Shine On: A Guide to Grow Lights for Herbs Indoors

Have you ever wished your indoor herb garden could thrive like it’s basking in the summer sun, year-round? Enter grow lights for herbs.

Picture this: It’s a snowy day outside, but inside your kitchen basil and oregano are flourishing under an artificial glow. Imagine reaching over to pluck fresh parsley right off its stem while preparing dinner.

How about having aromatic mint leaves ready for that homemade mojito on a whim?

You see, grow lights can bring life to even the most stubborn seeds tucked away in dim corners of our homes. The journey from sprouting seedlings to fragrant clumps of green doesn’t have to be exclusive to outdoor gardens or bright windowsills.

Let’s dive into how light impacts herb growth, and if LED grow lights or fluorescent ones are better for your indoor garden. We’ll also share some handy tips to perfect your lighting conditions.

Table Of Contents:

The Role of Light in Herb Growth

Just like us, plants crave light. They stretch towards it and bask in its warm glow. But why? The answer lies within the leafy greenery: photosynthesis. 

You see, plants use their leaf surface as solar panels to collect energy from sunlight, which they then channel into a veritable botanical feast.

Understanding Photosynthesis in Herbs

Let’s shine some light on a key factor for successful herb growth – sunlight. Or more accurately, the right type and intensity of light.

If you’re planning an indoor herb garden or growing herbs indoors under artificial lights, it’s crucial to understand that plants are nature’s original solar panels. They use their leaf surface to gather energy from sunlight.

Plants convert this collected energy into food using water and carbon dioxide (you know, that stuff we exhale).

seedling absorbing sunlight

The Role of Different Light Wavelengths in Herb Growth

Nope, not all lights are created equal when it comes to our green friends. Blue and red wavelengths have been found most relevant by botanists worldwide.

Blue light: Promotes foliage growth – think lush leaves perfect for your next pesto recipe.

Red light: Aids flowering – great news if you want your basil plant to strut some flowers.

Your grow lights should ideally emit these specific wavelengths because different types boost various aspects of plant development. Light conditions also impact taste which you learn more about later on.

Grow Lights 101

There’s a great option to keep your herbs indoors flourishing – enter, grow lights. What kind of grow light should you select? Fluorescent or LED?

Fluorescent vs LED Grow Lights

You’re probably thinking, “Aren’t all light bulbs the same?” Well, not when it comes to growing herbs indoors. Light intensity and spectrum play crucial roles in plant growth.

In general terms, both types of lighting fixtures are good for indoor herb gardens but offer different benefits.

The compact fluorescent grow light shines brightly on the affordability front. It covers a large area with its radiant glow – perfect if you’ve decided to convert that spare room into an indoor garden oasis.

multiple fluorescent lights hanging

The LED grow light is like having multiple suns in your pocket.

Okay… maybe not quite as hot or dangerous but just as beneficial for photosynthesis because it provides specific wavelengths needed by plants—specifically blue and red light.

led lights over a seedling

Type of Grow Light

Affordability/Price Range


$10-$20 per bulb/Covers larger areas with white light spectrum that mimics natural sunlight.


$25-$50 per bulb /Provides specific wavelengths (red & blue) for plant growth and is more energy-efficient.

You may have also heard of Incandescent lights and High-Pressure Sodium (HPS) lights.

While these are viable options, they are often not energy efficient and create more heat than the options listed above. Meaning, there’s a greater chance of burning your plants.

So, we suggest choosing between fluorescent or LED grow lights but this comes down to your specific needs.

For a beginner who’s just getting into growing herbs, fluorescents could be the way to go.

But if you’re looking to optimize light conditions for robust plant growth or have some green to spare (pun intended), LEDs are worth considering.

**QUICK TIP** To find out how many watts you need based on your growing area size, you can use this calculator.

Lighting Conditions for Optimal Herb Growth

Think of your indoor herb garden as a solar-powered factory.

Each leaf is like a little solar panel, soaking up light to fuel growth. But what happens when the sun isn’t an option? Enter grow lights – your herbs’ personal sunshine.

The Impact of Light-to-Leaf Distance

Getting the right distance between your light source and leaves can feel like trying to tune in an old radio—too close or too far, and you’ll get static (or worse: crispy or leggy plants).

In general, more intense lights should be placed further away from plants while less powerful ones need to be closer.

Why so? Because light intensity decreases with distance—it’s not playing hard-to-get; it’s physics.

Key Tip: Positioning of grow lights plays a crucial role in determining how much exposure each plant gets—an essential aspect of optimal lighting conditions for herbs.

Type of Grow Light

Suggested Distance from Plants

LED Lights Around 12-24 inches

Florescent Lights

Around 6-12 inches

Incandescent Lights

Around 6-12 inches

HPS (High Pressure Sodium) Lights

Closer to 14 inches

Your height may vary based on specific herbs grown indoors and an individual lamps’ power output, but generally speaking, this will keep your herbs basking—not baking—in their own private sunlight.

Remember that insufficient or excessive light can negatively impact plant growth, so it’s important to find the right balance.

Indoor herb garden light management isn’t rocket science—it’s more like cooking.

Once you have some experience, you’ll soon develop a knack for understanding your plants’ light needs. Happy growing.

The Influence of Temperature on Herb Growth

Who knew that herbs are such picky eaters, right?

Well, it turns out temperature plays a huge role in herb growth. Like Goldilocks and her porridge – not too hot, not too cold – different herbs thrive in their own sweet spot of temperatures.

Some like it hot while others prefer the chillier side. The secret sauce here is finding what your specific indoor herbs crave.

If you’ve been growing basil or oregano at home, you might have noticed they love warmer conditions (think 70-80°F). These culinary heroes can’t stand the cold.

