How to Grow Successfully With Fluorescent Lights


Plants can be grown indoors with the addition of a balanced light source. Plants need both red and blue light waves. The proper balance can be obtained from expensive grow lights, but a more economical solution is to use a combination of fluorescent lights to provide a balanced light source. Warm-spectrum fluorescent lights provide light in the red spectrum and cool-spectrum lights provide more blue wavelengths. Combining the two bulbs side by side will provide a balanced light source for the plants.

Step 1

Place your plants near a window or natural light source, if possible. Natural light is the best light source for plants and supplements the fluorescent lights well.

Step 2

Provide a support system for the fluorescent lights and plants. Ideally the lights will need to be adjusted up as the plants grow. Mount a two-light fluorescent fixture on chains, adjustable by a hook on the support above.

Step 3

Install one warm-spectrum bulb and one cool-spectrum fluorescent bulb.

Step 4

Place the plants below the light fixtures. Adjust the lights so that they are about 4 inches above the plants.

Step 5

Turn on the lights and allow them to warm up. Place your hand under the light at the top of the plants to judge the amount of heat the plants are receiving. Adjust the lights upward if needed to avoid burning the plants.

Step 6

Turn the lights on and off yourself or set a timer to provide approximately 18 hours of light each day.

Step 7

Water your plants as needed to prevent them from drying out. Plants under lights may need more water than other houseplants.

Step 8

Adjust the lights upward as the plants grow to prevent burning the leaves.

Things You'll Need

  • 2-bulb light fixture
  • Warm-spectrum light bulb
  • Cool-spectrum light bulb
  • Chain
  • Hooks


  • University of Vermont Extension: Indoor Lighting for Plants
  • Cornell University: Low-Cost Grow Light Plans
Keywords: growing plants with fluorescent lights, using grow lights, how to grow plants indoors

About this Author

Diane Watkins has been writing since 1984, with experience in newspaper, newsletter and web content. She writes two electronic newsletters and content around the web. Watkins has a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from Clemson University. She has taken graduate courses in biochemistry and education.