Plants use light to create energy for growth and flowering. Some plants can grow under ambient fluorescent lights in places like offices or homes. In other cases, fluorescent lights are a good way to add additional light to short winter days or can be a good complete source of light. The plants that will grow under fluorescent lights will depend on how much light is available, and whether the fluorescents are installed as office lighting or specific grow lighting.
Cool White Lights
Cool white lights are the most common types of fluorescent lights in most homes and offices. Cool white lights are best for foliage plants. Asparagus ferns, as well as other ferns, do well under cool white lights. Other plants that grow well under cool white fluorescents include arrowhead vines, aluminum plants and African violets. If you are growing plants in an office, be aware that some plants, like African violets, need 16 to 18 hours of light per day. If your office closes after 8 to 10 hours, there may not be enough light for some plants.
Horticultural fluorescents, sometimes called full-spectrum fluorescents, are good for most types of plants. By setting up a lamp with a horticultural fluorescent, you can grow most types of plants that require high or medium light. Horticultural fluorescents are good for green plants and flowering plants. Tomatoes, azalea and gardenia are some plants that can grow well under horticultural fluorescents. Other plants include Amaryllis and cyclamen. Almost any indoor plant, however, will grow well under a full-spectrum fluorescent light. In fact, by installing two or four full-spectrum tubes, you can often grow plants in a basement with no other light source.
Many plants that do well under fluorescent grow lights can also do well under a combination of natural light and fluorescent light. Poinsettias bloom when days become short. They require bright light, however, during the day. By augmenting natural light with bright fluorescent lighting during the day and placing them in darkness for at least 12 hours, you increase the chances of blooming. Many other indoor plants will benefit from the additional light of fluorescent lighting, especially in more northern latitudes where winter days can be very short. Plants that can benefit from supplemental lighting include cacti and succulents, hibiscus, ficus and Meyer's lemons that are grown indoors.