The Best Desk Lamps For Keeping Your Plants Happy

Desk plants are a great way to improve the look of your workspace. My tough little snake plant is always on my desk. Something about plants on your desk makes a workspace so much more inviting.

Today we’re going to talk about how you can keep your plant friends happy with some grow-friendly desk lamps. This is especially important for those in low-light environments.

If you are in a low-light environment, we have a dedicated article on how to decorate that dimly lit office!

Black Speaker White Vase for plant

First, we’ll touch on how to choose a desk lamp. We’ll give you an overview of the options that are available and what features are important. This first section alone will give you a good idea of how to shop for a good growing desk lamp. 

Afterward, we’ll jump to our recommendations. We keep this list nice and short to keep you from any analysis paralysis. Let’s get into it. 

Key Takeaways

  • When choosing a desk lamp that also assists in growing your desk plants, keep features like coverage, power, cost, and auto timing in mind.
  • While there are specific wavelengths for most plants, balanced grow lights can double as a desk light while also providing plants the light they need to thrive.

How To Choose A Desk Lamp For Plants

Before you invest in any specific type of grow light, keep the following features and options in mind.

Light Type & Wavelength

There is a ton of science on what type of light you should use for different plants. Turns out the ideal light can also change based on the life stage of the plant. 

This becomes a pretty complicated topic so we’re not going to dive deep into that. It just helps to be aware that different plants could have different light requirements.

Fortunately for us, the market has a “catch-all” solution for growing lights, which uses “balanced” spectrum lights. This essentially tries to mimic the entire coverage of the sun. 

We’re mainly going to cover these balanced light sources for a couple of reasons. First, we don’t want our desks to have a big purple UV light. That’s definitely not great for you to be staring at your desk. 

The balanced grow lights are more of a white light, which is perfect for a desk lamp application. These lights can do very well at growing your plants and also provide your workspace with a decent amount of light. 

If you want to dive deeper into the science of growing lights, check out this fantastic article by Bios Lighting.

If you need this light to also act as your desk lamp, get familiar with how bright typical desk lamps should be. My desk lamp is currently the BenQ Screenbar Halo (Halo review here).

I haven’t tested the monitor light bar based on how well it can light up plants, but I expect there to be considerable overlap in the wavelengths that match those from the sun.

Coverage

Now that we touched on the light source, the next thing you want to think about is how much coverage you need. 

Do you have just a single plant on your desk that needs illumination? Do you have a row of plants that can use some growing lights? 

Think about how many plants you have and what surface area they take up. A desk lamp for a single plant will look very different from a lamp that will need to support five or six plants. 

Wattage

Coverage naturally brings us to bulb wattage. 

There are other specifications that better characterize a grow light’s output such as PPF (photosynthetic photon flux). However, this information is not always readily available. Wattage is the next best spec to look for. 

A high-wattage bulb is good if you want to elevate your bulb to cover more plants. Don’t go too high here, as you can easily kill plants when a high-wattage bulb is too close. The high heat emitted from powerful bulbs is not for all types of plants. 

GE Grow Light LED Indoor Flood Light Bulb, Balanced Light Spectrum for Seeds and Greens, 9 Watts, Medium Base (Pack of 1)

Calculating Wattage

A common number that is thrown around in the grow light industry is 32 watts per square foot. That means if you have a 1ft x 1ft area of plants, an LED light with around 32 watts will be a decent power if covering the entire area. 

If you want to calculate the wattage you need, measure your plant’s overall footprint in feet, and find the area. Multiply that number by 32 and you have your target wattage!

For example, if you have a 6-inch by 6-inch plant footprint, that is equal to 0.5 x 0.5 ft. The area here would be 0.5ft x 0.5ft = 0.25 square feet. Multiply that by 32 and you get 8 watts! 

Remember that even if you get a 20-watt bulb, it only provides 20 watts if your plant is getting the total coverage of the bulb. The further away you put your bulb from the plant, it only gets a fraction of that wattage. 

So if we need 8 watts, we can simply move our 20-watt bulb away from the plant until less than half the light from the bulb is hitting the plant. 

Mounting

There are a ton of ways you can mount a grow light to your desk.  These include ceiling mounts, desk clamps, or even just a basic weighted base like a common desk lamp. 

Many of the ceiling mount solutions are oriented toward dedicated grow rooms and are not very visually appealing. Nobody likes seeing a bunch of steel cables and cable crimps hanging an industrial light in their home office workspace. 

In the same breath, not all ceiling mounts are ugly. Some are very aesthetically pleasing for a home office environment. 

Clamps on lights are great because your light can pretty much be mounted onto any surface. If you need flexibility, that’s a good option. 

Bulb Only

If you want full control over your desk lamp you can simply find an appropriate bulb. You don’t have to like the look of any of the grow lights that are on the market. Simply grab the lightbulb specific to plant growth. 

This way you can turn your favorite desk lamp into a grow light. There are many more desk lamp options on the market than there are desk lamps for plants. 

Getting the bulb only can ensure you don’t sacrifice any of your desk aesthetics, and get the exact performance you want. 

