The 8 Best Indoor Grow Lights to Help Your Plants Survive Winter
Helping your houseplants survive winter can feel like an exercise in futility. The days are short, sunshine is sparse and before long, you may notice your plants looking a little pale, leggy and leafless. But don’t give up on having a green thumb just yet! Grow lights, which mimic the full spectrum of light available outdoors, are the answer.
Most grow lights available now are LEDs, which are super-efficient, generate less heat and last far longer than old-school incandescent or fluorescent lights. Some lights have timers, which is handy if you don’t want to remember to turn them on and off every day. That’s important because plants do need darkness as part of their normal growing cycle. Many lights are stand-alone, while others must be mounted on the ceiling or a shelving unit. Also, be aware that grow lights are super-bright, so you won’t be able to use them in a bedroom (unless you’re an eye mask devotee and are totally unbothered by brightness akin to an alien spaceship landing as you try to fall asleep).
Another reason to invest in a grow light?
If you want to start seedlings, such as annuals and perennials, or edibles to plant in your garden this spring. While a sunny south-facing window might work in a pinch, most vegetables and flowers seedlings require 14 to 18 hours of light per day to thrive. When they don’t get enough light, they eventually become weak and spindly. A grow light can give your babies a strong start in life so they’ll survive transplanting into your garden later.
How Did We Choose Our Top Picks?
After culling the top-reviewed grow lights on the market, we narrowed our list to lights we'd personally tested and ones that had very thorough, well-researched reviews (not just a bunch of five stars and no commentary). We also focused on brands with a solid reputation online and divided our picks based on the most common factors influencing a person's purchase (be it price, aesthetics or size of the light), with overall quality being the constant across the board.
Here are our favorites at a glance:
Best for Herbs: GrowLED
Best Floor Lamp for/ Large Plants: AgroBrite 14W Standing Plant Lamp
Best Budget or Tabletop Lamp: Stonepoint LED Grow Light
Best for Starting Seeds: Root Farm All-Purpose LED Grow Light
Best Design-Friendly Grow Light: Soltech Solutions Grow Light
Best Tabletop Garden: AeroGarden Harvest Hydroponic Garden
Best Grow Light Fixture: GE Grow Light 24-inch Fixture
Best Grow Light Bulb: GE BR30 Grow Light Bulb
Best for Herbs
If you’re looking for a way to have fresh herbs on hand all the time without having to buy those expensive plastic packages at the grocery store, this grow light is for you. It doesn’t come with pots, soil, seeds or plants (you’ll have to supply your own), but it’s an affordable and compact unit so you can keep it on the counter for quick snips of fresh herbs to add to any dish. Bonus: The GrowLED has a 16-hour timer and the height adjusts so you can move it up as the plants grow.
2. AgroBrite 14W LED Standing Plant Lamp
Best Floor Lamp for Large Plants
This floor lamp is styled more like a “normal” lamp so it will blend in better with your decor. It has a flexible neck, and the base sits flat on the ground, as opposed to the typical tripod-style, which can be awkward to set up. The lamp is adjustable from 48 to 61 inches tall, so it works best for one or two large houseplants.
3. Stonepoint LED Grow Light
Best Budget or Tabletop Lamp
If you have several small tabletop plants, this budget-priced LED light will work well. The lamp’s base sits on your desk, while the gooseneck lets you direct the light exactly where you need it. It’s a great starter lamp for anyone who wants to experiment with using grow lights indoors.
4. Root Farm All-Purpose LED Grow Light
Best for Starting Seeds
Starting plants from seed lets you get a jumpstart on the growing season, so your plants are ready to go in the ground as soon as risk of cold temps are past. It also allows you to grow a wider variety of plants than what you might be able to find at local nurseries or online. This light can fit over standard seed-starting trays and has two adjustable-height legs to move as plants grow. It also comes with a hanging kit. There’s no on/off switch though, so you’ll have to buy a timer separately.
5. Soltech Solutions Grow Light
Best Design-Friendly Grow Light
If you don’t want a grow light that, well, looks like a grow light, this contemporary-styled pendant light fits seamlessly in with your décor. It comes in two sizes (for small or large houseplants) and includes a 15-foot fabric cord, timer, and ceiling hooks. The company says the light will last for 15 years.
6. AeroGarden Harvest Hydroponic Garden
Best Tabletop Garden
If you’re craving fresh lettuce or herbs in the middle of winter, this tabletop hydroponic (soil-less) garden comes with an integrated grow light and timer. The little seed pods drop into the top of the unit, and the control panel tells you when to add water or plant food. It’s small enough to tuck into a corner of a room or countertop, doubling as a nightlight. You won’t have a huge harvest, but if you’re impatiently awaiting gardening season, this is a great option for growing fresh herbs and greens. Larger units are available that allow you to grow vegetables such as cherry tomatoes.
7. GE Grow Light 24-inch Fixture
Best Grow Light Fixture
If you have a wire shelving unit or a spare shelf on a bookshelf, you can mount this grow light fixture. It comes in 24-inch and 48-inch lengths and has a color temperature that’s more like natural light, so it won’t appear purple or red like some other less expensive grow lights do. The company says the lights will last for 25,000 hours.
8. GE BR30 Grow Light Bulb
Best Grow Light Bulb
If you’re looking for a budget alternative, this light bulb will fit in most standard fixtures, such as those inexpensive clip lights you can purchase at big box retailers. It’s not pretty, but it is an option if you’re looking for a cheap fix for plants that don’t get enough light.