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Using Natural and Artificial Light for Indoor Plants

Understand the importance of light for your indoor plants and learn what type of light your plants prefer most.

| March 2018

  • Do a little research on your specific plants to better understand what type of indoor light they need.
    Photo by Pixabay/claudemircarvalho
  • “Grow. Food. Anywhere.” by Mat Pember and Dillon Seitchik-Reardon is a guide to growing fresh and nutritious produce no matter the size and location of your garden.
    Photo courtesy of Hardie Grant Publishing

Grow. Food. Anywhere. (Hardie Grant, 2018) by Mat Pember and Dillon Seitchik-Reardon goes through every fruit and veggie you can think of, giving you the best tips on growing each, as well as the different buggies and diseases that may be coming after your garden. In the following excerpt, they explain the difference between natural and artificial light for your indoor plants.

MacGyver is legendary for his ability to combine a bunch of everyday items to make something useful. Like when he used a sleeping bag, tank of oxygen and vodka to blow himself out of a snow cave. Or when he used a candelabra, microphone cord and a rubber mat to make a defibrillator. Well, when it comes to the use of light, plants make MacGyver look like Huckleberry Finn.

Plants use photosynthesis to convert light energy into chemical energy. A simplified explanation is that when light hits a plant’s leaves, CO2 from the air reacts with water in the plant to create sugars (plant food) and oxygen. Oxygen is the by-product, which is why we talk about places like the Amazon rainforest as the ‘lung’ of the earth. A lot of photosynthesis happening at one time can produce a lot of oxygen. The sugars then spur the growth of the plant.

Just like we need essential vitamin D to be healthy, photosynthesis is essential for the successful growing of edible plants. But there’s a belief among some would-be growers that only direct sunlight can achieve these outcomes. Thinking they don’t possess the environment in which to grow food, they resort to soulless indoor plants, even terrariums, to get their growing fix. It’s a crying shame.

As our cities continue to build up and our living spaces dwindle, direct sunlight is becoming more of a scarce commodity. Thankfully, that doesn’t mean you can’t grow food.

Full Sun Vs. Partial Sun/Shade

Our fruits, veggies and herbs all have their own respective light requirements, but in general, more light is always better. Even if a plant’s tag states its requirements as partial shade, let it be known that full sun is always preferable. Yes, it just may demand some elevated maintenance, more water for example, but more rays almost always translates to better growth.

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