In contrast, chives and parsley don’t mind playing cool as cucumbers with a preference for cooler climates around 60-70°F. So yes, when we say ‘chill’, we mean both vibes AND temps.

The Balancing Act: Heat vs. Light Intensity

Now here comes the fun part: balancing heat with light intensity. If you’re using grow lights to boost your indoor herb garden game remember this:

  • Brighter doesn’t always mean hotter.
  • Led grow lights give off less heat than fluorescent bulbs despite their brightness level being through the roof.
  • This lets us create perfect mini-climates without turning our homes into saunas.

2 Tips for Maintaining Ideal Temperatures For Plants

1. To keep things warm, consider using a heating mat under your plants. It’s like an electric blanket for herbs.

2. For cooling things down, position fans to circulate air around the room and keep those temperatures in check.

Moral of the story? Keep tabs on your herb garden’s temperature preferences and you’ll be enjoying fresh, flavorful dishes all year round.

Starting Your Indoor Herb Garden with Grow Lights

Light is like the bread and butter of plant growth. But not everyone has a sunny window sill ready for an herb garden.

Enter grow lights, your secret weapon to starting an indoor herb garden.

Affordable Grow Light Setups for Beginners

For those who may not be naturally gifted with a green thumb, starting an indoor herb garden can seem intimidating.

So let’s start with simple and affordable. Small grow light setups don’t have to break the bank and allow you room for experimenting.

You’ll need two things: A good grow light that mimics natural sunlight, and herbs eager to bask in its glow (basil or oregano anyone?). Remember – most culinary herbs love lots of bright light.

An ideal beginner setup could be something as simple as a clamp lamp fitted with a full spectrum bulb or an LED panel plant stand situated above your plants – both great options.

You can even use a regular light fixture with one of the recommended bulbs if that works best for you and your indoor plants.

A wonderful all-in-one setup that is compact and can sit right on your kitchen counter is an AeroGarden.

I used one of these when I was getting started growing herbs indoors and it worked really well, especially for beginners. They grow in little pods like in the pic below.

seedlings growing in hydroponic setup

Remember the Plan…

The goal here isn’t necessarily growing award-winning basil but learning about what makes these fragrant little leaf factories tick under different conditions such as varied distances from the light source.

Lights too far away? Herbs might get spindly searching for sunbeams.

Too close? You may singe their tiny chlorophyll-filled hearts out. It’s really quite dramatic stuff when viewed from a plant’s perspective.

So remember the following:

  • Maintain optimal distance between lights & leaves.
  • Monitor daily progress & adjust accordingly.
  • Treat every failure as another step towards being crowned ‘Indoor Herb Whisperer’.

Enhancing Herb Quality with Specific Light Wavelengths

Have you ever wondered how to take your herb-growing experience up a notch?

Well, the answer might be in your light bulbs. They could be giving off specific wavelengths of light that boost essential oil production and enhance taste.

This study shows that ultraviolet (UV) light increases essential oil production in aromatic herbs. This implies your homemade dishes are about to become much more scrumptious.

The Benefits of Ultraviolet Light for Aromatic Herbs

In addition to making our food tasty, UV light is also known for its antibacterial properties.

But remember folks, just as too much sunbathing can turn us into lobsters – overexposure can harm plants too. Finding the optimal level of exposure is key.

Violet light has been found to improve color and aroma in both microgreens and aromatic herbs.

So if you want vibrant basil or oregano on your pasta dish – violet’s where it’s at.

Giving Your Plants Some Purple Love

I’d recommend LED grow lights which emit both UV and violet rays because they cover the entire spectrum needed by plants indoors – including red and blue lights crucial for photosynthesis.

You see folks; Mother Nature knows her stuff when it comes to growing plants.

She uses a full spectrum of light from the sun, and we’re just trying to replicate that indoors with our LED lights.

In conclusion, getting those top-notch herbs is not rocket science. It’s all about mimicking nature by providing specific wavelengths like ultraviolet and violet light.

And remember: Your pasta dishes will thank you for it.

Key Takeaway: 

Looking to enhance your herbs? Show them a little light. Specific wavelengths, such as ultraviolet and violet light, can boost both the flavor and color of your indoor garden. But keep in mind – balance is crucial; excessive UV could damage plants. LED grow lights are an excellent option because they emit these rays along with others vital for photosynthesis. So let’s dive right in.

FAQs in Relation to Grow Lights for Herbs

What type of grow light is best for herbs?

LED lights are top-notch for growing herbs indoors. They’re energy-efficient, provide the right wavelengths, and have a long lifespan.

Can I use grow lights for herbs?

Absolutely. Grow lights give your indoor herb garden enough light to flourish even without natural sunlight.

How many watts should a grow light be for herbs?

The wattage depends on your setup’s size but aim around 20-40 watts per square foot of garden space. You can use this calculator to estimate the watts you need based on the size of your grow area.

Do you need grow lights for indoor herbs?

If your indoor area lacks adequate natural sunlight, using grow lights will make sure your herbs thrive well inside.


Grow lights for herbs can be your indoor garden’s best friend. You’ve learned how light impacts herb growth, from photosynthesis to flowering, and the vital role of red and blue wavelengths.

The benefits of LED grow lights over fluorescent ones were laid out too.

LEDs are energy-efficient, provide specific wavelengths needed by plants, while also being gentle on your pocket in the long run.

You now know how crucial lighting conditions like light-to-leaf distance can affect your herb garden. Also noted is temperature’s part in all this – different herbs prefer varying warmth levels.

We covered affordable setups for beginners starting their indoor gardens with grow lights as well as enhancing quality using ultraviolet and violet light.

Supplementing natural light for artificial has never been easier!

Your next step? Start planting! Remember these tips when you do so – they’ll help bring a flourishing patch of green right into your kitchen!

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