Information on Grow Lights for Plants


Grow lights for plants allow gardeners to extend the growing season of their plants by providing them with the indoor equivalent of sunlight. Grow lights are commonly used to replace or supplement natural light for plants that need only low or moderate lighting.


Most grow lights feature cool-white fluorescent tubes, which produce a small amount of red rays as well as blue, yellow-green and orange rays. These fluorescent tubes are available in various lengths and shapes.


Fluorescent grow lights should generally be placed about 6-12 inches from the tips of the plants. The plants that need the most light should be placed directly underneath the center of the fluorescent tubes because the middle is brighter than the ends.

Time Frame

Plants that receive no natural light should be under the grow light for 16-18 hours every day. Plants that receive a few hours of sunlight only need 12-14 hours under the grow light each day.

Other Types

High-intensity discharge lights (HIDs) are efficient grow light alternatives. HIDs are available in metal halide (MH) lights and high-pressure sodium (HPS) lights.


Incandescent light bulbs are not generally used as grow lights because they produce too much heat for most plants. They also are not very efficient at converting natural energy into lighting for plants.


  • University of Missouri Extension
  • ACF Greenhouses

Who Can Help

  • Home Harvest Garden Supply
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About this Author

Cat Carson has been a writer, editor and researcher for the past decade. She has professional experience in a variety of media, including the Internet, newspapers, newsletters and magazines. Her work has appeared on websites like and, among others. Carson holds a master’s degrees in writing and cultural anthropology, and is currently working on her doctoral degree in psychology.