DLI (Daily Light Integral) Chart - Understand your plants' PPFD & photoperiod requirements

How intense light (PPFD) to expose various species to and for how long.

Light intensity, or rather, how densely packed light is with photons, is measured in micromoles per meter squared per second, µmol/m2/s. This is called PPFD (Photosynthetic Photon Flux Density). Intense light has high PPFD and low-intense light has low PPFD. During bright daylight in a warm and sunny place, the sun's PPFD level hitting the earth is around 2000. During the evening, before sundown, it's down to 500-1000. During dark nights, close to zero.

Some plants thrive in warm climates while others do better in cold and shaded places. This means that some plants prefer intense sunlight (high PPFD) while others prefer less intense (low PPFD). Same goes for our everyday vegetables, herbs, fruits, houseplants, and flowers.
Time is also a factor. Low intense light but over a long period results in the same number of photons as twice the light intensity but only during half as long period of time. This is especially important to indoor grows where the light output of a grow light and its photoperiod (how long the light is on) can easily be regulated.

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Understanding PPFD and DLI is essential to successfully setup an efficient grow. Whether it's a small grow with a single basil plant in the window sill, a grow tent with LED grow lights and various vegetables, or a greenhouse illuminated by the sun, DLI should be accounted for. Too high DLI numbers will burn a plant while too low numbers will hinder its growth potential.

We've made it easy for you to calculate the DLI exposure your plants are receiving based on PPFD levels and photoperiod. The PPFD levels produced by your grow light should be supplied by the manufacturer. Adjust the lamp height-wise from the plant to achieve desired PPFD levels, then set how long period of time the lamp should be operational for, each day.

Find the DLI recommendations for common plants below. Supplied kindly by Erik Runkle (professor and floriculture Extension specialist in the department of horticulture at Michigan State University) and Dr. Lynette Morgan (B. Hort. Tech. degree and a PhD in hydroponic greenhouse production from Massey University, New Zealand. Lynette is a partner with Suntec International Hydroponic Consultants and has authored several hydroponic technical books. Visit suntec.co.nz for more information). Full credit and many thanks to both of these scientists.

Daily light integral (DLI) describes the number of photosynthetically active photons (individual particles of light in the 400-700 nm range) that are delivered to a specific area (1m2) over a 24-hour period.
The formula for calculating DLI is: μmol m-2s-1 (or PPFD) x (3600 x photoperiod) / 1,000,000 = DLI (or moles/m2/day)
PPFD is the number of photons that arrive at a specific area (m2) every second, measured in micromoles (μmol m-2s-1).
1.000.000 micromoles = 1 mole
3600 seconds = 1 hour

The number of moles per hour, per m2, multiplied with photoperiod (the number of hours with that intensity) = DLI, Daily Light Integral

DLI chart (PPFD & photperiod) by LEDTonic

Erik Runkle:
Crop DLI
Vegetative cuttings (liners) - early 4-6
Vegetative cuttings (liners) - late 6-10
Seedlings (plugs) - early 6-10
Seedlings (plugs) - late
Shade plants (annuals and perennials) 6-10
Foliage plants 6-10
Potted bulbs 6-15
Stock plants (for cuttings)
Annual bedding plants 10+
Leafy greens and herbs 12+
Potted flowering plants 12+
Shrubs 12+
Cut flowers 15+
Fruiting vegetables



Dr, Lynette Morgan:
Crop DLI
Violets, orchids, ferns 4-6
Seedlings/cuttings 6-8
Small herbs
Butterhead lettuce


You are growing cucumbers and want to give them around 25 DLI.
Your grow light produces 500 PPFD at 18" from the plant according to your grow light PPFD chart/light footprint.
If the lamp's distance is increased to 20" from the plant, it produces 400 PPFD at the canopy.
If the lamp is lowered to 15", it's producing 700 PPFD.

By looking at the chart we see that ~25 DLI is achieved by exposing the plant to 500 PPFD over 14 hours but also when exposing the plant to 400 PPFD over 17 hours or 700 PPFD over 10 hours.
Choose a combination that fits both your grow set up but also your plant's minimum and maximum PPFD limits. Very high PPFD levels over a short duration of time or very low PPFD levels over a long duration of time are rarely ideal for good growth.


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I just had to post up and say thank you so much for the clear explanation and awesome chart. This information is golden and when not growing Cannabis there is just so little out there that doesn’t require a PHD to decipher.
Buying LED lights that fit the needs of Pepper Growers doesn’t require them to buy the latest tech and pay new tech prices. More lights make more sense and a more forgiving footprint. Thanks again.

Effie Elliott

Basically, if you know PPFD that helps, there are calculators for that, the PPDS is like RAIN falling onto your plant in photons, and the math is, say PPFD is 1288. It would be, 1288 × 3600 (seconds in an hour), then divide by a million, think 1, then 6 zeros, (still not done), that is per hour. x 12 hours (flower) is 55.64, today, the longest day, sunniest, is a 60. They stop responding after 1500 (have seen some that are 1700_ (77DLI) you had better run proper and C02 and so many things have to be right. But do your number, 500 indeed, and for 12 hours is 21.6. Will grow decent. Not great. But well.

Hanny Martinovici

This is the best resource I’ve found online that relates the manufacturer PPFD charts to the duration of time at that PPFD level needed by specific indoor plants. Thank you for the great explanation.

Max - LEDTonic

Hello Jerry,

Good question!
8×8′ is a very large grow space. It depends on what you are intending to grow in there, but I assume you are growing high-light plants. In that case, our Z5 LED grow light covers an area of around 2×2′/60×60cm with high intensity.

We have just finished designing a larger lamp that will cover 4×4′/120×120cm with high intensity and it will be a more cost-effective option than covering your grow space with Z5’s. We have just started producing this lamp. If you’re interested, we can put you on the list and reach out to you once it is available.

If you have any further questions, you can always reach out to us by sending an email to support@ledtonic.com



What would be your recommendation for a light layout in a 8’x 8’ x 6.7’ grow tent.
Thanks for your help!

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