Jun 08, 2023
9 Best Grow Lights for Indoor Plants in 2023, Reviewed by Experts
We've been independently researching and testing products for over 120 years. If you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Learn more about our review process. From stylish full-spectrum
We've been independently researching and testing products for over 120 years. If you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Learn more about our review process.
From stylish full-spectrum LEDs to simple bulbs, this is what houseplants crave.
Keeping houseplants alive can be a strenuous task. You need to place them in the proper location to make sure they get the right amount of light, and you have to water them correctly — because there is such a thing as overwatering your plants. Although water is, thankfully, easy to find in most places, proper lighting may not be. You might live in a place that doesn't face the sun, your home may not have a lot of windows or perhaps putting your plants in a certain place in your house doesn't fit your aesthetic. That's where indoor grow lights come in: You can use them to properly care for your plants no matter your lighting situation.
Here at the Good Housekeeping Institute, we're constantly conducting in-depth testing of lighting and grow systems, such as smart outdoor lighting and indoor herb garden kits. Plus, Good Housekeeping is always looking into the perfect plants for your home, including the best plants for your bedroom, the best air-purifying plants and the best places to buy plants online. For this piece, we examined the many different types of grow lights to consider — from individual bulbs to entire self-running systems. Though we didn't get to test the lights in the Lab, we researched 40 different brands and more than 50 different products, using previous test results, our extensive expertise and our Labs' specialized experience to help inform our decision-making. To find the right one for your home, check out our choices for the best grow lights for indoor plants.
After our list, keep scrolling for additional information about what to look for when purchasing grow lights for your indoor plants. Dreaming of the perfect indoor garden setup? Get inspired with our picks for the best indoor plants for every room and the best tall indoor plants.
Ezorkas's LED tri-head grow light has 120 LEDs: 80 red and 40 blue. This is the optimum color range to promote successful plant growth, as both of those hues are perfect for optimizing photosynthesis and survivability. The colors can be used either at the same time or individually, depending on the stage of the plant. To power it, a USB plug is included, as is an AC adapter.
The grow light also has a timing function that can be set for three, nine or 12 hours at a time, which is great for people who aren't home all day. The lights are dimmable, so you can adjust them based on the type of light your plant needs. The grow light itself can be clipped to a table to save space, but it also comes with a stand if you prefer that look. The tri-head combo allows you to organize your plants to match your aesthetic, as the heads can be arranged in any fashion; however, they all have to stay near each other, since the lights cannot separate from the base. We didn't get to test this one in the Lab, but the 14,000-plus positive reviews on Amazon help to instill confidence in this pick.
This bulb from GE is ideal if you're trying to grow plants that flower or bear fruit. GE says this is a full-spectrum light, but its tint is more reddish than white, which would be better for budding and flowering plants. Because the bulb is an LED floodlight, it won't generate much heat, and the light will last longer than a traditional bulb. You'll also save a decent amount of money using this LED light versus a non-LED light. According to GE, this light has an output photosynthetic photon flux (PPF) of 15 micromoles per second, which is essentially the number of light particles the bulb is producing that actively help with photosynthesis. The higher the PPF, the better it is for the plant.
Know, though, that the light is non-dimmable, so make sure you use it in a place where you're comfortable having it at its maximum brightness. Also, check that you have the proper lamp for this bulb, as it won't be able to replace just any light. You can usually find a bulb size on its packaging. For example, this light is size BR30, which you can see on the front of the box. Online reviewers love how quickly the light turned their plants' livelihood in a positive direction.
The Trio Grow Light from AeroGarden has a mix of both red and blue lights, with more red than blue, but the lights don't create a purplish hue, like you might think. There are multiple color variations, with the first being full spectrum, which encompasses all the other colors that are possible. To maximize the effect of the light, you can isolate the colors based on the growth stage of your plant. So you can have a warm red, a cool blue or even just a nice white light. These are all great for different stages of plant growth. It has an auto-timing function, allowing you to turn it on or off for a certain number of hours.
These lights are suitable for indoor potted plants or an indoor garden, and they're LED lights, which are known for their long-lasting capabilities and energy efficiency, saving you money over time. This light is also smart, so you can connect it to the AeroGarden app, from which you can control and manipulate the light how you please. The three arms of this light set are individually flexible, so you can arrange them to maximize the number of plants this grow light illuminates. The height of the light allows you to use it most effectively on plants up to 12 inches tall.
Because Feit's grow lightbulb mainly emits light from the red and blue spectrum, it encourages growth and flowering. It uses only about nine watts, but the brand claims it's equivalent to 60 watts. Even though it is an LED bulb, it's shaped like an incandescent, so it does need to be placed in a lamp. This bulb is also UL listed, meaning it passed stringent safety requirement tests.
And since it's an LED bulb, it's much more energy efficient than other lights, so you'll save money if you leave it on for long periods of time. This bulb works great for houseplants, but if you're looking to grow herbs, we recommend buying a stronger light. Some online reviews of this light mentioned it wasn't strong enough to grow their herbs, but their regular houseplants fared fine.
