Besides reviewing the best grow lights for cactus, we’re going to have to talk about the conditions under which you should use artificial light for cacti. It might turn out that there are not needed, who knows?
However, there’s one category of people who will most probably need the aid of artificial lighting for cacti and succulents: people living in regions with cold winters.
I also wrote about my recommendations for the best cactus fertilizer, for those of you who feel like your plants could need a bit more help during their growing season. Plus, cacti are perfect for being part of beautiful succulent gift boxes.
6 Best Grow Lights for Cactus and Succulents
In general, the best artificial light for plants is the full-spectrum LED grow lights. Fluorescent lights are another awesome choice.
What about the best grow lights for cactus? Will we find the best choice among fluorescent lights or LEDs? After all, we must also focus on getting our cacti to bloom, which mostly happens in the spring.
My 5 picks will actually cover LEDs and T5 grow lights because they’re really awesome and I found some options that are incredibly affordable, especially my first recommendation.
You can go for either fluorescent lights or LEDs without any worries. They’re both awesome.
1. GE Lighting LED Grow Light – Cheap LED Grow Lights for Cactus
Ask yourself: do you need anything more than an impressively efficient bulb for your cacti, succulents, and all kinds of plants?
The answer is that you don’t.
This is just a bulb but one of the best choices that you can make. You can buy it for seeding, budding, flowering and fruit production.
The bulb is a BR30.
It’s a LED balanced spectrum that’s once of the cheapest that you can buy, while only consuming 9w. That’s a nice low energy consumption.
It’s the same as what we call full-spectrum but GE calls them balanced spectrum, emitting the same white light.
The balanced spectrum means that it has a blue : red ratio inspired by practices used by professional growers. The plants will absorb that maximum amount of light that they need.
Another advantage is that you only have to place the bulb in a lamp. You get the freedom to pick the design of the lamp to suit your tastes.
There’s no wonder that there are so many positive reviews for the GE BR30.
Where to Buy?
2. Feit Electric Full-Spectrum LED Grow Light Bulb – One of the Best Grow Lights for Cactus
Another full spectrum LED grow light bulb is this one from Feit Electric.
It’s another cheap option if you don’t want to spend much at all when looking for the best grow lights for cactus. I love these kind of bulbs, especially for people who don’t have a full room of plants that need to placed under grow lights.
There are many users who absolutely love these LED bulbs from Feit Electric.
Some consider this to be the best full spectrum bulb, others think of the Feit Electric Full-Spectrum LED Grow Light Bulb as their favorite plant light.
It’s highly praised and I totally see why. It’s one of my favorites, too. Although, the GE Lighting LED Grow Light is just as good.
It consumes just 9W, while it puts out the equivalent of 60W of grow light. That’s the beauty of LEDs.
Even if you run a bunch of bulbs at the same time for 14 hours for day as we need for cacti and succulents, we still get an amazing deal when it comes to energy consumption.
Where to Buy?
3. Relassy LED Plant Lamp, Dual Head Sunlike Full Spectrum Grow Lamp
If you have quite a lot of plants that need artificial light, this lamp is a perfect pick because it’s dual headed.
What truly won me over was that a reviewer said that these work great for his succulents. What more could we want in order to call them some of the best grow lights for cactus?
An affordable price would be nice and this dual head lamp has it.
It promises 50000 hours lifetime. They’re high efficiency LED chips, with replaceable bulbs.
The actual working power is 20W.
The 18 inch 360 degrees flexible gooseneck is able to give you plenty of freedom in covering a large area. The rotatable bulbs will also make it so much easier to adjust the angle and the distance between light and plants.
For fixing it firmly, there’s a C-clamp with adjustable thickness from 0.3 to 3 inches.
If we were to make a complaint is that there’s no timer, just an ON/OFF switch.
Where to Buy?
4. Durolux T5 Ho Grow Light – Large T5 Grow Lights for Cacti
This time, I want to introduce you to something a bit different. I know that most of us are inclined to go for LED grow lights but there is another option: we can buy T5 grow lights.