This will also be a cheaper route. If you already have a desk lamp, you just need to swap the bulb for a grow light bulb, and viola! You have a great desk lamp for you and your plants at a very low price. 

All-In-Ones

There are also all-in-one solutions for keeping plants on your desk nice and happy. These are usually plant containers that have an integrated light source. The light perfectly exposes the plants placed in the base. 

This is a nice tidy solution for anyone wanting to have a little space efficient “grow station”. Merging them into a single device can be a very clean desk solution. They lose the dual-use ability to also function as a desk lamp, so keep that in mind. 

GrowLED Plant Grow Light LED Indoor Garden Light, Kitchen Garden with Timer Function, 24V Low Safe Voltage, Ideal for Plant Grow Novice Or Enthusiasts, Various Plants, DIY Decoration, C Shape

Cost

As we discussed in the bulb section, the entry cost for plant-friendly desk lamps is very low. 

There are many brands out there that make plant lights much fancier than necessary. Brands like Soltech talk about being a luxury solution, with a single hanging grow light starting at $150. 

This is pretty overpriced, and you can easily get the equivalent performance with a cheaper setup. Even a good-looking hanging light with a grow light bulb would be significantly cheaper. 

Other Features

There are some other useful features you should look out for. This mostly applies to complete off-the-shelf lamp solutions, not bulb-swap solutions.

Auto Timer

Turning on a plant light every day and night can be annoying. In today’s world, there is no reason a task like this can’t be automated. That’s the first feature to look for. 

Some lights have a setting to turn the light on for segments of 8, 12, or 16 hours. The goal here is to try and match what the sun would do on a normal day.

GrowLED Umbrella Herb Garden Grow Light, Height Adjustable, 7ft Cord, 8/12/16 Hours Automatic Timer, 10-Level Brightness, 3 Optional Spectrums, Suitable for Desktop/Large/Hanging Planters, White

Brightness Control

If you are new to grow lights, having an adjustable intensity is a welcome feature. A brightness or dimming control lets you fine-tune the amount of light for your plant. 

You can tell if the plant has too much light or too little and adjust accordingly. 

Without a dimming switch, you just have to hope you got the right light bulb. Or you will just have to play with the distance your light is away from your plant.

Do yourself a favor if you have a sensitive plant or this is your first time with grow lights; get one capable of dimming. 

Our Recommendations

Now that we talked about everything you should look for with these grow lights for your desk, let’s get into the actual light recommendations! Here are our recommendations for the best desk lamps for plants. 

1)  GE Grow LED Light Bulb

GE Grow Light LED Indoor Flood Light Bulb, Balanced Light Spectrum for Seeds and Greens, 9 Watts, Medium Base (Pack of 1)
  • Grow your plants throughout the year: These LED grow lights for indoor plants (full spectrum) provide the perfect high-quality plant light that will allow your indoor...
  • The perfect plant grow lights for your home: Show off your indoor garden without harsh or unsightly lighting. GE's indoor LED grow light bulbs provide a pleasing, natural...
  • Long-lasting, low energy and low heat plant light bulb: The GE plant lights for indoor plants (full spectrum) feature advanced LED technology that uses only 9 watts of...
  • GE Grow light with balanced light spectrum for seeds and greens: The GE BR30 grow bulbs appears white to the eye but have a red/blue light spectrum that is perfect for...
Check Price on Amazon

First on this list is the most affordable entry to the desk lamp grow light space. A simple balanced spectrum bulb. GE designed this bulb to hit a very balanced spectrum. This specific one is GE’s choice for seeds and greens. 

For flowers and fruits, there is another version here:

GE Lighting Grow Light LED Flood Light Bulb, Advanced Red Spectrum for Flowers and Fruit, 9 Watts, Medium Base (Pack of 1)
  • Grow your plants throughout the year: These LED grow lights for indoor plants (full spectrum) provide the perfect high-quality plant light that will allow your indoor...
  • The perfect grow lights for your home: Show off your indoor garden without harsh or unsightly lighting. GE's indoor LED grow light bulbs provides a pleasing, natural...
  • Long-lasting, low energy and low heat plant light bulb: The GE plant lights for indoor plants (full spectrum) feature advanced LED technology that uses only 9 watts of...
  • GE Grow light with advanced red spectrum for flowers and fruit: The GE BR30 grow bulbs have a red light spectrum that is perfect for tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers,...
Check Price on Amazon

GE definitely knows what they’re doing in the plant growth space. These bulbs are great because they produce very natural light. 

They are also LEDs, so they draw very little power for the light they give off. LED lights also emit less heat, which will absolutely save some of the more delicate plants. 

Lastly, LEDs just last longer. This is a great place to start if you already have a desk lamp picked out. Learn more about GE grow light bulbs here

2) GrowLED Umbrella

This plant light solution is very clean and well-designed. The GrowLED Umbrella is a light fixture with a metal prong that buries into your plant’s soil to keep it stable.

Insert this prong as deep as necessary, and plug the cord into the wall. The setup is that easy. 

