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These Plant Grow Lights Are As Gorgeous As They Are Functional

Brooklynite Maria Failla used to refer to herself as a “plant killer” until she saw the light—grow lights, that is. She now has five of them in the Brooklyn apartment she shares with her fiancé, and she’s graduated to “plant lady.”

Plants are white-hot, in case you didn’t notice: Houseplant sales in the U.S. increased by 50% to 1.7 million in the last three years, according to 2019 figures from the National Gardening Association. And it seems the pandemic triggered a “botanic boom” as people snatched up any plants they could find to have something to nurture—along with themselves—through hard times.

But just buying the first plant that catches your eye and putting it on the windowsill—as Maria, who runs the plant care podcast Bloom and Grow Radio, did in her plant-killer days—often leads to depressed or dead plants, usually due to lack of light or simply the wrong kind. Augmented light isn’t what it used to be; forget about your older brother’s illicit-colored grow room. Now you can make up for your northeast-facing window in a way that’s downright chic.

A handful of high-end, luxurious, designer-quality grow lights that appeal to both the casual plant collector and the plant obsessive alike have popped up in recent years. They take the form of sleek but unobtrusive hanging pendant lights; “grow bars” that you can stick underneath cabinets or even inside your bookshelves; picture frames with LED lights inside, meant to be mounted on the wall with plants displayed inside like art; and appealing light boxes that blend in with your furniture and come in all sizes—buy one, or buy two and stack them. 

Besides being well designed, this new generation of grow lights give off a warm, natural glow, made possible by the falling cost and increasing quality of LED lighting. “There’s this huge decorative aspect to it,” says Sarah Burrows, cofounder of Modern Sprout, which also makes hydroponic herb systems along with an array of clever, arty grow lights, including the grow-light picture frames, and a “smart grow house” whose lighting you can control with an app for growing herbs anywhere.

But sophisticated grow lights, even when they also function as decor, should also blend into the background: “We want [the light] to be really warm and inviting and complementary to existing within the home and the home’s decor,” says Sarah.

Maria had the same idea. When she bought her first grow light, a hanging pendant called the Aspect from Soltech Solutions, she chose it, in part, because the illumination it gave off looked exactly like the “normal” lighting in her home. “Like, if I had friends over, they wouldn’t know it was a highly precise photosynthetic spectrum coming out of my lamp.… They would just think it was a normal lamp,” she says with a laugh.

Paul Hodges, CEO of Soltech Solutions, also found that many of his customers wanted to grow plants where no plants have been grown before. Soltech began in manufacturing agricultural grow lights—purples and reds used for cannabis or tomatoes, with the colors calibrated to those spectra in order to increase the crops’ yield, not to look pretty. But when people heard that he made grow lights, they wanted in.

“They would say, ‘I want to grow orchids in my kitchen!’ Or ‘I want to grow a mango tree in my living room!’ I would tell them they didn’t want these lights in their homes,” Paul says. Eventually, he had an epiphany: “Why can’t we have people grow beautiful plants in their beautiful homes?” Today, an order of a Soltech Aspect light can generate so much excitement that some customers create unboxing videos on YouTube.

Paul sees augmented light as freedom and flexibility for everyone, especially the more casual plant collector. With a light, “it isn’t just about shoving plants against a windowsill and seeing if they grow.… You can put [plants] anywhere you want.” Suddenly, the sill seems boring.

In a time where owning a trendy plant is Instagram currency and a global pandemic is compelling us to bring nature into our homes more than ever, Maria highly recommends a grow light for every kind of plant parent. It will help your plants, and you, survive the dark winter.

After all, good lighting never hurt anyone.

Source: These Plant Grow Lights Are As Gorgeous As They Are Functional

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