360° Medical Marijuana Lighting: Do's & Don'ts

Posted by Lee G. Leissett | 16678 views
By Lee G. Leissett


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Side lighting can give your plants more growing energy.

Side lighting can give your plants more growing energy.
(Click to enlarge)

" More light is better but there are some cases where additional lighting should be avoided. "

Medical marijuana growers are constantly trying new lighting techniques to maximize production in their hydroponic garden. More light energy means higher yields, so it is no surprise that growers are attempting to add lighting to every nook and cranny of their grow rooms. Besides experimenting with new lighting technologies (LED, Plasma), many growers are experimenting with the physical orientation of the light or adding more light to the existing overhead fixtures. Generally speaking, more light is better but there are some cases where additional lighting would be deemed counterproductive and should be avoided.indoor 

Helpful Side Lighting

Side lighting in addition to overhead lighting is a technique that has been used by many indoor horticulturalists to increase light penetration to portions of the plants that would otherwise not receive much light energy. Even the best high intensity discharge lights have trouble penetrating the canopy of large, tall plants. One way to ensure the lower sections of these plants receive adequate light is to add side lighting.

Florescent lighting proves a solid choice for side lighting applications. The more efficient T5 florescent lights give the grower many options on configuration and spectral output, and are my favorite choice for side lighting. Most manufacturers understand the desire to use T5s as side lighting and are designing hanging brackets accordingly. There are many T5 florescent light fixtures available so finding one to fit your garden’s set up is no problem.

By supplementing light to the sides of your medical marijuana plants you will see an increase in yield and, many times, overall performance. In a blooming room, where high pressure sodiums are exclusively used, a T5 florescent fixture can boost blue light—more specifically ultra violet light—that will help with essential oil production and overall plant health.

Harmful Underside Lighting

I have heard of many growers trying an underside lighting technique; in other words, a light pointed upwards to the bottom of the plant canopy. I do not recommend this method. A medical marijuana’s leaf, much like a solar panel, is designed to absorb light energy from one side, the top side. Underside lighting a medical marijuana plant will result in contorted growth.

The twisting of the leaves is a result of phototropism. Phototropism is the movement of a plant’s orientation in association with the light source. You may have observed this with plants on a window sill that seem to reach toward the window. The same thing happens with medical marijuana. With light coming from both top and bottom, the plant becomes “confused” as to which way to orientate itself and the result is twisted or contorted growth.

Light energy is precious in an indoor gardening environment and should be used as efficiently as possible to maintain a high yielding garden. Underside lighting, in my opinion, is an inefficient use of light and should be avoided.

Underside lighting can make your plants feel like this...


The continued experimentation with lighting technologies and their orientation is essential for the medical marijuana industry. As we develop, test, and share new and improved methods our community strengthens and our knowledge expands. Experimentation is the only way to determine what methods will work in your garden. Don’t be afraid to put your ideas to the test, you may just have the idea that propels the medical marijuana industry forward.

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