If you have a bigger budget and more space, these grow lights from Spider Farmer really pack a punch. More than two feet wide and about 14 pounds each, these lights are meant for big grow tents. They do draw a lot more power than a traditional bulb — about 450 watts. It also contains a full spectrum of colors, shown as white light, so it's great for the full life cycle of your plant. These are also LEDs, so even though they're huge, they don't produce too much heat.
The PPFD values are high all along the light, but much higher in the middle. This makes sense, as the PPFD is a measurement of how much light a plant is receiving at specific points along its growing environment, so the middle would, naturally, have a higher value. (A higher PPFD is better than lower, simply because it means the plant will be receiving more light energy with a higher value.) The controller for the light contains a dimming knob, so you can reduce the intensity of the light if necessary. Spider Farmer also claims to have a warranty of five years of after service, which is great when you're making a large initial payment.
For those who don't want to worry about specific bulbs, you can get yourself a whole system. The Stack-n-Grow Lights System from Gardener's Supply Company has two 3-foot-long fluorescent bulbs. If you want more than one system, you can actually stack up to two additional units on top of each other. Each unit weighs about seven pounds and can hold up to 110 pounds.
Note that this system is not designed for houseplants; it's designed to grow herbs — or anything else that produces food — indoors. While fluorescent bulbs are fine for growth, you do have to be wary of the extra heat the bulbs will give off. Make sure to put this device in a place where the heat is able to disperse. There are also special reflectors in each system that help focus the light directly onto the plants. While we didn't get to test this one, if you're interested in learning more about products like this, our best indoor herb garden roundup further describes the different grow kits available.
There's another GE light on our list that looks very similar to this one, but it's different, since GE has specific grow lights for specific purposes. This light is meant for new plants that you're seeding or that are budding. You can buy up to a pack of four, and you also have the option of buying the bulb alone or with an actual lamp. This light isn't colored, even though it favors a red-blue light spectrum. Instead, it shows as a white light, which is great if you don't want to add bright, colorful lights to your room.
It has a PPF value of 16 micromoles per second, which means it's producing 16 million photons per second that are capable of being absorbed for photosynthesis. While this may sound like a lot — especially since it's less than the other GE bulb on our list — it's a moderate amount of light energy for houseplants. Be sure to look into how much light your plant needs so you can purchase a bulb with the proper PPF value. You can usually find this value on the bulb's packaging or online while searching for a product.
If you can't find a PPF value, don't worry. While it's a good idea to understand exactly what you're providing your plants with, as long as they have the recommended light and water, you'll be fine. This is a non-dimmable light, so place it in a location where you won't mind it being bright.
Two feet long and with a life span that Feit claims to be 25,000 hours, this grow light fixture is great for year-round growth. These are full-spectrum grow lights, meaning they're great all the way from seeding to budding to flowering. These are LED lights too, so you'll save on the cost of running the lights for long periods of time. Plus, you can link up to five lights at a time to maximize how many plants you can grow at once.
The lights come fully assembled and are plug and play, so all you really need is to find a location to put the light. Another perk: The power cord is five feet long, so it should be relatively easy to find a good place to hang or mount it, especially since it comes with wire harnesses and screws. It has a PPF value of 49 micromoles per second, so it produces a good amount of light energy for plants. You'll be able to grow most houseplants and smaller edible plants with this quantity of light. It's also ETL listed, so it's gone through the proper electrical safety channels.
GooingTop produces this LED grow light, which has more than 7,000 five-star Amazon reviews. Each light is a slim 10 inches long, so they aren't big, but they're great for small houseplants. The brand claims that the light consumes only 10 watts but that its output is equivalent to a 50-watt halogen bulb. It's simple enough to install, as it's powered by a USB plug or an AC power adapter, and the lights can clamp to a table, so you'll have even more space for your plants.
There's a timer function, so you can choose to turn it on or off for four hours, eight hours or 12 hours. You can also dim the lights if you don't want them quite as bright. Since they're LED lights, you don't need to worry about excessive heat, so they can be decently close to your plants. Plus, they have excellent energy efficiency. There are 70 red LEDs and 10 white LEDs: The idea is to simulate sunlight at noon, when it's at its brightest and provides the most light. Since most of the lights are red, they're great for budding and flowering.
There's a remote control attached to the light, which allows you to turn it on and off, change the intensity of the light and turn it on and off according to a timer. The lights themselves are attached to a flexible gooseneck, allowing you the freedom to arrange your plants so you can cover them properly with the grow light.
For this story, we researched 40 different brands of grow lights and more than 50 different products over a two-month period.
Regardless of whether the grow lights were from big names or small brands, our goal was to find the lights that would last the longest, be the easiest to use and not break the bank.
We also looked into which types of plants thrive under which kinds of lights, as well as what any fancy-sounding words on the packaging actually mean, all to help make it easier for you to understand what you're getting before you make a purchase.
When purchasing a grow light, consider these points in order to properly raise and care for your houseplants:
✔️ Types of plants: Whether you're growing plants indoors or outdoors, not all plants can be treated equally. Some need more intense light, some need less light, some need different colors, etc. Before purchasing lights, you should research the plant you want to buy to make sure you can properly care for it before you take it home with you. For additional information, browse our gardening section to learn how to handle different types of plants.
