Plant light
October 4, 2020 10:57 AM   Subscribe

I want to get a grow light for some herbs (no not that herb, not that there's anything wrong with that). I have potted basil, rosemary, and lavender that I will be moving inside soon. I'm just lazy enough to be the first thing that appears on amazon. Can I do better?
posted by falsedmitri to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I have that exact light and I will say that the timer is wildly inaccurate AND you can’t set it up with an external plus type timer. I had to reset the timer about once a week or so if I wanted it to be in at approximately the same time every day. On the other hand my houseplants did seem to enjoy it last winter.
posted by mskyle at 11:30 AM on October 4, 2020 [1 favorite]

I have this light and I am very happy with it. It does not come with a timer, but that was a plus for me since I hooked it into a smart plug (I use lots of these for scheduling lights for aquariums and terrariums).

These lights mounted perfectly into a corner bookshelf that I have. I used a spade bit to drill out a hole to run the cables through and it is hidden by a facade so you can't see the cables or the fixtures. The LED doesn't get too warm while still providing 6400K light which my plants are very responsive to. I prefer the natural white light to the coloured grow lights because I can better admire my plants and doesn't put a weird coloured glow into my rooms.

SunBlaster is also a well respected brand of horticultural light. You won't have trouble getting replacements or even finding these lights at local suppliers, which may not be the case for many of the lights you will find for sale online.

I've actually been considering getting a few more of these to replace my existing undercabinet lighting in my kitchen now that the fluorescent lights have burned out. The plan is to setup a planter like this one to grow microgreens and herbs along the back third of my counter.
posted by forbiddencabinet at 1:07 PM on October 4, 2020 [2 favorites]

Timer/smartplug compatibility would be a big deal to me. Also, that redblue light is absolutely INSUFFERABLE in your eyeballs, it's just heinous for human consumption, it somehow triggers my misophonia but in my eyes. I accidentally bought one, ended up affixing it inside a green storage bin for seed-starting, and it makes the entire dining room glow red still, even through the green walls. In short, I hates it.

I'm really surprised that one of those little flexi-arm rigs can get you 80w, which is an impressive amount though keep in mind that's total over the 4 arms. You probably could keep herbs going under pairs of arms - note, though: you have to keep them trimmed short and close to the light, you can't put the light 2-3' above the leaves, and herbs being as they are you may want to continually seed more basil to get through the winter.

I take my indoor growing guidance from a youtube microgreen channel that does a lot of light tests, and I'm using the cheap Barrina lights they rec and link there, but note that they're almost 4 feet long. I would just advise you get the most watts you can but not in redblue and ideally something with a physical switch and not those cheap cycle-toggle LED switches. I have multiple photo and work lights with those cheap switches, and aside from the fact that they're always off after a power interruption (so you can't use an external timer) they fail so fast, so that the buttons get switched around or you have to disrupt power to get back to the beginning of the cycle, if they work at all.

For a plant corner or similar, I think I'd go with 1-3 daylight bulbs like this in floor lamps or hanging/clamped work lights. Before I bought the long work lights, the silver clamp lights were what I used for seed-starting and they worked fine, it's just that a single one has a pretty limited scope and I wanted more room for starting trays.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:27 PM on October 4, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Houseplant Journal is a great resource. I think he reviews that exact light and says it’s too weak for plants that require direct light (which your basil for sure would). Perhaps this other option could work?

You can also get a good grow bulb and put it in a regular fixture.

I’m not sure where you’re located but rosemary and lavender can definitely live outdoors through the winter in many parts of the US.
posted by bluedaisy at 3:10 PM on October 4, 2020 [2 favorites]

I have the Aerogarden, and the timer works flawlessly, I LOVE how it waters the plants automagically, and my herbs grow amazingly well.
I am not sure how easy it would be to move your potted plants into it, but starting from seeds just works.
posted by birdsquared at 8:20 PM on October 4, 2020 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Following on to the idea of just buying a bulb (from bluedaisy):
The difference between these 2 is watts (9 vs 38) and prices ($11 vs $29)
Is that the only difference? Is there more expensive worth it?

GE BR30 Full Spectrum LED Grow Light Bulb for Indoor Plants, 9-Watt, Full, Balanced Lighting For Seeds & Greens

GE Lighting 93101232 Grow LED PAR38 Indoor Plants-32W, Full, Lighting for Seeds & Greens, PAR38, Balanced Spectrum

posted by falsedmitri at 9:28 PM on October 4, 2020

Best answer: The more expensive one is more powerful. Take a look at the "recommended use" photo of each. With the BR30, for high light plants (like basil), you are supposed to have it six inches over the plant and on for 18 hours. With the PAR38, you can have it 18 inches over the plant for 18 hours. So if you get the more powerful one, you can probably also have more plants under it.
posted by bluedaisy at 11:24 PM on October 4, 2020 [1 favorite]

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