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Tomato Grow Lights

Young Tomato Plants under Grow LightsMany external factors exert a great influence on the growth and development of plants. The intensity and duration of light and temperature are the two most important factors. Tomato plants are no exception.

Tomato plants have a certain requirement to grow, develop and produce fruit. It needs energy from light to make their fruit therefore without enough sun, a tomato plant can’t produce fruit. On average, young tomato plants need between 16 – 18 hours of sunlight. In the winter months with the absence of these lengthy days, artificial lighting is usually used to simulate sunlight. The older plants need between 8 to 10 hours of sun to produce the best results. So the best way to start your seedlings to grow them indoors during the cooler months is to use grow lights (plant grow lights). These lights trick the plants into believing the existance of natural light.

Do you know though that the fruit themselves do not need sunlight to ripen. In fact the tomato fruit ripens fastest in the absence of sunlight. These fruits ripen in heat. Putting green (unripe) tomatoes in a bag with an apple or banana will ripen the fruit fast.

Understanding Tomato Grow Lamps

Different grow lamps emit light in different ways – therefore it might be confusing choosing the right one. The best artificial light source for tomatoes should resemble natureal daylight so choose a light that has a similar color temperature to promote all stages of vegetative growth.

Lower temperature grow lights have a temperature of 2500-3000K are known to encourage flowering and are often used when the plant develops fruit.

What Light Options Are There?

There are four kinds of plant grow light lamps to choose from and each of them emit light differently.

• incandescent

• fluorescent

• HID (high intensity discharge)


Incandescent plant grow lights

These lights are fairly inefficient as grow lights. Most of their electricity is converted into heat rather than light.

Fluorescent plant grow lights

There are at least 3 options of fluorescent plant grow lights and is the most popular for the home grower. The Standard T12 fluorescent lgiths are best for startling seedlings and growing low-light plants. High Output T5 fluorescents are excellent for all types of growing including starting seeds, growing leafy vegetable and flowering. For the use of larger plants and propagation, compact fluorescents are a smaller version of High Output fluorescent and are able to focus light directly onto the plants as they have specially designed reflectors.

HID (High Intensity Discharge) plant grow lights

Professional horticulturalists and large scale indoor growers use HIDs to produce the thousands of tomato plants that you see for sale in nurseries and home improvement centers each year. There are two types of HID plants – The Metal Halide and the High Pressure Sodium light. High pressure sodium lamps are used when plants flower and develop fruit or as a supplemental light source.

LED plant grow lights

The latest in terms of grow light technology are the LED lights. They are economical and efficient using less power and produce less heat than other lamp types. They can be used as primary lighting or as a supplementary lighting to HIDs.

Tomato Grow Light – Is Artificial or Natural Better?

If the artificial light emits the full-spectrum of light, the plant can’t tell if it is natural or artificial. Using the light all day will encourage your plant to grow faster but remember that fast growing plants often end up leggy and lack nutrients causing them to flower less and therefore produce less fruit. The choice is therefore yours.