Flows Plant Plant Grow Light Seed Starting Indoors

Grow Light Seed Starting Indoors

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Grow lights are one of the most useful tools for gardeners who grow lots of vegetables or who are starting a garden from scratch. You can jumpstart the gardening season by starting the seedlings indoors and using grow lights to help give them a boost when the sunlight is still returning to us.

If you’re starting seeds this year, your seeds will have been planted in homemade starters or store bought containers and germinated. Those baby plants may not be ready to hit the harsh outdoors yet, but they need enough light to grow.

This DIY plant shelf with grow lights will help you fashion your very own indoor grow op by using an inexpensive Ikea shelving unit and some utility lighting.

Store-Bought Mini Greenhouses

In past years I have used a 4-tier wire shelf which allows me to grow eight trays of seedlings into large plants. I can continuously move the shelves to make more room for taller plants. It comes with a greenhouse cover that makes the perfect transition to the outdoors to harden off seedlings.

I use this 4-tier wire shelf as an outdoor greenhouse when potting the seedlings into larger pots. I decided to make something a little neater for the starts as the shelf was in a prominent place in my office.

It’s quite easy to make your own grow light shelf set-up at a fraction of the price.

Plus, I needed more room indoors for my air plants, terrariums, and all my other plant babies. Window space is a hot commodity! I’ve seen many inexpensive shelving units from Ikea get used for a few projects by fabulously stylish gardeners, and I gave it a try myself.

Designing a Plant Shelf With Grow Lights

Carrie from Read Between the Limes’s IKEA Seed Starting Rack inspired this project. Her shelf has fewer lights and adorable seed and soil supply labels. Make sure you check out Carrie’s blog for the instructions on how she set up her shelf and lots of great ideas on gardening with kids.

The original shelf used for this project, the IKEA GORM, is no longer available. However, many of IKEA’s other shelving units would work. Alternatively, look online on Facebook Marketplace or in groups to see second-hand shelves you can turn into your grow light shelf.

I added to Carrie’s setup by using six lights on the top three shelves, which was the perfect amount of light to prevent the seedlings from becoming too leggy. Each tray will have two lights shining directly on it.

For the seedlings, I also included a heat mat underneath. There, I rest the new seedlings on the heat mat with a plastic cover to keep the heat in. The lights remain OFF until I see signs of germination, then I turn the lights on.

How to Avoid Leggy Seedlings Under Grow Lights

Tall, spindly (aka leggy) seedlings do not give your plants a great start.

It’s not the end of the world, but it indicates that the plants are not getting enough light which is stressful for them. Growing tall and skinny can cause the plants to flop over and break or be damaged.

The best remedy for leggyness is to provide enough light and the right kind of light. For most home growers wanting to start a few seedlings, standard fluorescent utility lights work just fine.

If you can find inexpensive lights specifically made for growing plants, they may have a high colour temperature that more closely mimics the sun (and they are pink!). These can be very expensive, and for the price, the results are not that much different than standard fluorescent bulbs, so save your bucks and buy a “daylight” bulb instead.

Grow lights should be placed just above the plants. This is why you want your grow light shelf to have adjustable lights. As the plants grow, you slowly raise the light. When the grow light reaches the top, the plants should be planted or potted outside.

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