Can Fluorescent Lights Be Used To Grow Plants? (Yes… If)

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Grow lights are becoming popular among urban gardeners.

Are you thinking of using fluorescent lights to grow your plant and you aren’t sure of the outcome of your plants?

You got nothing to worry about because I want to share with you my 20 years experience of using fluorescent lights to grow plants, starting from seeding to harvest.

Here’s what I know:

Fluorescent lights can be used to grow plants because they produce the required brightness that enhance plants growth and make it flourish. Fluorescent lights are energy efficient and have the capacity to shorten plant growth.

The concerns of most people is the amount of heat that fluorescent lights produce.

However, every light produces heat, but how effective you light-up your growing house makes the certain type of light brand you use effective.

Fluorescent lights are ideal light for most of the indoor plants. They produce high-quality brightness that most plants need to thrive.

What Growth Stage Can I Use Fluorescent Grow Lights? 

Fluorescent grow lights are designed with the newest technology that you can use to grow plants at any growing stages.

Most fluorescent lights are built to be full spectrum brightness. The full spectrum lights consist of white light, red, blue, and IR. The full spectrum lights are used to grow plants at different growing stages. 

The white light is sunlike in color that’s good during seeding plants. It helps the plant to germinate very well. Also brings out the natural color leaf of plants.

Seedlings plants require a lot of light; more are lost to lack of light than any other factor. Even a good growing house facing window will generally not be enough light in the spring to grow your seedlings. 

Mosttimes, the sun doesn’t shine every day, and won’t provide direct light for enough hours in the day at some point of the year.

Seeding stages of plants need grow light with full spectrum, Therefore You need fluorescent grow light that has complete full spectrum. 

Fluorescent grow lights full spectrum have active photosynthesis radiation that is like the sunlight. 

Seeding plants need active photosynthesis radiation to grow faster and thrive. Fluorescent emits the right brightness that produce required lumens seeding plant needs.

Red spectrum of fluorescent light helps to drive photosynthesis down into plants’ roots, which make plants flourish and thrive.

Fluorescent lights have complete red spectrum brightness that plants need to grow. It is built with a quality red spectrum that aids photosynthesis in seeding plants.

Blue spectrum brightness wavelength is for growth. The blue spectrum makes plants grow faster.

Basically, fluorescent blue spectrum shortens the life cycle of plants. Fluorescent lights full spectrum make it easy for you to grow your plants at any growth stage.

How To Determine Fluorescent Output?

It’s quite easy to determine fluorescent output that you can use to grow your plant. Most fluorescent lights are designed to give out full output. 

Fluorescent lights are built to function in similarly ways once current flows in to produce brightness plants need to grow.

This is how fluorescent lights work

An electric current flows from the power source to fluorescent and produces heats, which heat up gas inside the tube and emit ultraviolet light.

The phosphorus coating inside the tube turns that ultraviolet light to visible light.

A ballast on the back converts the incoming electrical current into a usable form.

This is how almost all fluorescent lights function to produce the desired brightness and heat plants need to grow.

Some fluorescent grow lights have information about how it functions, which help you to avoid either overheat or low heat. 

The information as well helps you to avoid dim fluorescent lights that plants can’t actually survive under.

Fluorescent light like Tubular light has a “T” rating that shows you the diameter of the tube.

Fluorescent T12 lights have the number attached because they have a diameter of 12/8 of an inch or 1.5 inches. 

The T12 lights are mainly used for growing plant indoor lighting applications. These types of fluorescent lights are very bright. It also coated to make the light spectrum work fully.

T5 lights are narrower than T12s, with a diameter of 5/8 of an inch. Look for a T5 bulb with an additional “HO” rating, which stands for “high output.” That means the ballast has been adjusted to make them even brighter — and for growing purposes, more efficient.

The working of fluorescent output is mainly determined by the number written on the fluorescent. 

How bright and effective fluorescent light works depends on the model. The T5 and T12 produce high output light that plants need to grow faster. 

