Can You Use Regular Bulbs As Grow Lights?

As human beings need food to grow, plants need lights. Many people nowadays are interested in growing indoor plants. But in urban areas, we live in multi storied buildings. So plant lovers don’t get enough natural light to grow shrubs.

As an alternative way, they use ‘grow lights’ for plants. However, grow lights are expensive enough so not everyone can afford them. Ergo, I’ll explain this term whether you can use regular bulbs as grow lights or not.

Using Regular Bulbs Instead of Grow Lights

Different growers need a different range of lights for elevating properly. Some arbors need indirect sunlight, some need direct. For some specific plants, you can use regular bulbs, for some you can’t.

Can You Use Regular Bulbs As Grow Lights

Based on the light range the indoor plants are divided into three categories. These are :

  1. Low light plants: Most of the indoor plants are in this group. They need a minimum of 10 to 15 watts of artificial light per square foot of growing space.

They can grow well in shadier spaces. In this category we have – Snake plant, Pothos, ZZ plant, cast iron plant, succulents, lucky bamboo, Chinese evergreen, Sago palm, Heartleaf philodendron, Bromeliads, Silver Pothos, and so on.

  1. Medium light plants: These plants don’t exactly need that much light. Minimum 15 to 20 watts of artificial light per square foot is enough for these plants to grow.

In this list we have – African violet, Begonia, Boston fern, Bird’s nest fern, Christmas cactus, Dumb cane, Mother orchid, Croton, Aluminium plant, Dracaenas & Alocasia.

  1. High light plants: These plants are not for indoor gardening. It’s better to raise them in the garden or backyard. Approximately 20 watts or above is the best light range for high light plants. If you want to grow them indoors, simple light won’t work for them.

You’ll need a grow light or high-intensity lamp. Some of these growers are – Aloe Vera, Jaden plant, African Milk Bush, Papyrus, Ponytail palm, Dwarf umbrella, Hibiscus, Yucca plant & Araucaria plant.

Types of Bulbs Used For Growing Indoor Plants

You can use these lights to grow the indoor plants:

  • Fluorescent Bulb: Fluorescent bulbs work by electricity. This is a mercury vapor gas-discharge light. The energy passes through mercury particles & then is filtered by a coating outside the bulb.

They provide constant white light with little heat. Fluorescent bulbs are efficient & economical. It helps the plant grow.

  • Incandescent Light: This is an electric light with a wire filament that is heated until it glows. The filament is surrounded by a glass bulb with a vacuum. These bulbs are made in a wide range of sizes, wattage & voltage. Incandescent lights are long-lasting & affordable.

It produces heat more than light. Hence, you have to set the light carefully so that the light doesn’t burn your plant.

  • LED Lights: This light is much more efficient than incandescent or fluorescent bulbs. Electric consumption assumes that it is more efficient. The working process of LED light is the same as Incandescent light.

But LED lights do not produce the exact amount of red & blue wavelengths that a plant needs to grow. However, tiny plants like – Anthurium, Baby toes, Asparagus fern can grow under LED Lights without any problem.

  • Halogen Bulb: In this bulb, the current passes through a tungsten filament. The filament is surrounded by a halogen like – bromine or iodine. The bulb produces more energy in less power which is helpful for plants to grow.

The light is bright & used for a large area. If you use a halogen bulb for your plant, make sure to have a good clearance to avoid overheating.

  • Compact Fluorescent Light: This is a gas-discharge lamp that uses electricity emitted from the cathode to excite mercury vapor. CFL is an energy-saving light that generates soft white light with little heat that plants need for growth. It also works excellent on seedlings.
  • Hydroponic Bulbs: Nowadays these bulbs are used for industrial growth for seeds & shrubs. These lights replicate the sunlight very effectively. This light is much stronger than the normal household bulb & generates a large spectrum of light.

So you can use hydroponic lights to grow the plants but make sure to turn off the light at night.

Pros And Cons of Using Regular Lights As Grow Lights

Growing indoor plants in regular light indeed has some advantages and disadvantages. Let’s know about these pros for better knowledge about using these lights and cons to find a suitable solution.


  • Regular lights are inexpensive. Even if you have so many indoor plants, you can buy regular lights of enough quantity according to the needs of the plant.
  • There are different types of regular lights. You can use them in household work immediately.
  • Not only for indoor plants, but also some of the lights can be used for vegetative plants.
  • The regular lights do not propagate extremely large wavelengths that are harmful for both humans & plants. Most of the regular light generates soft white light & right amount of spectrum.
  • If your plant don’t get enough sunlight, regular lights helps the plants to survive.
  • Regular lights are long lasting & emit bright & intense light to grow the plants.
  • Setting regular lights doesn’t create chaos. They can fit in close quarters or in narrow balconies. There will be no problem with setup.


  • Regular lights work well on small yields per watt. You can’t grow seeds on these lights.
  • Sometimes the light spectrum changes frequently which can lessen the growth of the plant.
  • These lights can work on a small area of one or two plants. If you want a medium size indoor garden then regular lights probably won’t work well.
  • Even if the bulbs are inexpensive, you will have to light the plants every day for about 4 to 6 hours, and the electricity cost will be really high.
  • When you will have to light the plants continually, your room temperature will be very high.
  • There is a chance of light burn. If the light works continually, the energy supply can go out of control and the bulb can bust.

These are the pros and cons of using regular bulbs as grow bulbs. Though it has some problems, if you are a plant lover you can easily handle these minor problems to save your growers and make your balcony fill with tiny green plants.

These are some options you can choose to grow your plants. Although none of the lights will work effectively for plants more than sunlight, those plants which can survive without direct sunlight can grow those under the regular lights.

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