Lighting keeps your plants healthy, which is why you need to consider this when you install green walls in your office, restaurant or hotel.
Plants and people have a symbiotic relationship, which is why it’s so important to include nature into our architecture and interior design. Not only are plants good for our physical and mental well being, they also add life to your design - making your office, restaurant or hotel feel more inviting.
Apart from water, your indoor plants have a second key requirement for good health: access to sufficient light. Lighting is pivotal to plants, and absolutely essential to create a lush, happy green wall. Why? Because plants convert light into energy to help them grow (during a process called photosynthesis).
Image source: BiologyWise
No light equals no photosynthesis, no photosynthesis equals no energy to flourish - leaving you with a sad, underwhelming vertical garden on display.
“Lighting is the single most important element to the success of your living wall. Inadequate lighting results in a plant that won’t need water, if the plant won’t drink, it can’t absorb nutrients. This is when most people over water our plants creating an anaerobic environment. Over watering is common in felt like hydroponic living walls and, coupled with poor lighting, plants never have a chance to thrive.” - George Irwin, Founder and CEO of Green Living™ Technologies International (GLTi)
Read our article, Green wall maintenance mistakes: overwatering vs. underwatering, to find out if you’re loving your plants to death.
Light specialists Lux Review say, “Put simply, plants will not survive without an appropriate amount of light as poor illumination slows photosynthesis. Photosynthesis requires light levels of at least 1000 lux [lighting measurement] for plants to thrive, with levels of 2500 lux often being required.” Dramatic lighting can also turn even a plain green wall into a stunning one.
However, not all light is made equal. . . There are only certain types of lighting that can stimulate photosynthesis.
Artificial grow lights mimic the sun with their blue and red waves. If you’re growing indoors, whether in traditional pots or a vertical garden, artificial lights are needed, to supplement or replace sunshine if there’s not enough natural light in the room.
YOU CAN USE ONE OF THREE TYPES OF ARTIFICIAL LIGHTING FOR YOUR INDOOR DECORATIVE GREEN WALL
- -Fluorescent lights
- -High-pressure sodium (HPS) [also called high intensity discharge or HID]
- Light emitting diodes (LED)
- Cheapest investment
- Use only 20% - 30% of the energy of traditional incandescent light
- Need to be close to the plants to work well
|High-pressure sodium (HID)
- Very powerful and efficient
- Significantly cheaper than LEDs
- Expensive to set up
- Difficult to maintain (heat and ventilation requires extra complications in the setup process)
- Emit high levels of heat which affects plant quality
|Light emitting diodes (LED)
- Incredibly efficient: “They regularly have light efficiency above 20%. Recent LED models have had over 60% light efficiency,” says Urban Vine.
- Can be placed far away from plants
- Near-zero heat production
- “Specific wavelengths can be targeted within color spectra, resulting in customized "plant therapy" lighting that can even improve lighting over sunlight,” says Urban Vine.
- “Additionally, LED lights install in just minutes, last 10+ years and deliver cost savings from the first electricity bill. Typically users see a return on investment (ROI) within <1 to 3 years,” says Bright AgroTech
Although an LED system will cost you the most on its initial setup, it’s by far the superior artificial lighting solution when looking at the lifetime cost of your green wall (including plant replacements).
As Bright AgroTech says, “The recommendation? Don't cut any corners when you are working to understand the true costs of your lighting solution, including depreciation expense and energy costs. Do the numbers and understand that many costs like bulb replacement, maintenance labor, etc. are often hidden.”