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Infrared light and effect on plant growth

The latest research into how plants are impact by light shows that the usable spectrum goes further than originally thought. Although infrared light isn’t within the ‘visible’ light spectrum, it’s been found to be particularly helpful for photosynthesis. In fact, it actually stimulates growth and enhances flowering.

The IR Spectrum 

The infrared spectrum is between 700-850nm, with plants responding to up to 780nm. Far-red lighting can create a shade avoidance response, which is what leads plants to stretch and lean towards their light source.

Far red has also been known to expand leaves meaning there’s an increase in surface area. This increase means more photons can be captured for photosynthesis.

How Infared LED light can impact plants 

Horticulturists are becoming more and more aware of infrared's ability to affect the phytochromes within plants. These photoreceptors are what regulate certain processes with your plant’s development like stem growth, flowering and leaf expansion.

Enhanced flowering

Phytochromes absorb all the light and processes it for the plant. It’s these cells that help plants determine what time of day or year it is, and when it’s the right time to bloom. When growing indoors, IR red light can help your plants to flower at any time of year. And in the same light, you can manipulate when your plants fruit. What they can’t get from the sun in these peak stages of the growth cycle, they can get from an IR red light strip.

Increased plant growth

When plants are overshadowed within the canopy of other plants, an automatic defense system I s triggered. Shorter plants typically catch light between the leaves of the taller ones, meaning they’re more likely to take in higher levels of infrared light. In turn, the plants will stretch upwards, or outwards to try reach more light.

Expert hobbyists can use infrared light to manipulate the shape of their plants. When combined with other lighting, like blue LED lights, IR lighting can trigger rapid plant growth and aid branching.

Do plants need infrared light? 

IR can be pretty beneficial to your plants. But if you’re looking to use IR LEDs in your grow space, here are a few things to consider:

Types of plant to grow

The first thing to factor in is the type of plant you’re looking to grow. IR light will interact with the phytochromes in different plants in different ways. You don’t want to give your plants more than they can handle.

How you want to manipulate plants

The second thing to think about is how you want to manipulate your plants. If you want your plants to come out as small and tight (for example, if your space is small), or tall and more stretched out. It’s worth thinking about this before you introduce IR light into the grow space.

Have IR light may raise the cost

Finally, there’s safety and cost. IR isn’t integral to your plant's development, and can create plenty of additional heat within the grow space. That means you need extra lighting for your plant’s growth, as well as a top tier ventilation system to regulate the temperature. All of this means more energy and more upfront investment. If you’re just starting out your growing journey, it might be worth holding out and starting off small.

Effects of infrared light on humans and plants

In terms of safety, IR light can cause damage to both you, and your plants. When working with this type of lighting, it’s important to wear protective gear to stops you getting burnt. You also need to make sure your plants are kept a little further away from IR light from ordinary grow lights.

Final thoughts

Infrared is a great addition to have in your grow space. It can be used in combination with other lighting to create tall plants that stretch towards the sunlight. Whether you choose to use IR light is totally up to you.

If you’re planning on growing a certain species, feel free to get in touch with us. We’ll do our best to advise!