Light is an important element for cannabis plants to grow and perform photosynthesis. So, all cultivators need to be sure that their weed gets sufficient illumination to grow healthy plants indoors and save them from pests and mold. Besides, adequate lighting influences the plant terpene profile and cannabinoid content (find more details on the topic on Askgrowers.com). According to the report, many U.S. growers prefer LED lamps for indoor marijuana cultivation because they have numerous advantages over other grow lights available on the market.
What Are LEDs?
LED stands for “light-emitting diode.” It is an energy-efficient type of illumination that emits a very strong glow at a low temperature. LED light sources have been found in commercial products for about 50 years but only recently have begun to use in indoor horticulture. LEDs are incredibly versatile, and their adoption has revolutionized cannabis cultivation in controlled environments.
Originally, they couldn’t produce the light intensity in the wavelengths necessary for indoor grow operations. The first-generation lights lacked power and produced only red-blue light, which caused their nickname “Smurf lights.” Recent advancements in LED light intensity and color have allowed for the creation of full-spectrum LED grow lighting that matches or exceeds the yields of traditional bulbs. As growers recognized their advantages, they have rapidly adopted LED technology for indoor grow lights.
Advantages of LED Lighting for Growing Cannabis
LED lamps are the best solution for indoor cannabis cultivation, so let’s enumerate their advantages:
- Energy-saving. These bulbs consume less energy and save up to 50-70% more than other lamps. Their intensity doesn’t fade over time. They are not cheap, but the investment is worth it because your savings will make up for the higher initial cost.
- Durable and long-lasting. LEDs don’t need frequent replacement and can last up to 3-4 years. They are capable of producing light for about 50,000 hours of continuous operation.
- Safe. These bulbs don’t contain mercury and other chemicals that can be dangerous for your plants or home. They are recyclable, meaning they are also eco-friendly.
- Low/no heat emission. LED lights generate a little-to-no amount of heat that cannot dry or burn the plant foliage, also reducing the need for fans and other cooling equipment to keep temperatures optimal. They produce less UV light which is harmful and stressful to the plants. So, you can move your plants closer to the illumination source. Higher light intensity will bring you higher yields.
- Easy to set up and use. Unlike traditional lamps, LEDs don’t require reflectors, ballast, or fixtures. They are easy to install and have no maintenance issues. Just plug and play!
- Small and lightweight. They are especially convenient for gardeners with small grow tents.
- Allow less frequent watering and feeding schedules. With less heat produced, the soil in your plant pots will stay moist for longer, reducing the number of times you need to water and feed them.
- Quicker harvest cycle. This type of illumination can be used 24 hours a day and allows for shortening the season and increasing the plants’ growth rate. Thus, growers can find cannabis seeds for sale with top-shelf genetics and achieve multiple harvests per season.
These advantages make LEDs stand out from other types of grow lights, making them indispensable in the process of cannabis cultivation and growing the best plants from the best cannabis seeds.
Types of LED Lights
Indoor growers should know about different types of LED grow lights. There are 3 main varieties:
1. Spread-style LEDs
These lamps emit an equal amount of light to a large area. They consist of a large number of small bulbs spread out on a large board or panel. Spider-style LEDs are a variety of spread-style lights; however, they don’t use flat panels but spider-like arms with LEDs. They can be expensive, which is a downside.
2. Quantum board LEDs
They are a type of spread-style lights that have diodes with low wattage.
3. Chip on Board (or COP) LEDs
These lamps are made of hundreds of tiny LEDs on one small chip. They are highly efficient and produce a very intense illumination similar to the natural light spectrum of the sun.
Growers can choose any light type according to their needs and the type of growth they want to achieve.
What to Consider for Each Cultivation Stage?
LED lights can be used for the whole lifecycle of your marijuana plants. It is crucial to understand how to position the LED light source from the plants during each cultivation stage to grow healthy weed and produce maximum yield.
- Seedling stage. For seedlings, position LED lights 24-36 inches above the tallest branches of the plant foliage. Since seedlings are delicate and vulnerable, placing the illumination source closer may cause stunted growth or bleaching. Switch it to an 18/6 light cycle for regular and photoperiod feminized cannabis seeds and 24/0 for autoflower seeds. At this stage, less light intensity is the best. Also, you can use a dimming option, if any.
- Vegetative stage. At this stage, cannabis plants need more intense light. Hang LED lamps closer to the plants observing the distance of 12-24 inches to the top foliage. Monitor the plants and adjust the lamps’ height, if necessary, to avoid irregular growth or discoloration of the upper leaves.
- Flowering stage. Place the illumination source 16-36 inches above the cannabis plant canopy. For your specific flowering needs, you may raise LED lamps to the desired distance. To make photoperiod plants flower, set a 12/12 light cycle.
Actually, using LEDs is pretty straightforward, but observing these recommendations for the growing cycle is essential.
Whether you’re a novice grower or an expert cannabis cultivator, LEDs are a good option for indoor growth. They have become popular when it comes to convenience, quality, and affordability and promise to continue their meteoric rise around the world. Regardless of the size of your cultivation site, LEDs offer a host of benefits. So, before you buy cannabis seeds, research and invest in a good LED lighting system for your garden.