Which Supplemental Light is Best?

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My favorite grow lights for succulent plants are fluorescent tubes.

It’s recommended that you use fixtures with one warm tube and one cool one to give the ideal type of light.

Or, you can go to more expense and buy special tubes developed specifically for plants which provide exactly the right spectrum for optimum growth.


Most succulents if not watered too much will pretty much go dormant through the winter, reducing the need for the expensive grow lights.

They make up for it in the summer months when they get plenty of natural sunlight.

Other grow lights on the market are less environmentally friendly as they take a lot more electricity to run than fluorescent lights such as halide and mercury vapor.

Most of these are very high powered as well as unpleasantly bright for a multi use room, so not recommended for home use.

They also produce a lot of heat, which is not a problem with fluorescents as only the ballast produces a small amount of heat.


Compact fluorescent lights can be used if they are specially developed ones specifically for grow lights.

These can’t be used with a timer, so are not as easy to simply hook up and ignore.

The optimum height of the grow lights above the plants is to have them about 10cm (4″) below the tubes, but if the plants are closer than that, don’t worry as the tubes don’t emit any heat, so won’t damage the plants.

The tubes emit more light from the center of the bulb, and less towards the ends, so place the plants a little closer to the tubes the further away from the center you get.

Small pieces of wood under the flats, or taller pots can be used at the ends.

Problems with Grow Lights

Fluorescent Tube
The fluorescent tubes most used in grow light fixtures only have a short life span.

Even though they still emit light, it gradually diminishes until the plants can no longer use it for growing.


Change the tubes in the fixture every year, or at the most two if you use them only for a few months in the winter.

Really old tubes or ballast will start to flicker, in which case, try a new tube, if the flickering continues, you will need new ballast.

A certified electrician can do this, or discard the old fixture and replace it.

Please dispose of used tubes and fixtures carefully in the proper way – recycling if possible.

Sometimes one tube in the fixture will stay off.

This just requires some adjustment in the way it links up to the pins, so turn the tube slowly in tiny increments and most likely it will come on.


In most cases, fluorescent grow lights take very little electricity, so using them as back up or supplemental light for your collection for the winter will not be a huge financial drain.

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