right time of day to help your plants thrive.