Choosing The Right Grow Lights For Orchids :)
In this guide we'll discuss a common question we get asked - what grow light should I use for orchids?
What are orchids?
Orchids, or Orchidaceae, are some of the most awe-inspiring and elegant plants in the world. Their blooms produce colourful and fragrant flowers and come in all shapes and sizes. Along with Asteraceae, the sunflower family, they are one of the largest families of flowering plants in the world, with around 28,000 accepted species – that’s more than twice the amount of bird species on the planet!
With so many different species, orchids are an incredibly diverse plant. They can grow anywhere from tropical rainforests to frosty tundra, depending on the subfamily. Although many types of orchid are difficult to grow, there are plenty of species that will flourish when grown at home. Thanks to recent advancements in grow light technology, you can have these exotic plants thriving with ease. All it takes is pairing the right type of orchid with the right light and you will have happy and long-lasting flowers to brighten up your home.
Why do I need grow lights for orchids?
Utilising artificial lights to grow orchids, and all types of plants, is becoming more and more popular for a number of reasons. While you could just use natural sunlight, grow lights provide a controlled and consistent source of light that will allow your orchids to thrive. It also means that you can display your plants anywhere throughout the house, rather than being confined to windowsills - or outdoors.
Both light-emitting diodes (LED) and fluorescent lights are great options when it comes to growing orchids in an indoor garden. These lights are cheap to run and give off very little heat. Most importantly, LED and fluorescent grow lights provide great results, making them an ideal choice for growing orchids at home.
Best lights for small orchid collections
For a few large treasured orchid's, or a collection of beloved smaller orchids our clippable LED grow lights are perfect. These lights are a great budget option for novice growers who want an easy and simple setup to display their orchids throughout their home. They'll cover an area of roughly 40-50cm and their clippable base allows them to be easily attached to tables, window sills and shelving.
With a robust metal design, these lights come equipped with three high quality heads that can be operated one, two, or three at a time. You can switch the lights between red and blue light, as well as a combination of both, making them great for vegetative and growth stages. Five light intensity levels can be utilised for each setting, allowing maximum flexibility and customisation to create the ideal growing environment for your orchids.
The lights come equipped with an in-built timer that can be set to run for three, six, or twelve hours. You can also run the lights indefinitely if you wish however this isn't recommended as plants need a period of darkness as well.
With so many options for customisation, as well as an affordable price, these lights provide an effective and elegant way to grow and display your orchid collection at home.
Best lights for larger orchid collections
For grander collections of orchids and grow rooms you will need larger and more powerful lighting options. Both fluorescent and LED grow lights are great for home gardeners who are serious about their orchid collection, as well as commercial growers.
With so many models, sizes and types available the whole idea of buying the right grow light can become a daunting experience.
With this being said we'll go through both lighting types in a little bit more detail to try and help you get your head around the pro's and con's of both lighting types.
T5 Fluorescent Grow Lights
Fluorescent lights are an extremely popular choice when it comes to growing orchids. They are cheap to run, emit little heat and have long lifespans. These lights are great for vegetative growth, seedlings, seed raising and other propagation purposes.
Typically, fluorescent lights are fitted with tubes that produce a spectrum of 6400K, which is ideal for vegetative stages of a plants growth. You can also replace these with 2700K tubes, which produce a spectrum more suited to the flowering stages of a plant. Alternatively, you can run a dual setup, utilising both tubes at once to provide a wider spectrum of light to your orchid collection. The configuration you choose will be dependent on your orchid’s stage of growth and needs.
At The Hippie House, we stock a range of different sizes of fluro grow lights, offering both flowering (2700K) and growing tubes (6400K). By default, our T5 lights come fitted with growing tubes, with flowering tubes available separately. Check out our options for fluorescent grow lights here:
Some key features of fluorescent grow lights are:
- Little to no heat is produced by these lights - they are similar to the lights you find within office buildings.
- Whether it's a pro or con for you, these lights have to be hung extremely close to the plants. Aim to have them roughly 30 cm above the canopy.
- Replacement bulbs are extremely cheap, about $10.
- Easy to run with very few moving parts making them a very reliable lighting type.
- You can't get full spectrum coverage with these which is a con.
LED Grow Lights
Recent advancement in technology have made LED grow lights an ideal choice for growing orchids. Unlike fluorescent lights, the best LED’s will provide full-spectrum light, rather than specific wavelengths. This is designed to mimic the sun’s natural spectrum as closely as possible, with boosts in the vegetative and flowering wavelengths. Full-spectrum light results in a white light, rather than the red, blue or purple light commonly associated with older LED technologies. As well as benefitting your orchids, white light is much easier on the eyes, making them ideal for displaying and admiring your beautiful plants.
LED lights also have superior canopy penetration, meaning the lights can be placed further away from your orchid bench while still providing plenty of light. This is ideal for orchids, as it allows them to grow tall without being restricted by your light fixture. In addition, LED grow lights will typically run for 50,000-60,000 hours, so that you save money in the long run by not having to replace your bulbs.
At The Hippie House, we offer free shipping on all LED grow light purchases. You can check out our options here:
Some key features of LED grow lights are:
- They produce very little heat. You can get various models, some which produce a little bit of heat while some of the newer models produce no heat whatsoever - without the need of any fans as well!
- Hanging distant varies depending on the model; hanging height above the canopy can vary between 30cm all the way up to 1.5 meters.
- There's no need for replacement bulbs - LED's have an average life span of 50,000 hours giving you years of growth.
- They are available in full spectrum, including UV and infrared which is required for some varieties of orchids.
Other lighting types
The other grow light types that people use are called HID lights. These run extremely hot so we tend not to recommend them for home gardeners as they create an array of environmental factors that need to then be taken into consideration. You will need to set up a professional ventilation system, run airconditioners in most cases and also due to their intense brightness you will need them in a seperate room.
Don't Forget About the right pots!
Making sure you get the right type of pots for your orchids is just as important as the light!
Choosing a suitable pot for your orchid can be crucial to its survival. The idea is to mimic an orchid’s natural growing conditions as closely as possible. Orchids typically grow in the wild with their roots exposed, so it is crucial to utilise a pot that allows for ventilation and drainage. The most common way for an orchid to fail is by overwatering, so you should look for a pot that allows excess moisture to be drained freely.
Check out our range of mesh net pots and growing containers to find the prefect pot for your orchids:
As with all indoor growing setups, it is important to keep in mind the natural growing conditions of your plants. With so many different species of orchids growing in such wide and varied conditions throughout the world, each orchid collection will have its own unique needs.
It is crucial to understand the specific species of your orchid so that you can provide it with the perfect conditions to prosper. This includes considering the number of hours your indoor garden will be exposed to light, as well as the type of light. Other areas of concern include watering, temperature, humidity and feeding. This is why it is critical to understand the precise needs and conditions of your orchid.
All in all, growing orchids can be a tough but incredibly rewarding experience. With the right growing conditions, your orchid collection will thrive under an indoor grow light setup. All it takes is understanding your plant and getting the basics right.
If you’re still confused, don’t hesitate to reach out to our customer support who can answer any questions in regard to the best grow lights for your orchid!
Want to view grow lights available in Australia?
Click below to view our full range of grow lights - all proudly shipped from QLD in Australia. You'll find a massive range of HID, T5, and LED grow lights from the leading brands across the globe!