By Jim Hagerty
The use of light-emitting diode (LED) lighting can be an efficient and cost-effective way to provide light for a variety of gardening applications. Used first to replace incandescent and neon bulbs, LED lights are now widely used in street lights, signs and a variety of electronic devices. Although artificial, LED light can be helpful in growing plants, most notably in shady areas or during times of low sunlight.
Natural light contains red, yellow, green, blue, indigo, orange and violet, in terms of what humans see when a rainbow is present. With growing plants, all species benefit from each color in the rainbow during photosynthesis. Most house plants depend greatly on red and blue light. Blue light helps seedling stems grow strong, while the right amount of red helps plants flower.
While excessive heat can be damaging to plants, LED lighting emits very little heat. This is important when growing plants where natural light-only and potentially harmful bulbs are used and must be closely monitored.
Herbs and flowers
Because plants will draw blue and red lights from LED bulbs, host gardeners have found their use provides the best results when growing herbs and plants with long stems and flowers. It is also acceptable to use both sunlight and LEDs for best results. However, too much sunlight could have plants draw excessive red, which could prevent them from flowering.
The use of LED lighting is economically wise and energy efficient. LED lights last considerably longer and are cheap to run. For example, the typical incandescent light bulb is usually good for approximately 150 to 200 hours, while an LED bulb can be run for thousands of hours at about a 10th of the cost. Most LED lamps are also usually made from biodegradable material and are landscape safe.
From the Aug. 4-10, 2010 issue