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How Different Lighting Affects Cannabis Cultivation

Updated: Jan 24, 2023

When it comes to a plant’s development and growth, cannabis is comparable to most other horticultural plants. This is especially true given the required environmental conditions for optimal growth, with elements like lighting impacting the plant’s direction of growth and its chemical compounds.

A plant budding from the ground to signify cannabis growing in specific lighting conditions
Photo courtesy of Nature_Design

That said, cannabis can be affected by humidity levels, lighting types, and light exposure (National Library of Medicine, 2018). High light intensity levels maximize the plant’s growth potential, and cannabis needs light the most during its vegetative growth stage, i.e., when it is beginning to bud (Arnold, 2013; Eichhorn Bilodeau, Wu, Rufyikiri et al., 2019).

Light Strategies for Cannabis Growth

Some lighting strategies include consistency, movement, light spectrums, quality, and intensity. Light consistency refers to how consistent a light source is used and the consistency in movement, color, quality, and intensity.

Similarly, light movement is the presence of a light source moving or remaining stationary during the growth process. When using movement to adjust light wavelength and intensity, the movement significantly lowered “...leaf chlorophyll content index, leaf area, leaf thickness, [and] fresh weight,” as opposed to lighting that remained stationary (Rodriguez-Morrison, Llewellyn, Zheng, 2021; Zheng, Y., 2020).

Light spectrums are different wavelengths or colors of a light source and are used to “manipulate plant morphology and metabolism.” Using light spectrum includes blue light and red light on plants; blue light decreases internode length and enhances the compactness of various cannabis species. Meanwhile, red lights promote stem and leaf elongation and premature flowering (Dong, Fu, Liu G., Liu H., 2014; Franklin & Whitlam, 2005).

A hemp field, growing hemp outside
Photo courtesy of chrisbeez

Researchers from the Czech Republic also concluded that under a red and blue light spectrum, cannabis plants tend to have shorter internodes and a smaller leaf area when compared to a white light source (Lalge, Cerny, Trojan, et al., 2017).

Lighting quality and intensity refer to the type of lighting used. Standard lighting used for cannabis growth includes LED lights, Ultraviolet rays, and fluorescent lamps (Sanoubar, Calone, Noli, et al., 2018). Depending on the light source, each will provide different light quality and intensity levels.

Rely on Steep Hill Illinois

At Steep Hill Illinois, we are the world’s leading cannabis science and technology company focused on laboratory testing, quality assurance, and data analytics. Cannabis production changes daily with new research, which calls for staying up to date with the latest news and practices within the industry.

We test for terpenes and cannabinoid potency, which are greatly affected by lighting. Whether you’re interested in laboratory testing, data analysis, or consulting services, our Steep Hill lab can assist you during your cannabis production process. Contact us today to get started!


Arnold, J. M. (2013). Energy consumption and environmental impacts associated with cannabis cultivation. master’s thesis. Arcata, CA: Humboldt State University.

CO2 Meter. (2022, October 6). How to implement CO2 to your grow. CO2 Meter. Retrieved October 21, 2022, from

Eichhorn Bilodeau, S., Wu, B.-S., Rufyikiri, A.-S., MacPherson, S., & Lefsrud, M. (2019, March 29). An update on plant photobiology and implications for cannabis production.

Dong C, Fu Y, Liu G, Liu H. (2014). Growth, photosynthetic characteristics, antioxidant capacity and biomass yield, and quality of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) exposed to LED light sources with different spectra combinations. Retrieved October 13, 2022, from

Franklin, K. A., Whitelam, G. C. (2005, May 13). Phytochromes and shade-avoidance responses in plants. Annals of Botany. Retrieved October 13, 2022, from

Lalge A, Cerny P, Trojan V, Vyhnanek T. (2017). The effects of red, blue and white light on the growth and development of Cannabis sativa L. Mendel Net. pp 646–651. Retrieved October 13,2022 from,WL%20than%20BR%20by%2020%25.

Rodriguez-Morrison, V., Llewellyn, D., & Zheng, Y. (2021, May 11). Cannabis yield, potency, and leaf photosynthesis respond differently to increasing light levels in an indoor environment. Frontiers. Retrieved October 11, 2022, from

Sanoubar, R., Calone, R., Noli, E., & Barbanti, L. (2018, May 12). Data on seed germination using LED versus fluorescent light under growth chamber conditions. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved October 13, 2022, from

Zheng, Y., Blom, T., Dixon, M. (2006). Moving lamps increase leaf photosynthetic capacity but not the growth of potted gerbera. Sci. Hortic. 107, 380–385. doi: 10.1016/j.scienta.2005.09.004. Retrieved October 13, 2022, from



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