Best Lighting System to Grow Bud
Cannabis plant requires optimum lighting conditions just like other plants. Assuming you want to grow the crop indoors, you should then buy a lamp and time switcher to create a regular lighting cycle. Though lamps may tend to make marijuana cultivation expensive, you can buy powerful lamps with wattages such as 400, 600 or 1000. Better still, you can buy a cheaper 250 watt high intensity discharge bulb such as Metal Halide or High-pressure Sodium bulbs starting from $25.
But before proceeding, let us see the main differences in various bulbs or lightening appliances:
HPS– the high pressure sodium bulbs generate ample light in the orange spectrum and thus are suited for the flowering stage. You should require 50watts per each square of growing area so this information should help you calculate the number of lights to invest in.
ML– these metal halide bulbs provide ample light in the blue spectrum, and thus are suited for using during the vegetation phase. Such lights can help keep the cannabis plants short and bushy, so supply them based on 50w per square foot rule.
LED– these are energy efficient and normally don’t easily overheat; and for this reason can be set closer to the plant without need for fans. LED lights can be suited for vegetation and flowering stages. To determine the number of lights required, check the guidelines from the manufacturer.
CFL– these are compact florescent lights that are suited for germination and seedlings stage; but might not generate enough light for growth or flowering stage.
While the Metal Halite and High-Pressure Sodium bulbs would be cheaper to set-up, these might require more cost to maintain. While the LED bulbs are expensive to buy; they can save you a lot of money in the long run.
When it comes to providing lighting for your indoor cannabis plants, your goal is to provide a full spectrum light and thus normal household bulbs will not apply here. However, in case your windows can allow enough light, you will only require fluorescent bulbs to provide light after sunset.
Go for bulbs such as CFL’s, T5’s and T8’s as these can offer enough light to maintain the vegetative state of cannabis. Be aware that marijuana requires intense light to develop; thus, florescent bulbs are only advised for plants that get adequate sunlight during the day. Otherwise your plants might stretch wildly and not develop to full maturity. For such a case, consider using a 250 watt HID bulb for the full 12 hour flowering period preferably away from the window.
Installing your lights
To properly fit lights, a hood that directs and reflects the lights to your plants is profoundly recommended. With LED lights, these can easily plug into the wall as opposed to ML and HPS bulbs that require additional ballast. The add-on helps convert the ordinary electric current to the current that such bulbs are adapted to. For ML and HPS bulbs, be aware that these are too hot and would require a cooled hood for additional ventilation. LED lights normally come equipped with built-in fan for cooling.
For ML and HPS bulbs, the distance between the lights to the plant tops should be about 2.5 feet that is if the light source is not separated by glass or other material. For florescent and those glass-shielded lamps, a 1 foot distance should be applicable. However, you should monitor temperatures at the leaf zone area of the plants and ensure that it is below 84 degrees F to prevent possible burning.
If not using auto-flowering seeds, you will need an electrical timer to help turn lights off 12 hours daily to trigger flowering. Such a timer can also assist in cases when you are away from your plants. And to boost the quality of light and speed up growth, cover the ceiling and the walls with reflective material. Having light reflected to your crop can work especially if made from these materials:
Flat white paint – being the cheapest and easy to obtain, paint reflects up to 85 percent of lights hitting it and thus can be very effective.
Emergency blankets – these reflect around 70 percent of light but are a good choice since they are cheap. Buy them from various camping stores and use them for small spaces like closets and cabinets.
Mylar – this polyester made film material reflects up to 97 percent of the light but could be very expensive for you. Just hang it flat against the wall and ensure it is kept clean. Though aluminum foil could be a cheaper alternative, do not consider it as it reflects light poorly and could actually cause fire.
Despite light being so important, the cannabis plant requires a period of complete darkness referred to as the dark period. The dark period is simply the time lights are off say at night, right from germination to flowering. It is important to allow for dark period as it helps boost the photosynthetic response of cannabis. The dark phase also helps boost vascular development and vigor of plants; but it is more important during flowering where you need to reduce light exposure to a mere 12 hours per day and 12 hours of complete darkness to induce flowering. In darkness, there is a hormonal reaction that triggers the flowering process.
Thus during the crop’s dark period, you need to ensure total darkness by blocking all lights. If not, the crop might be stressed and instead become hermaphrodite; where it develops male flowers and lower expected yields.
To block light, ensure that you close all windows and seal all openings with opaque reflective tape. However, you can use a low wattage green colored light bulb for a few minutes for chamber illumination if necessary.
It is important to note that different strains require different dark periods. For instance, Indica strain only needs 8 hours of darkness to initiate flowering. But for sativa strain; it requires a whooping 13 hours of complete darkness.