GrowLED Umbrella Herb Garden Grow Light, Height Adjustable, 7ft Cord, 8/12/16 Hours Automatic Timer, 10-Level Brightness, 3 Optional Spectrums, Suitable for Desktop/Large/Hanging Planters, White
  • [Plant Grow Grow Light with 3 Optional Spectrums] GrowLED umbrella cute grow light efficiently promotes the photosynthesis of most plants, grow better and faster. 4000K...
  • [Height Adjustable,Up to 2.5ft] The lighting part can be adjusted in height in order to provide the right amount of luminosity for each plant. Ensure your plant gets...
  • [8/12/16/24 hours Optional Automatic Timer]: 8/12/16/24 hours auto timer optional mode make sure the plants have enough time to do photosynthesis to grow faster and more...
  • [7ft Long Cord] Long cord makes the grow light can be easily used with hanging planter.
Check Price on Amazon

This light comes with a lot of bells and whistles.

First, it comes with 8, 12, and 16-hour timer settings ready to go. No need to worry about turning the light on and off every day

It is also a dimmable light with multiple spectrums. This way you can fine-tune the brightness and wavelength for the type of plants you have. 

Lastly, it is USB powered, so you can plug this into any USB port for easy cable management. 

3) Clamp-On Grow Light Bar

Grow Light for Indoor Plant Growing LED Grow Light Single Heand 9 Dimmable Settings, Horizontal Plant Growth Lamp for Indoor Plants with Red/Blue Spectrum, Adjustable Gooseneck, 3/9/12H Timer (Blue)
  • Grow light
  • 🍒【GROWING EFFECT】 This indoor plants grow light use the best combination of red and blue LED light for plant growth; Blue light can promote the growth of green...
  • 🌼【SAFETY USB CONNECTOR & LONG LIFE USING】 The LED grow light is powered by USB or AC power plug(USB power adapter included ); Suitable for indoor potted plants or...
Check Price on Amazon

This is a very popular option for grow lights on Amazon.

The light clamps onto your desk with a flexible arm that has the light. The flexible arm lets you position the light right over your plants with a bit of distance adjustability. 

This is a thin light bar with a wide beam of light. It comes in a couple of different configurations. They come with a single arm, double arm, as well as a white light version. 

4) GrowLED Indoor Garden All-In-One

GrowLED Plant Grow Light LED Indoor Garden Light, Kitchen Garden with Timer Function, 24V Low Safe Voltage, Ideal for Plant Grow Novice Or Enthusiasts, Various Plants, DIY Decoration, C Shape
  • 1. Plant grow promoter: Special designed full spectrum LED grow light promote the photosynthesis of most plants, grow better and faster. 4000K cool white makes it more...
  • 2. Minimalist decoration style:Minimalist style design makes its usage more widely, can be a perfect decoration for kitchen, living room, bedroom, offices etc.
  • 3. Grow Anything you like:Indoor grow garden is suitable for plants such as succulents, sweetgrass, mint, leavy vegetables, etc.
  • 4. Automatic Smart Timer:LED indoor grow garden is automatically 16hours on and 8hours off, this mode make sure plants absorb enough light to do photosynthesis and enough...
Check Price on Amazon

GrowLED makes another product in addition to the light umbrella we talked about earlier. 

This is an all-in-one solution with a very attractive C-shaped form factor. The body makes this a great-looking plant holder for any desk.  It comes with the auto lighting timer which is a huge plus. 

5) GrowLED Herb Garden All-In-One

You’re probably noticing a pattern here with the GrowLED brand. They make a ton of solutions that are pretty competitively priced. 

GrowLED Indoor Herb Garden, Herb Garden, 20W Grow Light, Height Adjustable, Self-Watering Window Box Included, Kitchen Herb Garden Kit, High PPFD, Smart Timer, Hydroponic Kits Included (No Seeds)
  • [High Performance Full Spectrum Smart Grow Light] Perfect amount of light thanks to efficient 20 watts grow light with high PPFD. The Max. PPFD of this light is 1153...
  • [Height Adjustable Grow Light with Accurate Smart Timer] This herb garden has a height adjustable light panel, it can be adjusted to adapt to plants at different growth...
  • [Big Deep Size Self-watering Window Box] This herb garden kit has a big self-watering 4L window box which can hold 12pcs 3" peat pots or 2pcs 6" planters & 1pcs 5"...
  • [EU Anti-dumping Test Passed Sturdy Design] The entire light passed EU anti-dumping test by TUV lab to make the light safer to use. What’s more, the materials of the...
Check Price on Amazon

This last all-in-one solution is similar to the last one but has a bit more functionality. The cost is higher for this functionality, so you get what you pay for. 

What is special about this grow light solution is that it has an adjustable light height. This height can be set low when plants are seeds and young. You slowly raise the light bar height as the plants grow!

GrowLED Indoor Herb Garden, Herb Garden, 20W Grow Light, Height Adjustable, Self-Watering Window Box Included, Kitchen Herb Garden Kit, High PPFD, Smart Timer, Hydroponic Kits Included (No Seeds)

The base is wide and deep and can be used for pots, soil, or even water for hydroponic plants!

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Dasun

I'm a big time workspace enthusiast who is constantly experimenting with my setup. Sharing along the way to help people make their own desk setups more functional and inviting, whether it be for productivity or play!

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