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OSU Extension

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences

February 13, 2015 - 10:17am --

It's the time of year to begin planning our gardens!  I love this time of year because with each seed catalog delivered to my home, it inches my excitement level to begin spring up just once more notch!  I had the question the other day about grow lights and what were the ideal types of lights to have in your seed starting benches.

Having adequate light is important to grow nice transplants for your garden.  While it is not essential to have a grow light for germination and growth of your plants, it does increase the chance that your transplants will be healthy and vigorous.

There are several types of lights that you can choose from, which include - incandescent, fluorescent, and LED.  Incandescent lights deliver mostly red rays but little blue which is needed to produce a plant's energy, thus making them a poor choice for your grow light system.  These lights also produce a lot of heat and may burn your plants if used too close.  If they must be used, it is important to keep the lights at a distance from the plants, which reduces the amount of light for the plants as well. 

A cool white fluorescent light, which delivers a small amount of red rays in addition to orange, yellow-green, and blue rays, is a better choice for your use in your indoor lighting systems.  Fluorescent bulbs especially when used in combination with a special fluorescent plant-growing light, that provides an even distribution of red and blue rays, can make your growing system more efficient.  It is recommended that you use one plant-growing bulb to one or two cool white tubes.  Fluorescent bulbs are not only three times more efficient than an incandescent bulb, but they also provide about 10,000 hours or more of light versus the 1,000 hours that the incandescent bulb provides.

Fluorescent tubes give off little heat and can be placed approximately two inches above the plants thus allowing you to produce a thicker stemmed plant instead of a leggier plant if the light was positioned father away.  In the case of an incandescent plant, the light will need to be positioned approximately a foot or more from the plant.

Lastly, the LED (light emitting diode) light is newer to the market.  LED plant grow lights have been researched by NASA for over a decade and are now out in stores.  They produce little heat, consume little power, live long lives, and provide the light wavelengths that plants thrive in.  In many studies, many plants did better (grew taller in less time).  LED lighting also is not nearly as hot or intense.  However, they are not necessarily the best option for home gardeners, as they are quite expensive.

For additional information on agriculture, natural resources management, or horticulture, visit: on the web or call the OSU Extension, Butler County, at (513) 887-3722, or in Middletown at (513) 424-5351, ext. #3722. 

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News Release provided by Cindy Meyer.