Light enhances the budding of marijuana plants, increases the THC content, and in turn makes the herb potent and desirable for avid stoners. However, exposing the plant to natural sunlight brings along a couple of limitations such as fluctuations and unpredictability in weather conditions, security and attracting unnecessary attention to your canopy. With this, many cannabis growers prefer cultivating the plant indoors where they can control the factors of growth and keep away from public scrutiny.
Unfortunately, grow lights are quite costly and not readily accessible to small scale farmers. To address this problem, most growers opt for incandescent and fluorescent bulbs to meet their plant’s light needs. Is this effective? This article explores the pros and cons of using fluorescent lights for your indoor cannabis grow.
Growing Marijuana with Fluorescent Lamps
Fluorescent tubes are typically low-pressure mercury vapor with inert gases and are coated with phosphor powder which in turn uses fluorescence to offer visible light. These bulbs have a set of electrodes on both their ends for which current flows through. These are just complex terms to describe the simple light bulbs that light our homes daily.
As compared to incandescent light bulbs, florescent tubes are more economical since they use less electricity to produce more light. The light emitted by fluorescent bulbs is usually warm and this helps in maintain the temperature of the grow. Similarly, it is closely associated with red and blue wavelengths that are desirable for cannabis growing, especially during the budding phase. Fluorescent lighting is efficient due to its low cost since it consumes less power as compared to modern grow lights such as HID lamps (High-Intensity Discharge Lamps). This makes it accessible to the small-scale farmer perhaps growing weed for their consumption or for a small business. Fluorescent bulbs do not penetrate the canopy as well as HID lamps which is a major drawback especially for large scale grows.
To set up an effective cannabis fluorescent grow light, you need to do the following:
- Get a suitable setup space. This could be a garage, spare room, or an extra space in your living area.
- Ensure that your space is well ventilated
- Set up a suitable air exchange system.
- Set up your fluorescent lights and make sure there is little space between the plants and the light bulbs.
Fluorescent Light Options Great at Growing Marijuana
There are basically two types of fluorescent grow lights. These two come in different sizes and forms and are:
CFL Grow Lights
These fluorescent bulbs have a twisted shape and are readily available in hardware and commercial stores. CFL bulbs light out narrow spaces for marijuana plants. They do not emit too much light so you need to have them close to your plants.
T5 Grow Lights
TF lights look like normal fluorescent tubes but extend through a panel. Their difference with CFL grow lights is that you can extend TF lights some inches towards the marijuana plant for efficiency. However, they are still not as efficient as Light Emitting Diode (LED) lamps and High-Intensity Discharge lamps.
SCROG – Screen of Green Technique
Fluorescent bulbs do not a lot of light. As a result, you may need to keep the lights very close to the plants and even in this case; the lights may still not get to some parts of the plant. Also remember that fluorescent lights also give off heat so you do not want them extremely close to the plants. So how do you get a sweet spot? By employing the screen of green technique.
SCROG technique involves putting a screen that spreads out the light to all the parts of the plant that need light. The screen is spread out to cover the whole canopy. Without this, fluorescent bulb may gve small yields because the plants are not able to grow to their maximum potential.
Pros of Using Fluorescent Lights
- Easy to set up
- Convenient since it requires a small space and little expertise
Cons of Using Fluorescent Lights
- Cannot be used for large-scale commercial grow
- The yield is usually lower
As much as fluorescent lights are a cheaper option for small scale farmers, the yields will usually be smaller. If you cannot afford to use high discharge intensity lamps or LEDs, employing SCROG might save the day for you.