Contrary to widespread belief, grow lights don't help the seeds germinate. They do prevent your new seedlings from becoming spindly, weak and pale. To have the best chance of success when starting from seed, use a grow light.
Seeds can benefit from natural light, incandescent light, metal halide light or fluorescent light. Fluorescent light bulbs and natural light offer the best results.
Seeds need significant exposure to light to grow properly. North Dakota State University recommends allowing your developing seeds 16 hours of light per day.
Seeds grown without light will grow weak and pale. These seeds will have a more difficult time surviving transplant into a container or garden bed and will be less productive plants until given adequate light.
To use fluorescent bulbs, purchase a fixture that hangs from chains so you can adjust the height up or down as the seeds grow. To use an incandescent or metal halide light, purchase a clamp light and plug the bulb into your clamp light.
For best results, North Dakota State University horticulturists suggest placing the lamp as close to the seeds as possible, about 1 inch away.
If using natural light to grow your seeds, rotate the seed tray along your window sill so that all four sides of the seed tray receive exposure to light.
- North Dakota State University: How to Succeed at Seed Starting
- Home Harvest: Grow Light
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About this Author
Based in Northern California, Elton Dunn is a freelance writer and nonprofit consultant with 14 years' experience. Dunn specializes in travel, food, business, gardening, education and the legal fields. His work has appeared in various print and online publications. Dunn holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English.