Growing Bonsai is certainly a bit of an art form, and there are a lot of different elements that need to come together if you want your tree to flourish and thrive. Getting the right amount of light can be tricky for an indoor plant, so you might be wondering, what’s the best grow light for Bonsai trees?
You have several options when it comes to grow lights for Bonsai trees, and the best for you will depend on the needs of your tree and your space. Fluorescent lights are cheap but low penetrating, HID lights are intense and put out a lot of heat, and LED lights offer the full light spectrum with low heat and efficient output.
This article will tell you everything that you need to know about grow lights and how they can help you to care for your Bonsai in the right way. Read on to find out whether or not you need to be worrying about grow lights and, if you do, what types are available and the best options on the market right now.
Does My Bonsai Tree Need a Grow Light?
The first question you need to ask yourself is whether or not your Bonsai tree will need a grow light in the first place. Some Bonsai growers swear by them, and others don’t even consider the idea, but are they a necessary part of cultivating the perfect tree?
What it really comes down to is a combination of two factors: how much light your Bonsai needs and how much light it is able to get naturally. First and foremost, you need to do some research on the specific species of Bonsai that you have to see what its light requirements are.
Location is really important, both in terms of where your tree is situated and where in the world you are. If your Bonsai is able to get all of the natural light that it needs without any artificial assistance, then you probably don’t need to worry about grow lights. Many outdoor Bonsai trees get enough natural light to grow and thrive from the sun alone.
For most indoor Bonsai trees, though, there will be certain times throughout the year when light is more limited. Most Bonsai trees need at least five hours of direct sunlight every single day. Even during the summer, light levels can be inconsistent, which can reduce growth for your Bonsai, if not hurt the tree itself.
How Can a Grow Light Help My Bonsai Tree?
Getting enough light is essential for any plant, but Bonsais can be more needy and temperamental than a lot of the other plants you might be used to looking after. At the end of the day, Bonsai trees may be tiny, but they are still trees. They love the light and generally want to take on as much as they can.
Light allows your Bonsai to photosynthesize, generating the energy it needs to grow and stay healthy. Without enough light, your tree will stop growing and become unable to produce the sugar it needs to survive. When you don’t give your Bonsai the right amount of light, it will start to die.
If your Bonsai tree can’t be placed somewhere that constantly receives enough bright daylight hours throughout the year, then a grow light can make all the difference. Under a grow light, you can control the exact amount of light your tree is getting, allowing it to grow healthily and thrive.
What Color Light Is Best for Bonsai Tree?
Once you’ve figured out whether or not your Bonsai tree is going to benefit from some grow lights, you will need to start thinking about what kind you want to use. You can’t just throw your tree under any old bulb and expect it to grow.
Different colored lights actually help plants in different ways because they have different wavelengths. Purple or violet light have the shortest wavelengths, which means they emit the most energy for your plant to absorb.
Blue light boosts the growth of a plant’s vegetative leaves, and red light encourages flowering. Green light is the part of the spectrum that does the least, as the chlorophyll inside a plant’s leaves is already green in color.
For the best results, though, you want your Bonsai to be getting what is known as full-spectrum light. This type of light best emulates the natural light of the sun and can produce light throughout the entire visible spectrum.
What Do I Need to Consider When Buying Grow Lights for My Bonsai Tree?
There are a lot of different types of grow light out there that you could be using for your Bonsai tree, and they all have different properties. There are some things that you definitely want from your grow light, but the exact type that you choose may well depend on your particular needs.
You want to choose a grow light that covers the right areas of the light spectrum for your Bonsai, and full-spectrum light is generally going to be your best bet. Though some trees have different needs, going for a full-spectrum grow light will mean that all of your bases are covered.
You will also need to consider how much light penetration the type of grow light you choose is actually offering. Light penetration is not just about power; it’s about how deep the light can penetrate through the leaves and how much energy your tree will be able to absorb overall.
You can’t just choose your bulbs on how much light they are putting out; you need to consider how hot your setup is going to be. If you decide that you want the highest light penetration bulbs to get the most energy pumping into your Bonsai trees, heat is often a big downside.
High-intensity bulbs can run very hot, which may cause damage to the delicate leaves of your tree.
Some grow lights are considerably cheaper than others. More expensive does not always mean better, but the cost is definitely something to think about. A low-cost setup can be effective if you know what you’re doing, so looking at what you are actually getting for your money is important. This is particularly true when you consider another important factor: efficiency.
