Most veggies and herbs love full sun. If you’re starting seedlings, bright supplemental light helps young plants thrive, achieve steady growth, and makes it possible to grow unusual varieties from seed.
The same fixtures used in workshops, called shop lights, are great for growing seedlings, and many come with hanging chains that make it easy to adjust their height as the plants grow.
Gardeners benefit, too, because an oasis of indoor light during the short days of winter is a natural mood booster.
Types of Lights for Seed Starting:
- Traditional T-12 bulbs are the widest fluorescent bulbs and fit most fixtures. Although T-12 bulbs are not as efficient as newer types, two bulbs provide ample light for growing seedlings. Keep bulbs within 2” of the tops of the plants.
- Efficient T8 fluorescent bulbs put out more light than T-12s, and some fixtures have Energy Star ratings. Specialized light fixtures for growing plants sometimes specify T8 bulbs, which can be kept 2”-3” from the tops of the plants.
- High-efficiency T5 fluorescent bulbs are so bright that one T5 bulb does the work of two traditional bulbs. A 2’ T5 fixture is perfect for a small tabletop space. Keep T5 bulbs 5”-6” from the tops of the plants.
- Newer LED tube lights are brighter and 43 percent more energy efficient than traditional fluorescent bulbs. LED bulbs cost a little more than fluorescents, but they can last for decades, save energy and give off very little heat. And plants love them when placed about 4” away.
TIP: Keep your light on for 12-14 hours a day. Plugging your light into an automatic timer will give you one less thing to think about.