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How To Start Seeds Indoors With LED Lights – Easy, Inexpensive And Fun!

Did you know that you can easily start and grow all of your vegetable and flowers seeds indoors this year using basic, ordinary LED shop lights?

Not only are they easy to use and operate, they work incredibly well to grow strong, healthy seedlings. And perhaps best of all, they are quiet, energy efficient, and long lasting. In fact, LED shop lights cost just mere pennies a day to operate, and can easily last for 10 or more growing seasons.

Many gardeners shy away from starting their own seeds indoors. Unfortunately, many think the process to is too time consuming and expensive to undertake. But contrary to popular belief, starting your own plants from seed doesn’t require a lot of time. Nor will it require a large investment in fancy growing lights, heating pads or other special equipment.

What You Need To Start Seeds Indoors

All you need to successfully start seeds indoors is a few plastic seed trays, a bag of good seed starting soil, and a few LED shop lights. Well, of course, you will need your seeds too!

But all kidding aside, selecting the seeds you want to grow is the best part of it all. Because it allows to grow all kinds of incredible plants you otherwise might not be able to find.

starting seeds with LED shop lights
LED lights provide more than enough direct lighting to grow young vegetable and flower seedlings strong and true. They also happen to be inexpensive to operate, without the humming noise many grow lights can have.

Most local greenhouse, nurseries and big box stores carry a limited variety of vegetable and flower plants each spring. They tend to focus on the typical varieties found in backyard gardens. But by starting your own plants from seed, the sky is the limit!

Whether it’s a unique heirloom tomato, a fiery hot pepper, or an eccentric annual flower with huge blooms – the choice is all in your hands. And with LED shop lights – it’s so easy to do!

How To Start Seeds Indoors With LED Lights

Vegetable and flower seedlings do not require a special light spectrum to grow into mature transplants. So although expensive grow lights will indeed work to grow seedlings, they simply are overkill. And when we say expensive, we mean expensive! Many specialty grow lights and indoor growing systems can run $100 or more. And to boot, they can consume a considerable amount of energy in the process.

And although you may have heard of using a sunny window sill, it is unfortunately not a great choice. Window sills, no matter how much sun they may receive, are simply not a good location for starting seeds.

The filtered light from the sun is too distant. And because of that, young seedlings grow spindly while trying to reach for the light. In the process, transplants grow thin and weak, and make poor plants when it comes time to transplant outdoors.

start seeds indoors with LED lights
Starting your own plants from seed can open the door to all kinds of new flowers and vegetables.

But as it turns out, LED and even fluorescent shop lights provide the perfect amount of light needed to grow annual seedlings. And with LED, the advantages for growing are even better.

Using LED Shop Lights As Grow Lights

LED lights are cool by nature, so there is never a worry about burning foliage. They also operate quietly, without the hum that fluorescent lights can give off. And with most LED lights sporting 40,000 to 50,000 life expectancy hours, they can last for many, many growing seasons.

The key with using LED shop lights for starting seeds is all in the placement of the lights in relation to the top of the plants. To grow strong, sturdy seedlings, the lights need to be placed close to the foliage. In fact, for optimum growth, place them 1 to 2 inches above the top of the seedlings as they grow.

As they grow, continue to raise the lights at that 1 to 2 inch level. This will help the plants grow slow and strong, without getting spindly and weak. Product Link : LED Shop Light Kits

led lights
Ordinary LED shop lights work incredibly well for starting plants. They also often come with hanging kits and chains to make it easy for using over plants.

How Long To Leave The Lights On

So how long should the lights be left on each day for seedlings? For starters, when you first plant your seeds, the lights should be left off entirely. Seeds do not require light to germinate, so turning them on will not help in the least.

But what they do require is a bit of warmth and good moisture. Begin by finding a warm location to place your trays until the seeds first spout. The warmer the soil, the more quickly the seeds will germinate.

In addition, cover your seeds with a loose covering of plastic wrap, or use the plastic dome that often comes with seed tray kits. This will help to keep moisture in and allow for better germination.

Keeping the lights close to the top of the foliage is the key to strong, steady growth. Keep the top of plants 1 to 2 inches below the lights for best results.

Once your first few seedlings sprout, it’s time for the lights! Seedlings should receive between 10 to 12 hours of light each day. Again, be sure to keep the lights just an inch or two above the foliage. Some use bricks or wood blocks to rest the lights on, or you can make a really nice top or ground level seed starting stand from a few 2 x 4’s. (See : DIY 2×4 Seed Starting Rack Plans)

No matter what you use, the important thing is to keep the light right above the top to develop strong, slow-growth.

Hardening Off Seedlings

As the temperatures begin to warm up, start moving your plants outdoors during the warmer days to get them accustomed to life outdoors. This process is known as hardening off, and will have your plants more than ready to hit the ground running come planting day. See : How To Harden Off Flower & Vegetable Plants

Here is to growing your own seedlings and transplants this year using LED shop lights!

This Is My Garden is a website dedicated to spreading the love and knowledge of gardening around the world. We publish two new garden articles each week. This article may contain affiliate links.