Fluorescent Lights and Growing Plants

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fluorescent lights

Do you know that you can use Fluorescent Lights for your indoor plants?

Choosing to grow plants indoors with artificial grow lights is crucial for certain types o plants.

Moreover, it is necessary for their growth to help achieve desired indoor gardening results.

Though you may be aware of these facts, however, they are still worth mentioning.

All plants need light for the process of photosynthesis to occur and grow.

But the amount for each species, genus, or type can differ dramatically.

While they differ at certain times of the year, many indoor plants have a dormant or resting period.

Too much light can be tiring and unhealthy for them during this time.

Keep on reading to learn more about fluorescent lights in detail.

Fluorescent Lights and Plants

Modern plant lights often focus on LED sources of light.

However, fluorescent lights are widely used options for plants and are easy to use.

Moreover, they tend to be an excellent source of light for young seedlings and plant starts.

Fluorescent lights do not last as long as LEDs but are easy to find and install.

Whether you are using them vs, LEDs, their use depends on the light requirements indoors that your particular plant or crop will need.

It is important to note that fluorescent lights were once the ‘go-to’ plant lamps.

fluorescent lights 1

However, they fell out of favor as they do not last very long, are delicate, bulky, and do not provide high lumen intensity.

Therefore, the bulbs are not ideal for fruiting and flowering plants.

Modern fluorescents, however, have an increase in lumen output, come in compact bulbs, and tend to last longer than their predecessors.

In fact, the new T5 lighting systems help to produce less heat than old bulbs.

Furthermore, you can place them closer to the plant without worrying about burning the foliage.

There are also more energy efficient and the light they produce is readily available to use by the plant.

Fluorescent Light Options

If you want to use fluorescent lights for your indoor plants, there are a few systems to consider.

Let’s discuss them as follows:

The T5 fluorescent lights are tube lights that help to provide light on the blue spectrum and are cool enough to touch and will not burn young plants.

Moreover, the number 5 refers to the diameter of the tube.

There are T8 tubes that are similarly efficient.

Though both produce plenty of light but are of a lower wattage than older fluorescents.

Therefore, these tend to be more commercial to operate.

You can purchase tube lights with an HO rating which indicates high output.

Also, another option is CFLs or compact fluorescent tubes.

These are great for small grow spaces and you can use them in an ordinary incandescent light fixture.

It is important to note that no matter which one you choose, fluorescent light and plants will have an increase in growth and output in interior situations.

Benefits of using Fluorescent Lights

There are a number of benefits of using fluorescent grow lights.

However, the one main benefit they offer is the great energy efficiency and versatility for the money.

While fluorescent grow lights have long been known for putting out a natural light spectrum that is perfect for encouraging vegetative growth, newer ones help in later stages of plant growth.

Moreover, these lights are popular because of their low cost, both in terms of the initial investment and their daily use.

In fact, they tend to be the least expensive type of grow lighting to purchase.

Thus, making them especially attractive to beginners and hobbyists who want to try getting into hydroponics without having to invest a lot of money.

The scalability of fluorescent lights is also an important factor if you are planning to start out small and then expand the size of your operation.

Versatility is another reason why you may want to choose fluorescent lights.


There come in many shapes, sizes, and wattages, as well as a range of wavelengths.

However, with a low heat output, you will need to place CFLs very close to the plant, hang them in various positions, and use them as supplemental lighting.

This will help to make sure that all parts of your plants are getting the light they need.

Furthermore, fluorescent tube fixtures have a thin profile that is great for tight spaces.

You can use T5 HO fluorescent lights for all growing phases of plants, from germination to vegetative growth, flowering, and fruit production.

It is important to note that fluorescent grow lights are also attractive to a number of hydroponic growers as they are easy to use.

As they do not need any special features, sockets, or technical skills, and are not daunting to handle like other types, these are very easy to use.

Disadvantages of using Fluorosecents

Though CFL grow lights are excellent for stimulating plant growth, there are not great for use during the flowering stage of the plant.

