Starting your seeds indoors can give you a huge head start on your garden. Setting up your indoor seed starting station requires a number of supplies including the best grow lights for seedlings, the best seed growing trays, seeds and more. You can also purchase a complete seed starting kit, especially if you’re just trying to start a small amount of seeds indoors for the first time.
If you are just looking for a few seedlings, you may want to consider supporting a local grower by purchasing seedlings through them, but if you want to grow more seeds, then growing your own seedlings can save you money, give you more plants and be incredibly rewarding.
There are a number of things to consider when you are selecting the best grow lights for seedlings. You will want to decide how many seeds you plan to start, how you will hang the lights (some lights come with a stand while others will need to be hung) and also what type of light you want to use. You can see below for a couple quick suggestions on the best grow lights for seedlings. If you want more details, read more about what to look for in a grow light, suggestions for setting up your seed growing set up and scroll down for more details on the grow lights listed below.
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Quick Look at the Best Grow Lights for Seedlings and Seed Starting
Here is a snapshot of the best grow lights for seed starting. Scroll down for more details on each of the different lights and to see what to consider when choosing the best light.
Best for starting a single tray
Single Adjustable Grow Light
Adjustable Grow Light Set Up
Dimmable and Full Spectrum Grow Light
Dimmable, efficient and Full Spectrum Light
Why Do You Need Lights? (Do you Really Need Light for Seedlings and Seed Starting?)
If you’re reading this article you likely already know that grow lights will dramatically help your seeds grow. Can you grow seedlings without a grow light? Yes, most of the time, but they will be spindly and may not thrive when transplanted. Most seedlings need between 14 and 16 hours of sunlight a day. Even if you have a south facing window, this is simple not enough sunlight! Using grow lights exclusively or to supplement natural light will give you healthier plants.
We set up our seed growing set up in a room with lots of natural sunlight. Since the lights are set up over the small plants, they still don’t get much light, but we are able to turn the lights on when we first wake up and turn them off before we go to sleep at night. Since we have solar power at our house, we prefer to use the lights during the day when they can use the power from the panels.
See more about How to Start Vegetable Seeds Indoors
What to Consider When Selecting the Best Grow Light for Seedlings
In general, the best grow lights for seedlings are also the best grow lights for seed starting, although many seeds don’t need light to germinate and will only need the grow lights once the seeds have sprouted. Here are a few things to consider before your purchase or look for the best grown lights for seedlings:
- How many seeds do you want to start? Each grow light will specify a size, and you will need to decide how many seedlings fit under the lights. Your seeds should be directly under the grow lights for the best results. Try to plan ahead if you think you may want to grow more seeds in the future.
- Where will you set up your lights? Do you have a place out of the way that has access to power?
- How will you secure your lights? You can read more about this is in the next section, but you will want to decide if you will hang your lights or put them on a stand.
- What type of seeds will you grow? Generally speaking, it doesn’t matter what you’re growing: the best grow lights for tomatoes are also the best grow lights for herbs. What does matter is that you will want to keep your lights just a few inches above your seedlings. If you have tomatoes that grow fast quickly and you need to raise your lights, your shorter plants may not get enough sun. You might be better off buying a few smaller lights that can be adjusted.
- Choose the best type of light for your grow lights – you can see more information of the different types of lights you might see for sale and why it matters.
Understanding the Different Type of Grow Lights
There are 4 main types of different lights/bulbs you will find when you are looking for the best grow lights for seedlings: Incandescent, LED, Florescent, or High Intensity Discharge. They each have different properties that make them better or worse for growing, varied efficiency and different prices.
Incandescent bulbs: There bulbs are the cheapest and work well for a quick set up for just a few plants. These bulbs give off a lot of heat which means you can’t place them too close to your plants or they could burn your plants. They are also not very efficient. These are best if you are supplementing natural light.
Fluorescent lights: These are a popular choice for starting seeds at home. The newer versions often come with a wide spectrum of light, but traditional florescent lights don’t have the best spectrum coverage but are ok for starting seeds and growing vegetables. They are still relatively inexpensive and don’t get as hot as incandescent bulbs.
High Intensity Discharge: These are highly efficient lights that give off lots of light (you may see them called MH (metal Halide) or HPS (high pressure Sodium). The MH lights are best for growing vegetables so are good for seedlings. They don’t work well for indoor flowering plants. They are more expensive than the other options.
LED Lights (light emitting diode): These are a fewer options and are efficient and give off very little heat. They produce a wide spetrum of light similar to sunlight, so are good for both seedlings and indoor flowering plants. These tend to be more expensive but are coming down in cost as the technology evolves.
How to Set up your Grow Lights
You will want to set up your grow lights so they are easy to adjust. Ideally you will keep your lights just above your seedlings to give them the most direct light. This means that you will need to have your lights mounted on a stand or hung from the ceiling. We’ve done both options, but at the moment we use a bookcase like rack with light hung below each shelf. You should look at what comes with the grow light in terms of set up – some will have cables or clips to keep the lights up.
You can also set up your seed growing set up in a basement or attic with beams where you can attach the lights to the ceiling.
The Best Grow Light for Seedlings: Details
See below for some of the best grow lights reviews to help you select the best grow light for your seed starting setup and home. Several of the options come as single lights, but you can also purchase kits with more than one light.
This is one of the best small LED grow lights for starting just a few seeds. This light comes on a stand which makes set up really easy. I also really like how it rotates so you could turn the light to let in some natural light during the day and it makes it easy to adjust. If you’re just starting, this is one of the best budget grow lights.
This is another of the best led grow lights for starting a small number of seeds. The light has a stand that is easy to adjust and you can position the light right above your seedlings. It is not as stable as if the light is secured above, so it’s best in a place in a place where it won’t get bumped.
This is a larger LED light set up with a larger spectrum light and dimmable lights. You can find a lot more options from Spider online with different sizes. You will need to decide how to set up your light so look into a kit for hanging the lights or plan up your own rigging. These are probably my favorite and the best led grow lights for the money.
I’m not including the Burpee grow light in this section as it’s our least favorite of the options. I like how it looks, but didn’t like the stability of the light.
Other Seed Starting Supplies
Grow lights are only one of the supplies you will need for starting healthy seedling. Here is a lost of the other supplies you will need to get started:
- Seed trays, drip tray and cover
- The best seed starting mix
- Grow lights
- Heat Mat
- Spray bottle/watering can
- Plant labels
Tags: Best Grow Lights for Seedlings, best grow lights LED