Can I Use a Fluorescent Grow Light in a Regular Fluorescent Fixture?

by Tara
(Rogers, AR)

I have an outdoor garden which is doing well, but I also want to bring some herbs inside to grow for convenience. I have a small (about 1ft wide) ledge between the kitchen sink/ counter area and the living room that I want to grow them on and the area gets little sunlight. Can I just get a fluorescent fixture from Lowes etc. and put a grow style light into it?

I looked around your sight and I did see references to using regular fluorescent bulbs and fixtures, but I think I might need to use the metal halides lights. I just have a small area to light up but the light will have to be about 3-4 above the plants so I thought the fluorescent fixture secured to the top of the cut out (which is lower than the actual ceiling) would work maybe with a stronger light (hence the metal halides). I appreciate your expertise and look forward to hearing from you.

Answer: Tara, fluorescent lights would need to be positioned 3 to 4 inches above the tops of your plants to be effective. Because herbs produce edible parts while in the vegetative stage, they require less light than most garden plants to grow properly. A fluorescent light positioned close would be enough to grow several different healthy herb plants. They make special plant growth bulbs that fit in a regular fluorescent light fixture, but T5 bulbs WILL NOT WORK in a standard (T12) fluorescent make sure the bulb is designed to fit into such a fixture before you use it (and do not try to force it in if it does not fit easily).

The fluorescent grow light is a good strategy, especially since the space in question receives some amount of sunlight to begin with. However, if you have your heart set on hanging the grow light 3 or 4 feet above your herb garden, you will definitely need to use the more powerful Metal Halide light.

You can find 150 watt HPS security lights at places like Lowes or Home Depot, and I imagine they would carry some Metal Halide versions as well. I have found them for as little as $39.00 before, but most of them cost a little more than that. Since the garden is located in an area that gets a lot of use (the kitchen), I recommend lighting the garden with a Metal Halide as opposed to a High Pressure Sodium light....the light spectrum is more natural and makes it easier to work in if you do a lot of cooking. Hope this helps, and Happy Growing!

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