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How to Grow Plants With Artificial Lights

By Elizabeth Knoll ; Updated September 21, 2017

Using artificial lights is a good way to grow plants in conditions that would otherwise provide poor natural light. Artificial lights are widely used indoors for a variety of reasons. A common use is to start vegetable plants inside while the weather is inhospitable to them outdoors. This allows you to enjoy an earlier harvest than normal if starting the seeds in the garden. To use artificial lights correctly you need to follow a few simple guidelines.

Select a fixture that provides light over a large distance. Fluorescent lights are a great pick because they emit light over a length of 4 feet.

Select bulbs that emit light in the red and blue spectrums. Blue light promotes lush vegetative growth, while red light promotes flowering and budding. Plants use little if any light from the green and yellow spectrums.

Set up your light fixture so that the bulb is 2 to 4 inches above your plants. As the distance from the bulb increases, the available light to the plants dramatically decreases.

Raise the light fixture as the plants grow upward. Maintain a consistent 2- to 4-inch gap between the light bulbs and the plants.

Set up a box fan next to your plants. Aim it to blow at your plants. The breeze will ward off spider mites and will also strengthen your plants. This will enable them to withstand natural wind conditions outside once transplanted.

Water your plants when the top 1/4 inch of soil dries out. Overwatering is a common problem with indoor plants. Overwatering a plant can lead to root rot and plant death.


Things You Will Need

  • Fluorescent light fixture
  • Fluorescent light bulbs
  • Box fan


  • If the lights are kept too far away from the plant, the plants will stretch or become "leggy." This will cause them to become excessively weak.