how long do i keep my grow lights on when i sow my seeds?

Lansing, IL

just starting out and i have not been able to find anything to helpme with how long or how often i should keep my lights on when i first sow my seeds.

Greenfield, OH(Zone 6a)

I have used grow lights in the past and they work well with getting an early start on the season. The down side I found is that they still do not put out enough light to prevent veggies from becoming leggy if used for an extended time.
I always put my lights about 2 inches above the plants (don't let the plants touch them) and I would turn them on in the morning (about 6AM) and turn them off when I went to bed (around 10PM). My plants were always healthy.
Note that you will still need to slowly introduce them to full sun or the will "sunburn". I started my plants off with direct morning sun of about 1 hour for a couple days and increased it by an hour every couple days after.
If they do get a little burned by the sun (their leaves will become pale and shrivel slightly) reduce the direct light a little and the usually bounce back.

Lansing, IL

do you put the lights on them as soon as you plant the seeds or do you wait till they pop?

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

phatpotato - I use 4ft shop lights fitted with cool white tubes.

I leave the lights on 16 hours per day. Although it doesn't seem reasonable, I have found it's best to have them on from the day the seeds are sown.

The lights are suspended by chains on cup hooks. I keep the tubes just above the seedlings without them actually touching.

Hope this helps. ^^_^^

Lansing, IL

yes thanks that was exactly what is was looking for. have seen quite a few different setups here and just getting mine started now.

Greenfield, OH(Zone 6a)

I turn them on after I sow the seed because it adds some heat to the seed starting mix which speeds up germination.

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

I have done what honeybee and yardener do for at least ten years and it works beautifully. For plants that require darkness for germination, just cover the seeds with soil.

Shawnee Mission, KS(Zone 6a)

Leave the lights on until you plant them outside. We're on a 5am to 11 pm light rotation.

If you you have seeds that need dark to germinate they can be covered temporaily with cardboard.

Another issue to check is soil temperature. Some seeds need either very cold temps (use the fridge or freezer) or warm temps.

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

An inexpensive timer can help with the on/off cycle.

Tom Clothier's Garden Walk and Talk is a great reference for germination times and conditions such as heat and cold, darkness and light.

http://tomclothier.hort.net/

And if J. L. Hudson has your seed, you can get the same great information. I have been using the two for at least 15 years.

http://www.jlhudsonseeds.net/

Hallowell, ME

Since mine are located in the basement I use a timer and give them 12 hours of light from the time I plant the seeds til I harden them off outside. I also use heat pads.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Ditto. 12 hrs. on, 12 hrs. off, in two different rooms.

One warm room to germinate -- One cool room to grow on after potting up. Only 'cause my vents were wired that way, and rather than reroute everything, I use the hot and cold rooms to my growing advantage...

Grow lights. Regular fluorescent shop lights from HD. $10 per kit. Two kits per shelf, for a total of 4 bulbs per shelf.

I keep my lights 1" from the tops of the seedlings at all times, after they pop...

Thumbnail by Gymgirl Thumbnail by Gymgirl
Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

Yes, excellent point. Special grow light are unnecessary. Standard 40 watt florescent bulbs work very well.

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