Buying cheap lights might seem like a cost-saving measure, but you could end up spending more in the long run. You will need to think about how many hours a day you are going to need to run your bulbs and how expensive they are to power.
Some grow lights can end up costing you quite a lot, especially if you have to keep them switched on for 16 or more hours every single day.
What Type of Grow Light Is Best for Bonsai?
When you’re choosing your grow lights, there are three main types that are the most effective. They can all be good options, depending on your situation, but they have quite different benefits.
The cheapest grow lights to buy are fluorescent bulbs. They offer a wide spectrum of light and don’t put out too much heat, so they can be relatively close to your tree while they are switched on (which makes them a good option for small spaces).
They don’t have a very high output, though, and they don’t penetrate the leaves very deeply. This means that they are not great for flowering or fruiting bonsai, and they need to be left on for 16 to 18 hours every day in order for your tree to get the light that it needs.
The most intense bulbs that you can find are HID (High-intensity discharge) lights. The light that these bulbs produce penetrates deeper than any other that you can buy, and they are so powerful that they can even be used outdoors.
These lights are quite expensive, though, and not very easy to get your hands on. They also put out a lot of heat. You would need to place HID bulbs at least 20 inches away from your Bonsai to avoid burning or scorching the leaves.
If you’re looking for efficiency, LED bulbs are easily the best option. These bulbs last a lot longer than any other kind, and they are very cheap to run. LEDs also emit full-spectrum light, so they are great for almost any type of Bonsai, and they don’t put out much heat.
They can be a bit expensive to purchase, and they do need to be switched on for quite a few hours for optimum growth, but LEDs will cost you a lot less than the other options in the long run.
Best Grow Light for Bonsai Trees
Once you’ve decided on the type of grow light that you want, there are still many different lights to actually choose from. Some of the best grow light setups on the market today are:
This HID system can be plugged directly into the mains, and it puts out a whopping 160,000 lumens of light. Compared to other HID setups, the Sun System has lower wattage, which means it is less expensive to run and not as hot for your plants. If you’re looking for high light penetration, then this is a great choice.
AQOTER make a number of different LED light setups, and they have some great benefits. The lights come on an adjustable tripod, which gives you a lot of versatility and cover the full spectrum of light. They are cheap to run and relatively inexpensive to buy in comparison to some other LED setups.
There are a few different grow lights that SANSI makes, but they have some great top-down setups on offer. These lights replicate the natural spectrum of the sun really well and run very efficiently. They are also much less intrusive than the more industrial hanging grow lights that you can buy.
These little lights may not have a very high wattage, but they are very easy to use and quite attractive to look at. They can be placed directly into the pot, are height-adjustable, and have an in-built timer. You may want to opt for one of their higher brightness options, but they should do the trick for a Bonsai that doesn’t need too much intense light.
This Senua bulb does need a lamp to go with it, but it is an energy-saving option for fluorescents. It also emits red light as well as the traditional blue that you get from most fluorescent bulbs, which is great for flowering and fruiting Bonsai.
Can Bonsai Grow With Artificial Light?
All Bonsai trees can grow and thrive with artificial lights. All of their light needs can be met using artificial lighting, and there are many safe options to choose from.
Is Artificial Light Bad for Bonsai?
Artificial light is not inherently bad for Bonsai, but you do have to use it in the right way. If the lights are too hot and too close to your tree, it can cause damage, and light from the wrong parts of the spectrum is not going to encourage the growth that you want.
How Do I Know If My Bonsai Is Getting Enough Light?
You will know that your Bonsai is getting the right amount of light if it is growing well and looking vibrant. If growth is slow, or you are noticing many leaves falling away, then your tree might need more light.
Do Bonsai Need Darkness?
Periods of darkness are an important part of the metabolic process for almost all plants. If you leave your grow lights on overnight, it will interrupt the natural diurnal pattern that your tree needs and stop them from respiring properly.
Recap: Best Grow Light for Bonsai Trees
Bonsai trees need a lot of light throughout the day, and for many indoor Bonsai, that means that you might need to rely on grow lights when they’re not able to get enough sun.
You want to choose a high-penetration, full-spectrum grow light for optimal growth, and you don’t want a light that is too hot for your tree’s leaves. Fluorescent lights are low-emitting but cheap to buy, whereas HID lights are much more powerful, though they are costly and run very hot.
LED grow lights are probably the best option for most Bonsai trees, as they offer the full light spectrum, don’t put out too much heat, and are very energy efficient.