There are many factors and elements that you need to consider when tending to a hydroponic garden, such as using plant nutrient enhancers, having proper airflow and most importantly, having an adequate amount of light.
When growing plants outdoors, it will always have an abundance of light, which is one of the main issues of having a hydroponic garden. You need to have an effective artificial indoor lighting system to provide substantial substitute light within the appropriate colour spectrum.
However, choosing the best light for your hydro system can be a bit tricky and intimidating, especially for beginners. There are a plethora of options of lighting systems to choose from, depending on your system size and types of plants.
Below is our quick hydroponic lighting crash course that will help you understand how the whole lighting system works. If you’re ready, let’s get to it!
Different plants and what they need
When you grow plants outdoors, a standard vegetable garden would need between 4-6 hours of sun per day and at least 10 hours of indirect sunlight. And with a hydroponic garden, your goal is to set up an artificial lighting system to mimic this.
Having a good lighting set-up and providing your plants with nutrients by using plant nutrient enhancers are critical to a healthy and abundant hydroponic garden.
Timing plays a huge role in growing plants indoors, that’s why you’ll need an electronic timer, especially when you develop a variety of plants. Having a timer will help you plan your lighting system to have at least 14-16 hours of artificial light and 10-12 hours of darkness daily so that your plants can rest and metabolise.
- Short-day plants
Some plants need long periods of darkness to help them photosynthesise and produce flowers because if they are exposed to over 12 hours of light, your plants won’t flower. Some examples of short-day plants are poinsettias, strawberries and chrysanthemums.
- Long day plants
Plants, wheat, lettuce, spinach, potatoes and turnips require about 18 hours of sunlight daily. These types of plants imitate the environment of summer-flowering plants.
- Day-neutral plants
If you need flexibility in your garden, consider growing rice, eggplant, roses and corn. These plants will still produce fruit no matter the amount of light they are exposed to.
Parts of a hydroponic lighting system
There are two different types of bulbs: Metal Halide (MH) and High-Pressure Sodium (HPS). If you want an all-around good light that would work for most vegetables, MH bulbs are your top choice. This type of bulb is relatively affordable and should be replaced at least every 2 years.
On the other hand, HPS bulbs are a better choice for when your plants reach the flowering and fruiting stage. Although these bulbs are more expensive, they last twice as long as MH, which is up to 5 years.
- Reflector hood
To increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the bulb, people attach reflective hoods to help reflect the light of the bulb down to the plants at various angles. This will allow your light to disperse properly, giving off less heat and saving on electricity.
- Remote ballast
Remote ballasts work best if you want to power your whole home lighting system. Since this is the most expensive part of your system, it’s best to keep them off the ground to protect them from floods or leaks.
As mentioned earlier, timing is essential for plants, and the best way to monitor light exposure is by purchasing one. Although it is the most inexpensive piece of equipment in your garden, it is still an essential one.
Now that you know the basics of hydroponic lighting, you’ll be able to set up a lighting system that will help keep your plants strong and grow as if they are outdoors. By providing adequate lighting, following our tips and using plant nutrient enhancers, you’ll be growing happy and healthy plants no matter the season and the weather.
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