Succulents need light to thrive but it might not be enough for plants grown indoors or areas that receive minimal natural light. While some succulents can tolerate low-light conditions, most varieties may grow thin and pale as they stretch toward the source of light.
To grow sun-loving succulents indoors, you need to place them directly on a bright sunny window. If the light is not sufficient, you should add some artificial grow lights to supplement the natural light.
Grow lights are designed to provide a light spectrum similar to or close to that of the sun. Plants need a high light intensity to manufacture sugars through photosynthesis. With the right grow light, your plants should thrive and remain as healthy as their counterparts in the sun.
To ensure that your houseplant is getting the best photosynthetic spectrum, this guide highlights different types of succulent grow lights and how to choose the right one.
Types of succulent grow lights
There are different types of grow lights on the market today and each has its own pros and cons. Common ones include compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), high-intensity discharge lamps (HIDs), and light-emitting diodes (LEDs).
Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) grow lights
LED grow lights consist of multiple individual light-emitting diodes enclosed in a waterproof casing. They are known to produce the highest photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) of any light. This means they provide a full spectrum of light designed to mimic natural light.
Light Emitting Diodes grow lights use direct current power supplies that control the amount of power drawn and this makes them energy efficient. Since they also produce some heat, it’s best to place them some distance from the plant as recommended by the manufacturer.
Historically, LED grow lights were often priced higher than other types of lighting but costs have greatly reduced over time. With improved technology, their longevity has incredibly increase. On average their lumen lifespan usually lasts for 10,000 – 50,000 hours.
High-intensity discharge (HID) lamps
High-intensity discharge lights are the second most preferred grow lights. They just surpassed fluorescent lighting which was formerly the most common type of indoor grow light. They are equally powerful and energy efficiency grow lights that you can use for succulents.
HID lights come in different types including metal halide (MH) and high-pressure sodium lights (HPS). While they all work on the same principle, they have different shapes, uses, and voltage requirements.
Metal halide lights are the most use in gardening because of their blue light which mimics the actual spectrum of the sun. Using them as grow light promotes stronger roots, a compact leafy growth, and a plant with better resistance against diseases.
High-pressure sodium lights are considered more efficient than metal halides. They emit light in the yellow/red spectrum which makes them ideal for flowering and fruiting stages in succulents. HIDs are often used in combination with MH lights for a full growth cycle.
Fluorescent grow lights
Fluorescent lights were made to replace incandescent light bulbs which are the first generation of light sources. Although not as bright as the HID lights, fluorescents are widely used in growing vegetables and herbs indoors. They are available in tube style and compact fluorescent lights.
Fluorescents have an average lifespan of up to 20,000 hours. The Compact Fluorescent lights (CFLs) versions are smaller but they last longer and are more energy efficient. Like standard fluorescent tubes, they are useful for propagation, particularly where low light levels are needed.
However, there are larger CFLs specifically designed for indoor gardening. They are sold with special reflectors that direct light to plants. These grow lights are available in a warm red spectrum suitable for flowering and cool blue for vegetative growth.
How to choose the right succulent grow light
If you are planning to purchase grow lights for your succulents, here’s what to do to choose the right one.
1. Assess and evaluate your space
Getting the right placement for your grow light is important for delivering the right amount of light to your succulents. Some lights are designed for smaller spaces, while others are suitable for larger areas. The right distance can range from as little as 2 inches to 5 feet or more.
Therefore, it’s important to assess your space and determine where you plan to set your grow lights. This may typically depend on the size of your space, the type of succulent you are growing, the number of plants you have and their positioning within the space.
2. Light requirements of your plants
Most succulents thrive in bright indirect sunlight. However, cacti and a few other varies prefer direct sunlight around 6 to 8 hours per day. This is to say that different types of succulents have varying light requirements. This is why it’s important to understand what your plant loves.
In this case, you’d want to consider the light output of your grow lights. Those with a higher lumen, above 1000 per square foot can best suit sun-loving plants. If your succulents can tolerate low-light conditions, you may opt for low lumen grow lights as they don’t produce too much light.
3. Consider the light spectrum
Light is energy that comes in different wavelengths described as spectrum. It is measured in nanometers (nm) with visible light being in the range of 380 to 780nm. Grow lights produce light in different spectrums, some which are not visible to the human eye.
Succulents require light in the blue (400-500nm) and red (600-700nm) spectrum for optimal growth. Full-spectrum LED lights that mimic natural sunlight are an excellent choice for succulents because they cover the entire spectrum, supporting all growth stages of a plant.
4. Energy efficiency of the grow lights
Energy-efficient grow lights can save you money on electricity bills over time. So, this is an important factor to consider when choosing your grow lights. Look for lights with high PAR (Photosynthetically Active Radiation) output per watt to save on energy.
Additionally, succulents are sensitive to heat, so you’d want to choose lights that emit minimal heat. LED grow lights are known for their low heat output compared to HID lights. If you opt for HID lights, make sure you have a mechanism for dissipating heat.
5. Installation and adjustability
Ensure the grow lights you choose are easy to install and can be positioned at the appropriate height to provide uniform coverage to your succulents. Some grow lights come with adjustable height settings and timers, allowing you to customize the light intensity and duration.
6. Warranty and lifespan
Grow lights have different lifespans and you need to check what the manufacturer offers in the warranty. LEDs are the most durable grow lights lasting five times longer than fluorescent bulbs. However, they tend to be more expensive upfront but are energy-efficient.
Choosing the right type of grow light for your succulents is important for optimal growth. However, it may depend on various factors including your budget, the size of your collection, the stage of growth, and your space.
Ultimately, whether you opt for fluorescent, CFL, HID, or LED grow lights, ensure your succulent is provided with other care requirements. Water the plants properly, fertilize, inspect regularly for pot, and grow them in soil and pot that has good drainage.
My name is Diane M Lewik, and I am the founder of this website. I am a degree holder in plant biology from the University of California – Berkeley. Over years, I have cultivated a vast collection of succulents and I have learned a great deal about how to grow and care for these unique plants.