Grow Light Setup for Seedlings

Creating the Perfect Grow Light Setup for Your Seedlings


Choosing the right grow light setup for seedlings can be a complicated subject, but it doesn’t have to be. In this article I will cover everything you need to know in order to choose the right grow light setup for seedlings.


You’re probably wondering whether you can grow seedlings without grow lights. The short answer is maybe, but having a grow light setup for seedlings will dramatically improve germination rate, and your seedlings will be much stronger and healthier. You can try growing seedlings on a windowsill; however, most homes don’t have enough natural light for seedlings. Trying to start seeds without grow lights will most likely result in disappointment as well as wasted time and money.


Having adequate lightning is key for growing seedlings successfully. When I was just starting out with gardening decades ago, I tried starting plants from seed indoors without artificial lighting. I was lucky to have a massive-south facing window in my living room, and that’s where I first tried starting seeds. That worked okay, but my seedlings were thin and leggy, especially compared to the ones you’d find in a garden center. Also, at least half of the seeds didn’t sprout at all. And things got only worse when I tried starting different plants from seed. It was clear that they didn’t get enough light from my large windowsill. That’s when I decided to splurge on a grow light setup for seedlings, and I was amazed at the difference it made! Almost all of my seeds started sprouting, the seedlings became much stronger and healthier, and they had no problem surviving transition to hydroponics, containers, and even my in-ground garden.


Clearly, to grow strong and healthy seedlings you need to provide proper lighting for them right from the start. Getting a proper grow light setup for seedlings has lots of benefits that will be covered below.


Benefits of Having a Grow Light Setup for Seedlings

  • More seedlings will sprout: If you have a proper grow light setup for seedlings, more seeds will sprout, so you can save some money by not having to plant extras to make up for some seeds not sprouting or growing weak.
  • Stronger and healthier seedlings: Your seedlings will be much stronger and healthier and will have an easier time surviving the transition to hydroponics or a traditional garden.
  • Proper lighting helps prevent legginess: When seedlings don’t get enough light, they will try to reach for the sun and will become leggy. While they may look taller, they become thin and weak because of that. Having a proper grow light setup for seedlings is the only way to prevent legginess.
  • Grow seeds in a convenient place: If you have a grow light setup for seedlings, you can grow them in a place that’s convenient for you and won’t be limited to a windowsill. 
  • Grow seedlings easier: Having a grow light setup for seedlings will make your life much easier. You can put your grow lights on a timer, so you won’t have to worry about whether your seedlings are getting enough light.


Grow Light Setup for Seedlings - Blurple


How to Choose a Grow Light Setup for Seedlings

You would typically use fluorescent or LED grow lights for starting seeds. MH and HPS lights produce lots of heat and can burn seedlings. Fluorescent grow lights are cheaper than LEDs; however, LED grow lights have lots of benefits over fluorescent grow lights.


LED grow lights are more energy-efficient and produce more lumens per watt, so a compact LED grow light can produce more light than a bulky fluorescent light. They also have a longer lifespan than other types of grow lights and don’t lose effectiveness over time. Full-spectrum or RGB LED grow lights are more versatile because they can produce any colour of light, so you can use them to grow plants from seed to harvest. Fluorescent lights are good for starting seeds and growing lettuce, salad greens, and flowers.


Seedlings need cool white/blue light to grow. Having full-spectrum grow lights is ideal for growing seedlings indoors because they can produce light that mimics natural sunlight. Fluorescent lights produce cool white/blue light, and they work well for starting seeds too.


If you get a grow light setup for seedlings, you shouldn’t leave the lights on all day long. Seedlings need 14–16 hours of light per day, so you should have your lights on a timer for convenience. Some people grow seedlings with 12 hours of light daily, but in my experience, that’s not enough. You can try that, but you should monitor your seedlings closely in this case. If they start getting tall and growing sideways, you should add 2 more hours of light per day.


How high you should have your grow lights above your seedlings depends on the type of lights you have. I’d suggest following the height recommendations provided by the light manufacturer. However, if that information isn’t provided, fluorescent grow lights should be kept 2–3 inches (5–7.5 cm) above seedlings, and LED grow lights should be at least a foot (30 cm) above. You’ll need to move your grow lights away from the seedlings as they grow.


For more great content check out the Proponics YouTube channel below!


Proponics on YouTube



Max Bio Pic

By Max Barnes

Max Barnes is a long-time homesteader and author. Max grows the majority of his own food year-round using a variety of different methods, including hydroponics. Hydroponic gardening plays a huge part in his homestead and self-sufficiency goals.

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