T5s lamps are fluorescent lights that are wonderful for growing seedlings, microgreens, and smaller plants like cactus, succulents, and herbs.
This one from Durolux can certainly be one of the best grow lights for cactus and there are a few users who have bought it just for that purpose and these particular plants.
This is a complete set. We get the fixture with hanging hooks and chains, 4 T5 bulbs and an 8 feet power cord.
The bulbs are really big, 4 foot. Usually, most T5s are 2 feet long. So this Durolux T5 is twice the usual size. It also promises to deliver 30% more light output than other comparable systems.
Given all that, I consider the price to be really affordable. We can get good value for the money.
Since it’s so big, I absolutely recommend it for people who have a lot of pots to put under lights, maybe even more than 10 plants.
There’s no timer but you could install one.
Where to Buy?
5. Vivosun T5 Grow Lights + Fixture
If you are intrigued by the idea of T5 fluorescent lights as the best grow lights for cacti and succulents, then I have a second recommendation for you.
This complete set from Vivosun is smaller than the above one from Durolux.
You can actually pick its size. You can get a fixture with 2, 4, 6 or 8 tubes. If you only have 2-3 pots, get the one that includes 2 tubes. If you want to cover 4-6 pots, I recommend getting the fixture with 4 tubes.
It’s another complete set: you get the fixture where the tubes go and the T5 lights. All the needed components are included for an easy installation.
Once again, the price is pretty affordable for a fixture + T5 grow lights.
Where to Buy?
6. Aspect Small Black Luxury LED Grow Light – Expensive Grow Light for Cacti
If you have a big quantity of money to spend and you decide that it’s best to throw that cash at buying the best grow lights for cactus or other small succulents or plants, then I know just the product for you.
The truth is that this Aspect plant light looks absolutely amazing. The design is minimalist but it fits so well anywhere.
You don’t have to worry about artificial lights that stand out or are in your way or you have to avoid them so you don’t hit your head.
The 15ft long cord will give you as much freedom as you want and you can hang it from the ceiling if you want to cover a larger area.
Aspect claims that this is the first of its kind: a luxury LED grow light design to beautifully display plants, while promoting plant growth and flowering.
It seems to be doing what it claims because the reviews are impressive. There are some users who mention that they can’t believe that they spent so much for lights but their plants are truly happy so, I believe, it’s worthy it.
The Aspect LED is not just a really pretty package, whether you pick the black or white color.
There is no bulb to replace, there’s a LED chip directly mounted to the aluminum body. And it promises a 15-year lifespan.
Obviously, it’s full-spectrum with a color temperature of 3000K and a CRI of 97. They’re efficient at only 20w.
They also include a simple and fast installation guide. Plus, a timer for programming it however you want.
Where to Buy?
Best Grow Lights for Cactus Buying Guide
LEDs are the best choice because they use very little energy so, you save on your energy bill in the long run. They’re also the ones that come the closest to imitating sunlight.
T5s are also good, they also don’t to increase our energy bill by too much, they’re cool, and they don’t emit as much heat.
For LEDs, you can pick lights from 3000K to 6000K color temperature.
LEDs are a mix of red and blue LEDs and the full-spectrum emit what we call white light. T5 are also full-spectrum. They have that in common.
If you’re going for LEDs, choose one with a ratio of 3 red to 1 blue. Red light is the most efficient for photosynthesis. Blue light is also needed for plant growth, it is added to the red to make the plants maintain the proper shape, to make them grow compact.
Fluorescent lights are an awesome choice and they have two configurations: tube and regular lightbulb (CFL). They’re good for succulents but fluorescent can have a shorter lifespan than LEDs.
The best tube fluorescent lights are 1 or 2 footlong T5 bulbs. You need a bulb with a color temperature of 6000-6500K.
The wattages for standard T5 lamps are 14, 21, 28, and 35 watts.
High-output T5 (T5 HO) lamps are available in 24, 39, 54, and 80 watts.
How to use grow lights for cacti
For LEDs, position the grow lights 6 to 12 inches from the plants. If you have a larger area to cover, you will need to position them higher. At the same time, less intense light will be transmitted.
