I'm deciding where to put my indoor vegetable garden for the winter. I will use grow lights as the primary light source but part of my decision decision is based on the value of indirect sunlight.

Is a place that gets several hours of indirect sunlight of any value or should this not be a factor in deciding on a location?

The window faces exactly East.

  • 2
    what kind of vegetables, what kind of grow lights, how close will the lights be to the vegetables, which direction (North, south,etc) does the window face and how close will it be to the plants?
    – kevinskio
    Sep 7, 2014 at 12:25

2 Answers 2


You can't go wrong with extra light but the real problem is that the plants will grow towards the light. If you are able to turn the grow area once a week or so then yes, take advantage of the natural light. If you cannot turn the grow area then the natural light will cause the plants to lean towards the window and it's a pain and you might as well not bother.

These details are outside the scope of your question but may help you do some planning:

  • Outside light levels are commonly over 10,000 lux
  • One T-8 will put out from 2600 to 3100 Lumen, this will decrease with time
  • Commercial T-8 do not approximate all the needs of growing plants. A mixture of warm white and cool white bulbs should do but specialized tubes for plant growth can be purchased
  • 2
    I have planned for a mix of light temperatures. The issue is that the place they will get a bit of indirect natural light is not a convenient place to put them in my house. If the gains are less than 20% it would be easier to get a few more lights. Sep 7, 2014 at 13:25

I would opt for more grow lights and more convenience if that's easier, so long as they don't burn your plants. The window light helps, but your grow lights should help, too, and probably more than indirect sunlight would, especially if you're using multiple color temperatures.

To illustrate this point, I have some yellow pear tomatoes under a regular 3-way incandescent lamp (with a 3-way bulb on at its brightest from the dollar store) that we just use to light our living room. The tomatoes are under the lampshade. They get very little light from the curtained, north window a few feet from it, but they're doing much better this time of year than the tomatoes getting only light from a south window with a couple pine trees blocking some of the light. Granted, they grew better on summer light (I'm not sure if the summer light was as good, or better, but it was probably close). So, the artificial light is probably going to be more valuable, especially if it's actually designed for plants. I just put the tomatoes there to see how well they liked the light (and not because I thought it was the best place to grow them, although I was running low on space in areas I knew to have enough light). I'm glad I did.

In my experience with less-direct, south sun, if your tomatoes are close to the grow light, they will eventually grow more toward it than the window (unless they're very close to the window), but I'm just using regular non-grow CFLs and my plants near them are on a fold-up table in front of the window (rather than on the windowsill). I imagine something more professional than my regular CFLs would work better. East sun would be great in the spring/summer, but I'm not sure so much for indirect east sun.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.