How to Garden Under Lights

Overview

Gardening under lights inside allows you to grow fresh vegetables or houseplants when you have little to no access to natural sunlight. While most plants can be grown under lights, vegetable plants may not produce as abundantly as they would outdoors. Most houseplants require only low- to medium-levels of light so they do well under grow lights if they are used properly. Special fluorescent grow light tubes are available, or you may use a cool white and a warm white fluorescent tube to provide the proper light spectrum to your plants.

Step 1

Combine soil-less potting mix with slow-release fertilizer formulated for the type of plants you are growing. Follow label instructions for exact application amounts.

Step 2

Fill containers with the potting mix and fertilizer mixture to within 2 inches of the rim. Plant vegetable transplants or houseplants into the mixture to the same depth they were at in their nursery pots, except for tomatoes which are planted 2 inches deeper to encourage a strong root system.

Step 3

Set up the light fixture so the bulbs are 4 to 6 inches above the tops of the plants. Use an adjustable light stand or a fixture that hangs from a chain so the height is adjustable as the plants grow. Adjust the lights as the plants grow to maintain the 4- to 6-inch space.

Step 4

Use enough light fixtures so that the light completely bathes the plants. Use a dual-tube fixture for a single row of plants and a quad-fixture for a double row or large plants.

Step 5

Leave the lights on for twice the length of time the plant requires sunlight. Leave it on 16 hours for most vegetables and between six and eight hours for low- and medium-light plants.

Step 6

Water the plants as needed to maintain soil moisture. Water until the excess drains from the bottom when the surface of the soil begins to feel dry to the touch.

Step 7

Begin fertilizing again every two weeks starting in the second month after the initial planting. Use a liquid fertilizer formulated for the type of plants you are growing.

Tips and Warnings

  • Make sure temperatures are warm enough for the plants to grow. Summer vegetables need temperatures between 75 and 85 F on average, while houseplants are fine in a 65 to 75 F home. Use a plant heat mat under the pots if necessary.

Things You'll Need

  • Soil-less mix
  • Fertilizer
  • Containers
  • Adjustable light fixtures

References

  • University of Utah: Growing Dwarf Crops
Keywords: gardening under lights, using grow lights, planting indoors

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.