Do I need a Grow Light to Start Seeds Indoors?

Do I need a Grow Light to Start Seeds Indoors?

If you’re new to gardening indoors, you might have the question: Do I need a grow light to start seeds indoors?

Getting the right amount of natural light is a common question or issue that new gardeners face.

In this article we’re covering how much natural light you need for starting seeds, and if a grow light is necessary.

Factors to Consider

When evaluating if you need a grow light to start seeds indoors, you should consider the following criteria.

What do your seedlings need?

In general, seedlings can be a little temperamental. They love a lot of direct light and being moist around the clock. This means that you need to ensure that they have enough light available to them and are consistently watered.

Each plant will be a little different in their needs. Lettuce seedlings for example, require 12-16 hours of light each day.

How Much Natural Light is Available

The first consideration is how much natural light is available in your space. For some, you might have a window that provides a lot of direct natural light throughout the day. Direct light refers to when the sun is shining directly on to your plants, rather than light being reflected into the room indirectly.

Direct light is ideal if you’re planting seeds.

However, even if you don’t have direct light, your space might still receive a fair amount of indirect light. While indirect is not as effective as direct light, it can still provide a lot of the benefits of natural light for your plants.

Wherever you get the most amount of light, that is where you’ll want to keep your seeds.

How long does the light reach that space?

The other factor is the length of time that a plant will be in the natural light.

If there is only a short period of time where the plant will be in the natural light, then you’ll likely want to supplement with a grow light.

However, if your plant can get a lot of natural light for a prolonged period of time, you might be able to get away without a grow light.

Do I need a Grow Light to Start Seeds Indoors?

As a general rule of thumb, you should aim for 12 hours of light for your seeds each day.

If you’re unable to get strong enough natural light, a grow light is a option to supplement your plant’s growth.

Odds are, if you’re struggling to get your seedlings to grow, they could benefit from a grow light.

We’ve done a full comparison of grow light options for small spaces, but this is our top pick for versatility:

We like this model for a few reasons:

  1. This grow light has multiple flexible arms that allow you to adjust the height of the light easily
  2. There’s an automatic timer function so you can set it and forget it.
  3. Its compact, and great for those growing in a small space. You can clamp it to the railing of your balcony garden without giving up storage space.

Other considerations for Growing Seeds

Lets talk quickly about a few other considerations for growing seeds.

Seedling Trays

You’ll likely want a seedling tray to plant your seeds in. These are easy to transplant from and have a lid to help protect your seeds from pets, who often like to graze on seedlings when given the opportunity.

If you’re looking for a DIY option, you can achieve a similar product by using old egg cartons as seedling trays.

Spray bottles for Watering

To ensure you dont disrupt your seedlings, use a spray bottle filled with water to water your seedlings.

A soft misting is enough to keep the top layer of soil damp. As the seedlings grow, you can start to water with a watering can or cup as you normally would.

Potting Soil

Be sure to select a high quality potting soil when planting seeds. Potting soil is one of the most important factors not only for seeds but for fully grown plants.

The right balance of nutrients in a potting soil can help a plant thrive.

Our favorite mix is the Happy Frog Potting Mix, available on Amazon. This is a high quality mix full of nutrients and ingredients to nurture your plant, and has a comparable price point to bargain brands.


While it is possible to grow seedlings without a grow light, many will benefit from adding this to supplement the natural light in your space.

Have you had success using a grow light at home? Let us know in the comments below!

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