There are different types of artificial lights that will support plants indoors, from ordinary bulbs and tubes to super-efficient LED lights. Most are available in multiple color spectrums.

Fluorescent tubes put out three to four times the light of incandescent bulbs for the same energy. Their color frequencies run from reds to blues, so you can mix and match to suit your preferences. Full-spectrum or sunlight fluorescents are great for all plants and for starting plants from seeds. They’re often even marketed as grow lights.

Industry standard, T-4-size tubes fit in ordinary shop lights and household fluorescent fixtures. New, smaller T-8 and T-5 tubes need fixtures with special ballasts, but use less power and last significantly longer.

Cool-white and warm-white fluorescent bulbs can be mixed in a two-bulb fixture to get a good balance of red and blue light. Metal halide lamps and mercury vapor lamps have a strong blue spectrum, high-intensity light good for developing dense, stocky foliage. High-pressure sodium bulbs emit yellow-orange light that’s better for the flowering and fruiting phase of a plant’s lifecycle.

The newest technology for grow lights uses Light Emitting Diodes. LEDs are extremely energy efficient; they average 50,000 hours of useful operation, and generate very little heat, making them safe for plants and people. You’ll spend a good bit more upfront but you can expect to save 40 percent to 75 percent on your energy costs.

Regardless of which kind of lighting system you use, rotate your plants one or more times each week to balance the amount of light each plant receives. Replace fluorescent tubes when the ends start to blacken to keep adequate light levels for your plants. Keep the plants far enough away from the light to prevent burning yet close enough to maximize the exposure these supplemental sources provide.

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