In choosing an HID lighting system, red and blue are the two primary colors of light you'll need to be concerned with. Blue light is most pronounced during the spring and summer months when the sun is highest in the sky. It is responsible for keeping plant growth compact and shapely. Red light, such as when the sun is lower in the sky during the fall harvest months, is responsible for triggering reproduction in plants in the form of flowers and fruits. Metal Halide (MH) lamps emit primarily blue light making them ideal for the vegetative growth stage. High Pressure Sodium (HPS) lamps emit primarily red light which causes exaggerated flowering and fruiting during the plant reproductive stage. Thus, if you plan to grow mostly leafy crops such as lettuce and vegetative herbs, your best bet is an MH lighting system. If you want to grow flowering plants, then invest in a Son Agro or Hortilux HPS since it adds about 30% more to the blue spectrum than does a standard HPS.
Remember, lights emit heat which needs to be vented to keep indoor gardens within 65-80 degrees and 50-75% humidity. The primary benefit to employing a High Intensity Discharge (HID) horticultural lighting system is the control it gives you over your plants' growing environment. In many areas, once fall arrives the growing season is over, and if you're a hard-core gardener like me, you'll miss it dearly! Horticultural lighting systems allow us all to extend the growing season by providing our favorite plants with the light spectrum and intensity nearly equivalent to the sun. This is a great advantage for those of us who appreciate having a year-round supply of fresh flowers, veggies and herbs! HID lighting is also a great way to jump-start spring by starting your seedlings months ahead of last frost. Another great advantage of indoor horticultural lighting is your ability to control the length of daylight thus empowering you with the ability to force flower your favorite strain even when completely out of season. Vegetative growth photoperiods are from 16 to 18 hours/day. More than 18 hrs. is minimally advantageous and not worth the cost in electricity. Flowering photoperiods are usually between 10 and 14 hours per day. Remember, to grow perfect plants, the secret to the right light is Intensity, Duration and Color!
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