There is no easier, cheaper and more incredibly effective method for starting vegetable, flower and herb seeds indoors than by using simple, inexpensive LED shop lights. In fact, it is an absolute game changer when it comes to growing healthy transplants for your garden and flowerbeds!
Many gardeners shy away from starting their own seeds indoors. Perhaps it’s because they had a bad experience in the past trying to grow seedlings in a windowsill. Or, they think it’s probably too time consuming and requires a big investment in special grow lights.
But that just isn’t the case when using ordinary LED shop lights! They not only grow incredibly strong and healthy seedlings and transplants, they do so requiring little in the way of an initial investment in the lights, or in the cost to operate them.
Starting Seeds Indoors – Why LED Shop Lights Are The Best Choice
To germinate and grow vegetable and flower seeds, there is simply no need for special lighting. Although expensive grow lights will work to grow your seedlings, they are overkill. They cost unnecessary expenses for the lights, and the energy needed to power them.
Grow lights and indoor growing systems can easily run $100 to $200 or more to purchase, and it can be a costly investment. Especially when you realize they can also consume a considerable amount of energy to run them!
And what about simply growing your seedlings in a sunny window? Unfortunately, as it turns out, windows are not the best place for seedlings to grow either.
The filtered light from the sun through a window is too distant for growing seedlings. The sun works well in a garden because seedlings can grab the sunlight in its full spectrum. All the way from east to west. But in a window, the seedlings are only able to grab limited sunlight coming from the same direction.
The windowsill light spectrum results in young seedlings growing spindly and weak. They do this because they are trying to reach out for the far away light. This is exactly why if you have ever grown seedlings in a windowsill, you end up with long, skinny plants that are slender and bent heavily to the light.
How LED Shop Lights Work To Grow Strong Seedlings
So why do LED lights work so well? As it turns out, the bright light of an LED shop light is perfect for growing seedlings. When placed in close proximity to the top of the seedling’s foliage, the bright white light of the LED lights helps grow strong, healthy plants.
LED lights are cool by nature, so there is never a worry about burning foliage. They also operate quietly. Even better, 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. All without the worry of plants growing spindly, weak, and wiry.
Perhaps best of all, LED lights are 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. LED lights are also far less costly to purchase than fancy grow lights, costing as little as $15 to $20 for a double light. Affiliate Product Link: LED Shop Lights
How To Use LED Lights With Success
The key to 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 close to the foliage. In fact, for optimum growth, place them about one to one and a half inches above the top of the seedlings as they grow.
LED lights are easy to use and operate. You can hang LED shop lights from an existing shelving rack, build your own inexpensive seed starting rack, or simply use a few bricks stacked up on each side of your plants to hold the lights over them. See: How To Build A Simple Seed Starting Light Stand
As they grow, continue to raise the lights to keep them close. This helps the plants grow slow and strong, which is key for developing strong roots and transplants with thick, sturdy stems.
Listen In To Our Podcast On Starting Seeds Indoors Below!
Lighting Requirements – How To Use LED Lights For Seedlings
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. Because of this, turning them on will not help in the least. In fact, it actually can dry out seeds quicker, so leaving them off is best.
What seeds 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. You can also use the plastic dome that often comes with seed tray kits if available. Either will help to keep moisture in and allow for better germination.
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. Remember, it is vital to keep the light right above the top to develop strong, slow growth!
Hardening Off Seedlings – How To Use LED Lights For Seedlings
As the temperatures begin to warm up, start moving your plants outdoors during the warmer days to get them accustomed to life outdoors. At this point, the plants should be at least four to five weeks old. This process is known as hardening off. And it will have your plants more than ready to hit the ground running come planting day.
When plants first go outside, as long as they are outside receiving most of a day’s natural light, there is no need to supply them with additional LED lighting. Especially if you are bringing them back in at night. If you do have to bring them in for a few days due to cold or inclement weather, the lights will help them continue to grow and should be turned on.
Once the plants are spending most of their time outdoors hardening off, there is no need for artificial lighting. Simply allow them to receive natural light, and they should be ready to go come planting day!
Here is to starting and growing your own healthy and strong vegetable plants and flowers from seed this year – using LED shop lights!
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