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Picky Plants Thrive Under LED Lighting

Choosing the LED lights to maximize the flavor and aroma of your crops is dependent upon the cultivars you plant.
Choosing the LED lights to maximize the flavor and aroma of your crops is dependent upon the cultivars you plant.

Scientists advise indoor growers to select narrow wavelength LED lights to ensure full-fragranced blooms and the most palate pleasing fruits and vegetables.

A common frustration among those who grow flowers, fruits, herbs, and vegetables indoors is that their products lack intense fragrances and flavors. Fortunately for these growers, the research of Thomas A. Colquhoun, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Plant Biotechnology at the University of Florida, provides guidance for optimizing the taste and aroma of produce grown in greenhouses and indoor grow facilities. Dr. Colquitt discovered the amount of aromatic volatile compounds created by a particular plant depends on upon its exposure to a narrow wavelength of light. Since broad spectrum lighting, such as fluorescent and HPS lights, does not produce sufficient amounts of light in these specific spectra, flowering and fruit produced using these types of illumination lack the scent and flavor consumers demand.

Choose LED Light Recipes Suited to the Cultivars You Grow

The key to growing fragrant and flavorful produce indoors is to use LED grow lights with the colors of light required by the plants you grow, according to multiple scientific studies. When choosing LED lights, you need to know the specific band of light spectrum that supports the synthesis of the aromatic volatile compound that gives the plant’s blooms their characteristic scent or their fruit and/or leaves. For example, exposure to far-red light yields highly fragrant petunia blooms and sweet flavorful tomatoes. On the other hand, while strawberries and blueberries also need far red light, overexposure to light in falling within the blue area of the spectrum decreases the flavor of berries. If you are unsure of the LED light recipes best suited for your plants, consult with LED grow light experts who have experience using LED lights with a wide variety of plant types.

LED Grow Lights Outperforms Natural Lighting

One of the more surprising research findings cited by Dr. Colquhoun is that his studies comparing basil plants grown in a greenhouse with natural lighting with those cultivated using LED lights. He found basil exposed to LED lights had 10 to 15 percent greater yield, 30 to 40 percent more aromatic volatile compounds, and 15 to 20 percent more antioxidants than the same cultivars grown using natural light. These improvements in produce quality mean the consumer demand for your crops will increase, which ultimately leads to greater revenue generation from your grow operations.


Schlet,J. (2016). Narrow wavelength led light is new Rx for picky plants. Biophotonics.

Colquhoun, T. A., Schimmel, B. C.J., Kim, J. Y., Reinhardt, D., Cline, K. and Clark, D. G. (2010), A petunia chorismate mutase specialized for the production of floral volatiles. The Plant Journal, 61: 145–155. doi:10.1111/j.1365-313X.2009.04042.x

Colquhoun, Thomas A., et al. Light modulation of volatile organic compounds from petunia flowers and select fruits. Postharvest Biology and Technology, 86 (2013): 37-44.

Schwieterman ML, Colquhoun TA, Jaworski EA, Bartoshuk LM, Gilbert JL, Tieman DM, et al. (2014) Strawberry Flavor: Diverse Chemical Compositions, a Seasonal Influence, and Effects on Sensory Perception. PLoS ONE 9(2): e88446. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0088446

Gilbert JL, Guthart MJ, Gezan SA, Pisaroglo de Carvalho M, Schwieterman ML, Colquhoun TA, et al. (2015) Identifying Breeding Priorities for Blueberry Flavor Using Biochemical, Sensory, and Genotype by Environment Analyses. PLoS ONE 10(9): e0138494. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0138494



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