Beginner Lighting Guide for Growing Succulents Indoor

Beginner Lighting Guide for Growing Succulents Indoor


Basics

Succulents work with photoperiodism.

They have a trait called CAM "Crassulacean Acid Metabolism". The stomata in the leaves remain shut during the day to reduce evapotranspiration, but open at night to collect CO2.

In short this means that constant light equals less CO2 which equals less growth.

This means that you should not leave your lights on 24/7! Plants from cold-winter deserts even need winter dormancy to be able to bloom in spring. The overall idea is to leave your lights on for about 14 hours a day. Look into your plants specifics!

Blue light focuses on the growing and development of plants, whereas the Red light focuses on the flowering and budding stages. The blue/red LED lights you see do not work more efficient than white 6500k lights.

The overall gist of the colour codes is that you need 6500k lights (code 865). Less than that will not be sufficient enough for the plants. Some people supplement their 6500k lights with 3000k (code 830) to promote flowering more, but people have seen flowering results with only 6500k lights.

The word "growlight" in my experience has just been to put some extra cost on the lights. Ready-made 6500k tube lights such as these are often a lot more expensive than putting together your own set-up.

LED, fluorescent, incandescent or HID

LED Lights

They are convenient because they give off low heat, less electricity costs overall and it focuses the light in one direction. The initial cost is high however.

For a small collection, LED lights would be a good option. Another downside is the colours of the blue/red LED lights vs the white LED lights, you will not be able to see your plants as well.

Fluorescent Lights

Another great option for a small collection would be CFL (compact fluorescent lighting).

You can fit them in normal light fixtures such as desk lamps and it is great if you need to supplement. Fluorescent lights are also a lot more economic and the heat coming off of them is very manageable.

Incandescent Lights

Incandescent lights produce a lot more heat, the risk of burning your plants is significantly higher. The lights are also less efficient and can be costly. This is not a good option.

HID lights (High Intensity Discharge)

They are twice as efficient as fluorescent lamps but they are extremely bright and extremely hot.

They also cost a lot more electricity to run. This will be a good option if you have a very large collection you house in a separate room.

HID comes in MH and HPS.

HPS is not suitable for plants as it lacks the blue light. MH gives off enough blue light, but your plants might not flower due to lack of red light.

TL Tubes Break Down

What most people use, are the fluorescent TL tubes. This is the most recommended option when taking initial cost, electricity cost and efficiency in account.

Reflectors are handy, because they focus the light on one spot instead of 360 degrees around, but not a necessary factor.

TubeSizeFitting
T1212/8 inch or 38.1mmG13 fitting
T88/8 inch or 25.4mmG13 fitting
T55/8 inch or 16mmG5 fitting

T12 tubes are no longer a viable option to use, as they produce a lot of heat and cost too much electricity to run in comparison to the newer options.

T5 tubes use a different fitting, but you can fit them in a G13 fitting with a "T5 retrofit conversion". Be aware T5 tubes are smaller in length too, so you won't be able to fit them without this conversion kit.

Please be aware tubes also come in LED form (these maybe more costly as you need a special LED armature for it. The normal armatures will not be sufficient).

The tubes come in HE, HO (or the rarely seen VHO). HE stands for High Efficiency, whereas HO stands for High Output. HO is used to maximize the light per centimeter and is what is most recommended.

All the factors combined, a TL tube set-up will be the most efficient for a medium to large size collection.

Whereas it usually says fluorescent TL tubes last around 20.000 hours (the T8 & T5 ones), this was measured having the lights on for 3 hours then 20 minutes off.

Obviously we want the lights on for about 14 hours, so the light will most likely not last as long.

Rundown for what you will need for a TL set-up:
  • Armatures with either G13 or G5 fitting depending on your bulbs, for instance this. These usually come without lights.
  • TL light tubes (T12/T8 or T5)
Source: Reddit.