Good lighting is one of the most important things when growing weed. Most indoor growers therefore invest in top quality grow lights from the start. However, some go a step further and buy side lights to better penetrate the canopy. In this article we take a closer look at side lighting and how you can use it to improve the size and quality of your next harvest. We also discuss some of the disadvantages and see if it’s worth the extra investment.
What is side lighting?
Normally you hang your grow lights about 30 to 150cm above your plants. The exact distance depends on the type of lighting you are using (HID lamps for example should hang higher because they produce more heat). Side lighting, however, goes a step further. By directly illuminating the areas under the canopy your plants will be able to produce more potential buds during the vegetative phase. Moreover, with side lighting you stimulate the development of buds in the lower parts of your cannabis plants during flowering.
Should you place side lighting in your grow space?
Weed loves the sun. It naturally grows best in environments where it receives at least six hours of direct sunlight a day. In fact, the more sunlight weed plants receive, the happier and healthier they are. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to replicate those ideal conditions in an indoor space. Because cannabis plants naturally take on the shape of a Christmas tree, it’s difficult to distribute the light energy produced by your grow lights to all parts. Therefore, most of the light ends up on the upper parts of the plants. Especially if you are growing in a small room, tent or closet, your grow lights can have trouble penetrating the foliage properly. As a result you will only get big buds in the upper parts of your plants and only smaller ones at the bottom. Some growers solve this by defoliating the lower plant parts. This allows the light to focus on all the places where viable buds can form. However, side lighting can also be a great alternative. By giving your plants extra light from the side, you can provide more light to the parts under the canopy. This ultimately promotes the development of larger, stronger buds in these areas.
What is the difference between side lighting and supplemental lighting?
Are you figuring out how to improve the lighting in your grow room? Then you may have read about supplementary lighting. Although both side lighting and supplementary lighting are effective ways of increasing the amount of light energy, it is important to know the fundamental differences:
- Side lights involve lamps placed vertically along the walls of your grow room. These help improve your yield by better illuminating the lower leaves and buds.
- Supplemental lighting can refer to any form of additional lighting to increase the amount of photon energy in your grow room. This can include manipulating daylight hours in an outdoor garden or greenhouse, as well as boosting the lighting in a particular part of your room or tent.
The Benefits Of Side Lighting For Weed
Installing side lighting in your grow room or tent has many benefits, including:
- During the vegetative phase, side lighting can promote growth in the lower parts of cannabis plants.
- During the flowering phase, side lighting helps to deliver more photoenergy to lower buds, making them bigger and producing more resin.
- If for some reason the grow light above your plants is not fully illuminating your growing space, side lighting can be a good way to remedy this.
- Side lighting can help improve the overall health of your plants.
- Side lighting can dry out your soil a little faster, which can prevent overwatering and pests or mold.
How To Place Side Lights Around Your Cannabis Plants
Installing sidelights in your grow tent or room is quite easy. Simply mount your lights of choice (for example, CFL (compact fluorescent lamps) or small LED grow lights) along the walls of your grow room. Exactly how you position your lamps will of course depend on the space you have available, the varieties you grow and their growth. If possible we recommend that you place your side lights at about the same height as the top of your pots. This ensures that the lamps can channel most of their energy to the lower parts of the foliage. If you hang them too low, you will waste photon energy on the ground or the base of the stems. Keep in mind that CFL and HID lights are not the most efficient options for growing weed, because much of the energy they produce is converted into heat. If you do choose to use these lights as side lighting, make sure they are at least 25-30cm from your plants to prevent them from burning. We at Zamnesia recommend that you use LED grow lights as side lighting. Leds first of all stimulate the health and development of your plants much better than CFL. Also, this will not cause the temperature to get too high, which can happen with HID. So as a weed grower your best bet nowadays is to choose LEDs for both top and side lighting of your plants.
Side lighting Vs. other growing techniques
Side lighting can be a great way to boost the health and growth of your cannabis plants. However, there is one major drawback to using this method: your energy bill can skyrocket. If you’re growing on a limited budget, there are other (possibly better) ways to improve both the efficiency of your grow lights and your yields. Among them:
- LST: low stress training is a great, cost-effective way to manipulate the growth of your plants. It allows the light from your grow lights to better reach the lower parts of your cannabis plants.
- Defoliation: defoliating the lower parts of your plants helps get the light energy to the potentially biggest, strongest buds.
- ScrOG: ScrOG is a growing technique where you weave the growth of your plants through mesh to create an even, horizontal canopy. This ensures that the light reaches all the buds equally.
- Fiming, topping, super cropping: these so-called “high stress” techniques make the most of your plant’s energy reserves and bring the resources to the parts that produce the best buds.
Plant Clips For LST (Royal Queen Seeds) (17) View
Should You Use Side Lights To Increase Weed Yield?
Side lighting can be an effective way to increase your weed yield. However, you should not be blinded by it. The energy bill can also be quite high. First of all make sure that you have your growing conditions in order, feed your plants properly and give them the right amount of water. And check out the training techniques mentioned above. These are a lot more efficient than side lighting alone, and also a great learning experience!