Choosing the Right Grow Light – Do you need a grow light?

Using grow lights during the winter can help keep your succulents looking their best. Find out what you need!

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I’ve received several emails lately asking about using grow lights with succulents. It turns out I’ve been looking into this very thing for my indoor succulents. I’ve found a lot of information but had a hard time determining what it all means and what I need.

My goal with this post is to answer the questions of “do I need grow lights?” and “what grow lights should I buy?” as simply as possible.

Find out the best grow lights to use for indoor succulents

Do succulents need grow lights indoors during the winter?

The short answer, not necessarily but it can be a good idea. If you have a window that gets bright light all day your succulents will likely survive just fine over the winter. However, the days do get shorter so they won’t get as much light as they did in the summer.

If succulents don’t get enough light they start to stretch out and lose their bright colors and compact shape. They are still alive, and otherwise healthy, they’d just like more light. Often the shorter days in the winter will cause succulents to stretch.

A grow light can be a great way to keep your succulents colorful and compact. It helps add more bright light during the day. I’ve had succulents indoors for several winters without a grow light and they’ve been ok. By the time spring rolls around many of the succulents are really elongated, but I trim them up and plant them before moving them outside.

I have decided though that I want to prevent my succulents from stretching out this year so I decided to invest in some grow lights.

This post makes it simple to figure out what kind of grow lights to buy for your indoor succulents

What grow lights should I buy?

There is a lot of information about what type of grow lights to use, how much light you need, what color the light should be, how far away should the light be, etc. I had a hard time figuring out what everything meant and how to know what it meant for me.

Based on some helpful articles here, here and here, along with input from succulent growing friends, here is what I’ve determined:

  • What type of light: Fluorescent – CFLs or T5/T8 bulbs
  • What color of light: “Daylight” spectrum – preferably a color temp of 6500K
  • How far away should the light be: 6-12″ (only if using fluorescent)
  • How many lights: depends on the number of plants…

These suggestions are based on two goals: inexpensive and efficient. There are other more expensive options, some of which are more effective and some are less. The fluorescent lights are easy to find and do a great job.

I think the most confusing two questions I faced were what color of light and how many lights (or how much light). There’s a lot of talk about red light and blue light. The 6500K daylight temperature is mostly blue light. It provides light as close as possible to natural daylight. If you’d like your succulents to flower under grow lights you’ll also want to use a 3000K bulb.

For a great resource on grow lights, be sure to check out Epic Grow Lights. He has a huge amount of information available and explains grow lights very well.

The amount of light you’ll need is a little trickier. Basically, it’s a good idea to get as much as you can. Having light shining directly above all your plants is ideal. If you are in a small space that may not be possible. But the idea would be if you have plants in a 1 foot by 4 foot space, you’ll want to use a light that takes up about 1 foot by 4 feet.

I have most of my plants on my dresser in my bedroom right now. It’s about the size mentioned above, 1×4′. I opted to get a hanging light fixture that holds 4 T8 bulbs, 4 feet in length that are 32 watts each. This area also gets some natural daylight and has a mirror behind it that helps to provide more light. We’ll see how it does! I’ve been assured by fellow succulent fanatics that it will do the trick.

I bought my lights locally because I wanted to set them up right away. If you have time to wait, ordering online can be a cheaper option. Here is a fixture and bulbs most similar to what I bought. T5 bulbs are more efficient than T8, but I found that they weren’t available locally. The T8s will still do the job though.

If you are growing in a smaller space, the CFL lights are going to be a better option than the long tubes. These are the spiral shaped bulbs that fit in a normal light fixture. Here are some great deals I found for the bulbs and a reflector (fixture) that you can get on Amazon.

Grow lights are a great way to supplement the natural light your succulents are already getting, especially in the winter. Getting enough light for succulents indoors is one of the biggest challenges. Fortunately grow lights (as long as you opt for fluorescent) are pretty inexpensive and can make a big difference for your succulents!

Again, for a great resource on grow lights, be sure to check out Epic Grow Lights.

Want to get the most out of your succulent growing experience?

It’s time to do a little stalking… succulent stalking that is!

This workbook and journal will help save you time and stress! Simply print off the pages, follow the instructions, and you’ll come away confident that your succulents are getting the care they need.

Click here to grab your copy!

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If you purchase one warm white and one cool white T8 bulb (or even T12, if that’s the fixture you have–it’s just more expensive electricity-wise) you get the spectrum of light they need. Make sure if you have to purchase a fixture it is made for two bulbs–some of them come with the capacity for only one bulb and don’t work for this–

You can also use T5 bulbs/fixtures, which are less expensive to operate, but the initial outlay is much more costly.


This is my first winter having succulents and I’ve been confused about what to do. I want to bring them in, but don’t have good light coming in my north-facing windows. This information and Amazon links were very helpful. Thank you for your research on products. I just placed an order.

Rab McLaughlin

What perfect timing Cassidy, this is something I was just about to research!

One thing confusing me is that, as a photographer in the UK, I was taught that daylight colour temp is around 5600k, but in the US it’s shown as 6500k. Do you know why there is a discrepancy?