Yes, they work just fine. If you have lots of money, buy Grow-Lux tubes.
If you don't, buy a cool white and a warm white. (The regulars around here
will surely jump in to correct me, since I'm trying to remember what my
mom does. I haven't tried it yet.)
My local extension agent (cooperative extension service) hung lights
under the workbench in his garage last winter to start seeds. He said
it worked great. He must have a heated garage though, since we're in
Costco in Anchorage sells these "baker's racks" pretty cheap. They're
stainless steel racks that are perfect for starting seeds and rooting cuttings.
I don't think you can move the shelves around. My neighbor, who is a truck
farmer, starts all of her seeds on these things, with the lights hanging over
Do a google. I'll bet you'll be swamped with good ideas. Do a search for
"CES ________ [insert your state name]" I'll bet they've got info on
there about using grow lights. Minnesota CES has loads of good info, if
your state doesn't. Your tax dollars support the Cooperative Extension
Service. It's free. Use it liberally. They hire folks who really know
their stuff. (They are the one federally funded agency that wouldn't
feel the bite of my sword, if I was Queen of the Federal Budget.)
In my experience, the standard fluorescent light fixture provides barely
enough light to start plants properly. For this reason it's important to
place the plants as close to the lights as possible. 1" is not too
Rather than trying to move the shelves or the lights as the plants grow
to keep them from growing into the lights, I used to place the flats on
a stack of newspaper to raise them up to the lights. As the plants grow
I just took out a few sections to keep the spacing right. The newspaper
will also absorb moderate quantities of spilled water. The newspaper is
still recycleable after that.
If your growing area is in your living room or somewhere public, you
might want to use some other method, since stacks of old newspaper
aren't too attractive, but most people put their growing area out of the
However, in my opinion, there's no substitute for real sunlight if it's
available. (Condolances to you guys in Anchorage or above).
i have a bakers' rack in dining area and one in my bedroom to use for
decorative plants but i need more light and would like something
'nicer' ..more decorative.. but not garrish .. than the 4 ft shop
lights. any suggestions?
i use the shop lights but am not happy with them . i use my garage to
winter all the potted plants from the patio and in this climate, i can
get by with the eastern facing garage door open during sunny morning
hours if the temp is over 40 for most of the patio plants and a small
heater for nights under 60.
appreciate any suggestions.
I start seedlings under fluorescents and they grow fine, with rare
exceptions, and they are at least 12 inches from the bulbs at all times. It
is easier for me to have reflecting material around the structure than to be
moving the plants all the time. When the plants are surrounded by
reflecting material, like aluminum foil or white plastic, the illuminated
area stays the same no matter how far the plants are from the bulbs, and
with good reflectance, the brightness hardly diminishes.
Miles, I have used this method for 5 years now. I have a double light shop
light over a moveable shelf. When I start the seeds, the lights are not
more than 1" above the clear lid (on top of the starting cells). Once the
seeds germinate and I remove the clear lid, I still keep the light about 1"
above the plants.
Another useful idea is to use some fans for air circulation pointed in the
direction of the growing seedlings. (I actually have a small fan I clip on
the shelf.) This helps to prevent dampening off disease and helps grow
Hope this gives you some help.
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