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Selecting Artificial Lights for Indoor Gardens

Whether you are trying to start plants from seeds, get your African violets to bloom, or keeping your indoor plants alive, a bit of extra light can help.

Plants need a variety of light (color/wavelength) for proper growth and flowering.  Blue light promotes leaf and stem growth while red combined with blue promotes flowering and bud development.  In the past gardeners would buy grow lights or use a combination of cool and warm fluorescent bulbs to stimulate both growth and flowering. 

Now we have other choices.  The full spectrum compact fluorescent bulbs (spiral kind) produce a wide range of light and are suitable for plant growth. You may need to purchase full spectrum sunlight or warm bulbs that emit more of the red light needed to promote flowering and fruiting of plants.   The same applies to LED lights.  Though your initial investment is more, these lights will last longer and use less energy.

A bit more information:  Proper spacing between the lights and plants is also important.  Keep artificial lights about 6 inches above the top of seedlings.  Adjust the position of your plants or lights as the plants grow.  Keep lights 6 to 12 inches above indoor plants.  Use reflective surfaces under and around the plants to bounce light back into the plants. 

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