Aloes are native to semi-desert areas of Africa and Arabian peninsula. If you’ve ever been to these corners of the world, you will know the sun is pretty strong, and it shines a lot down there. What I try to say here is that in their natural environment, aloes always get a lot of direct sunlight, and they thrive in such an environment. Having said that, we know more than 500 species belonging to the Aloe family, and the cultivated Aloes you buy in your gardening store or from Amazon do not need that much light to thrive. The question remains though: Can you grow Aloe with artificial light only? And if you can, how much light it actually needs to survive, and look well?
The question isn’t that easy to answer, and we have to look at couple of things. Before diving into the details, however, let me give you a quick answer: Aloes can grow and prosper in artificial light, but since it doesn’t provide the same benefits as real sunlight does, they will need at least 12 hours of artificial light a day. That’s a quick answer, but let’s have a look at important details, as well as my recommendation for best grow lights.
No two grow lights are the same
Long gone are the days when you went to some brick and mortar store and bought one of the two models of grow light they had in stock. Nowadays, for example on Amazon you can get dozens if not hundreds of different grow lights (see yourself on this link). Not only do they come in different designs and sizes, to perfectly fit your needs, they also come with different luminosity, and different technology. Obviously it makes a lot of different if you use grow light with 1000 lumen per square meter and 4,000 lumen per square meter. Aloes can feel the difference, and you won’t need to have the stronger light on for such a long time as a weaker one.
What I try to say here is that you should take the 12 hour mark just as a general benchmark. Start with twelve hours, and observe the plant. If it changes color, getting lighter, it is a clear sign the 12 hours is not enough, and you need to run it even longer. On the contrary, if you observe no such changes in the plant, you may try to lower the amount of hours to 10, and then even to eight, trying to find the sweet spot. Your Aloe won’t die or stop growing if you give it two hours less of light as you’d give it in an ideal case. The key is to find the optimal amount.
Bring your aloes outside at least sometimes if you can
I know it is tempting growing Aloes in an office with no windows, or even in some basement for commercial reasons. But I honestly believe that especially in this age, we should always have climate change on our mind. Grow lights and other forms of artificial lights spend a lot of electricity. That’s why you should use them as a last resort only. Before buying one, think whether you cannot actually place your Aloes outside.
Even if you place them outside for just a few hours, let’s say three hours a day, you can reduce the time under the grow lights by half, save money in the process, and also do something for the planet. Nothing beats real sunshine, and the energy from sun is virtually inexhaustible. That’s why you should try your best to use this source, though I understand it isn’t always possible, for example when you live in an area which gets little sunshine throughout the year.
What is the best artificial light for Aloe Vera?
You need to consider several things when picking the best light for your Aloe:
- The brightness and power (luminosity). My suggestion is to go with light that emits at least 2,000 lumen per square meter, if you’re ready to have the grow lights on for 12-14 hours a day. More lumen will for shorter periods of lighting.
- The number of Watts it consumes. This parameter is more about your electricity bill than the well-being of the plant. The more Watts the light consumes, the more you will have to pay each month. However, there is always some correlation between the brightness and energy consumption. Even if you look for energy efficient lights, you cannot expect to spend virtually no electricity with a powerful grow light.
- Color temperature of the light. The best color temperature for Aloes starts at about 5,000 Kelvins, since such light best resembles the light they get from sun in the native areas.
- The amount of heat the light radiates to the surrounding. You should look for lights that do not emanate too much heat, which is luckily the case with vast majority of modern LED grow lights nowadays. Avoid old models of grow lights that would make your room too hot.
- The design and height fitting for your setup. Before purchasing the lights, you should have an idea how the entire setup should look like: how many plants you want to have in the room, in what containers, if they will be on the ground or on some tables, etc. Many grow lights have adjustable height, but it is still important to look for a model that will fit well into the current setup.
As you can see now, many things come into play, and some are individual for each grower, and setup. Hence I do not want to point out one particular model you should buy for your Aloes. I prefer to give you the criteria you should consider, and based on them you can simply choose from the vast selection on Amazon.
Artificial lights can never quite replace the sun, regardless of how much the technology has advanced in the last ten years. Having said that, you can definitely grow aloes in artificial light, and if you choose a good light (following the recommendations from this post), and give your Aloes enough hours of artificial light daily, I see no reason why you couldn’t be successful with your plants. It is also a good idea taking the plants outside at least once in a while. Remember that one hour of real sunshine easily beats 3 hours of artificial light. Taking your plants outside for a few hours daily can save you a lot of money on your electricity bill. And your aloes will be happier too :). Thank you for reading, and good luck with your plants!
May also interest you:
- Root rot in Aloe Vera – learn how to avoid the most common problem with Aloes.
- Best placement for Aloe Vera according to Feng Shui.