Can LED Grow Lights Burn Plants?

Can LED grow lights burn plants? Well, the truth is that LED grow lights were designed to eliminate the negative effects of traditional grow lights, including the burning of plants.

Unlike high-intensity discharge (HID) or fluorescent lights, LED grow lights emit less heat, thus eliminating risks associated with burning plants. 

However, if you handle LED grow lights improperly, you risk burning your indoor plants. For instance, poor grow light installation and positioning might bring the plant closer to the light source, thus causing damage. 

Proper inspection and monitoring of humidity and temperature levels should be your top priority to limit plant damage. 

Today’s article focuses on the symptoms of burned plants and how to fix them. Let’s get rolling!

Light Burn in Plants

If you have ever used traditional light (incandescent and fluorescent) to provide light to your plants, we are sure you have experienced burns in plants. Generally, these lights emit more heat that might burn plants if handled poorly. 

However, the same can’t be said of LED grow lights since they have high energy efficiency and emits less heat.

Moreover, these lights are designed with heat management systems like fans and heat sinks to help dissipate heat faster. 

And if you fail to manage the small amount of heat emitted by LED grow lights, you will notice burns or small spots developing on the leaves.

As a result, the overall plant development and health are greatly affected. Manufacturers recommend maintaining a safe distance between the plants and LED grow lights to prevent such issues. 

Do LED Grow Lights Burn Plants?

LED grow lights at the right height

(LED grow lights at the right height)

No! LED grow lights are designed effectively to emit less heat and won’t damage your plant if used appropriately.

However, if you fail to install or position the LED grow lights appropriately by placing the lights closer to the plants, damage cases become probable. 

Generally, you can eliminate cases of burns by monitoring the humidity and temperature levels in your indoor garden and keeping them at the recommended level.

Also, stick to the best usage practices and precautions. 

Symptoms of Plants Burned By LED Grow Lights

Young plants growing under LED grow lights

(Young plants growing under LED grow lights)

When you expose your indoor plants to excessive light or heat, they will experience heat stress and burn symptoms, as highlighted below. 

Leaf Discolorization

The most common sign of burned plants is yellow or brown spots on the leaves. Generally, the discolorization appears as scorched areas; in worst cases, the whole leaf might wither. 

Leaf Curling

Supplying indoor plants with high-intensity light or heat causes the leaves to fold or curl inwards.

Funny plants do this as a protective mechanism to try and reduce the surface area, thus reducing water wastage.

Prolonged curling might affect the plant’s ability to make food, thus affecting the overall growth. 

Leaf Dryness

Supplying indoor plants with excessive heat might cause rapid moisture loss, consequently causing dehydration. As a result, the leaves will dry/become fragile, resulting in abnormal growth. 

Stunted Growth

Where do you think the shorter stems, lower fruit/flower production, and small leaves are coming from? We can partly associate such cases with the heat stress on plants, thus causing stunted growth. 


Combining high light intensity and temperature in your indoor garden can disturb the plant’s water balance. As a result, your plant leaves droop or wilt.

Leaf Drop

Leaves dropping from indoor plants are not normal but rather depict something wrong with the growth pattern.

And in most cases, when plants burn, they shed off their leaves as a survival mechanism. It shows that the plant is experiencing severe stress and can’t cope with the prevailing conditions. 

How To Fix or Prevent LED Grow Light from Burning Your Plants? 

If you position your LED grow lights closer to the plant, you risk severe plant burns. The solution would be to use light reflectors like reflective panels and aluminum foils to redirect and maximize light output.

A seedling under LED grow light

(A seedling under LED grow light)

Now that you understand the symptoms of plants burned by LED grow lights let’s consider your options to prevent such from happening. 

Keep The Recommended Distance

Each LED grow light you buy has a recommended distance above the plants for maximum light and limited heat supply. Therefore, abide by such manufacturer’s guidelines on the appropriate distance to position your LED to grow lights. 

Monitor Humidity and Temperature

Most LED grow lights generate some heat (increased temperature) and, when mixed with high humidity, might burn or stress plants. Therefore, check and, where possible, maintain the right humidity and temperature in your indoor garden. For the temperature and humidity, use a thermometer and hygrometer, respectively. 

Enable Adequate Airflow and Ventilation

Enabling adequate airflow and ventilation in your space can facilitate faster heat dissipation and create the right condition for your plants to thrive. Therefore, consider using fans or heat sinks to limit heat build-up. 

Adjust Light Intensity

If your LED grow light’s intensity is high, the heat output will automatically increase, thus causing burns and heat stress.

And since most LED grow lights come with adjustable intensity settings, you can lower the intensity to limit heat emission.

Employ Light Reflectors 

This way, you won’t have to position your LED grow lights closer to the plants. 

Optimize Nutrient Management and Watering

Your plant will likely achieve optimum growth and avoid burning risks with proper nutrient and water supply. Also, we understand that heat causes evaporation and transpiration, thus increasing water requirements. 

Therefore, supply your plant with enough water and nutrients to help withstand heat stress. 

Regular Plant Inspection

Every indoor gardener should thoroughly inspect their plants for signs of stress or burns. The most important things to monitor include leaf wilting, dryness, and discolorization.

And if you notice such things, take action to either change the growing conditions or adjust the lighting. 

Signs Your Plants Need More LED Grow Lights

As mentioned, too much LED grow light might emit excessive heat, causing heat stress or burns. However, some situations might force you to employ additional LED grow lights to support optimum growth. 

This section highlights the signs to look out for to determine when your plants need extra grow lights. 

  • First, you will notice your plants having leggy growth to reach for lights. 
  • Secondly, the leaves become pale or small due to insufficient light to support chlorophyll formation. As a result, the plants won’t carry out photosynthesis to the required standards. 
  • Thirdly, your indoor plant will experience slow growth with no fruiting or flowering. 
  • Moreover, the leaves drop as a survival mechanism to cope with fewer resources. 


How far should you place LED grow lights from plants? 

The distance separating your plants and LED grow lights should depend on your plant’s light requirements and the LED’s light intensity.

But generally, most manufacturers recommend a 30-60 cm distance between LED grow lights and plants. Therefore, abide by the manufacturer’s recommended distance if you seek optimum growth and minimal burns.