What Plants Need Grow Lights?

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I’m pretty new to house plant grow lights, but I’m a quick convert.

They weren’t only life-changing because I get awesome growth on my plants, but because the quick growth has forced me to get my rear in gear and keep on top of watering/fertiliser yada yada yada.

House plants don’t NEED grow lights. There are no grow lights in the wild.

HOWEVER, it’s a heck of a lot darker inside than it is out and plants need light to survive. Also, once you get into house plants, you may find that you quickly run out of windowsill space. Grow lights allow you to put plants wherever you like, and have them thrive.

I was testing my grow lights out for reviews so I tried them for propagating and reviving as well as general growth.

What I found interesting is that some plants went BANANAS under the lights, and started growing leaves all over the shop, and others HATED it and burned to a crisp. Others didn’t seem to even notice they’d moved.

And there was no rhyme or reason to it (at least, that’s obvious). My Calathea LOVE the grow lights, even though they’re typically a lower light-loving plant. Some Philodendron went wild, others were like ‘uh, no thanks, look: all my leaves are bleached.’

House plants that love grow lights

Pilea peperomioides

Oh my god. She’s truly in her happy place.

Pilea peperomioides was one of those plants that was fine. She grew ok, sometimes leaves dropped, but she was fine.

Under the grow lights, she cannot be tamed. She does get a bit of cupping (typical when they get a bit too much light) but the GROWTH. She’s a proper full plant now and has a tonne of babies.

Begonia maculata

This is a bit of a weird one actually. I’m not sure whether to put her in the ‘loves it’ category, or the ‘meh’ category.

I think she benefits from the grow lights but she needs something else, because I’m getting BIG leaves, but after she grows about three, they start to drop off. More immediately grow, but she only seems to be allowed three at once. Perhaps it’s a fertiliser issue. WHO KNOWS.

Hoya

I mean, hoya just love light. They’re actually quite happy a few feet away from the lights, so you don’t need to give them a prime spot.

Interestingly, I’ve noticed that they like to produce a great long vine, and then go back and grow leaves along it. From my own observations I’ve come to the conclusion that happy hoya put out leaves in pairs (one on either side of the stem). If they’re only putting out the one, they might benefit from a bit more light, and if they’re just producing vines, then they need a tonne more light.

Also the new growth on my Krimson princess is suuuper pink. We love.

She dusty

Croton

It bloomed! That’s good, right?

I’ve also tentatively decided that the grow lights have kept the spider mites at bay. This sounds contradictory, since spider mites love a bit of heat and a dry environment, so I can only assume that healthy crotons aren’t as much fun to colonise.

Pothos

They grow much bigger and faster under grow lights. Same with Heartleaf philodendron, and the variegation is more pronounced (though I noticed that some of the biggest leaves are half moons – interesting).

I love growing plants that are typically resigned to darker spaces in better conditions. They THRIVE as long as you acclimate them properly (or accept that they’ll be burnt to a crisp before coming back stronger, which is the lazy way)

Rhapidophora tetrasperma

The leaves are HUGE now.

HUGE.

rhapidophora leaf size before and after grow lights

Calathea

Again, these will need to be acclimated otherwise they’ll get burnt.

Interestingly, Calathea are very happy under grow lights but NOT happy in the sun. I can only think that they like consistency, and aren’t happy about the sun beating down directly on the leaves.

The ones growing in the terrarium are doing super well, and I’ve found that the pink on the Beauty Star is really starting to pop.

The Velvet touch has grown SO MUCH since going in there. You can see some of the tiny leaves in the undergrowth. Excuse the chomp marks – we’re having slug issues.

House plants that are indifferent to grow lights

These plants just…don’t care. Sometimes they really like the lights for like a week, and then are like…meh. It’s not that they don’t grow, but they don’t grow any more under the lights than they would otherwise.

I wasn’t sure whether to include the string of hearts here or in the hates column, but it doesn’t get worse under the grow lights, it just grows very, very slowly.

Syngonium grow well under the lights but dry out VERY quickly and collapse more dramatically than a peace lily. I just…don’t think it’s worth the stress.

Philodendron verrucosum

String of hearts

Syngonium

Philodendron tortum

Maranta

House plants that hate grow lights

Philodendron squamiferum

I don’t understand. It HATES it under there. If I helicopter parent then it grows SO quickly and looks great but then the leaves bleach. At first, I thought I’d induced variegation because I’m an idiot, but nooo – some plants start producing white leaves under grow lights that just die.

Most of my other Philodendron are FINE with the grow light, but not super excited, but squamiferum HATES it.

Anything with neon leaves

They just look super sad and go really pale. I felt really guilty actually – my neon Pothos actually started producing leaves with little bits of green on them to try to give itself a little bit of protection against the light.

babe, do you really think that’s gonna help?

They’re growing a lot, they just look a bit, er, ghostly.

Grow lights for propagating house plants

Just a little quick note that grow lights are AWESOME for propagating, ESPECIALLY if you have wet sticks you want to get going. Stick them under the light, keep them moist (preferably in a little zip loc back of sphagnum and wait for the magic to happen.

But then IMMEDIATELY after you start to see something happen with the growth point EITHER turn down the brightness of the grow light OR move it further away from the light. I learnt the hard way that the bright lights are way too strong for the new baby leaves, and they’ll just shrivel up.

Hope that was helpful! Obvs it isn’t an exhaustive list of plants, but if you have any specific plants you want me to try under the lights, leave me a comment and I’ll give it a go.

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