MSU Offers New Greenhouse Lighting Online Course For Growers


Bedding plants produced under light-emitting diodesMichigan State University Extension is now offering a non-credit, pre-recorded online course on greenhouse and horticultural lighting. The lighting course is intended for greenhouse and ornamental plant growers and others interested learning about the fundamental concepts about how plants respond to light quality, quantity and in duration. It provides introductory to moderately-challenging content primarily based on experiments performed at Michigan State and Purdue Universities.


This is the second course in the College of Knowledge Online series offered on the national Extension website. The first course was Floriculture Root Zone Management, also available online.

What Growers Will Learn From Taking This Course

The 3-hours of pre-recorded lecture and video demonstrations are divided into seven units. The first and second units cover the properties of light and its importance for plant growth and development. The third unit discusses how light quality influences stem extension and flowering. The fourth unit of the course teaches participants about light intensity and its importance for plant growth as well as the factors that affect light availability and how to manipulate and measure light intensity in the greenhouse. Unit four also features four videos that demonstrate how light transmission is affected by the glazing material of a greenhouse, how growers can measure instantaneous light intensity and daily light integral in their greenhouse and how to measure light intensity and quality from light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

The fifth unit discusses how light quantity affects plant shoot and root growth and branching, focusing on responses to the average daily light integral (DLI). Unit six covers photoperiod and long-day lighting strategies, featuring the latest research on delivering long days with LEDs. The final unit on supplemental lighting discusses the advantages and limitations of different lamp types, provides guidelines of when to deliver supplemental lighting to increase DLI and the factors to consider when selecting a lamp for your horticultural application.

The course is instructed by Heidi Wollaeger, Greenhouse and Nursery Extension Educator, with Michigan State University Extension. The course was adapted and updated from the original College of Knowledge unit developed by Dr. Royal Heins (Professor Emeritus, MSU) and includes a substantial amount of recent research by Dr. Erik Runkle (Professor of Horticulture, MSU). Supplemental content including videos demonstrating concepts are from Dr. Roberto Lopez and Garrett Owen (Purdue University).

What’s Expected Of Grower Participants

Participants enrolled in this self-paced course will take a pre-test and a final exam to gauge their learning of the topics. Self-assessment quizzes will engage students with the material throughout the course. The course also provides links to 36 trade articles published on pertinent lighting topics. Greenhouse and Horticultural Lighting is available through for $129. The course will also be offered in Spanish in the future.

Register for the course on the College of Knowledge Online website at MSU.