Review: IKEA VÄXER light bulbs

This year I invested in a couple of plant lights to try and keep the ones in the gloomier corners of our house happy. A few months have passed, so it seems like a good time to reflect on how I’m getting on with them.

Choosing the right grow light

There’s a lot of information out there about what kinds of light work best for different plants – whether you’re looking to grow foliage, fruit or flowers, and so on.

And you’ve also got to balance that with your personal preferences on what’s easiest to accommodate in your personal living space.

Generally the right choice for us seemed to be ‘full spectrum’ light bulbs that gave off a white light, and which were energy-saving LEDs.

And price point was important for us – we didn’t want to spend a fortune if using grow lights wasn’t something that would work for us in the longer term.

Picking IKEA grow lights

Thanks to a tip-off in a houseplant Facebook group, I discovered that our nearest IKEA had restocked their VÄXER bulbs with an E27 screw fitting. And they were a bargain at £10 each.

I’d previously bought the indoor cultivation kit with a VÄXER strip light, and had been using it successfully for propagating succulents, pilea peperomiodes, and various peperomia.

Propagating leaves under the VÄXER strip lighting

So I felt confident enough in the quality and value of the VÄXER range to head to IKEA that evening to pick up a couple for myself and a plant friend.

Setting up grow lights

I paired them with IKEA’s TERTIAL lamps and set them up in two spots in our house, where I thought plants would be worst affected by the drop in light levels.

It did involve shuffling around a few plants, because those areas would go from having a few hours of indirect and mostly lower light levels to up to lots of bright light under the bulbs. No one wants to come back to a scorched calathea! 😱

Thanks to the magic of smart plugs I set them up to run on timer during the day, for between 8-12 hours.

The results

Growth and health

I’m very happy with the bulbs’ performance so far – there’s been a marked improvement in the growth of plants compared to when they weren’t under the light.

New leaves have popped out of our Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma, including one plant that had previously slowed down to no signs of growth at all. And elsewhere an overwatered Pepperomia Pepperspot and a rescue Pepperomia Red Log are both making a comeback with new growth.

Shiny new leaves on a sad-looking Pepperomia Pepperspot

Range

One thing I’ve noticed is that the strength of the light diminishes quite quickly the further away the light is. This is of course common sense, and the instructions state that the optimum distance is 30-45cm away.

However given just how bright the light is to the human eye, it surprised me how even being just a metre away from the bulb made it a lot less effective.

Living with grow lights

We tend to like lower and warmer light levels in our home, so found the VÄXER bulbs to be a little bright and ‘cool white’ for our liking. The compromise was that we used the lamp to angle the light as best as possible, and switch the bulbs off in the evenings and weekends when we are relaxing in those spaces.

However the white light is a big improvement on the purple coloured ones we used for a bit. The latter are quite noticeable through our windows, and also leads to awkward questions from the neighbours 😅

We were also keen to buy lights that came in regular bulb fittings so that we could install them in ‘regular’ household lamps, and blend them into our living spaces. Thanks to IKEA’s TERTIAL lamps, we could clamp the bulb onto a nearby ledge and angle it appropriately. And it means our living room doesn’t look like an industrial greenhouse (yet!)

Conclusion

For the price, we can’t fault these bulbs and our experience so far. They’ve done everything they are meant to, and have fitted into our living spaces seamlessly.

Rumour has it that IKEA will be ceasing production of these once the last batch is sold, and there’s been little sign of the smaller E14 screw bulbs coming back onto the shelves – so grab them while you can!

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