Indoor Lighting for Growing Herbs and Salads
Answered by: Inge Poot
Question from: Don Dubecky
Posted on: October 23, 2007

In the Q&A section, you said that herbs need a lot of light. My question is, how much and what kind is appropriate? I have very little sunlight available (barely adequate for a few houseplants), so most of the light will have to be artificial. Is it necessary to use the high powered mercury lamps that are sold in the hydroponics shops, or are more economical options sufficient? For example, "daylight" fluorescent tubes or even compact fluorescents? How much light is needed per sq.ft.? (In "lumens", or watts of fluorescent lights, or whatever units you prefer - I’ll convert).

More economical options are quite sufficient. Most herbs do best with about 1000 fc of light and if you have them in a window and place a fixture with two 4 foot (1.2m) fluorescent 40 watt tubes over them they will do just fine. In compact fluorescents a lot of the light goes into the room unless you get reflective shades for them. The four foot (1.2 m) fixtures usually have side shades already built in. Make sure to change the tubes once a year, since after that time the intensity has decreased substantially. It is usually recommended to do the change in the fall when natural light levels fall so that the plants get a more steady combination of total light from fluorescents and natural light sources.

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