Starting Seeds with Grow Lights

I was having some trouble starting seeds this fall.

I would get my pots all set.  I filled them up with a wet seed-starting mix.  The seeds were planted at just the right depth and then nothing would come up or the seeds would sprout but then grow really, really slowly. So, I decided to get serious with it. I decided it was time to try starting seeds with grow lights.

Starting Seeds with Grow Lights

I went to Home Depot and I bought myself a sweet little grow light (something very similar to this – VOGEK Grow Light).  I was inspired by this image I saw on Pinterest.  I own the exact same Ikea bookshelf and I decided to start with just one shelf and give the setup a try.

We hung the light from a couple of hooks so that I could move the light up and down as the seedlings grew.

It is working really well and I am very happy with the set-up.  Currently the bookshelf stores all of my crafting supplies.  If I can find somewhere else to store my crafting junk, I’d love to turn the whole bookshelf into a grow light system.

The benefits of starting seeds with grow lights are undeniable.  Most vegetables are “long-day” plants and require 14-18 hours of light to grow well.  The problem I was having was that my seedlings were getting only morning light and this was really stunting their growth.  Now I can ensure my seedlings are getting the right amount of light by controlling the grow lights.  Another problem I was having is that I was trying to sprout cold weather plants (like broccoli, cauliflower, kale, etc.) when it was still very warm where I live.  By bringing my plants inside, I also lowered the temperature of the soil and making it more likely that the seeds would sprout.)

If you’re considering grow lights, some things to consider include:

  • make sure you get a full spectrum bulb for whatever fixture you choose to use.  (If you don’t have a shelf to use, this one –  is a good option.)
  • clean your bulbs at least once a month.  Dust can greatly reduce the effectiveness of your light set-up.
  • rotate your plants frequently.  The light at the center of the bulb is most intense.
  • try to keep your lights 2-4 inches above your seedlings.  You can go as high as 18-24 inches but if you’re trying to fit your system in a small space (like me) then 2-4 inches is perfect.
Have you ever grown with lights?  Any tips for success?