How to Grow Plants With Lights


Whether you are starting vegetable and bedding plant seeds indoors or just trying to provide enough light for your houseplants, fluorescent bulbs can provided the needed light for the plants to thrive. With seedling transplants, full sunlight is often a requirement. While a sunny window may seem a good choice, often it doesn't provide enough light for the seedlings to flourish. Houseplants, while often requiring less light, may also suffer if there is no adequate windows or during the fall when the days begin to shorten.

Step 1

Purchase a dual-bulb light fixture. Place a cool white fluorescent tube and a warm white tube in the fixture. Alternatively, purchase a single-bulb fixture and place a specially made grow-light tube in it.

Step 2

Place seedlings under the lights once they germinate. Raise the seedling pots so they are 4 inches beneath the fluorescent tubes by stacking them on boxes or newspapers.

Step 3

Leave the lights on for 12 to 16 hours a day, turning them off at night. Generally, leave the lights on for twice the time of the recommended daylight requirements for the plant variety.

Step 4

Supplement sunlight to houseplants by setting them under the lights for three to five hours a day. Place a clip on fluorescent bulb fixture near the plant or move them under a grow light stand once the sun begins to set. Set them so the lights are 6 inches above the top of the plant.

Step 5

Place the plants outside in a shaded area for two hours the first day when it is time to harden them off. Move them into the sun gradually while also gradually increasing the time outdoors for a period of two weeks so they become acclimated.

Tips and Warnings

  • Incandescent bulbs don't provide the proper light spectrum and also heat up, which may burn the plants.

Things You'll Need

  • Fluorescent lights
  • Light fixture
  • Newspaper
  • Boxes


  • University of Vermont Extension: Indoor Lights For Plants
Keywords: growing indoors, fluorescent grow lights, supplemental lighting

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.