Yes, grow lights are a convenient way to add light to a dark indoor space, but they’re not the ONLY way! In this article we share 4 easy tricks that will add light to your space and may even save you from needing to purchase a grow light at all!
Utilizing Mirrors To Create A ‘Natural’ DIY Grow Light
Mirrors are a great way to add more light to a room. While they can be effective with any window orientation, mirrors are likely to have the most impact with south-facing windows where they can be placed close to the window.
Although any light surface (even white paint) is going to do a decent job of reflecting light, mirrors have the added benefit of opening a space up and making it feel roomier than it actually is.
In the example below, which is a North-West facing window, we used mirrors to capture the setting afternoon sun (in the West) and reflect it back onto the Western wall of the apartment (which would otherwise be in shadow). Although this setup would not be sufficient for edible plants, it does offer decorative plants more light than they would otherwise have access to. Plus, the mirrors expand the view and make the room feel much bigger than it really is.
Window Shelves For Plants
The brightest part of any room is going to be its windows, and for indoor gardeners wanting to grow edible plants, this makes it prime real estate. The problem with many apartments and homes – especially the more modern ones – is that they often have very small window sills. Even in an older home that might have larger window sills, you’re still confined by the fact that you likely only have one of them.
A great way to add more growing space to your window is through the addition of a window shelf. There are many options available: we even produce one here at Urban Leaf. Window shelves use either suction cups or sticky pads to stick to a smooth flat surface such as glass or a mirror, and they’re usually made from clear acrylic plastic.
Urban Leaf’s patent-pending design also includes diagonal braces to prevent sag, and give it a higher load-carrying capacity. This means even taller, heavier plants could fit on our window shelf.
Where To Place Your Indoor Plants To Maximize Access To Light
Perhaps the most obvious hack for giving your plants more light, and one that won’t cost you a cent, is getting their placement right. Check out our separate blog on ‘Understanding Your Natural Light Environment – How To Create A Light Map For Your Home?’ (coming soon) for instructions on how to measure and evaluate the light in your home.
The available light in your home is going to differ based on how far your plants are from the window, the time of day, and the time of year. It might be that you need to move your indoor garden from a Southern facing room to an Eastern facing room as the seasons change. Or, perhaps, they would appreciate moving from the dresser to the window sill. Although to the human eye the differences in light intensity between two locations may not be obvious, your plants are likely sensitive enough to notice.
You will need a light meter in order to figure this out, and again – our blog on ‘Understanding Your Natural Light Environment – How To Create A Light Map For Your Home?’ (coming soon) is an excellent place to start.
Hanging Pendant Grow Lights
Our final suggestion before you go and invest in a large grow-light setup is to consider a hanging pendant option. Yes, technically this IS a grow light so you’re not avoiding buying one, but the nice thing about a hanging pendant setup is that,
- It’s not the unpleasant purple color that many grow lights are,
- It doesn’t look like a grow light, so it’s more aesthetically appealing,
- It doesn’t come with a grow light price tag, so you can spend your savings buying more plants, and,
- It integrates nicely into the decor of the room.
We’re using a plant-specific LED grow bulb in this example, a shade from IKEA, and a cord from Amazon. All up including the bulb this setup is likely to cost $50-60. We also added a smart timer, which turns the light on automatically at sunset, for an additional $10. Below are links to some of the products we used.
Instead of this grow light setup being something which we try to hide in a closet or basement when it’s not in use, choosing a more appealing setup creates a lovely additional feature of the room.
To Conclude: An Expensive Grow Light Setup Is Not Always Necessary
We hope you’ve found some of these ideas useful, and perhaps one of them has even helped you avoid needing to purchase a more expensive grow light setup.
If you’d like to learn more about grow lights or growing an indoor garden, then head on over to our Indoor Edible Gardening Library for guides, calculators and more. It’s 100% free, and designed to teach you what you need to know to grow your own food at home. For our latest deals, promotions and freshest content – sign up for our newsletter below.