How to Choose Fluorescent Grow Lights


Lack of adequate light, says the University of Missouri Extension, is the most common factor limiting the growth of indoor house plants. Fluorescent tubes are the most effective bulbs available for price, shape and adaptability. A plant will require as much light from bulbs as they would require when growing in regular sunlight, says Home Harvest of Superior Growers Supply, so it is vital to know whether the plant you are growing requires full sun, or no sun at all.

Step 1

Use standard fluorescent bulbs to start seedlings and cultivate cool season vegetables, says the Home Harvest website. Standard fluorescent bulbs kept 4 inches away from the tops of plants forces growth without burning, as the bulbs run cool to the touch.

Step 2

Select high-output fluorescents for plants that require the full sunlight of tropical conditions, says Home Harvest. High-output fluorescents produce twice as much light as standard fluorescents while staying cool.

Step 3

Choose compact fluorescents if you have several plants with different light requirements. Compact fluorescent bulbs contain reflectors that direct the light of the bulb towards the plant, focusing it so that the light does not spread. This prevents light pollution.

Step 4

Use cool-white fluorescent bulbs for the color spectrum these bulbs provide. Cool-white bulbs produce a small amount of red light along with orange, yellow green and blue rays, providing all the colors a plant needs, says the University of Missouri Extension. The balance of cool-white bulbs is good for most plants, but for fruiting plants, cool-white bulbs can be paired with special grow light bulbs that have a higher red output. Pairing these bulbs can save you money.

Things You'll Need

  • Fluorescent light fixtures with adjustable height
  • Counter top, shelf or tabletop space
  • Source for electricity


  • Home Harvest: Buying the Right Indoor Plant Grow Light
  • Gardener's Supply Center: Choosing the Right Light
  • University of Missouri Extension: Lighting Indoor House Plants
Keywords: fluorescent grow lights, choosing fluorescent light, grow lamp guide

About this Author

Cleveland Van Cecil is a freelancer writer specializing in technology. He has been a freelance writer for three years and has published extensively on, writing articles on subjects as diverse as boat motors and hydroponic gardening. Van Cecil has a Bachelor of Arts in liberal arts from Baldwin-Wallace College.