Best Grow Lights for Seedlings, Vegetative Phase & Mother Plants
One common theme I’ve noticed among indoor growers is that many use multiple grow lights for the same grow. In fact, I’ve noticed that many indoor growers use one grow light specifically for the seedling and vegetative (veg) growth phases, which includes mother plants. In the flowering phase they use a different grow light, or both.
The best grow lights for seedlings, the vegetative phase and mother plants are the Lush Lighting Herbalvador, the California Lightworks SolarSystem 275 Veg Master, and the Spectrum King LED Mother’s Lil Helper.
It’s definitely an interesting phenomenon, and it’s arisen out of the fact that every different grow light brand or model emits a different spectrum, some of which may benefit one phase of growth more. If you bought an LED grow light without focusing on the spectrum, you may find out afterwards that you bought a light that emits a majority red spectrum.
What is the vegetative phase (veg)?
The vegetative phase (often called “veg”), is the phase of plant growth between seedling and flowering. This is when the plant forms, and your grow light and light spectrum play a crucial role in the plant’s development during this phase.
It’s this phase that the plant develops roots, stem and node spacing,
Most growers prefer their plants to be short and bushy, and the best way to ensure that is by providing your plants enough of the essential blue spectrum they require during the vegetative phase.
What are the best grow lights for the vegetative growth phase and mother plants?
The best grow lights for the vegetative growth phase and mother plants are the Lush Lighting Herbalvador, the California Lightworks SolarSystem 275 Veg Master, and the Spectrum King LED Mother’s Lil Helper. These are all LED grow lights that are heavy on blue spectrum, specifically designed for the vegetative phase. More on these grow lights below.
Another situation where you’d want one of these heavy blue spectrum grow lights is if you’re maintaining a mother plant. A mother plant is a cannabis (or other fruit/vegetable yielding) plant that you want to save for the sake of preserving its genetic makeup. Maybe you found a really good strain that you’d like to clone for a friend, or maintain for future cloning. That means keeping the plant alive in the vegetative growth phase indefinitely, and you’ll need a dedicated grow light that’s up to the task. That’s where these grow lights come in.
The Lush Lighting Herbalvador was designed specifically for the vegetative growth phase. It emits a majority blue spectrum, and includes IR and UV, which is also helpful during vegetative growth.
The infrared (IR) helps penetrate soil and promote seedling growth, clone root growth, and side branch growth. One study suggests that ultraviolet (UV) and blue wavelengths together induce cannabigerol accumulation in cannabis flowers.
Take a look at the Lush Lighting Herbalvador’s spectrum below (left side):
The light utilizes 90 three watt LEDs with 60 and 90 degree lenses to spread the light evenly over a 3×3 ft grow space. At the 18 inch hang height your plants will be getting about 300 uMol of vegetative specialized intensity. Lush Lighting recommends hanging the light at 24 inches for veg and 30 inches for cloning, although you can adjust as needed.
This grow light comes with free international shipping, and 3 year manufacturer warranty. One of the most unique and respectable features of this warranty is that Lush Lighting will ship you a loaner light at no cost so your grow isn’t sacrificed while your light is being repaired. A truly impressive benefit!
Click here to see more details and pricing for the Lush Lighting Herbalvador at LED Grow Lights Depot
This is the California Lightworks SolarSystem 275 Veg Master. This light has a fully customizable spectrum, allowing it to emit heavy blue spectrum if desired.
The light has internet gateway and smartphone control options to make programming and timing a breeze. The light is built with top-bin Osram diodes, draws 200 watts from the wall, and will cover a 5x5ft veg space.
The PPFD is about 440 uMol at the highest point. At 2.2 uMol/joule this light is using electricity quite effectively. Most high end grow lights are over 2.0 uMol/joule.
The operating temperature for the light is up to 107 degrees, and it has a very large cooling fan attached to the top side of the panel. California Lightworks offers a 5 year warranty on this light.
Click here to see more details and pricing for the California Lightworks SolarSystem 275 Veg Master at LED Grow Lights Depot
This is the Mother’s Lil Helper 140w LED grow light by Spectrum King. The 5000k white light spectrum is ideal for vegetative growth and maintaining a mother plant. It looks like a small light, but you’ll get a 4x4ft coverage hanging this light at 18 inches.
The 90 degree reflectors are intended to help spread light evenly across your canopy. The Mother’s Lil Helper 140w is passively cooled with a heat sink, no fan required. This light draws the least power of all the lights on this list. It pulls 140w from the wall.
