How to Set Up a Fluorescent Grow Box


Harvesting vegetables or cutting flowers from a grow box in your basement is a sure way to brighten any winter day. An investment of time, effort and supplies at setup should give you years of enjoyment from your grow box.

Step 1

Cut 1 5/8-inch holes in the lid of your Styrofoam box to hold the net pots. Make the holes 2 to 3 inches apart and include an extra hole for adding water and nutrients. Put the lid on your grow box.

Step 2

Place the net pots in the holes and fill them with potting mix, dampened. Sow two to four seeds in each net pot.

Step 3

Select a location for your grow box, such as your basement or another area away from direct sunlight. Screw the hooks into the ceiling above where you will place your grow box and hang a length of chain from each hook. Set the table in place and put the grow box on it.

Step 4

Attach the fluorescent light fixture to the chains with wire so that the lights are 4 inches from the net pots in the grow box. Move the light up as the plants grow to maintain this 4-inch distance. Hook the programmable timer to the light following the manufacturer's directions. Put the bulbs into the fixture. Program the timer so your lights stay on about 14 hours per day.

Step 5

Fill the grow box on the table with enough water to touch the bottom of the pots. Keep the water level high enough that the pots are always touching water, but leave some air space so the water is not touching the lid.

Step 6

After the plants are up and have their first true leaves, add fertilizer to the water in the grow box. Select a standard water-soluble mix such as 15-15-15 and use according to the directions on the product label.

Things You'll Need

  • Small table or bench
  • Large Styrofoam box with lid
  • Knife
  • Net pots
  • Potting mix, sand or vermiculite
  • Plant seeds of your choice
  • Two screw hooks
  • 2 seven-foot lengths of lightweight chain (exact length depends on ceiling and table heights and size of box)
  • Sturdy wire
  • 4-foot-long, two-bulb fluorescent light fixture
  • 2 T8 fluorescent bulbs
  • Mechanical timer


  • University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension: Hydroponic Vegetable Gardening

Who Can Help

  • Cornell University: Low Cost Grow Light Frame Plans
  • Texas A & M University: Houseplants
Keywords: make grow box, fluorescent grow lighting, fluorescent plant light

About this Author

Ann Wolters has been a writer, consultant and writing coach since 2008. Her work has appeared in "The Saint Paul Almanac" and in magazines such as "Inventing Tomorrow" and "Frontiers." She earned a Master of Arts in English as a second language from the University of Minnesota.

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