This is because the light they put out does not have an intensity that mimics late-summer sunlight.

Moreover, high output T5 fluorescent lights are better for most phases of plant growth.

However, with their high intensity comes higher heat output which means that you will need to be careful about placing them too close to the plants.

Also, you have to contend with the potential buildup of heat in the grow rooms.

Another downside of using these lights is that their usable lifespan is shorter than much of other grow light technology that is available otherwise.

Additionally, these lights have mercury in them which is a toxic heavy metal.

Therefore, they also present a health risk as mercury vapor is released when they break and can also pollute the environment after disposal.

Light Intensity and Spectrum

Before getting light for indoor plants, you need to understand the basics of light intensity and spectrum.

Let’s discuss them as follows:

Light Spectrum

An easy way to understand the basics is different plants and methods of growing need different light intensities.

Full spectrum means all colors that natural light prodcues. Sunlight is full spectrum light.

Plants need a certain amount of light to thrive and full spectrum lights mimic sunlight ranges much better and on a wider scale.

Moreover, these grow lights are suitable for aquarium plants, certain flowering plants, and growing plants with artificial lighting.

Basics of Color

Blue color helps to encourage bushy growth in plants, vegetation, and the germination of seeds.

Red color lights are to encourage budding, flowering, and fruiting.

That is a simple way to view the light spectrum without complicating how you use terms.

However, to be more accurate, you need to choose the right color spectrum, than getting too technical.

fluorescent lights 2

Kelvin Scale Bulbs

6500K are the most popular options for growing vegetables and seedlings, and young plants need a lot of light for growth.

3000K helps to promote budding and flowering, while 10,000k bulbs are for aquariums.

The higher the Kelvin, the cooler and lower, the warmer.

Light Intensity

Though spectrum lights are important, so is intensity.

The higher the wattage the higher the energy input into the bulb and usage, and the higher the lumens, the brighter the light and output.

Other Grow Light Options

There is a large amount of information you can find about grow lights, the best technology, and testing.

There are, however, certain basics that will point the average indoor grower in the right direction.

LED Grow Lights

Light emitting diodes over the past few years have become famous as these are less costly in terms of consuming a smaller amount of electricity, in comparison to fluorescent and HID lighting.

They also do not produce too much heat which can affect or damage the seedlings or affect the plant growth.

Moreover, LEDs are cheaper in terms of electricity usage and bulbs tend to last much longer.

However, buying a unit of LED can be more expensive.

You can find different units and sizes of LED lights, and even single bulbs can have the same effect as fluorescent CFLs.

The appearance of plants is important for a number of plant growers within a home and LEDs do not look attractive.

While fluorescent light looks appealing indoors.

other types

High-Intensity Discharge, HID

The two main types of HID are:

  • metal halide MH
  • high-pressure sodium HPS

However, which type you choose to use depends on what you are gorwing, the yield you want, and the color spectrum.

HID lamps provide higher intensity. For an average home grower, the expense of setting up and the electricity bills may be above what you would like to spend otherwise.

However, if you are planning to start some seedlings, learning to grow, and flower AVs, or supplementing winter lighting, you can use this type.

If you are a serious grower, you can use HIDs.

Final Thoughts

For most home growers, supplemental lighting for growing herbs or starting seeds, fluorescent lights with T5 tubes, or CFLs for lamps is a suitable options. You can find kits with the frame, trays, fixtures, and bulbs which makes preparation and choosing easier, You also have the option of creating your own light system.

For more serious growers, if you want larger yields of plants, you can look into using HID lamps for your plants. In case yu are growing marijuana, you can use LEDs as the main purpose is to grow crops and nothing to do with the appearance.

Understanding technical informationabout factors like light spectrum, lumens, CRI, i.e. color rendering index and PAR, i.e. photosynthetically active radiation measurements, it is wise when becoming more serious about growing. This will help you to choose the right grow lights which are also efficient in cost when comparing all aspects, i.e. wattage, light output, set up, and replacements.

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