How to Start Seeds Inside With Plant & Aquarium Lights


The main purpose of starting seeds indoors is to extend the growing season, the period of time when the available light and outdoor temperatures are optimal for plant growth. Germinating seeds indoors may solve your temperature problem, but the sun is often too weak in late winter or early spring months for the plants to get their light requirements from a nearby window. Especially in colder climates with less available sunlight, seedlings must often be given supplemental lighting. A great way to solve this problem is with plant, aquarium or fluorescent lights that provide plants with the supplemental light they need to grow.

Step 1

Cover the bottom 1/2 inch of your pot with sphagnum moss.

Step 2

Fill the pot to within 3/4 inch of its lip with moistened soil. Press the soil down gently with your fingertips to firm it and remove any air pockets.

Step 3

Plant two seeds per pot (1/2 inch apart) at the depth recommended for the plant's species.

Step 4

Cover the top of the pot with plastic wrap to prevent the soil from drying out.

Step 5

Place the pot somewhere where it will receive indirect sunlight and remain at room temperature until the seeds germinate.

Step 6

Remove the plastic wrap and place the plants in a spot where it will receive the most sunlight possible. The artificial lighting that you use will provide supplemental light, but the plants should still receive some of the sun's UV rays.

Step 7

Position your plant or aquarium light so that the bulb is 4 inches above the top of the seedlings. As the plants grow, raise the light so it is always 4 inches above the plants. Keep the lights on for 14 to 16 hours daily.

Things You'll Need

  • 4-inch pot
  • Sphagnum moss
  • Seed-starting soil
  • Plastic wrap


  • Iowa State University: Starting Seeds Indoors
  • University of Waterloo: Indoor Plant Lighting
  • University of Missouri: Starting Plants from Seeds
  • Purdue University: Starting Seeds Indoors
Keywords: seed light, aquarium light, plant light, start seed, seed inside

About this Author

Emma Gin is a freelance writer who specializes in green, healthy and smart living. She is currently working on developing a weight-loss website that focuses on community and re-education. Gin is also working on a collection of short stories, because she knows what they say about idle hands.