In 2015 EYE Hortilux began manufacturing a 48 inch full spectrum fluorescent bulb specifically designed for indoor growing. These bulbs - the PowerVeg series - would deliver a a Full and Ultra Violet Spectrum (UVA and UVB) closely approximating sunlight. For last year's seed starting, I used two PowerVeg FS-UV (full spectrum, ultra violet) 48 inch bulbs in the outside slots of a four bulb lamp. I used two ‘grow light bulbs' from another company in the two inside slots. I was very surprised at the results - strong plants with good color that transplanted well into the garden.
This year EYE Hortilux expanded their PowerVeg series. They still sell the FS-UV bulbs, but their new bulbs let you build a customized visible light spectrum for your plants. Why? Good old fashioned sunlight is made up of different light spectrums. Each of these spectrums - think colors - has different effects on plants. More blue light encourages the growth of more foliage. Red light can trigger plants to bloom. Some plants respond to UV spectrum by producing more oils and germinating faster. Each of these new PowerVeg bulbs, produce selected wavelengths of the ‘sunlight spectrum’, so you can give you more control over the light colors reaching your seedlings. You can see the full line of PwerVeg bulbs HERE. along with some suggested bulb combinations.
Like many home gardeners, I start certain veggie seeds indoors so I can move my transplants outside as early as possible. I want lots of leaves, but I don’t want my seedlings to put on blooms indoors. So this year I’ve changed my grow light configuration. I still use a 48 inch, four bulb, lamp. My two PowerVeg FS-UV bulbs are still in the outside slots, but I’ve put a PowerVeg Blue and a Violet bulb into the inside slots. This produces more blue (and a little more yellow) light. So far (two weeks after planting) I am super impressed with the results - especially with peppers and tomatoes.
- PowerVeg bulbs are T5s. This refers to bulb size - about the diameter of a dime. If you already have a fluorescent lamp, be sure these bulbs will fit.
- The dangers of UV Light to humans are well known. If you use four FS-UV bulbs, be sure to limit exposure to your skin.
- Buying these bulbs online is iffy. Some online vendors have lousy packing (you end up with broken bulbs) and/or send the wrong product. I would strongly recommend Flora Hydroponics. These folks do a great job packing a very fragile product, and they mail orders out quickly.
- No doubt about it, these bulbs are pricey - around $33.00 each. Through the years I've used cheaper grow-lights and raised OK veggie starts. I've just never ended up with seedlings this healthy this fast.
- Plants' use of light is a complex science. Different plants use different light spectrums in different ways. It pays to research your specific goals before configuring you grow light setup.
- Optimal grow-light height above seedlings is ten to twelve inches.