From looking at the spectrum chart you can see it has a high amount of blue, some green, and not much red. This light spectrum was specifically designed for vegetative growth.
This light comes with a 3 year warranty on the light intensity, and 5 year warranty for parts and labor.
Why blue light spectrum is best for the seedling and vegetative growth phase, or maintaining mother cannabis plants:
If you haven’t figured out from reading yet, the blue light spectrum is the best for several plant developments like chlorophyll and chloroplast development, enzyme synthesis, and plant density. It also regulates responses to biotic environmental stresses.¹
Blue light and UV-A wavelengths also trigger cryptochrome and phototropin, which regulate chloroplast relocation, germination, elongation, and stomatal opening, which impacts water transpiration and CO2 exchange.²
In short, the formation of your plant and it’s ability to carry out certain functions in the flowering phase are directly affected by the quality of life it gets in the vegetative phase.
Why pick these grow lights for veg compared to other grow lights for both phases of growth?
When you compare a dedicated veg grow light to a multi-phase grow light, you’ll find that not surprisingly, the multi-phase light has less blue light intensity. That’s because those lights need room for LEDs that emit both blue, and red, and sometimes more.
If you’re looking to grow the best harvest possible, in addition to other factors, I strongly suggest considering a dedicated veg light. If you’re looking for a grow light for your mother plant, you’ll only need one with a blue spectrum, in which case a dedicated blue spectrum light would also be appropriate.
Why do growers want grow lights specifically for the seedling and vegetative phase (veg)?
Growers may decide to buy a dedicated grow light for the seedling and vegetative phases if their current grow light doesn’t emit enough blue spectrum – the spectrum that’s critical to the vegetative phase. If you’re maintaining a mother plant you’ll only need a blue spectrum, and you’ll need a light that’s emits a blue spectrum that’s intense enough for a full sized mother plant. Having a light dedicated for this purpose is a smart choice.
The different aspect of the seedling and vegetative growth phases that requires an adjusted growing method are these two simple factors:
- The different light wavelength absorbed in this phase (we already discussed that)
- The increased sensitivity to light during these growth phases – which requires hanging your grow light higher than you would during flowering phase. This is why many of these seedling & vegetative phase grow lights emit lower PPFD readings. It’s because if you put too much PPFD on plants in these growth phases, you’ll risk burning them.
How Far Should Seedlings and Veg Phase Plants Be From Grow Lights?
Generally speaking, grow light manufacturers recommend hanging your grow light 24-30 inches above seedlings.
For the Vegetative growth phase you can get a bit closer, so hanging your grow light 18-24 inches from the canopy is more appropriate for this growth phase. Ideally you’d want 300-400 uMols delivered during the vegetative phase.
I tend to say grow light hanging height is not a perfect science. You may find your plants react better if your lights are a few inches closer or further than manufacturers’ recommendations. The good news is if you find your plants start to get burned leaves from being too close, it’s a totally recoverable event, unless you let it go on too long. So check up on them regularly when you’re just starting out.
The best grow light for a mother plant has a strong blue spectrum with a coverage area large enough for the whole plant.
Blue spectrum is absorbed by plants during the vegetative phase and used to develop the plant’s structure, and prepare it for flowering.
Most grow light manufacturers recommend 24-30 inches for seedlings.
For the grow lights mentioned above, 18 inches. In terms of intensity, you’d want a level where light intensity is 300-400 uMols.
The Scynce LED Raging Kush will cover a 5 by 5 foot grow space for the vegetative phase. The grow lights mentioned above are better for 3×3.
Yes. You need balanced blue and red wavelengths at a minimum for the flowering phase.
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- Goins, G.D. et al. “Photomorphogenesis, Photosynthesis, And Seed Yield Of Wheat Plants Grown Under Red Light-Emitting Diodes (Leds) With And Without Supplemental Blue Lighting”. Journal Of Experimental Botany, vol 48, no. 7, 1997, pp. 1407-1413. Oxford University Press (OUP), doi:10.1093/jxb/48.7.1407. Accessed 7 June 2019.
- Schwartz, A. & Zeiger, E. Planta (1984) 161: 129. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00395472
- Eichhorn Bilodeau, Samuel et al. “An Update On Plant Photobiology And Implications For Cannabis Production”. Frontiers In Plant Science, vol 10, 2019. Frontiers Media SA, doi:10.3389/fpls.2019.00296. Accessed 7 June 2019.