CFL vs LED for starting seedlings for eventual outdoor grow

This is my first attempt to start my own seedlings indoors. [Strawberry Cough, Chocolope, and Super Lemon Haze, all feminized). I have 15 seeds popping and hope to end up with 12 plants to put outside next month.

I soaked them in 70F water and all showed tap roots within 24 hours. I then planted them in 3"peat pots.

The ILGM site says to “Place pots under a 36watts CFL tube at 2 inch distance from plants.” I had already bought some LED lights -

  • Can I use them instead of CFLs?

Why do we use CFL lamps for new seedlings and then switch to LED for growing (if that is, in fact, correct)?

Can I use ordinary “screw in” CFL light bulbs? Or do I need special grow light bulbs? (I’m on a tight budget and would prefer not to buy new light fixtures to accept any special bulbs.

Thanks in advance for any advice.

edited to fix link


Ok are you planning to start them indoors and then move them outside or grow them indoors the LED’s you have will get seedlings started but will not be able to flower :cherry_blossom: cannabis
Welcome to the community

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Thanks dirtydave. I was under the impression that, for some reason, we should use CFLs to start seedlings, not LEDs.

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Just to second what @dirtydave said, LED’s are fine although the lights that you have will only get them started and not much more.

I grow indoors and only have LED’s from seed to harvest and have had near 100% success rates.

Welcome to the community @JoelNisson.


Welcome. One may be available in a color temp the other isnt. And fit into different spaces. But both are good

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I use an old T5 4x45w light for my seedlings. I place the light approximately 8" away from the seedlings. The heat from the light is mild and the stretch of the seedlings is minimal, which allows the plants to reach 6 nodes within the 8 inches of space.
I also use a small 200w LED once I move the plants from under the CFL’s. The small LED works well and you shouldn’t have any issues with using your LED vs a CFL.

Welcome to the site, best of luck this season!!


I’ve used daylight CFLs and T5s on seedlings with success in the past. These days I go seed to harvest under an HLG. Welcome to the forum @JoelNisson. I guarantee there’s someone on here who can answer any grow related question you might have. Good luck and happy growing.


Hi there. Since you are only starting your girls inside, they will still need some light for the next month. If u can get them in a closet with a decent light, that may work. The bulbs u r looking at are only 11w each. You would be better to get a decent led to keep them going for the next month. You gonna need some kind of ventilation also. What zone are you in?


I am in Western Massachusetts.

I do have a south facing window. I can put them in front of, but I am told that I would still need some type of artificial light. Do you know of any good grow lights that fit a standard 4 foot fluorescent tube fixture? As I think I mentioned in an earlier post, I am on a relatively tight budget and cannot spend $100 on grow lights.

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Window is no good, will not get u the light they need. You want the brightest light, most lumens. You have so many plants going for your first time that you really need a better environment. Hope you have a VERY mild month so u can get them outside. All u can do is try. Watch your humidity and heat, too.


Bought at Wal Mart for $42.00 in the garden section
Grow light 20W
white LED 55pcs
warm 57 pcs
red 5pcs
blue 6pcs
WHITE 6000-6500K
WARM 3000-3200K
RED 620-640NM
BLUR 400-470NM

I am new to the light meanings, is this just for re potted plants and not seedlings?