Taking cuttings, or cloning, your plants is a great an inexpensive way to get more of your favourite plants or ensure uniform production of nearly any crop. Besides the actually rooting process of taking cuttings, one of the most important aspects is providing the best lighting for your new cuttings as they grow. This guide will go over the basics of lighting when it comes to new plants like cuttings and help you grow the healthiest clones!
The Right Light For The Right Plant
The thing with lighting for plants is that eat kind of plant has a specific lighting requirement that must be met. Some plants need very high levels of light or they won’t be healthy, some need lower levels of light or they will burn. The wrong type of lighting can stress your plants and prevent them from rooting as quickly as they could be. It may even kill them. Research what the plant you are taking cuttings of requires and try to match that as closely as you can. It will make a huge difference in how healthy your plants are.
Good ol’ Sunshine
The best light you can give any plant is natural light. It is what plants have evolved to live off of and its free! Find a sunny windowsill that gets morning light or a spot near a brighter window with mid-day or afternoon sun. Avoid north facing windows in northern climes as they do not receive any direct light. The same goes for south facing windows in the southern hemisphere.
Sometimes the natural light you can provide for your plants just isn’t enough or maybe you want to increase the growth or vigor of your plants. This is where supplemental lighting comes in. Broad spectrum, daylight bulbs in the 10-15k range work great. These bulbs have a bit more blue light in them which is great for plant growth. They are great if you are just supplementing natural lighting or if you want something that looks more natural than a grow light. However, these bulbs do use a lot of energy for wavelengths of light that your plants do not need or use.
If you are looking for efficiency in terms of plant growth, then what you really need is a bulb with high red and blue spectrum. The blue light has been found to be particularily helpful in rooting many plants. This is probably because this is the color of light plants get most of their energy from and more energy means more energy to put into growing roots.
There are lots of LED bulbs available online that fit into nearly any type of fixture so even a desk lamp could become a supplemental light for your new clones. Be sure to get something that is around 15W or combine multiple lower watt bulbs to ensure the lights are bright enough to provide the energy your plants need. You should also keep in mind that the lower the wattage on a bulb the closer it has to be to a plant to have the same effect.
Bright But Not Burning
Another aspect of lighting for cuttings is the intensity of it. Remember that your cuttings don’t have a way to efficiently uptake water until they start growing roots. Light that is too bright or focused can overheat the plants or dry them out. You want light that is bright so that it can help the plants grow but not focused in any one There are diffusers that you can buy for grow lights that help with this problem. A sheer curtain for a window that is too hot can help achieve the same effect. This is especially important if the plants you are propagating don’t like really hot and bright light even when they are full grown.
Extra TIP: Roots Love Darkness!
Depending on the method you are using to root your cuttings, light getting to the roots of the plants may be an issue. As a general rule, plants roots do not like light, they grow away from light and their growth can be slowed by the presence of too much light. In nature, this is one of the processes that makes sure that the roots stay growing in the soil.
If you are rooting in soil or a solid medium, this probably isn’t an issue but it can affect plants that are rooting in glasses of water or gel mediums. Cover the container they are in with a dark paper or even spray paint them dark to keep the light out.