Whether you’re an experienced gardener or a novice learning how to grow your own plants, grow lights are a fantastic resource for your home garden. They make it possible to cultivate a variety of plants indoors, regardless of the season or amount of sunlight. “Light is among the most vital factors to consider when growing plants, because it is a vital component of photosynthesis,” says Jamie Chan and Blas Herrera of Fog City Gardener.
We researched the top-rated grow lights available online and sent some of them to our editors to test in their homes to evaluate size, wattage, bulb type, ease of setup, and overall effectiveness. Our best overall pick, the GE BR30 Grow LED Light Bulb, is versatile enough to fit in any standard lamp and provides a balanced light spectrum for effective plant growth.
Here are the best grow lights for your plants, backed by our thorough research and testing.
Best Overall: GE BR30 LED Grow Light Bulb
Fits in most lamps
Soft, natural white light
Requires a nearby lamp
Burns out within a few months
What do buyers say? 93% of 16,400+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.
Our pick for the best overall grow light is the GE BR30, This balanced-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. Its balanced light spectrum is designed for seeds and greens, so you can grow herbs, lettuce, cucumbers, peppers, and other vegetables right in your home. We love that it fits into any standard lamp, so you won't need to go out and purchase a new one.
While our tester was initially underwhelmed by this option—it looks just like a regular lightbulb, and she doubted it would actually do anything—she immediately found that it worked great on her sun-loving yucca plant.
Our editor, Jenny Hughes, also tested this in her home, and noted, "I wasn't having a lot of luck growing seedlings until I got a GE BR30 bulb. Within days after I set it up, the seedlings were rapidly growing taller and sending off leaves. The light is bright enough to give the seedlings what they need, but it's not glaringly bright like a lot of grow lights are. It's like having an extra lamp in my apartment."
Price at time of publish: $41 (pack of four)
Runner-Up, Best Overall: Soltech Solutions Grow Light
Installation equipment included
Lasts 15 years
Available in different sizes and colors
Installation requires about one hour
For an option that's long-lasting, aesthetically pleasing, and seriously effective, you can't go wrong with the Soltech Solutions Grow Light. While it's one of the more expensive options on the list, we found this grow light to be well worth the cost. When used for an average of 16 hours per day, the light lasts 15 years—far longer than cheaper options. It has a 15-foot fabric cord and comes with an LED bulb, three ceiling hooks, two wall fairleads, and a swag hook. You can choose from two sizes—5.8 x 3.8 inches with 2,000 lumens or 7 x 4 inches with 4,000 lumens—and two colors to customize it to your space and needs.
After treating her aloe plant with the smaller, 20-watt lamp for three weeks, our tester noticed significant growth. It also added natural-looking light to her space, practically doubling as a decorative overhead light. One thing to note, though, is that installation can be difficult—our tester had to solicit the help of her husband, and even then it still took an hour. They noted, "Installation was far from my favorite thing about this lamp, but looking at the light itself? That’s a different story. . . . After several weeks admiring it, I’d honestly install one of these even without the sun-starved plant."
Price at time of publish: $119
Best Budget: Aceple LED 6W Desk Plant Grow Light
If you're on a budget, the Aceple Desk Plant Grow Light is an excellent product that produces impressive results. This grow lamp combines two light colors: red delivers 660 nm, which is ideal for flowers and fruits, while blue provides 460 nm to support photosynthesis. With a large clip and a flexible gooseneck arm, it has the look and size of a reading light—but with all of the power your plants need.
After using it both in her house and in a greenhouse for two weeks, our tester found this light to provide more than enough light for multiple small plants. "With four potted African violets arranged in a circular potholder, we attached the Aceple to a towel rod and let it do its work in six-hour increments. . . . After almost two weeks with the Aceple, one of our African violets—which hadn’t sprouted in years—started to produce a new bud," our tester noted.
Easy to set up and small enough to fold up and store in a drawer, it's a great option for households with a few plants that require light on an as-needed basis. However, we did note a few flaws in the design: The gooseneck arm was a bit too short, and the light is also lacking a timer. All in all, though, this is a great budget pick suitable for a variety of needs.
Price at time of publish: $14
Best Hanging: Roleadro LED Full Spectrum Grow Light
Diverse range of light
Great for seedlings
Even light distribution
No timer function
Difficult to install
The best full-spectrum 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 not only to 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 that you can hang just about anywhere in your home, making it a great option if you have lots of plants you want to cover. However, although it's an excellent hanging option, it's worth noting that we found setting up the hanging element to be difficult, as you need to have hooks readily available.