✔️ Micromoles: This is a unit of measurement that describes the amount of light that falls on an area over a period of time. When it comes to plants, micromoles are a good way of understanding the amount of light that is needed for photosynthesis to occur. One micromole is equivalent to 1 million photons of light per second that is capable of being absorbed for photosynthesis. Plants have different requirements, so check to see how much light your plant needs to make sure the light you buy for it will be the appropriate amount. Most lights you purchase will tell you the number of micromoles of light it will produce.
✔️ PPF and PPFD: PPF stands for photosynthetic photon flux, and PPFD stands for photosynthetic photon flux density. Think of these values as the amount of light energy that is able to provide any form of benefit to your plant. These numbers are great for people who want to know the exact value their light can provide and thus optimize their plants' growth and survivability. It's also easy to understand in terms of what value is best. The higher the number, the better the light is at promoting any form of plant growth, while the lower the number does the opposite. While it isn't necessarily bad to have a lower number, it's simply important to know that if your plant requires a certain amount of light, this is a great way to determine how much energy a light can provide.
✔️ Bulb shapes and sizes: Not all bulbs are the same. They won't all fit in the same lamp. Make sure to verify the size of a bulb before purchasing it to ensure you have an appropriate fixture to add it to. This isn't just for bulbs either. Some lights can be up to two to three feet long, and if you don't have the space for a light like that, we wouldn't recommend purchasing one.
✔️ Heat: Depending on the bulb or light system you purchase, it could produce a decent amount of heat. Though that may work in some scenarios that require it, basic houseplants do not need excessive heat to grow. In fact, having a powerful bulb that produces extra heat could actually damage the plant entirely. See which light types below are more likely to produce heat and which are less likely to do so.
Most plants use light from the sun to grow. We call that white light, but technically, white is the combination of every single color we can and cannot see. What you see in everyday life is the reflection of said light bouncing off an object.
Now, how exactly does that work with plants? Of course plants need light to grow, but it's not as simple as that. Plants have a different use for each color of the spectrum. Out of the colors that we are able to interpret, the most important colors are blue and red. Blue lights are great for anything involving the structural parts of the plant, to continue to make it strong and healthy. Red lights are great for the initial phases of plant development, as well as for flowering. There's nothing wrong with using them individually, but usually they are mixed, which is when you'll see a purple mix light.
"But what about green?" you might think. "Most plants are green; wouldn't you want a green light?" While green light can be beneficial to plants, chlorophyll, which is what absorbs energy from the sun, actually absorbs every color but green. So green is the part of the light spectrum that gets rejected, and because that light gets reflected back to us, we see the majority of plants as green. Does this mean green light is bad for plants? No. But it does mean that there are other colors of the spectrum that would benefit the plant more.
Providing indoor plants with adequate lighting is essential for their growth and survival. Below is a guide to which lights are best for your houseplants, but it's still important to do research for your specific use cases. For example, you wouldn't want to order an HID light for a small house.
The Good Housekeeping Institute has been testing lighting and grow setups for years now. Test Engineer Alec Scherma is an experienced mechanical engineer who has worked in clean rooms and labs that require specific lights, so as not to harm the products.
Alec's knowledge of those lights, along with Chief Technologist & Executive Technical Director Rachel Rothman's expertise in all things that combine tech and wellness, helped provide the best information on grow lights for indoor plants.
Alec Scherma (he/him) is the Good Housekeeping Institute’s test engineer, where he helps to create and implement new product testing methodology across home, cooking and cleaning appliances, wellness, tech products and more. He graduated from Drexel University’s College of Engineering with a B.A. in mechanical engineering.
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Our Honest Review of Peach Skin Sheetswe're constantly conducting in-depth testing of lighting and grow systems, such as smart outdoor lighting and indoor herb garden kitswe researched 40 different brands and more than 50 different products, using previous test results, our extensive expertise and our Labs' specialized experience to help inform our decision-makingoptimum color range to promote successful plant growthsave a decent amount of money using this LED light versus a non-LED lightsmart, so you can connect it to the AeroGarden appencourages growth and floweringMore than two feet wide and about 14 pounds eachdesigned to grow herbs — or anything else that produces food — indoorsmeant for new plants that you're seeding or that are buddingcan link up to five lights at a timesimulate sunlight at noon, when it's at its brightestFor this story, we researched 40 different brands of grow lights and more than 50 different products over a two-month period over a two-month period. our goal was to find the lights that would last the longest, be the easiest to use and not break the bank✔️ Types of plants:✔️ Micromoles:✔️ PPF and PPFD:✔️ Bulb shapes and sizes:✔️ Heat:Most plants use light from the sun to grow. We call that white light, but technically, white is the combination of every single color we can and cannot see.Plants have a different use for each color of the spectrum. Out of the colors that we are able to interpret, the most important colors are blue and red. LED grow lights: Fluorescent lights: High-intensity discharge (HID) lights: Incandescent lights: Alec SchermaRachel Rothman