How to Grow Vegetables Under Lights


Starting your own vegetables from seed is an inexpensive way to later fill your garden with mature, high-producing plants. When starting from seed, one of the biggest challenges is providing enough light to the young vegetables inside. While you may use a sunny windowsill, often there isn't enough light available and drafts from around the window may damage the vegetables. Using grow lights is a better way to provide the proper light and some warmth to your young vegetable plants.

Step 1

Use a two-tube fluorescent light fixture for your grow lights. Use a full-size shop light fixture for a large amount of seedlings or a smaller fixture for home use for a small amount of seedlings. Place a cool-white fluorescent tube and a warm-white tube in the fixture.

Step 2

Stack enough boards under the light fixture so that the tops of the vegetable seedlings are 2 to 4 inches beneath the bulbs when the plant containers are placed on top of the boards. Alternately, hang the light fixture from an adjustable chain so it can be raised to the proper height.

Step 3

Leave the lights on for 14 to 16 hours a day. In general, provide twice as much artificial light as you would natural light.

Step 4

Remove boards to lower the plants as they grow or adjust the light fixture chain to maintain the 2 to 4 inches between the plants and the grow lights. Avoid letting foliage touch the fluorescent tubes as this may damage the plants.

Tips and Warnings

  • Transplant seedlings outside once weather conditions are right to produce a good harvest. Vegetable plants that are grown only under artificial lights do not produce as well as those plants grown outdoors.

Things You'll Need

  • Light fixture
  • Fluorescent tubes
  • Boards
  • Chain


  • Purdue Extension Office
Keywords: using grow lights, vegetables in artificial light, seed starting

About this Author

Jenny Harrington is a freelance writer of more than five years' experience. Her work has appeared in "Dollar Stretcher" and various blogs. Previously, she owned her own business for four years, selling handmade items online, wholesale and via the crafts fair circuit. Her specialties are small business, crafting, decorating and gardening.