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Do Regular Light Bulbs Help Plants Grow? (+Type Of Bulbs)

Many of us buy homes or rent apartments without considering the light it receives. And then, when we get houseplants, they don’t get enough light. If you are experiencing this, you might wonder if regular light bulbs help plants grow. Let’s find out.

Regular light bulbs can help plants grow but how well they will work depends on factors like the type of bulb, the distance of the plant from the bulb, the bulb’s color, and plant type. If your home doesn’t get enough natural light, regular light bulbs can help the plant survive.

In this article, we will discuss how regular light bulbs can help plants grow, the factors that decide it, and alternatives to regular light bulbs. So, keep reading.


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Can plants grow without natural light?

In their natural habitat, plants grow with natural lights.

And that is what is best for them.

Plants use natural sunlight to photosynthesize and create food.

They will turn weak and die if they don’t get enough natural light.

So, what should you do if your plants don’t get enough natural light?

You can get artificial lights.

If you want to know which is the best artificial light for your plants, go for grow lights.

We will discuss this later in the article, but these are designed for plants.

However, good quality grow lights are expensive.

Also read: Do Indoor Plants Need Sunlight? (With 25 Examples)

Can regular light bulbs help plants grow?

Yes, regular light bulbs can help your plants grow, but it depends on a few factors.

Let’s understand.

1. Bulb type

How much growth you see in your plant depends on the bulb you use.

There are different types of light bulbs, such as Halogen bulbs, Fluorescent Bulbs, LED bulbs, incandescent bulbs, hydroponic bulbs, etc.

And all of these function differently.

Although you might receive the same amount of light from a CFL bulb and an incandescent bulb, a CFL bulb will be more effective.

A CFL bulb will be more durable than an incandescent one and save you more money in the long run.

2. The distance of the plant from the bulb

The distance plays a major role in determining the growth of your plants.

If the light bulbs are too far away from the plants, they will not get enough light.

On the other hand, if the light bulbs are too near the plants, they can scorch their leaves.

So, if the distance is at an optimum level, then you can expect healthy growth of your plants.

This table will help you understand this better.

Distance of the light bulb and plants Verdict
More than 50 inches Too far
Less than 12 inches Too close
Between 12-50 inches Optimum distance

So, try to place your houseplants between 12-50 inches from the light bulbs.

Anything below 12 or more than 50 will be harmful to the plants.


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3. Color of the light bulb

The color of the light bulb can also impact plant growth.

Usually, full-spectrum light does well for most plants.

But some plants do better with different color bulb lights.

For example:

  • Red light promotes flower growth.
  • Blue light promotes foliage growth.

4. Bulb Watts

The bulb wattage can also impact the growth of the plants.

40 to 60 light wattage is ideal for plants if you are using regular light bulbs to support them.

However, if the wattage is too high, it will harm your plants and can even kill them.

So, ensure you don’t expose them to too high wattage bulbs.

5. Brightness level

The brightness level of the light bulbs can affect the growth of your plants.

Too much brightness can damage your plants.

The wattage of the light bulbs or the distance between the light bulb and the plants can influence this.

If you think the wattage is too high, change the light bulbs with low wattage ones.

And if the plants are too close to the light bulbs, move them further away from the lights.

If you are using regular light bulbs, ensure the light is half as bright as full sunlight.

6. Plant type

The growth of the plant can depend on the type.

Not all plants might enjoy the light of regular bulbs.

Some plants can tolerate them and show good results, while others may be more sensitive and might not benefit much from the regular light bulbs.

7. The room temperature

When using regular light bulbs to grow plants, you might want to check the room’s temperature.

If the room is too hot or too cold, it can affect the plant’s growth.

Plants will need optimum temperatures for proper growth.

The ideal temperature for most houseplants should be around 65-75°F.

If the temperature is too high, you might need to relocate the houseplant to a cooler spot.

