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What is UV light and does it work for plants?

You’ve probably heard about UV and its dangers. For us humans, UV can wreak havoc with our skin and long-term health. But when talking about UV light for plants, there’s more to the story.

What is UV? 

Ultraviolet light is a type of radiation on the electromagnetic spectrum. Deriving from sunlight, plants in their natural habitats can lap up just the right amount of UV to help them thrive. But for those growing indoors – or for anyone trying to grow non-native plants in their country – you might need a little help from grow lights.

There are actually three types of UV light: UVA (315-400nm), UVB (280-315nm) and UVC (100-280nm). Both A and B are a key part of everyday light, while UVC doesn’t actually reach the earth thanks to the ozone layer. It can, however, be artificially created.

UVA is the higher end of the spectrum and is the most common type of UV on earth. It makes up around 98.7% of the UV that reaches into the earth’s atmosphere. UVB therefore makes up the other 1.3%. It triggers the creation of oxygen and helps to regenerate the ozone layer.

Do UV grow lights for plants cause damage 

Whether from the sun or through artificial grow lights, UV does have an impact on your plants. Some good, some bad. But different wavelengths offer different characteristics, with some causing more damage than they’re worth.

Is UVA good for plants?

As the most common UV wavelength on earth, the good news is that this type of UV doesn’t seem to damage plant DNA. Which makes sense as plants are exposed to UVA within their natural environment.

Is UVB good for plants?

Similar to everything else on earth, when used in the right dose, it helps them to create a protective sunscreen layer that defends the plant from both light damage and fungal infection.

What about UVC?

UVC is one of the most dangerous wavelengths and it can seriously damage your plant’s DNA if not used correctly, UVC light wands do have a place within the growing process. They’re particularly good for fighting off microorganisms and sanitizing the grow space when used in limited doses. 

How does UV light affect plant growth? 

Now you’ve got a general overview of each UV wavelength, do UV lights work for plants?

Below are just a few ways they can benefit from UV LED lights for plants.

Stress & Disease Resistant

We mentioned above that UVC can be used to clean the grow space, but both UVA and UVB can also help to protect the plants themselves from stress and disease. 

Using specific UV grow lights for plants can help to increase your plant’s resistance to fungus, bacteria and other pests that find their way into the grow space.

This is a massive bonus for you, as it makes your plants that little bit less high maintenance.

Flowering, root and taste

When asking ‘does UV light help plants grow’, there are a few answers. UV light can increase root mass and cause more branching rather than stretching (the opposite of red light). It can even improve the taste and smell for some species.

Studies have shown that tomatoes grown without UV can still look great, but lack the desired taste. With supplemental UV, research found tomatoes to be much more flavorful with a stronger potency.

This is good news for anyone looking to grow flowers as it suggests they’ll not only look beautiful, but smell beautiful while they bloom.

Faster germination

Another way UV can be useful is in the germination process. These particular wavelengths can help to speed up the initial phases of the growth cycle. Using UV grow lights during the seeding phase can help prepare the plants for high intensity light. UV light can help reduce the shock when seedlings are moved outdoors and exposed to high intensity light from the sun.

So, do UV lights work for plants? It’s safe to say that plants can benefit much more from UV than us humans. If you’re looking to reap the benefits