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Best Light for Seedlings

Best Light for Seedlings: What are you guys using as grow lights for seed starting? Aerogardens work great to Start Seeds

Best Light for Seedlings

"What are you guys using as grow lights for seed starting?"

We recently had a question from a customer on what kind of lights we're using to start seeds. 

You can use lots of different lights to start seeds, you'd be surprised, even a regular old standard fluorescent white light will do the trick! You don't need any fancy or expensive lights to start seeds.

Weak Seedlings?
Weak Seedlings?
It may not be the lack of Light!

If you have weak pepper seedlings, but your lights are within 4-6" of the seedlings, it might not be that they need more light! Instead, it may be that they just need movement via air circulation or the brushing of your hand. Air circulation and movement helps prevent damping off.

Seedlings don't need super intense light!

In fact, we bought a super bright 100W LED light last year (shown above) but it was so bright it burned up our seedlings when we put them under it! They looked great until we put them under the light – then they slowly started turning purple and brown and stopped growing. 
We pointed the light away but the damage was done. If we had suspended it much farther away from the seedlings it may have worked, but it was just too close and too bright.  We THOUGHT that brighter light was better, but alas, this is NOT the case.

Best Light for Seedlings: Shop Lights work great for Seed Starting!

 So you don't have to spend a fortune, you can  use old cheap shop lights (4 ft. garage T-8 flourescent light fixtures) and they will still work great for starting seeds!

Best Lights for Seedlings - our setup

If you're using basic fluorescent lights, it is good to keep the lights close. We like to start them out at 2 to 4 inches above the top of the soil and as the seedlings grow taller, we move the lights up to keep them about 4-6" away from the seedlings.

The spectrum of a standard fluorescent white light meets the photosynthesis needs of any annual full sun crop, just not the heat. White light is fine, sunlight qualifies as white light. 

Leggy Seedlings - how to keep seedlings stocky and healthy

Leggy Seedlings?

Leggy seedlings are not always caused by lack of light. If you have weak pepper seedlings, it may just be that they need some movement and air circulation! Learn how to keep your seedlings from getting leggy: 
How to Fix Leggy Seedlings »

Best Lights for Starting Seeds: Aerogardens work great!

We have a couple of old fluorescent light Aerogardens that work great for starting pepper seeds (see photo above and at the top of this post), we use a seedling starter tray with 50 pods and it works great to start 50 different pepper plants! The only downside is that they need to be transplanted pretty soon after they start getting their real leaves as the seedling tray sponges are quite narrow so the roots start to get stuck if you leave them in too long.

Seedlings transplant very well from an Aerogarden as well, even directly into the garden (after hardening seedlings off first, of course.) Now Aerogardens are using LEDs, which we've also seen do quite well. They are expensive, though, so if you're on a budget check out Craigslist to find used Aerogardens for a much more affordable price!

Learn how to Start Pepper Seeds in your Aerogarden

We've also heard great things about LED Lights, too. One of our customers raves about his 4 ft LED shop light fixtures that he purchased at Lowes for less than $20.  

Best Light for Seedlings: Winter Sowing Diagram
On a budget? Check out this cheapest way to start seeds:

If you're on a super tight budget, you don't even need lights at all! Check out our Winter Sowing method tips for more info on recycling jugs to serve as mini-greenhouses that you can start seeds for in the winter and early spring months OUTSIDE! Check out our cool weather veggie seeds which work great for winter sowing, even in the heart of winter!

How to Grow Peppers

 Learn more about How to Grow Peppers »

Happy growing!