Choosing The Right Fluorescent Grow Lights For Your Indoor Garden

Choosing The Right Fluorescent Grow Lights For Your Indoor Garden

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Fluorescent grow lights are a great option for many indoor hydroponic gardeners. Not just any fluorescent light will work for growing plants though, so it’s important to choose the right one for your garden. Here’s what you need to know about fluorescent grow lights.

Choosing The Right Fluorescent Grow Lights For Your Indoor Garden

Plants That Grow Well Under Fluorescent Lighting

Fluorescent lighting is low-intensity light that doesn’t give off too much heat. This makes it great for propagating seedlings and clones. Fluorescent lighting also works well for growing plants that don’t need a lot of light. It’s a good grow light option for growing leafy vegetables like lettuce, spinach, and many herbs.

Fluorescent lighting gives off a narrow spectrum of light with not a lot of red. They work well for vegetative growth but don’t work as well for the fruiting plants.

What Fluorescent Lights Work Best for Growing?

Fluorescent tube lights are distinguished by their diameter. They are given a “T” rating, which represents one-eighth of an inch. There are T4’s up to T12’s.  You’re probably familiar with T12 bulbs as they’re used in many office and buildings. The 12 signifies that the bulb is 12/8 (1.5 inches) in diameter. But the bigger the bulb diameter doesn’t necessarily mean it’s putting off the most or most useful light for plant growth.

The best suited fluorescent lighting to grow plants indoors are actually T5 and T8 lighting fixtures.

What’s The Difference Between T5 and T8 Grow Lights?

Besides diameter, there are just a few small differences between the T5 and T8 fluorescent grow lights.  T5 lighting tends to be a little more expensive but is also a little more powerful.

Choosing The Right Fluorescent Bulbs For Growing Plants

In addition to choosing the right fixture, it’s also important to choose the right bulbs. Fluorescent bulbs are measured by color temperature in Kelvin.

For grow leafy greens you’ll want a bulb with a lot of blue light. Look for fluorescent bulbs in the 5600k-6400K range.

The Pro’s Of Using Fluorescent Grow Lights

  • Upfront costs are typically more affordable.
  • Fluorescent grow lights put off less heat compared to some other lighting options.
  • Fluorescent grow lights are energy efficient and can last 25,000+ hours

Drawbacks To Using Fluorescent Lighting Grows

  • Fluorescent grow lights are low intensity.
  • Fluorescent lighting is typically not the best option for fruiting plants.
  • Bulbs can tend to break easily.


While not the best option for growing plants that fruit, fluorescent grow lights work great for those looking to grow leafy vegetables. Most commercial indoor growers of lettuce use fluorescent lighting because of how well they perform. Leafy greens are also some the best plants for beginners, so coupled with the fact that fluorescent grow lights are one of the cheapest grow light option.

2 Answers

  1. Taylor Bishop
    January 14, 2019 at 8:19 am

    Thanks for this advice for getting good fluorescent grow lights. I didn’t know that using fluorescent grow lights could possibly last 25,000+ hours. This seems very useful especially if you want to work on the garden for a very long time.

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