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Keeping plants alive and helping them flourish can be hard as is, but growing things indoors is even trickier. You have to give them enough water—but not too much— and make sure they have a large enough pot and quality soil. 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 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.
"Even though some plants can thrive and others can tolerate low light situations, adding grow lights can help your plants, especially during winter when light levels are reduced even further," says Joyce Mast, Plant Mom at Bloomscape. "Adding supplemental lighting can help your plants grow quicker." When looking for the right grow light, consider things like size, type, and wattage.
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
Size: 10.87 x 10.87 x 0.55 inches | Type: Hanging panel | Wattage: 75 watts | Return policy: Dependent on retailer
Diverse range of light
Great for seedlings
Even light distribution
No timer function
Difficult to install
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 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.
"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
Size: 4.06 x 5.94 inches | Type: Bulb | Wattage: 9 watts | Return policy: Dependent on retailer
Fits in most lamps
Soft, natural white light
Requires a nearby lamp
Burns out within a few months
You can also get special bulbs for growing indoor plants like 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.
The GE BR30 features innovative LED technology, which allows it to last for 25,000 hours (or about three 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.
"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." — Jenny Hughes, Editor
Best Mounted: Feit Electric Dual Full LED Plant Grow Tube Light
Size: 23.33 x 4.9 x 1.73 inches | Type: Hanging or mounted | Wattage: 19 watts | Return policy: Dependent on retailer plus 3-year warranty
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.
Best Hanging: Soltech Solutions Grow Light
Size: 3.8 x 5.8 inches | Type: Hanging | Wattage: 20 watts | Return policy: Dependent upon retailer
Installation equipment included
Lasts 15 years
Available in different sizes and colors
Installation requires about one hour
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 colors, 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 medium (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.
"I am personally a fan of Soltech's Vita grow light bulb, which we carry at The Sill. This LED grow bulb has a highly precise photosynthetic spectrum but also illuminates your space with warm white ambient light—so essentially, it doesn't look like a grow light. I also love that you can screw it into any traditional light fixture." — Erin Marino, Editorial Lead at The Sill.
Best for Herbs: TorchStar Plant LED Kit Indoor Herb Grow Light
Size: 16.54 x 11.42 inches | Type: Indoor garden with built-in bulbs | Wattage: 14 watts | Return policy: 30 days plus 2-year warranty
Mimics natural sun cycle
The best option for herbs is 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 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.
Best Adjustable Spectrum: iPower 10W Dual Head LED Grow Light
Size: 4.53 x 3.15 x 13.78 inches | Type: Lamp | Wattage: 10 watts | Return policy: 30 days
Flexible gooseneck arms
Two light heads
Three light modes
11 dimmable settings
Not ideal for large plants
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. Plus, it comes in three different wattage levels, so you can pick the right one for your needs.
Best Desk Garden: AeroGarden Harvest Elite with Gourmet Herb Seed Pod Kit
Size: 10.9 x 4.61 x 15 inches | Type: Indoor garden with built-in bulbs | Wattage: 20 watts | Return policy: Dependent on retailer plus 1-year warranty
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.
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 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. 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. 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.
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 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.
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. That said, 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.
"Plants 'see' light differently than us. They qualify light not by its intensity but by the required specific wavelengths in the spectrum, and a photosynthetic spectrum is key for plant growth. If you are providing the correct spectrum of light, all different types of plants should thrive from it." — Erin Marino, Editorial Lead at The Sill.
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.