Using a Cost-Effective Fluorescent Growing Light to Grow Your Hot Peppers

Published in Categories, Growing Hot Pepper Plants, Hydroponic Gardening on 25th February 2010

After your pepper seeds push through the soil (germinate), your seedlings need a light source that provides the heat they require to keep thriving. Lighting can be a bit tricky because too much light burns the tender seedling foliage and not enough light interferes with the growth. Although special grow lamps can be expensive, you can use a cost-effective fluorescent growing light to give your young peppers the boost they need during this critical growth phase.

Fluorescent Grow Lights

Plant light set up for growing peppersThese 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 and each lamp usually sells for $12 to $15.

Before you run to the store, check around your house because you might already have what you need. In our situation, we had an old fish tank and I saw that it still had the aquarium light on top. Sure enough, I verified that it had fluorescent grow bulbs. I grabbed the light and we placed it over the pepper seedlings, which responded really well.

Additionally, take a look in your garage or shed for an unused fluorescent shop light because that will work too. Nothing is more cost effective than being free!

Light Positioning

Indoor growing lights are designed to be hung or mounted directly above your plants, which you can safely do because they do not contain the lumens that makes them burn too hot.

The key factor here is making sure that the light is close enough to the pepper seedlings so that they do not become “leggy” and use all of their energy to grow a long stem with hardly any leaves. Most pepper growers place the lamp 2 to 4 inches away from the top of the plant to avoid this problem.

Next, be aware that the plant will bend towards the heat if the growing lights are not directly above them. When we first tried growing peppers, we had a fluorescent grow lamp with a smaller width and 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. It was so sad! Luckily, we 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. If you need to, buy extra lamps to cover the width and depth of your chili plants.

How Long to Keep Your Plant Lamps On

Leave your fluorescent growing 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 acquiring a plant timer from a hardware store (about $10) to turn the lamp on and off automatically. 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.

Did you enjoy this article? If so, check out the "Grow Your Own Jalapenos and Super Hot Peppers in Containers" e-book for detailed, step-by-step instructions that explain how to grow all of your favorite chillies from beginning to end.

Grow all of your own Jalapenos, Habaneros, Ghost Chillies and more with this clear, step-by-step ebook!

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  • ThePepperSeed

    If you can you should use T5 lights. VERY bright and still cheap to run.

  • grow light

    it is nice of u to share the information, it is heplful for me

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Learn how to QUICKLY and EASILY germinate pepper seeds so you can grow any variety you want!


In this step-by-step guide, you'll learn:

  • When to plant
  • Seed preparation
  • Germination techniques
  • How to make a chamomile tea solution for watering
  • How to sow your pepper seeds properly
  • How to water your seedlings from the bottom up
  • How to provide a cover and heat source
  • How to watch for germination
  • How to cut away seedlings    
  • And other essential tips!


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