The secret to bringing droopy houseplants back to life? A dose of LED – The Guardian

February 5, 2022 by No Comments

At this time of year, all I can think about is light. My houseplants are similarly obsessed: a few of them are challenging each other to do the best Leaning Tower of Pisa impression. I can torture them no longer, so I’ve changed a few lightbulbs, added a few timers and now, even in my darkest corners, life grows.

Once upon a time, winter in homes that struggle for light meant unhappy, stunted plants. But the introduction of cheap, LED lights has meant this is rapidly changing. Now even the darkest basement flat or north-facing room looking on to a brick wall can have a jungle of growth. Plants utilise a wide range of the light spectrum, from far red to green and far blue; these affect the plants’ growth and habit in different ways. For instance, far-red light can trigger flowering, while far-blue and ultraviolet will influence root and leaf growth. For seedlings and young veg, any number of cheap LED grow lights offer red and blue light, and will give you wonderfully bushy little plants (try The neon-pink glow from these lights is a little challenging, but if you put your whole set-up in a cupboard, you’re not exactly going to notice that.

Far-red light can trigger flowering, while ultraviolet or far-blue light affects root and leaf growth

I use these lights to supplement the seedlings growing on my kitchen windowsill. It’s south-west facing, so in the day it’s bright enough to not need the lights, but by using a timer, I can extend the daylight. I supplement the light from 6am and again around 4pm for a couple of hours and it makes a huge difference to the growth.

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If pink isn’t your cup of tea, there are a number of LED lights that offer 4,000-Kelvin white light. This includes the green spectrum, which means you get a brilliant white that works for your home and also offers a balanced spectrum for plant growth.

These bulbs are bright, so they’re not exactly suitable for the main ceiling light – unless you want to be blinded. But they are good in pendant, clamp and desk-top lamps, where you can direct the light at your plants. LEDs are useful, too, because they won’t get too hot and scorch young growth. Plus, they have a long life – of around 60,000 hours.

A traditional bulb-shaped LED light (try is suitable for houseplants and seedlings, and wouldn’t look out of place in an open pendant lampshade. If the aesthetic of the bulb doesn’t matter much to you, try an LED bulb from Grow London ( It has a built-in timer (offering a 15-hours-on, nine-hours-off timetable), which means you don’t have to remember to switch the lights on and off.



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