Can plants photosynthesize with LED light? It is easy to find a plant lover these days, but hard to find someone who actually knows how to grow plants properly.

Because of limited space, many people take their passion indoors. That is when many turn towards artificial lighting.

But, the question is, “Can plants photosynthesize with normal light bulbs or it required LED light only?

Yes, plants can photosynthesize with LED light but you need to pick the right ones with the right wavelengths to get the best results. 

The Role of Photosynthesis in Growing Plants

These days, it is quite common to find people with plants in all parts of their houses.

Even when you go with indoor plants, you need to understand that they still need light to grow.

photosynthesis of a growing plant

As photosynthetic organisms, plants, need light to initiate the process of photosynthesis and produce energy as a result.

The process is pretty straightforward:

  • Plants use their root system to get water.
  • The leaves have pores and chlorophyll to absorb the light.
  • They get CO2 from their environment.
  • They use water and CO2 in the presence of sunlight to produce glucose.
  • They also release oxygen in the process.

No one can deny the importance of photosynthesis, not just for plants but for the planet Earth as a whole.

Life would gradually perish in the absence of photosynthesis, and the consequences will be far-reaching, with nearly no gaseous oxygen in the earth’s atmosphere.

And all this would come to a halt if there is no light for plants to absorb and use for photosynthesis. 

But, when there is no sunlight inside your house, can you still make those plants grow by facilitating photosynthesis through LED light?

Fact: LED lights are usually cool-to-the-touch, so you can keep them about 6 inches from your plants without bringing significant changes to temperatures.  

Can Plants Photosynthesize with LED Light?

So many people are often confused about using the right light source to help their houseplants grow. 

The truth is that LED light, and even normal light bulbs can provide plants with a source of light to photosynthesize.

photosynthesize with led light

This also brings us to another question, “Can plants photosynthesize with room light?” 

Apparently, they can, but it may not be the most efficient source because ultimately it all depends on the right wavelengths.

Understanding More about LED Lights

LED or Light Emitting Diode involves using electro-luminescence to create light.  So many people utilize these light sources to grow houseplants.

the led lights

And it actually makes sense as well, mainly because:

  • The LEDs used for houseplants have lower energy consumption.
  • The LEDs usually produce less heat output.

What it means is that with LEDs, you do not have to worry much about producing too much heat.

It matters a lot because when bulbs lose energy to heat, they are likely to burn leaves in close proximity.

Fact: Other than chlorophyll, other pigments, like carotenoids and xanthophyll also absorb light and help plants photosynthesize. 

LED Lights to Affect Plant Growth

Initially, LEDs were introduced to replace incandescent light bulbs, which were not considered energy efficient by any means.

But, it is quite fascinating to see how the introduction of LEDs has changed how people buy bulbs for their everyday needs.

growing plant using led light

While these lights are available in different wattages and color temperatures, it is still not easy to decide which will work for your plants.

It is mainly because the light temperature is measured based on the Kelvin Scale, but cool white and warm white continue to be the most common options here. 

To make a good choice, you really need to consider the wavelengths of the light. 

The Concept of Growing Plants in Artificial Light

For plants to photosynthesize, they need to be exposed to the right spectrum of light. Without light, photosynthesis just cannot work.

growing plants in artificial light

The very concept of photosynthesis revolves around plants converting chemical energy into energy that can be used on a cellular level.

The very first phase of this process depends on light absorption.

The absorption of light leads to the creation of many different compounds, including:

  • Oxygen
  • Water splitting
  • ATP and NADPH

The next step in photosynthesis is the dark reaction. It means it does not need any direct lighting, but utilizes the energy produced in the first step. This tells you the importance of light in setting photosynthesis in motion.

The Role of Different Wavelengths in Photosynthesis

Now, it is true that light is critical for the successful initiation of photosynthesis, but will artificial light suffice? Probably not!

The reason is that chlorophyll is the pigment responsible for absorbing light and can only absorb specific wavelengths of light. 

plant absorbing natural light

However, the light-harvesting complex (LHC) also plays a role in absorbing light in varying wavelengths.

It is found that you can use different wavelengths in the visible range to help plants photosynthesize. This range is usually between 400nm and 700nm. 

Therefore, LEDs with any light spectrum may still provide the much-needed juice for plants to begin any chemical reaction.

Still, the real issue is that what we take as bright is sometimes nothing compared to what plants need.  The only way to understand that is by using a Quantum Light meter.  

An Important Consideration

You can definitely replace white LEDs if you have been using white fluorescents and may even get better results too.

But, that is mostly true for some plants, such as green algae, and you may need a different light spectrum, usually outside the visible range when growing terrestrial plants.

Fact: Chlorophyll absorption increases manifold when you expose plants to violet-blue light, usually in the 400-520nm range. 

LEDs Vs. Grow Lights to Help Plants Photosynthesize

Indoor gardening has become a lot easier with a variety of new equipment available today. One of the best things you can get for your houseplants is a grow light.

led vs grow lights help plants photosynthesize

They are extremely useful and becoming quite popular too.

But, the question is, “are they any better than regular LEDs?” and “do they really support the photosynthesis process?

Differentiating between LEDs and LED Grow Lights

Standard LED light is less likely to work when you are that much concerned about the health and growth of your houseplants. 

The reason is that plants require a light spectrum of 400-700nm to perform photosynthesis in the right way.

And regular LEDs fail here, as they offer only white light.

different kinds of led light bulb

On the other hand, LED grow lights are designed to provide “Photosynthetic Active Radiation (PAR).

It means that they offer the right light spectrum for plants to readily absorb the light and begin photosynthesizing quickly.

The truth is that LED lights work in many cases, but ultimately, you will have to switch to grow lights to get good results.

The reason is that grow lights are designed specifically for plants to facilitate the photosynthesis process. 

These grow lights work because:

  • They are designed to replicate natural sunlight.
  • They directly stimulate photosynthesis.
  • They provide the right wavelength and color spectrum for plants.

It means that using grow lights correctly can make it possible to grow tomatoes even in the winter. 

Choosing the Best Grow Lights to Support Photosynthesis

When it comes to buying grow lights, you can find a number of options.  Different grow lights now come with different characteristics and strengths. 

And which one works best for you depends on the plants you have and your budget of course. 

Grow Light Bulbs

In case you want to use grow lights but are a bit concerned about your budget, these bulbs will work just fine.

It means you will only buy a light bulb and use your existing ceiling light or old lamp. 

led table lamp bulb

Grow Light Fixtures

This one is going to be a more expensive option but you may consider it depending on how many plants you have.

It is worth mentioning that those seem expensive at first, but a single grow light fixture is usually enough to illuminate several of your plants. 

led grow light fixture

They are also designed carefully to disperse the lighting in a much more balanced manner.

Fact: For flowering and growing terrestrial plants, you will be better of using red light with a color spectrum range of 610-720nm. 


Can plants photosynthesize with LED light? In most cases, they can. But, ultimately, it depends on how many plants you are planning to grow and what wavelengths are suitable for them.

Moreover, you may have to consider the color spectrum when choosing LED lights.

That is when you may benefit more by using grow lights because they can provide light beyond the visible wavelengths, and that supports photosynthesis just perfectly.