Seedlings under lights

Many perennials and some annuals benefit from a head start indoors. People often start seeds in a sunny windowsill, but seedlings will grow straighter and sturdier if grown under lights. Incandescent bulbs do not provide the proper spectrum of light for plant growth, so you must use fluorescents. The set-up need not be fancy. For most purposes, standard fluorescent tubes will work just as well as the more expensive grow lights. Choose a fixture that fits your space (home improvement stores stock these) and select lights to fit. Hang the fixture with a chain so the lights can be raised as plants grow. The bulbs should be no higher than 4 inches from the top of the seedlings. To know when to start seeds, check the seed packet. Most will say how many weeks in advance of warm weather (usually after the last frost date) to sow them indoors.

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