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How to Grow Plants Indoors with Grow Lights

By Janet Beal ; Updated September 21, 2017

Growing plants indoors under lights extends your gardening season through the winter and often lets you grow a wider variety of houseplants than with ordinary daylight. Innovations in the lighting industry make it possible to grow plants in unexpected locations and lets you get a start of spring by growing your own seedlings for the garden. Rig growing lights to bring the outdoors inside, without making drastic changes to your decor.

Assess your growing spaces. Ideally, your growing lights will supplement existing daylight; it requires sticking to a strict schedule to grow plants in a below-ground rec room or windowless corner because you will be providing all the light your plants receive. Scout out north-facing windows with wide sills or set a table under a window where you usually draw the drapes at night. Plan to mount lights between 18 and 24 inches above plants (err on the side of increasing rather than decreasing distance between light fixtures and plants, to prevent possible excess heat).

Assess your lighting options. Grow-lights, also sometimes called full-spectrum lights, are available both in fluorescent tubes and screw-in bulbs. Gardening supply catalogs offer the option of tables that come with light sets; some assembly required. Do-it-yourselfers can mount light brackets in the soffit over a bay window, behind the deep valance heading drapes, or as a replacement for the over-the-sink kitchen light fixture. A small area can be lighted by mounting a wall bracket and clamping on a coolie-shaded corded work light.

Mount lights over your planting area. Remember that your new lights will stimulate greater growth than darker areas, which means that you might find plants using additional water. Check soil frequently to make certain you are keeping up with new requirements.

Plan to provide regular nutrition to your growing plants. Now that you have improved growing conditions, providing food to support plant growth will keep plants strong and healthy.

Resist the impulse to keep lights on 24 hours a day when the weather is gloomy and dark. Like other living creatures, plants need dark rest times for proper growth. Turning lights on when you rise and off when you go to sleep maintains their customary daily cycle. Excessive light produces stress and fatigue.


Things You Will Need

  • Plants
  • Grow-light bulbs
  • Fixtures
  • Hardware or brackets for mounting
  • Hand drill
  • Screwdriver


  • Corded fixtures often come with midcord switches. These save bending and groping to plug in lights.


  • Although plant growing lights tend to burn cooler than regular incandescent bulbs, they still generate some heat. For safety, allow adequate space for heat to diffuse, both away from plants and from furniture or fixtures.
  • Keep cords free from direct contact with plants and especially with water, whether standing, poured or misted onto plants.

About the Author


Janet Beal has written for various websites, covering a variety of topics, including gardening, home, child development and cultural issues. Her work has appeared on early childhood education and consumer education websites. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from Harvard University and a Master of Science in early childhood education from the College of New Rochelle.