Using Grow Lights for Basil: Light Selection & How-To Guide

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Basil is a type of herb that grows best in warm weather and direct sunlight. During the growing season, it typically needs 6 to 8 hours of daily sunlight. However, if you are growing basil indoors, you can supplement with grow lights to ensure it receives adequate lighting.

But which grow lights are the best for basil, and how would you use them? Read more to find answers in this guide.

1. Determine How Much Basil You’ll Be Growing

It’s one thing to need a few basil leaves every now and then to garnish the occasional dish, but it’s a totally different matter to have basil as a staple herb in your kitchen. If you only use basil when needed, then growing a few plants in a medium-sized pot would be enough to keep you going all spring and summer. A single pot is easy to place indoors and care for.

However, if you use basil in your dishes a few times a week, you’ll need to grow a large batch of basil indoors. A 3×3-foot area will provide enough fresh basil leaves well into the summer, and you’ll store plenty more in the freezer for the rest of the year, but such a large area would require more dedication and a special setup not just with grow lights but also a fan for ventilation among other things.

2. Determine Where Your Basil Will Be Located

Once you have determined how many basil plants you need to grow indoors, you can move on to select the best location for the plants. For a single pot, the kitchen will be a nice location. It’s close to a water source, and you can use the light fittings in the kitchen to nourish the plants. 

However, if you need more than just a few plants, a large space is required. On average, each basil plant needs between 10 and 12 inches of space with good ventilation. Multiply the number of basil plants you’ll grow by 12 inches to get the right space required. 

For such a large setup, you can grow basil in a tent. A grow tent is easy to set up and dismantle. It provides a safe enclosure for the plants where you can control the temperature, set up the grow lights easily, and also control the airflow with a fan inside the tent. 

3. Select Your Grow Light

Grow lights are often grouped under two categories: intensity and spectrum. When it comes to selecting grow lights for basil, avoid high-intensity lights. Basil needs lights of medium intensity to grow and thrive indoors. Low-intensity grow lights might lead to stunted growth.

The other factor is the spectrum. Grow lights either have red or blue spectrums. Since basil is a leafy plant, then blue lights are the right spectrum to choose. Red lights are for flowers and fruits. 

4. Position Plants and Install Grow Lights

Choosing the right grow lights will help you immensely when it comes to positioning the plants and caring for them. You have two options: either hanging lights or tabletop lights. I recommend using hanging lights since they provide a uniform light coverage to all the plants and they allow you to easily position the plants within that coverage area.

Tabletop lights require a table or a horizontal surface to place them on. If you’re growing basil in a tent, adding a table might take up precious space. Additionally, tabletop grow lights provide varying degrees of intensity of light, and the plants further away from the source of light get less light than those close to the table.

5. Adjust Light Height

One of the advantages of hanging grow lights is that you can adjust their height, which in turn, adjusts the intensity of the light itself. When it comes to basil, you should keep the lights about 1 foot above the top of the plants. That way, you’ll have uniform light coverage inside the grow tent. As the plants grow taller, raise the lights accordingly to maintain the 1-foot space between the lights and the plants.

6. Determine the Hours of Light Needed

No matter how intense the grow lights are, they’re no substitute for natural sunlight, especially since many of those grow lights don’t emit UV rays. To make up for this UV deficiency, you’ll need to switch on the grow lights between 12 and 14 hours every day.

7. Consider Adding a Timer

It’s easy to forget to turn on the lights sometimes or to keep them on for the right amount of time every day. To help you maintain the right light hours for basil, consider adding a timer. Set it to 12 or 14 hours when you switch the lights on. When time is up, the timer will let you know when to switch off the lights to save energy.

8. Provide Optimal Care

Basil growing indoors requires more care than if you’re growing the herb in the garden. Indoors, especially inside a grow tent, conditions are often stuffy and humid. Even with the right spacing, the plant might wilt for lack of air movement. To make up for that, place a fan in a corner of the tent, and turn it on for a couple of hours every day. It will help regulate the temperature and create a moderate airflow inside the tent. 

Best Grow Light for Basil

Not all grow lights in the market are suitable for basil. The following lights are recommended for growing basil indoors.

GooingTop LED Grow Light

GooingTop has 10 red and 75 white LED lights that resemble natural sunlight. LED light emits light at a steady intensity similar to the sun at noon and doesn’t flicker. It comes with a built-in timer with 4-, 8-, and 12-hour settings that help you give the basil the right amount of light every day. Once you choose the right setting, the grow light will switch on and off automatically.

VIPARSPECTRA LED Grow Light

This hanging grow light covers an area of 2×2 feet, making it ideal to hang in a grow tent for basil. It has full spectrum light with both red and blue lights included. You can use it not just for basil and other leafy plants but also when growing flowers and fruits indoors.

Fyheart LED Plant Grow Lights

This grow light comes with an adjustable stand, making it easy to install anywhere. It has a timer with three settings and 10 brightness options. The customizable setup is easy to adjust with a remote-control unit. The five light tubes at the end of the gooseneck are easily adjustable and have three light modes.

How To Hang Grow Lights

If the grow lights don’t come with a stand, then you’ll need to provide a hook or a rod above the plants on which to hang the lights. Make sure that the hook or rod is adjustable since the height between the lights and the top of the plants needs to be a steady 1 foot. As the plants grow, the lights need to be adjusted as well.

Tips for Growing Amazing Basil

  • Thin out the basil plants when they have three sets of true leaves.
  • Replant the thinned-out plants in their own pot.
  • Keep the soil moist but not wet. Mulching can help with water retention.
  • Use blue light spectrum in grow lights to keep the leaves green and succulent.

Conclusion

If you want to plant basil indoors, then grow lights of medium intensity and blue spectrum are required. Hang the lights 1 foot over the plants and turn them on 12 to 14 hours a day.