After using this panel on various types of growing situations (including potted succulents and seed trays), our tester found this panel to be best for seedlings, noting, "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. It was the perfect size for a seed tray and provided an evenly distributed amount of light."
Price at time of publish: $33
Best Kit: AeroGarden Harvest Elite with Gourmet Herb Seed Pod Kit
Comes with grow pods
Can be tricky to clean
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 4.61 x 15 inches, it's the perfect size for a tiny desk garden. The kit also includes seeds for six different herbs—and because they grow in water, you can get started right away.
After using this kit for over a month, our tester found it to be much faster and easier than growing herbs outside. She had mixed feelings about its stainless steel look, which fit seamlessly in with her kitchen but may seem out of place in a living room.
Price at time of publish: $159
Best Mounted: Feit Electric Dual Full LED Plant Grow Tube Light
Easy to install
Excellent blue/red ratio
Low heat emission
Not ideal for large plants
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, a combination that has very promising results for plant growth. Plus, it has a low heat emission, which prevents burnt leaves and reduces your electric costs.
Price at time of publish: $46
Best for Herbs: TorchStar Plant LED Kit Indoor Herb Grow Light
Mimics natural sun cycle
The best option for herbs is from TorchStar. With full-spectrum solar simulation, this 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 eight hours at night. This herb grow light is the perfect size to place on your windowsill, desk, kitchen counter, mantle, dresser, or side table. And it has a sleek minimalist look that won't take away from your herbs.
Price at time of publish: $30
Best Adjustable-Spectrum: Leoter Grow Light for Indoor Plants
Three light modes
10 dimmable settings
Flexible gooseneck arms
USB-port or standard outlet power
No warranty information
Burns out within a few months
The LEOTER Grow Light emits a full spectrum of color to encourage varied phases of plant growth. It emits 660 nm of red light and 460 nm of blue light and a full-spectrum bandwidth of 380 nm to 800 nm. A combination of all three delivers the most positive growth results. This light is equipped with an array of convenient features, including three timing modes, 10 dimmable modes, and three switch modes. The timer has 3-, 9-, or 12-hour increments and will automatically turn on and off each day—so your plants receive adequate light even if you are at work or away on vacation. “We use timers on our lights for ease of maintenance every day. It will automatically turn off and on based on our desired schedule," note Jamie Chan and Blas Herrera of Fog City Gardener.
This grow light can be powered by a USB port or plugged into a standard outlet. An adapter is included for added convenience. It has four light heads and four flexible gooseneck arms that can be adjusted by 360 degrees. Thanks to a sturdy mounting clip, it can be attached to any surface up to 3 inches thick, allowing for versatile placement. The only downsides are that the light tends to stop working within months, and we didn’t find any information regarding a warranty.
Price at time of publish: $26
Best Stackable: Gardener’s Supply Company Stack-n-Grow Lights System
Easy to assemble
Stackable and expandable
Drip trays sold separately
May need to be wall-anchored
This modular unit from Gardener's Supply Company allows you to grow plants vertically and expand as needed. Measuring 31 x 15.5 x 21 inches at its base, the compact, stackable design frees up precious floor space. Each shelf can hold up to 110 pounds, and you can add up to two shelves—in addition to the base unit. When stacking two or more units, you may need to anchor it to a wall with the supplied brackets for added stability. With 3.5 square feet of space on each tier, you’ll have plenty of room for seedlings and a variety of other plants. Meanwhile, two full-spectrum fluorescent bulbs with 3,730 lumens cover a large growing area. High-tech reflectors direct light downwards, which reduces glare and encourages plant growth.
It’s easy to assemble: The pieces snap together, and no extra tools are required. It’s also lightweight, which is a major plus. Each shelf weighs 7 pounds, and they come apart for easy storage when not in use. It’s important to note that water will drip from the upper shelves onto the light fixtures. You can purchase small boot trays from the manufacturer, or another type of drip tray, to prevent this from happening. It also doesn’t have a timer setting, but you can plug it into a power strip with a built-in timer.
Price at time of publish: $215
Best Large Capacity: Spider Farmer SF4000 LED Grow Light
Easy to install
Large coverage area
Even light distribution
No timer function
With 5 feet by 5 feet of vegetative coverage, the Spider Farmer SF-4000 LED Grow Light illuminates a large area of plants. This 450-watt grow light emits a full spectrum of colors: white, blue, red, and IR. A knob lets you adjust the dimming anywhere from 10 to 100 percent.
