If you read our post about the different types of indoor grow lights, you know fluorescent lights are a great choice.
They are much cheaper that traditional grow lights, and a lot easier to pick up in a store.
After your pepper seeds germinate, be sure to have your light ready so that the seedlings continue to grow.
Lighting can be a bit tricky because:
- Too much light burns the tender seedling foliage.
- Not enough light interferes with the growth. (In other words, they’ll flop over and die.)
But don’t worry, you’ll get the hang of it fast.
Getting A Fluorescent Grow Light
The 4 foot long lamps are an ideal source of artificial light for your peppers because they provide the right amount of heat and do not cost a lot of money.
You can buy these lights, typically called “grow lights” or “plant lamps,” at a nearby hardware store.
Each lamp usually sells for $12 to $15.
Before you run to the store, check around your house. You might already have what you need!
For example, I had an old fish tank and noticed the aquarium light on top.
Sure enough, I verified it had fluorescent grow bulbs. (And thank goodness! I was a new chile grower and didn’t know I was supposed to give my plants light after they germinated.)
You might want to take a look in your garage or shed too. Those unused fluorescent shop lights work pretty well. (That’s what I’m using in the picture.)
Nothing is more cost effective than being free!
Indoor plant lights are designed to be hung or mounted directly above your plants. Don’t worry, it’s safe to do this because they don’t contain the lumens that burn too hot.
The key factor here is making sure that the light is close enough to the pepper seedlings so that they don’t become “leggy” and use all their energy to grow really long stems.
Most pepper growers place the lamp 2 to 4 inches away from the top of the plant to avoid this problem.
Also, make sure the light is directly over your plants. I recommend using multiple lights if needed.
When I first tried growing peppers, I used a fluorescent grow lamp that was too short so it didn’t quite cover all the pepper plants in that row.
Not knowing any better at the time, I watched as the plants in the middle grew well, while the ones on the right and left bent at dangerous angles trying to get to the heat.
Luckily, I replaced the light in time to save most of them, but one beautiful early jalapeno plant bent so much that it fell over and never recovered.
Again, buy extra lamps to cover your chillies completely. Better safe than sorry!
How Long to Keep Your Plant Lamps On
Leave your fluorescent grow light on for about 12 to 16 hours each day. This time frame gives your chile seedlings the exposure to the heat that they need.
You can make this process easier by getting a plant timer from a hardware store (about $10) to turn the lamp on and off automatically. This is actually really helpful when you’re not at home.
And don’t worry, your electric bill shouldn’t suffer because the fluorescent bulbs typically use the same wattage that a regular light bulb does.
You’ll find that fluorescent bulbs do the job well. I use a T5 now, but that’s just because I like the full coverage it provides over my propagator.
Again, it’s all about personal preference!