How To Start Seeds With Fluorescent Shop Lights Indoors – With Ease!

You might be surprised just how easy and inexpensive it is to start and grow vegetable and flower plants from seed – all by using simple fluorescent shop lights!

Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t require fancy or expensive equipment to start seeds indoors. Especially when it comes to needing ultra expensive grow lights. They simply aren’t necessary at all.

tomato and pepper transplants
You can grow incredibly strong and healthy transplants using ordinary fluorescent shop lights.

As it turns out, both vegetable and flower seedlings grow easily with simple, inexpensive fluorescent lights. Unlike tropical or unique plants that require special lighting to survive indoors, annual garden and flower plants grow with ease under ordinary fluorescent lighting.

In fact, they thrive growing underneath them! And because of it, starting seeds indoors couldn’t be easier and more affordable.

starting seeds with fluorescent shop lights
Inexpensive fluorescent shop lights are the perfect, low-cost choice for providing light to young seedlings growing indoors.

Here is a look at the keys to using fluorescent shop lights to start and grow all of your vegetable & flowers plants indoors from seed.

How To Use Ordinary Fluorescent Shop Lights To Start Seeds

When growing seeds indoors with fluorescent lights, it’s all about low and slow. As in keeping the lights low to the plants to encourage slow, steady growth.

Fluorescent lights are cool lighting, meaning they won’t burn the tender leaves of plants as they grow. Even when placed above the foliage at just 1″ to 2 inches!

lights growing
Keeping the lights just 1 to 2″ above the plants will allow for slow, steady growth. And slow and steady growth is great growth!

And that low, steady light turns out to be the perfect height for allowing plants to grow slow and steady.

Why Slow & Steady Win The Game When Starting Seeds Indoors

Starting seeds in a sunny windowsill may sound like a great plan, but it has quite a few shortcomings.

For one, seeds have a difficult time germinating with the constant change in temperature from a window. Daytime in the sun can be plenty warm, but many windows are quite cold in the overnight hours.

using fluorescent lights to start seeds indoors
Seeds growing in a windowsill continue to reach for the light as fast as they can. In turn, it develops spindly and weak transplants.

But far worse, the seeds that do germinate in windowsills struggle to maintain proper growth. They are drawn to the sun, and try to grow as quickly as they can to the far away light source. It results in spindly, weak plants that struggle to survive.

And that is where fluorescent lights work like a charm. And here is exactly why:

When And How To Use Fluorescent Lights For Starting Seeds

When seeds are first planted into their cells, there is no need for lights to be used. In fact, the light only serves to dry out the soil.

seeds germinating
There is no need to provide lighting for seedlings until they sprout. It is however important to keep the soil moist to allow for good germination.

Instead, place a clear lid or even a bit of plastic wrap loosely over them to help keep moisture in place until the first seeds begin to germinate.

Once the first seeds germinate, it’s time for the lights! The easiest way to use fluorescent lighting is with ordinary shop lights with (2) 4′ T-8 or T-25 bulbs. Two, double-light fixtures can be easily used to start up to 4 large flats. Product Link : T-8 Double Light Fixture

By suspending the bulbs over the plants at 1 to 2 inches above the top of the leaves, plants grow slow and steady. As plants continue to grow, simply adjust the lights as needed.

shop lights
(2) double-light fluorescent fixture s can start up to four large flats of seedlings

It all helps to develop strong stems and more compact foliage. Both perfect when it comes to success when transplanting.

The lights can easily be hung over lights using cement blocks, bricks, or blocks of woods on the end. You can also easily create a stand from simple 2×4’s to hang and adjust the lights with a chain. (See : DIY Seed Starting Stand)

How Long Do The Lights Need To Be Used?

When using fluorescent lights, it is a misconception that they need to be left on around the clock. In fact, leaving the lights on for just 10 to 12 hours is more than enough to grow strong, healthy transplants.

cucumber seedlings
10 to 12 hours of artificial lighting each day is more than sufficient to grow strong seedlings.

Use the lights to continue growing plants (usually 4 to 6 weeks) until they are large and strong enough to begin the process of hardening off before transplanting. (See: How & Why To Harden Off Plants)

Here is to growing your own plants this year with ordinary fluorescent shop lights!

This Is My Garden is a garden website created by gardeners, publishing two articles every week, 52 weeks a year. This article may contain affiliate links.

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