Any plant needs abundant levels of light in order for it to grow successfully. This is not exactly news that is going to shock you, but at the same time if you plan on growing plants in doors such as basil then clearly you are automatically eliminating the possibility of the plants getting enough natural light in order to encourage the correct levels of germination.
As a result, you run the risk of growing plants that are just not strong enough to sustain themselves or they will be dramatically reduced in size. However, what do we mean by abundant light? How much do you need and why exactly is this going to play such an important role?
Why Light is so Important.
It is a known and verified fact that light is going to have a positive impact on the way in which basil grows. This is actually something that has been studied by scientists and the results are in absolutely no doubt. We could discuss the importance of light for photosynthesis and this is well documented but as we are talking about growing basil indoors then this is a slightly different proposition.
However, as we stated at the beginning, you are growing them indoors so this is going to vastly reduce the amount of natural light that is able to get to the plant. The good news is that science has also shown the positive impact that LED lighting can have on basil so the point regarding natural light is now one that can be declared as null and void.
Studies have shown that the majority of herbs are going to require anywhere between 10 to 16 hours of light per day for them to then grow effectively. Now, clearly in the winter this is not going to happen outdoors so you need to look at growing them indoors and using supplemental lighting. You still have to provide them with light or the act of photosynthesis is just never going to happen and this is not going to be impacted just because you are using artificial light. In actual fact, thanks to the intensity of the light source it is going to replicate perfect lighting conditions outdoors but without you having to be concerned about the differences in temperature that occur throughout the year.
It has also been shown that light quality is one of the most important parts when it comes to the growth of basil. Now, we do not have to go into all of the physics that are related to the role that light plays but in short it has an impact on the production of certain components in the basil and in particular something called Rosemarinic Acid. The light is also known to reduce the level of stress in the plant and when this is removed, or reduced in a number of instances, then the outcome is a healthier and stronger plant that is going to last for a considerably longer period of time.
Furthermore, the Rosemarinic Acid is part of something known as the Phenolic group and this is key as it has an impact on the way in which the plant is able to adapt to various conditions and this is clearly going to make a difference to the quality of the plant. In addition, research has shown that LED lights have a profound effect on the growth of the basil from the time of its original cultivation. The greatest impact has actually been found to occur in the first few weeks of growth with the impact slowing down after the first month. However, thanks to the consistency of the light it is something that should continue to be used over the duration of the lifetime of the plant.
Basically, what we are saying here is that there is a very real need for you to make sure that there is more than enough light in order to successfully grow basil indoors. We have looked at the type of light, the intensity, even the length of time that it has to be exposed to it in order to get the best results.
Which Part of the Light Spectrum is Best?
Apart from detailing how light is so important when it comes to successfully growing basil, we also have to discuss the fact that light has a spectrum and you want to be absolutely sure that you are giving your plants the correct type of light in order to get the growth that you are seeking.
Now, the natural light that your plants would get outside covers the entire spectrum, but when you are dealing with artificial light then you can potentially run into one or two problems. However, science has discovered that basil plants in particular need light that is on the red and blue part of the spectrum so any artificial light that can provide them with this is going to be just as good and as healthy as natural sunlight. Because of this, you should still be able to grow pretty impressive plants even if you are storing them in a part of your home where there is very minimal amounts of natural light.
Some may argue that plants need that entire spectrum as light plays such an integral role in the process of photosynthesis and while that is certainly true it is important to look at the role that the blue and red segments play in the entire process.
In this instance, the blue light is directly related to the growing ability of the plant. Without it, you will see that the basil is unable to reach its full potential. However, the red light works on a different part of the process. The red light helps to encourage the flowering part of the process alongside growth that is related to the vegetative side of things so basically you will get a stronger plant as a result.
The Difficulty of Growing Basil Indoors.
So, after looking at the role that light plays in the process we have to consider the actual difficulty associated with trying to grow basil indoors as it may not be as easy as some people think especially if you get off to the wrong start.
