A grow light will offer your seeds the best chance of maturing into sturdy seedlings. Starting seeds in a window is possible, but the results are much more predictable when you use grow lights. Grow lights are inexpensive, and the investment is worth the hassle you will save while trying to get plants growing in a window.
A grow light provides direct light over the top of the seedling. When you start seeds in the window, you have to be diligent about rotating the seedlings on a daily basis. If you don’t do this, they will develop a tilt. This is because they stretch toward the light as they grow.
Another reason that a grow light is more effective than growing seedlings in a window is that you have better control over the seedlings environment. When you are dependent on a particular window for light, it can be hard to control the temperature of the seedlings. Seeds germinate and grow best in mild to warm temperatures. Depending on the time of year, the area around the windows can be the coldest location in the house.
Seedlings are also prone to a condition known as dampening-off. This disease develops when the seedling is very small, often before it even has two sets of leaves. One way to reduce the chance of your plants developing dampening-off is to keep the air around them circulated.
Some people assume that cracking a window is perfect for this, but it can drop the temperature too much. Instead, put a small desk fan beside the seedlings and turn it on low. You may have to move the fan several feet away from the seedlings, depending on how low you can turn the fan. The plants should barely move in the breeze that it creates.
A grow light is easy to find. Some people hang a grow light in one corner of their basement and dedicate that area to starting seeds. Others replace the regular light bulb in a lamp with a grow bulb and start their seeds on a side table. Many people find that the area on the top of their refrigerator is warm enough to provide a good home for their seedlings.
If you cannot find an area for a grow light, it is possible to start seedlings in a window. They probably will not have as high of a germination rate. To combat this, plant more seeds. Once they develop four sets of leaves, thin them out by gently snipping off some of the plants at the base with scissors.