As you probably know, light is one of the most important factors that determine the growth of a plant and as a hy droponic gardener, it's also one of your major concerns.
Providing a good amount of light for the right amount of time is crucial for plants to grow healthy and big, but it's also important to know what kind of light they want. That won't be the main focus of this article, but I should tell you that most plants use the red and blue colors from the light spectrum to grow taller (red) and faster (blue).
So your hydroponics indoor gardening grow light system should probably focus on either one of these colors, or, if possible, both at the same time (for example, a hydro farm hydroponics grow light using metal halide and high pressure sodium lamps - you can check out my grow light glossary of terms if you're unsure what any of these terms mean).
But let's skip to what's one of the most frequently asked question regarding this subject: What's the minim amount of light a hydroponics system needs for healthy plant growth?
In order to answer this question, we first need to understand what the plant's photocycle is. Now, before you start cracking jokes about it being a photon-based bicycle, try to picture light as the fuel of a plant.
Once light is absorbed by the plant, it is transported into all its cells, helping out with the process of changing carbon dioxide into oxygen, plant growth and many other processes.
Light is a plant's fuel, but does it also need periods of time away from it?
Do plants "sleep"?
Opinions here are divided, some hydroponic gardeners saying that the more light is shone upon a plant, the more it grows. There's no "enough" for plants when it comes to hydroponics light. On the other side, scientists stated that plants fall into three main categories, depending on the amount of light they need:
These plants require the most amount of light to grow healthily. These plants produce fruits and flowers based on a large amount of light, so the less darkness they're into, the better. Usually, the minimum amount of light hydroponics systems need for growing long day plants is around 18-20 hours.
Peas, Barley, Lettuce, Wheat or Turnips are all long day plants, so if you plan on growing them, get an efficient led hydroponic grow lights system rather than an expensive high intensity discharge one that will buff your electricity bill in no time, running 20 hours per day.
These are plants that don't require such a large amount of light each day, but they don't bode well in the darkness either. The minimum amount of light hydroponics systems need for day neutral plants ranges from around 14 to 18 hours.
As you might have guessed already, short day plants don't require a lot of time in the light to grow fast and strong. These are plants that develop their flowers during darkness, but they still require periods of light to feed off.
So in order to keep a balance between these two factors, your hydroponics light system should run 12 hours, shutting it off for the other 12 every day. The easiest way to achieve this is to set up a hydroponic light timing schedule.
Hydroponic lighting requirements may vary from plant to plant, but understanding the three types of plants can dramatically reduce any confusion. If you don't want to memorize them, simply make a chart and hang it up close to your system.