So, when you want to buy fluorescent grow lights, kindly look for the one that has high output brightness. 

Why is Fluorescent Lights Preferred Over Incandescent Lights?

Fluorescent lights are popular over the years because of how fast it is to grow plants indoors.

Fluorescent bulbs are more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs, and they produce a spectrum of light that is more useful to plants.

Fluorescent lights are by far the most economical and easy choice for houseplants. The cost to run fluorescent lights are far better and cheaper than to run incandescent lights. 

Fluorescent light uses low voltage, irrespective of the watts it produces enough brightness that is enough for plants.  

Fluorescent has many features that make them a better choice for growing lights.

Fluorescent bulbs generally produce a low-intensity light, so they work best when you can place them close to the plants, such as on germination benches. 

Fluorescent fixtures also tend to be large and bulky, so hanging them high in the greenhouse can create shade and prevent natural light from reaching plants.

Generic fluorescent tubes and bulbs are higher in blue wavelengths, so look for “full-spectrum” or include a mix of “cool” and “warm” bulbs. When in doubt, buy “cool white” products,

Fluorescent lights emit white lights that contain full spectrum of wavelengths. For maximum effect, position fluorescents about a foot away from plant foliage.

The incandescent lights produce higher heat than the fluorescent lights. Using Incandescent lights to grow plants requires you to place it distance from the plants.

The heat that comes from Incandescent lights can destroy plants when the light bulb is closer to the plants.

Incandescent bulbs give off more red wavelengths, so they can be used to supplement fluorescent light and balance out the spectrum, especially if you’re trying to encourage plants to bloom.

If you want to mix the two, try using a ratio of about one-third incandescent and two-thirds fluorescent by wattage.

Fluorescent lights emit low heat that plants can thrive on. Fluorescent lights are known for low heat emitting.

Incandescent lights give off a lot of heat and should be placed farther away from plant foliage. 

How Much Fluorescent Light Is Enough For Plants?

The size of your greenhouse is what determines the number of fluorescent lights that’ll produce the required lights plants need.

You don’t just install fluorescent lights on your greenhouse or on indoor plants. Because when you install high brightness, the light will be too much for the plants.

Likewise, installing fluorescent that’ll produce low light will affect the plants as well. That’s why it is important you know the amount of fluorescent lights that’ll be enough for you to grow your plants.

However, to ensure you install fluorescent light that’ll properly illuminate your plants, you need to measure the coverage.

First check the fluorescent coverage. How many distances does the fluorescent light can cover? Does the fluorescent light have the capacity to produce canopy light. 

If the fluorescent lights can produce canopy light, then you need to know how many numbers of fluorescent lights will be enough for you to get the whole place light-up or will  be sufficient to provide the lights plants need.

To get the exact number of fluorescent lights you need to light up plants, you have to measure the place. 

Light meter is an instrument you can use to measure the exact number of fluorescents you need to make your plant grow and flourish.

The essence of using a light meter is because there are many brands of fluorescents producers out there in the market.

Their fluorescent products come in different grades and models. The model and grade is what determines how bright the light will be.

Fluorescent wattage is another way to check how bright the fluorescent will be. The higher the wattage the brighter is the light it will produce.

The amount of light seed plants need is different from the amount of light required to make plants mature for harvest.

You need to know the stage of your plants before you supply light. During seeding plants don’t need high light. 

But at the germination stage, you need higher light to make the plant thrive. That means you need higher wattages of fluorescent to make the plants grow faster.

When your plants are in the maturity stage, you need light that’s 250+ PAR. PAR simply means Photosynthesis Active Radiation. The PAR of light can be known when you measure it with a PAR meter.


Fluorescent can be used to grow plants at any stage.

The amount of light spectrum you need to make your plant grow depends on the growth stage.

The higher the fluorescent wattage, the lower the number of fluorescent lights you’ll use to make your plants flourish under any greenhouse.