How to Start Vegetable Plants With Indoor Lighting


Starting vegetable plants with indoor lighting is not much different from starting vegetable plants in a sunny window. The main difference is that you can grow them anywhere, even in a basement that never sees the light of day. Grow lights allow you to choose when and where you want your plants. Choose from fluorescent, high-intensity discharge, metal halide, or high-pressure sodium bulbs. The introduction of compact fluorescent bulbs is more environmentally friendly and uses less electricity. These bulbs can also be used in normal light fixtures and lamps, turning any room into a grow room.

Step 1

Fill cells of the flat approximately ¾ of the way full with starter mix. Sow vegetable seeds at depths specified by seed packets. Different depths will be specified for different plants.

Step 2

Mist the seeds and soil with a mister bottle filled with water. Continue until water dribbles out the bottoms of the flat cells and into the tray, then drain the tray. Use the mister to avoid disturbing the seeds or soil while watering.

Step 3

Cover the flat with a piece of plastic wrap. If some condensation clings to the underside of the plastic wrap, the soil is moist enough. Place in any room you like, out of direct light.

Step 4

Water whenever the soil begins to get dry, always using the mister bottle. Check the seed packets for estimates of when the seeds should germinate.

Step 5

Uncover the flat once the seeds have germinated. Place the flat under the grow lights. Keep the grow lights at least four inches away from the plants to avoid burning them.

Step 6

Water whenever the soil mix feels dry. Turn the grow lights off at intervals specified by seed packets so that plants get the effect of full days and nights. This is important for their proper and healthy growth.

Step 7

Apply an all-purpose vegetable fertilizer after the second sets of leaves have grown on your seedlings. Use a tomato fertilizer if you are growing tomatoes. Apply according to manufacturer instructions, as application rates and methods will vary between fertilizers.

Things You'll Need

  • Flat
  • Starter mix
  • Vegetable seeds
  • Plastic wrap
  • Mister bottle
  • Fertilizer
  • Plant lights
  • Light timer (optional)


  • Ed Hume Seeds: Starting Seeds Indoors
  • "McGee and Stuckey's The Bountiful Container;" Rose Marie Nichols McGee and Maggie Stuckey; 2002
  • Progressive Gardening: Plant Grow Light Options
Keywords: start vegetables indoors, using grow lights, fluorescent plant lights

About this Author

Amrita Chuasiriporn is a professional cook, baker, and writer. In addition to cooking and baking for a living, Chuasiriporn has written for several online publications. These include Chef's Blade, CraftyCrafty, and others. Additionally, Chuasiriporn is a regular contributor to online automotive enthusiast publication Chuasiriporn holds an A.A.S. in culinary arts, as well as a B.A. in Spanish language and literature.