Despite their large capacity, the included LED lights are energy-efficient, which means lower operating costs. Thanks to a new diode layout, the light is more evenly distributed at optimal intensity. For added safety, this unit features waterproofing and protective covering on the cables. It’s made from durable aluminum, which doesn’t throw off a huge amount of heat. The only feature that this otherwise stellar performer lacks is a timer. Hanging it above your plants is easy, and it lives up to the manufacturer’s plug-and-play claim.
Price at time of publish: $500
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. If you’re planning to move your light from place to place, you might want something lighter and portable, whereas if you know it’s going to stay put, that might not be as much of a factor. 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. Hanging lights are typically larger, while desktop lights are smaller and easy to move around. If you want a complete system, consider a full garden kit that includes the planter with a built-in light.
“Hanging your lights too low can burn your plants, but hanging them too high can leave them stretching for light, and weak,” says Melissa Lallo Johnson, a master gardener based in Kansas City, Missouri. The standard placement recommendation for incandescent grow lights is at least 24 inches away from plants. Since fluorescent and LED lights have a lower heat output, they can be placed 12 to 18 inches away from plants.
Different plants require different intensities of light, however. If you’re growing seedlings, Johnson recommends positioning them within 2 to 3 inches of a fluorescent light source or as close to the light as possible without touching it. Hanging or positioning lights directly over plants is the best arrangement, because it mimics sunlight and ensures that the entire plant receives adequate light.
Wattage isn't as important as you might expect when it comes to grow lights, but it's still a factor worth considering. The more important metric is actually PPFD, or photosynthetic photon flux density, which measures the specific light emission that a lamp gives off. Because this is a bit complicated to figure out, wattage is a useful tool to determine the correct fixture for your plants. The rule of thumb is that you need 32 watts per square foot, so most indoor plants (especially herbs) will do just fine with a lower-watt light.
LED lights are one of the most popular as well as the most efficient options on the market. They also offer an ideal light spectrum range. LEDs emit less heat and can last up to 30 times longer than incandescent bulbs. “LED lights are my preferred go-to for lights, because they’re energy-efficient and generate little to no heat,” says Johnson.
Fluorescent lights are more energy-efficient than incandescent bulbs, but they tend to be pricier in general.
Incandescent bulbs are the least-expensive option, but they’re also the least energy-efficient. They also have a fairly high heat output, which is not the most ideal growing condition.
The beauty of indoor grow lights is that they allow herbs, seeds, houseplants, and flowers to flourish year-round. However, they will need the right amount of sunlight and darkness to thrive. Johnson offers the following advice for germination/seedlings: “You can run lights 16 to 18 hours per day until they are a few inches tall. As they mature, you can slowly reduce to get them on a similar light pattern for spring before you transplant them.”
After some experimentation, you should be able to peg the optimal duration for your specific plant variety. A grow light with a built-in timer makes it easier to control proper light levels, especially if you’re away from home. Johnson suggests that you “try to get the light schedule as close as possible to the current sun pattern, so [your plants] are less shocked when transplanted outdoors.”
How far should grow lights be from plants?
Though it depends on the wattage and light wavelengths, grow lights should be placed at least 2 feet away from your indoor plants to avoid overheating. LEDs and fluorescent lights typically have lower heat outputs, so they can be placed a little closer.
How long should grow lights be on for?
To effectively mimic the sun's natural light, a grow light should be on for eight to 16 hours a day, depending on where you live, what time of year it is, and the type of plant. If your plants receive some natural light, they generally won't need as much artificial light, whereas a plant that doesn't get any natural light may need the full 16 hours.
Do you have to use LED lights?
LEDs are most often recommended for grow lights, though some fluorescent and incandescent bulbs can work. The most important thing is that the bulbs offer full-spectrum illumination and produce waves of red and blue light, which is often necessary for plants to thrive indoors.
Why Trust The Spruce?
The Spruce contributor Theresa Holland has several years of experience covering gardening products. She's well versed in indoor planting essentials, including pots, watering tools, plant food, and grow lights. To write this post, she considered products that have been tested and vetted by Spruce reviewers and chose products for their functionality, power, and features.
This article was updated by Sage McHugh, a lifestyle writer for The Spruce who specializes in the home and garden sector. To select the best grow lights for this roundup, she considered dozens of products, carefully evaluating their size, wattage, bulb type, and overall performance from independent reviewers and the first-hand insights from our product testers at home. For expert insight, she interviewed Melissa Lallo Johnson, a master gardener based in Kansas City, Missouri, and the host of Art of Gardening, a vlog and podcast that features influential gardeners from around the world. She also consulted with Jamie Chan and Blas Herrera of Fog City Gardener.