Have you ever seen seedlings that grow very tall or perhaps bend in the direction of a window? They are stretching to seek out more light. However, in the world of seedlings, being taller is not equivalent to being healthier. Insufficient light can cause veggie seedlings to become lanky, thin, and weak, a condition commonly referred to as “leggy.” This issue poses a significant challenge for new gardeners, but fortunately, it can be easily resolved. The most effective solution to prevent leggy seedlings and grow healthy and robust plants is to utilize LED grow lights.
In this comprehensive guide, I will tell you everything you should know and give you tons of details about how to effectively use LED grow lights for seedlings.
Why Use LED Grow Lights for Seedlings?
Seedlings emerge from seeds through a process called germination, during which roots and leaves start to develop. Initially, seedlings do not require light as they grow beneath the soil. However, once they break through the soil surface, they enter a new environment where they require a substantial amount of light for photosynthesis. In this process, plants transform sunlight into chemical energy to fuel their growth. The growth rate of a plant is often directly related to the amount of light it gains.
Unfortunately, relying solely on a bright sunny window is usually insufficient for indoor seed starting, especially during winter when daylight hours are limited. Lack of light can cause seedlings to become weak and leggy, which makes them less likely to survive for very long. To overcome this challenge, using grow lights is a simple and efficient way to offer necessary light and support to seedlings.
What Are the Benefits of Using LED Grow Lights for Seedlings?
Using LED grow lights has abundant advantages. Below are the essential ones:
More Robust Seedlings
The main advantage of employing grow lights is that your seedlings will grow more robust and more compactly than they would if they were just placed next to a sunny window.
Better Survival Rate
Once you give your seedlings enough light, you’ll notice that their chance of survival is much higher. Consequently, you won’t need to plant additional seeds to make up for all the weak ones you would have ultimately lost.
There will be less waste because you don’t need to plant extras to make up for those losses. As a result, you’ll discover that your grow lights pay for themselves very soon.
An LED grow light for your seedlings will also simplify your life. Instead of having to constantly check on and rotate your trays, you can simply set a timer and then forget about it.
Using LED grow lights is an effective way to preclude seedlings from growing too tall and leggy.
Grows Seedlings Anywhere in Your House
The flexibility of placing your seedlings wherever in the house is another advantage. There is no need to put them in a room with adequate natural light.
How Long LED Grow Lights for Seedlings Should Be on?
For optimal growth, seedlings require 14-16 hours of light each day. Like humans, seedlings also need a period of rest during the night. Therefore, it is recommended to keep the artificial lights on for 14-16 hours during the daytime and switch them off overnight.
To easily adhere to this schedule, you can utilize a timer to ensure your seedlings receive the optimal amount of light. If, for some reason, you are unable to provide the full 14-16 hours of light, it is crucial to closely monitor the seedlings. If they begin to exhibit excessive height or sideways growth, it is an indication that they need additional light. In such cases, extending the light duration by one or two hours can help meet their requirements.
How Do I Know If My Seedlings Aren’t Getting Adequate Light?
- leggy seedlings ( growth due to stretching towards light).
- Pale green or yellow coloration (indicating insufficient light for chlorophyll production).
- Long gaps between leaf nodes on the stem.
- Leaf dropping.
- Slow growth.
If you observe any of the signs above in your seedlings, take prompt action to address these issues. You can either increase the duration that your grow lights are turned on or shorten the distance between the lights and the seedlings. By making these adjustments, you can help the seedlings overcome these challenges and promote healthier and more robust growth.
How Do I Know If My Seedlings Are Getting Too Much Light?
- Seedlings appear burnt
- Show discoloration with brown tips on the leaves
These signs indicate that the light intensity may be too strong or the light source is placed too close to the leaves. In such cases, it is recommended to adjust the position of the lighting by moving it further away from the seedlings.
What Color Light Is Best for Seedlings?
At the initial stages of growth, blue light plays a crucial role in promoting strong and sturdy seedlings. However, as plants grow, they require an increased amount of red light. Red light becomes particularly important for flowering and fruit production.
Providing only a single color of light is insufficient for optimal plant growth. Different colors of light are necessary to fulfill various plant needs and enable them to reach their full potential. This is why full-spectrum light is considered the best light source for seedlings. It encompasses a broad range of colors to meet the diverse requirements of plants. It is important to note that not all products labeled as “white” or “white light” necessarily provide the full spectrum of light. Therefore, it is advisable to carefully examine product labels when selecting a light source to ensure it offers the complete range of wavelengths required for healthy plant growth.
When to Install LED Grow Lights for Seedlings?
Once you observe the seeds sprout, it is time to promptly install grow lights for the seedlings. It is not necessary to wait for all the seeds to sprout before installing the lights, as different seeds may have varied growth rates.
Certain seedlings have rapid growth tendencies and will respond quickly to the presence of light. By ensuring that these seedlings receive sufficient light, their growth can be effectively stimulated. Therefore, it is crucial to provide ample light to these seedlings as soon as they begin to sprout.
Where to Install LED Grow Lights for Seedlings?
It is vital to provide enough space for your seedlings to grow without touching the lighthead. LED grow lights should be installed approximately 4 inches above the seedlings to ensure the optimal amount of light. Keeping the lights too far away may result in insufficient light exposure while positioning them too close can lead to excessive light intensity and limited coverage area. Since the seedlings will gradually grow taller, it is necessary to regularly adjust the position of the lights. It is essential to ensure that the light head does not touch the leaves of the plants, as it can potentially cause burns.
As the seedlings grow taller, it is advisable to keep the lights at an appropriate height above them. To simplify this process, using an adjustable hanger can be a convenient option.
Additionally, if your light source does not cover every single leaf on your tray, it is recommended to rotate the tray daily. This ensures that all the seedlings receive even light exposure. Otherwise, the seedlings on the edges may become leggy as they lean toward the light source.
When to Stop Using LED Grow Lights for Seedlings?
When you start growing seedlings outside, you can stop using lights on them. But if you grow them indoors, you must provide them with adequate light.
If you choose to grow your seedlings outdoors during daylight hours and only bring them inside at night, you may not require additional lights. However, if your seedlings spend more than 6 hours indoors, it becomes crucial to provide them with sufficient light. Without proper lighting, plants cannot generate the necessary energy through photosynthesis, and as a result, they may gradually weaken and eventually die due to insufficient energy supply.
Pick One at MokoLight
At MokoLight, we specialize in providing LED grow lights for seedlings, especially our full-spectrum ones, to meet the exact needs of your indoor plants in different growth stages. For 16+ years, we have always put quality as a top priority, thus the products we offer gain certifications such as UL and ROHS. With our LED grow lights, you are able to watch your little seedlings grow and thrive. Contact us for further information.