As we have been discussing all the elements you will need for a successful Hydroponic garden, it’s important to remember the rule of limiting factors; even if you have all the right ingredients, if one is off, they will all be useless. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to each aspect of your grow room even the ones that seem like they may not have such a large impact, like lighting.
Though, just like out in nature, your plants will rely heavily on how much light they are receiving and if this amount is off, it won’t matter if they are getting the best nutrients or the perfect amount of water, they simply won’t grow to their full potential.
The amount and type of light your garden gets will determine not only it’s size but also what types of plants you can grow in it. But, the biggest factor to consider when looking into lighting for your garden is size.
The lighting/size breakdown looks likes this:
High Light Plants (tomatoes, peppers): 40 watts per square foot
So, for a typical 4′ x 4′ space containing low light plants, you would need 400 watts of lighting. To grow the high light plants you would need 600 watts of lighting. These numbers will grow as your garden grows.
But, once you decide how much light you need, you then need to decide what type of lighting is best for you and your garden.
Types of Light
Choosing the type of lighting you would like to use is a little more complicated than choosing how much you will need. There are many different types that affect different aspects of your plants. Different lights produce different colors, this spectrum is measured in Degrees Kelvin, and different plants grow better under different spectrum’s.
Flowering plants tend to grow better in the 2700K spectrum while most other plants will do fine in the 6500K spectrum.
Choosing a light is not as simple as going to your closet and grabbing a leftover bulb from your favorite reading lamp. In fact, incandescent lamps, the bulbs used in household lights, have been deemed incredibly inefficient when it comes to growing plants. Instead, it would be wise to turn to Fluorescent Lamps.
Fluorescent Lamps offer:
3-7 times more efficiency than incandescent bulbs
Bulbs in the 6500K range (which are ideal for growing)
Many different styles, shapes and colors
Very little heat production
If you are looking to pack more powerful light into a small space, you can turn to Compact Fluorescent.
Can get as large as 2500 watts
Use less power
Screw into a standard socket and are great for beginners
Are useful for small growers on a budget
Induction Fluorescent are also gaining popularity:
Longer lamp life (to fluorescent) while producing similar light
Infrequent lamp changes
But, the most popular light for serious growers would the High Intensity Discharge Lights:
Closest to natural sunlight
High intensity (for taller plants)
Two types of lamps produce two types of light
The downside to these lamps is how much heat they produce. So, if this is the direction you choose, keep in mind you will have to regulate heat production.
If you’re feeling edgy, LED Lights are the newest up and coming technology in the world of indoor growing. While they are still a new technology, they may save you money on electricity, last longer and provide very specific lighting spectrum’s.
The type of lighting you choose for your plants depends on your garden’s specific needs, but whatever you choose, make sure it is providing the right amount of light, the best intensity and is the best choice the for the types of plants you are growing.