Should I Use Grow Lights for Indoor Plants in Winter?

You can’t expect green foliage without light. Due to weather conditions in winter, certain regions don’t get enough sunlight.

How can plants survive without sun exposure?

Should you use grow lights for indoor plants at that time?


Though most plants go dormant in winter, adequate amount of light and water helps the plant to survive.

With grow lights you’ll be free to grow any variety of plant in any region, irrespective of its climatic conditions.

But, for how many hours of grow light do indoor plants need?

Not just this, photosynthetic photon flux, foot-candle, lumens and watts are to be considered before buying artificial lights.

Stay tuned to get detailed view of using grow lights for indoor plants.

What Are Grow Lights and How Does it Work?

If you use grow lights in the wrong way, they can break your indoor plants. So, it’s very important that you know light requirements of your plant before starting.

Grow lights are artificial lights that are used indoors to mimic outdoors sunlight conditions depending on your houseplants.

In simple words, artificial or grow lights convert electricity into photons, which are absorbed by plants to stimulate photosynthesis process. (1)

Can you use normal lights to grow plants?

LED lights in your home can be used as grow lights as long as its photosynthetic range occurs between 400nm-700nm.

But the fact is your traditional lights can’t benefit your indoor plants as artificial lights do.

Should I Use Grow Lights for Indoor Plants?

What happens when your houseplant don’t get light?

Plants need sunlight to produce its food. With zero or low light, your indoor plants fail to produce chlorophyll, a pigment responsible to green color.

However, most houseplants can survive with low light, but not getting adequate amount of light can affect the plant growth.

No surprise you can see yellow leaf tips and your indoor plant can experience stunted growth.

Grow light comes as a savior.

Arrange your houseplants in a room with required amount of grow lights.

It can be costly compared to free sunlight outdoors. But, you’ll be able to enjoy blossoms of your ornamental plants year around.

In winter:

Most houseplants can’t survive outside in USDA regions where the temperature drops below 50F.

You must use indoor lights to grow houseplants in winter.

However, indoor plants go dormant in colder climates. Using grow lights will help the plants to survive till the growing season.

Important: Factors to Consider Before Evaluating Grow Light

It is recommended that you use grow lights of blue range (425-450nm) or red range of 600-700 nm.

Red light is beneficial for flowering plants, while blue range is for vegetative plants.

However according to experts, if you’re growing plants indoors then you must prefer full spectrum or broad spectrum lights. Red/blue LED lights will benefit plants that are grown in a greenhouse. (Source)

Before choosing grow light spectrum, you must consider the type of plant you’re growing. For instance, for growing vegetative plants that have edible stems and leaves, you must use of blue light beads in LED will benefit. (Source)

Full spectrum grow light mimic outdoor sunlight, unlike red/blue spectrum this light is white.

For houseplants that are grown for its foliage you’re recommended to use grow bulbs between 4000 to 6000 Kelvin. Blue light spectrum contributes in stem and leave growth of your indoor plants.

For flowering, you must use red spectrum light as mentioned above.

You must read on this article on lightening indoor plants to get detailed information about grow lights.

What Kind of Grow Lights are Best for Indoor Plants?

Am sure many new gardeners are still confused about the type of grow light and spectrum to be used for houseplants.

For those I recommend go with LED full spectrum grow lights. This spectrum mimics outdoors or green house lightening condition for your plant, which is optimal.

It includes blue light spectrum that encourages stem and leaf growth, green light that helps in plant’s structural growth and red rays that stimulate blooming.

How Many Hours of Grow Light Do Indoor Plants Need?

  • Indoor plants (foliage houseplants) need 12-14 hours of grow light exposure
  • Flowering houseplants: 14-16 hours of grow light exposure
  • Vegetative plants: 12-14 hours per day
  • Seedlings: 16-18 hours (Source)

Before choosing grow lights, you must first check light requirements of your houseplant.

Different plants have different light requirements, which can be broadly categorized into three types:

  • Low-light indoor plants
  • Medium-light plants
  • High-light houseplants

Low-light houseplants (10-15 watts or 50-250 lumens)

Low light means, you should be able to read newspaper in this light.

Plants like: Calathea, English Ivy, Philodendron, Peace lily, Snake plant and Pothos can be grown in low-lightning condition.

Medium-light houseplants (15-20 watts or 250-1000 lumens)

Indirect light.

Plants include: Jade plant, Peperomia, Spider plant, Rubber plant, Asparagus fern and Fiddle leaf fig.

High light houseplants (more than 20 watts or more than 1000 lumens)

Direct sunlight.

Houseplants include: Orchid, Hibiscus, Poinsettia, Cactus, Succulents, Citrus and Jasmine.

So, according to your houseplant you can choose grow light spectrum.

What Happens to Indoor Plants in Winter?

Do houseplants grow in winter?

Most houseplants enter dormant stage, means they rest in winter. Even if some plants growth, their growth is very little.

You shouldn’t fertilize houseplants in winter, nor should you prune them.

Due to low light and cold weather, houseplants don’t need much water in winter.

Even with low-intense grow lights most indoor houseplants can survive in winter.

  • Don’t overwater indoor plants in winter.
  • Lack of sunlight often attracts pests and infestation, check out leaves regularly.
  • Avoid dry air. If needed use humidifier.
  • Provide them with enough light. In winter months, there will be no sun outside. Experts recommend using grow lights to save indoor plants in winter.
  • Most houseplants aren’t cold tolerant. You should shift them indoors or in a warmer place to protect them from cold drafts.

Important Tips to Grow Indoor Plants

If you don’t have enough space outside or you just want to beautify your indoor space, you can grow houseplants indoors.

But, ensure to care them considering these 6 tips:

  1. Avoid overwatering. Most houseplants are dying due to excess watering.
  2. Regulate temperature indoors. Ideal temperature for growing most houseplants is between 65F to 75F.
  3. Fertilize your indoor plant with organic and kitchen leftovers.
  4. Make sure your houseplant gets enough light. Without fulfilling light requirements of houseplant you can’t keep them healthy.
  5. Well-drained, loose and fertile soil is best potting soil to grow houseplants.
  6. Choose the container that has a drainage hole and made of terracotta.

In a Nutshell

Grow lights mimic the outdoor sunlight. It encourages the plant to grow and bloom.

Should everyone use grow lights for their indoor plants?

No, if you’re space is getting enough indirect sunlight through windows, then you don’t need grow lights.

When the temperature outside drops below 50F and no sunlight appears; then you must use grow lights for indoor plants.

There are different types of grow lights, full spectrum and red/blue spectrum.

For indoor plants, I recommend using LED full spectrum grow lights.

While blue lights encourage stem and leave growth, red light range is for blossoms.