Choosing light for your carnivorous plants can be both simple and extremely complicated.
Ask around, and you will likely be told that natural sunlight is your only option for carnivorous plants. While I agree it might be the “best” option, it is not the only one. Our precious plants grow outside in nature, and thus get all their light via that glowing orb in the sky (the sun). Natural sunlight is of course the best form of light, as it is what they get in their native environment.
However, not everyone has the space, or desire to grow their plants outside under the sun. Perhaps, like myself, you want to view your plants all day long while working in your home office. Maybe you live in a condo, apartment or dorm room, and don’t have outdoor space to grow plants. Then you do have other options.
For the most part, you want as much bright light as possible, and that can be simulated in several ways (there are some exceptions).
Below are some of the best options I have come across for providing light for an indoor growing area:
Fluorescent lighting has been around for a long time. You can buy them online as well as in most hardware, home improvement and department stores. They cost less to operate than traditional incandescent bulbs, and come in many styles, sizes and color/intensity.
Fluorescent bulbs come in many different sizes, shapes and colors. Compact fluorescent and tube fluorescent are the most common.
Most “shop lights” will provide adequate light for most carnivorous plants. You can purchase specially “grow” lights as well, which in my opinion do not warrant the extra cost.
It is suggested that fluorescent lights have a rather short lifespan, and should be replaced every 6-8 months depending on duty cycle.
In my opinion, these lights are mostly obsolete, as LED lights offer better economic value, based on longevity and cost to operate.
The one exception would be to use a compact fluorescent (CFL) bulb, in a small desk lamp or similar for just a couple plants.
I cannot recommend any specific lights, as I no longer use them since switching to LEDs.
Light emitting diodes (LEDs) are the latest option to come to the mainstream market. They too are available pretty much everywhere, and are even more efficient than fluorescent lights. They are also relatively low cost to operate, and last for many years.
LED lights also come in many sizes, shapes and colors.
Most LED “shop lights” will work fine for most carnivorous plants. Ideally you want something with a 5000 to 5500K color range with around 5000 Lumens.
I use LED lights exclusively now, as they are less expensive, last longer, and generally cost less to use as well.
Two of my favorites are the following:
- Hyper Tough 4 ft Steel, 5000 Lumen LED Shop Light (Link on Walmart.com)
- Yescom 225 White LEDs Grow Light Ultrathin Panel (Link on Amazon.com)
I use the “Hyper Tough” shop light for big shelves since they are 4ft. long. These are the light I currently use in my grow tent.
The “Yescom” light, is smaller (approx. 12x12in.), and works well in situations where you need a smaller light, or in my case where I have a 3ft. shelf that I cannot use a 4 foot shop light for. In my 3ft shelf, I can fit 3 Yescom lights, and they provide an even, bright, and cost effective solution that my plants seem to love.
The above are just my personal thoughts, there are many resources on the internet that will break down all the details, and you can read them until your head explodes. Things like Lumens, Lux, Color Spectrum, Spectral Power, Color Temperature, Color Rendering Index, PAR ratings, etc.
Are there better, more specialized lights for our plants? Sure, but I personally cannot justify the time, expense, and research required to figure it all out, when most “off the shelf” solutions appear to work just fine.
If you want to dig in deeper, below are some links:
- Curious Plants – What Type of Light Do Carnivorous Plants Need?
- Carnivero.com – The Ultimate Guide to Grow Lights
- International Carnivorous Plant Society – LED Plant Lighting
- FlytrapCare.com Forums – How much light do you really need?
- Carnivorous Plant Society of Canada Forums – Indoor lighting guide
- and many, many, many, many others….remember that head exploding comment 🙂