On the other hand, T5s can be positioned as low 1-4 inches above the plants at all times without burning the leaves. They don’t run hot so they can be put close to the plants.
If you’re running them 10 to 14 hours ON and 10 to 14 hours OFF, it will be perfect.
Nowadays, there are plenty of lights that come with their own timer so that you can program them to automatically turn ON between an interval preferred by you.
The advantage is that you can leave your house without worrying about the lights being ON 24/7.
When You Need Grow Lights for Cacti
Cacti (Cactaceae) are succulents. And if we know anything about this beautiful universe of plants is that they are very resilient. But that applies to watering succulents and their ability to store water.
Cacti store water in their stems, while succulents store water in their leaves, stems, and roots. That’s one major difference between them.
Cacti and succulents are high-light houseplants.
When you consider that cacti grow in the dessert and thrive in that blazing sun, you’ll understand why cacti need consistent light for a successful growth.
If more than two weeks have passed since your cactus has received much natural light, it’s time to look for the best grow light for cactus.
Cacti are lovers of sunlight
The answer to when you need grow lights for cacti can be a simple one: when you live in a place that doesn’t receive enough natural light each day and it’s clear that your plants are suffering, that’s when you need to consider searching for the best grow lights for cactus.
When we imagine a cactus, I think we come up with two images.
The dessert with its unforgiving landscape and cacti as pretty much the only plants growing and thriving under the scorching sun.
Or a small pot with a cute-as-a-button plant that has spikes and can have beautiful flowers.
But we must not forget that we haven’t gone to the dessert and uprooted one from there. We’re concerned with many cacti varieties that are most likely grown in pots. Our focus is definitely on potted cacti.
At least we can easily understand that cacti are plants that love sunlight.
And that’s we must offer them: natural sunlight or light in the form of grow lights as substitute. In conjunction with watering them when the well-draining soil gets dry at least 2 inches down. And the pot has draining holes.
How much sunlight do cacti need?
The general rule is: cacti should receive between 10 and 14 hours of light per day, natural or artificial.
Don’t leave the lights on for more than 14 hours a day. They also need their rest, just like us. Definitely don’t place your pot under light 24 hours per day.
That especially applies to desert plants, which only make their plant food at night. For them, darkness is equally important for survival.
Most cacti need bright and direct sunlight to survive and grow.
However, if the rays are too intense, it might get sun scorched and dried out. It might turn shades of yellow or orange.
The first thing you should do is study about the cactus variety that you’re growing.
You might discover that your plant needs good but not severe sunlight.
Others might be capable of withstanding high temperatures and direct sunlight.
For all, it’s important to protect them against cold temperatures and frost. Minimum temperatures of 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius) is usually the norm.
Is artificial light just as good?
Natural light is natural light and it’s immensely complex.
It sounds obvious enough but let’s be honest: artificial light doesn’t come close to natural sunlight. We can only mimic its benefits for plants.
If you get the right lights, you can come close to the natural. That’s why we’re here writing and reading about the best grow lights for cactus.
What happens when a cactus lacks light
In cacti, lack of natural light leads to a condition called etiolation, which is not reversible.
The plant gets stretchy or leggy because they actually stretch for where the light might be.
It can be easily spotted in cacti because they’re characterized by a compact shape.
The signs are: the plant becoming overly tall, skinny, and pale in color. The rounded tops get pointy instead and the stems turn stringy instead of being column-shaped.
Instead of having a beautiful green vibrant color, the leaves will be pale.
Light is needed for photosynthesis. Without this element, the plant will suffer from stunted growth.
If we combine lack of light with too much water and poor drainage, that will definitely lead to root rot, which can kill the plant.
If all this seems too much, you can redirect your attention towards growing a low light tolerant variety, like the Snake Plant. It also has another striking name: mother-in-law tongue.
Since cacti and succulents are lovers of light, if you can’t place them in a space where they can receive the needed sunlight, the next best thing is to consider the above best grow lights for cactus.