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.
Best Grow Lights for Cactus: Top 3 Picks
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 3 picks will actually cover just LEDs because they’re really awesome and I found 2 options that are incredibly affordable, especially my first recommendation. But you can go for fluorescent, too, without any worries.
1. GE Lighting LED Grow Light – Overall Best Grow Lights for Cactus
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. Relassy LED Plant Lamp, Dual Head Sunlike Full Spectrum Grow Lamp
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?
3. Aspect Small Black Luxury LED Grow Light
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?
How to Pick the Best Grow Lights for Cacti
- LEDs are the best choice because they use very little energy so, you save on your energy bill in the long run
- you can pick lights from 3000K to 6000K
- LEDs are a mix of red and blue LEDs and the full-spectrum emit what we call white light
- 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
- best tube fluorescent light: 1 or 2 footlong T5 bulb
- 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
- even for fluorescent lights you can get the full spectrum, which includes UV
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.
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.
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 or 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.
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.