In January, I attended The Birds and Seeds event at Lichterman Nature Center. This community event is a seed swap and giveaway for gardeners who are interested in diversifying their seed collections as well as getting an early start on gathering seeds for
their gardens. Several gardeners stopped by the “Ask A Master Gardener” table with
questions about such things as starting seeds indoors and grow lights.
There are many different options available for seed starting lights. They can be found in
a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and prices. The size and shape of grow lights depend
on the orientation of your seed starting setup.
Lights should be positioned directly above your seedlings. If lights are placed too high,
seedlings will stretch to reach the light. This will result in thin, weak stems. If you have a
large seed starting setup system, a long shop light is a good choice. This will provide
uniform light coverage across your seed starting setup.
Many of the bulbs used by gardeners are either light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs or
fluorescent shop lights. LED bulbs are now considered the standard choice. They are
a bit more expensive than fluorescent bulbs but they are far more energy efficient and
The color of bulbs is very important depending on the stages of the plant. Plants use
more blue and blue-green light when they are seedlings. Red light is used when plants
begin to flower and produce seeds.
When buying grow lights, higher light intensity is desired. The PPF (photosynthetic
photon flux) of grow lights ranges from 10-50. The higher the PPF, the better for seedling growth. For those planting seeds early (tomatoes), more light is preferable. This will produce strong stems and will be more prepared for the growing season.
Sowing seeds indoors saves money and allows you to get a jump on the growing
season. I hope you consider creating your own seed starting setup station. If you have
any questions about starting seeds indoors, please give me a call at 901-752-1207.
Photo Credit: Gardeners Supply