Are UV Rays Necessary for Planting Indoors?

Indoor planting is popular amongst the city dwellers and those who do not have disposable space available to them. The trend of “greenteriors” is catching on and many people now prefer to grow plants for varied purposes. Indoor planting can be carried out for income generation purposes or even to keep up with the harsh winter seasons.

Like humans, even plants need care and nutrition to flourish. The major source of energy is sun which the plants utilize for the process of photosynthesis and growth. However, not all the wavelengths of light are useful to the plants. In reality, some wavelengths can harm and danger them.

One of the major advantages of indoor planting is that optimal growing conditions can be replicated to get the best results. With the help of indoor grow lights, it has become easy to mimic the seasons to match the light spectrum that the plants need. Ultra Violet light is a part of indoor lighting and even the sun that is overlooked many times. So the question arises- is the Ultra Violet light useful or harmful to the plants?

Understanding Ultra Violet Light:

Often, Ultraviolet light is referred to as ‘UV light’. It is an electromagnetic radiation type which falls between the X-rays and visible light. UV light is obtained from natural sunlight and is helpful to plants in a plethora of ways. However, it must be noted that the UV light exposed to plant is sub-categorized based on their wavelengths. These include:

UVA (Ultraviolet A): UVA rays ranges between 320 nm and 400 nm. This light has the longest wavelength. It is made up of 3% of the photos present in the sunlight that penetrates earth’s atmosphere. UVA rays are the least harmful and are not linked with any deleterious effects on DNA.

UVB (Ultraviolet B): It ranges between 290 nm and 320 nm. This light is powerful and can cause cellular cause damage to plants, animals, and human beings. This particular light makes up less than a fifth of 1% of the sunlight but is almost filtered out by the Ozone layer. Hence, UVB rays rarely reach Earth in significant amounts.

UVC (Ultraviolet C): This light ranges between 100 nm to 290 nm. It has the ability to kill living cells due to its high energy. However, the earth’s atmosphere filter out this wavelength and hence, it is not considered as a component of natural sunlight. UVC rays are harmful and hence, used scientifically in the certain process like sterilization.

How Does UV Light Help The Plants?

UVA and UVB are thus naturally available and make important life components on earth. It is found that plants show positive responses to both these wavelengths upon exposure. Whether the lights are used as your primary source or as supplemental lighting, definitely plants will get the benefit from the UV light.

Activation Of Defense Mechanism:

When plants are exposed to extra UV light, their oil production is almost doubled. This helps to increase the culinary or medicinal value of the plants. With extra oils, plants release more aroma and flavor. In the past, UV light was considered as an unwanted light source owing to its damaging effects on the living beings.

However, from the recent research, the benefits of UV light are clear for plant growth. UV light activated natural defense system of the plants. This mechanism leads to the production of defense proteins or chemicals.

With the increasing amount of UV light exposure, the production of these defense proteins increases. The defense proteins enhance the smell, taste, and color of the pants. In addition, in the presence of these proteins, the plant’s resistance to disease also increases. In case of indoor planting, if the plants are grown without any exposure to the UV rays, they lack the amazing enhanced benefits.

Speeding up Germination:

UV rays speed up the germination process for the plants that are grown indoors. After germination of the starting seeds, the seedlings are transplanted to intense light. This process of transferring from low to high-intensity light can shock or slow down the growth of plants. Thus, to strengthen the plants, exposure to the UV rays helps a lot. UV light exposure in the early stages of plant growth speeds up production by reducing the shock time.

Elimination of harmful microorganisms:

UV rays with shorter wavelengths are effective in killing the harmful micro-organisms which can harm the plants. Hence, UVC rays are used for the sterilization process. The sterilization range is also popularly called as ‘germicidal bandwidth’.  Generally, the indoor micro-organisms are organic-based or completely carbon-based. So, when they are exposed to the UV rays of range 240-280 nm, they tend to break down.

When the micro-organisms are exposed to the UV rays, this radiation has the potential to destroy DNA to give off organic components in air. So, it is essential to strike the UV rays directly on the micro-organisms for a suitable amount of time for penetration and breakdown of the molecular bonds.

What Types Of Lights Emit UV Rays:

Compact Fluorescents (CFLs), DE (double ended bulbs), high-intensity discharge (HID) lamps, LEC (light emitting ceramics), and high kelvin blue sodium lamps emit UV rays. With the help of LED grow light technologies, plants can utilize the UV light under indoor conditions. Certain LED grow lights have the capability to generate low-emissions UV rays artificially.

Precautions To Take When Using UV Lights:

The benefits of UV rays for plant growth are extensive but it can still cause damage to both humans and plants if the lights are not used properly. A lot of UV exposure is harmful to plant growth and human skin. So, long UV exposure must be avoided as it can kill the plants quickly.

For enhancing the growth of the plants, expose them to a quality full spectrum light with the right amount of UV rays. The grow lights that provide full spectrum light must mimic natural sunlight.

As natural sunlight is not an option for indoor planting, the grow lights are useful for the healthy growth of indoor plants. HORTILUX grow lamps are specifically designed with a right light spectrum to provide the plants with the UV rays.