And if the temperature is too low, you might need to increase it with the help of some heating source.

However, don’t ever place your plant close to any heating source.

8. The humidity

The humidity of the room can also affect your plant’s growth.

You might be using regular light bulbs and still find that your plants are not doing well.

In these cases, you will need to check the humidity using a humidity monitor.

If the air is too dry, the plants will get stressed, and if the humidity levels are too high, you might need to find a better spot or find a way to reduce the humidity.

For most houseplants, 40-60% humidity is enough.

9. The soil

If you use the wrong soil, your plants will not grow even while using regular light bulbs.

When you plan to bring a plant home, ensure you know the type of soil best for it.

Most houseplants prefer soil that supports great drainage and retains the required moisture.

So, don’t use soil that retains excess water and drains water too fast.

Change your plant with fresh soil if it is living in the wrong soil.

10. The duration of light

Finally, when you use regular light bulbs, you need to keep the duration of the light in mind.

If you keep the lights on for too long, your plants will not grow effectively.

This is because plants need both light and darkness.

Similarly, if you keep the light on for fewer hours, the plants will grow slowly due to a lack of light.

Consider keeping the light on for 12 hours and off for the rest.

What kind of light bulb will help plants grow?

People use different types of light bulbs in their houses.

Let’s understand them so you know which one can be best for your houseplants.



1. Incandescent light bulbs

Incandescent bulbs are not the best choice for plants because of 2 reasons:

  • These are not effective and durable.
  • These produce a lot of heat which can increase the room’s temperature.

These light bulbs were the first to be invented, and to promote growth in your houseplants using these, you will need a lot of them.

And if you use many of these, your room will become hot, and you will have to pay high electricity bills.

These will also not last long.

So, let us take a look at some better options.

2. LED light bulbs

LED light bulbs are more effective than incandescent bulbs and also don’t cost as much as them.

This is the reason LED blubs have started replacing incandescent bulbs in households.

When it comes to growing plants, you can customize the light coming out of the LED bulbs.

Many LED light bulbs in the market are specifically designed for plants.

You can also get a LED spotlight to grow small plants on your desk.

3. Fluorescent light bulbs

These work great for houseplants, providing constant white light with little heat.

The best way to use these is to place them above the plants so the light rays can hit the leaves from the top.

This will ensure that the plants don’t grow in odd shapes.

4. Halogen light bulbs

Halogen bulbs are great for plants that prefer warm conditions as these bulbs emit a lot of heat.

These are similar to incandescent light bulbs but use less electricity to produce more heat.

5. Hydroponic bulbs

These are stronger than the rest of the light bulbs that are used in the houses.

These require more electricity and can replicate sunlight pretty effectively.

These are ideal for plants as they help them grow fast.

However, you should not keep these on for too long.

Grow light vs. Regular light

Regular light bulbs are not designed to grow plants but to brighten the indoor space.

Grow lights are specially designed for indoor plants to help them photosynthesize and grow even when they don’t get much or any natural light.

The light intensity of the grow lights is more than the regular light bulbs, so they help plants grow faster.

Grow lights come in different sizes and shapes, and you should select the one that matches your plants’ requirements.

Also read: How To Use Grow Lights For Indoor Plants?

Final words

Regular light bulbs can help your plants grow, but they might not be as effective as grow lights or natural sunlight. I have mentioned some alternatives to grow lights in the above section.

If you don’t want to buy the grow lights or don’t have enough natural light coming into the house, you can take the help of your regular light bulbs. Keep the duration, distance, and type of light in mind.

Although regular light bulbs can help plants, they can never replace the ability of natural sunlight and might not suit all houseplants’ requirements. So, research before depending entirely on regular light bulbs for your plant’s growth.

Also read: Can Indoor Plants Get Too Much Light?


Sources: University of MinnesotaDavid H. Trinklein, Horticulture State SpecialistThe University of GeorgiaThe Royal Horticultural Society.