First, basil is always going to get on better when it is placed in a warm environment and the average home is not even going to be really warm enough for extended periods of time for it to be able to perform to the best of its ability. Next, even though you can attempt to grow herbs indoors throughout the entire year you will have a problem with ample natural light throughout the winter months. This is going to stagnate the growth of the herb and clearly that is something that you need to avoid.
Also, if you look at growing herbs outdoors then you are shortening the growing season quite considerably so it does make sense to grow basil indoors where you can keep tighter control over many of the different variables that play a role in the growing process. For example, you can regulate the temperature better, especially during winter as well as the amount of light and if you go ahead and use the correct LED lights then you can combine both of those areas in the one simple solution.
Furthermore, if you do plan on growing basil throughout the winter months then you have to think carefully about the placement of the plant. It is not recommended to keep them close to a window in order to get as much natural light as possible as that will only increase the chances of the plants being chilled from a draught and that is going to halt them in their tracks. As a result, people end up having to move them away from windows and with that comes a reduction in the amount of light that the plants are able to get.
However, once again this problem can be solved by using LED grow lights because with this particular setup you do not have to worry about the plants being placed in a dark corner.
Using Grow Lights for Basil Indoors.
We just mentioned using LED lights in order to provide basil with the correct amount of light, the correct intensity, and also supplying heat to the plants to further enhance and improve their ability to germinate and grow.
Now, when it comes to you choosing the correct grow lights then there are going to be several options available to you and it is obviously important to make the correct choice from the outset.
First, you could decide on using fluorescent lighting and that is going to work to a certain extent as it is two or three times more powerful than the normal lighting that you use at home. This is seen as being an inexpensive way of using lights to grow plants and it does provide a full spectrum of light as they are capable of offering a mix of cool and warm light that attempts to replicate the fluctuations in natural sunlight.
The next option to consider has to be high-intensity discharge lights, or HID for short, and once again they certainly offer you a number of advantages compared to just trying to cope with a reduced level of natural light especially in the winter. As the name suggests, these lights are capable of providing a vast amount of light to your plants and they are also relatively inexpensive to purchase. You will also find that there are two options when it comes to this type of light with either the High Pressure Sodium light working well or Metal Halide also being effective.
With this option, you should be looking at lights above 400 watts to get the best results.
The final option are LED grow lights and they have quickly gained a reputation for being the most effective lights for this particular situation. In order to stress just how good they are we will look at the advantages of using them next.
The Advantage of Using LED Grow Lights.
Finally, we are going to quickly run over the advantages that come with using LED grow lights with basil as there are a number of reasons as to why you should consider going down this particular path.
First, they are less expensive than you would perhaps expect or imagine and clearly anything that does not hit your pocket hard is going to be something that you would like to take into consideration. Next, as we have shown earlier, LED grow lights undoubtedly help to produce bigger and stronger plants due to the way in which they are able to provide the herb with an adequate light source encouraging extra plant growth in a controlled manner. The fact that you can provide light as and when you want just means that you can have a bigger say in the development of the plant than you are able to have with natural light.
Finally, thanks to using lights you are able to produce growth throughout the year rather than being restricted to the summer months. This means that your herbs will last longer and there is no need for you to run to the grocery store for your basil even in the winter thanks to those lights helping your home grown basil to continue to grow even if it is cold and dark outside.
In other words, LED grow lights allow you to create an artificial cycle for growing basil indoors and removes the restrictions that are naturally placed upon you. It results in better growth over an extended period of time allowing you to enjoy growing the herb like never before.
Overall, what we have shown is that it is entirely possible to grow basil successfully indoors no matter where you are in the world just as long as you provide the plants with an ample amount of light during their growing process. Because of this, you will be rewarded with stronger plants that not only have a better flavor to them but plants that will also grow for a longer period of time thanks to the care and attention that you are giving them.