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So i know my plants aren't getting enough light, my question is, does it make a difference if I turn on the light as soon as the direct sunlight goes away or if I do it when I get back from work (and the sun has been gone for a while)

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It's better to try and mimic nature where there is a continuous period of light followed by darkness. Some plants need a period of darkness like tomatoes and many flowering plants but other tropical plants are just fine with getting light twenty four hours a day.

This photo, courtesy of @geermc4 shows what happens to tomatoes with different light periods enter image description here

I use a timer to extend the daylight period. Given the low cost of one it's probably the easiest solution.

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