Is Direct Sunlight Required For Starting Vegetable Seeds Indoors?

Posted on Mar 5 2010 - 5:50am by Mike Lieberman

The final question that I have before starting my vegetable seeds is do they require direct sunlight? Can they get by with indirect sunlight?

I could easily put them out on my window garden. It gets a few hours of indirect sunlight a day, but no direct sunlight.

The fire escape is an option as well, but having to get into and out of it everyday would be a pain since it’s in my roommate’s room.

I’d have go through his room to set them out each morning, then bring them in each night. My preference would be to avoid that.

I’ll likely experiment and put some on the window garden and some on the fire escape.

Do you think the indirect sunlight of the window garden enough? Is there somewhere else that I could put them?


  • Jodie Herr

    Can you guys switch bedrooms?

  • Tina

    They really should have direct sunlight or they will grow weak and leggy. Can you rig up a small light stand somewhere? Maybe a used/borrowed fish tank? – they work great.

  • Perry J Post

    Tina is right on with this one. Weak and leggy and floppy seedlings. If you can rig a light to your window garden it would help.

    I am also a proponent of rotation and movement. Seedlings lean towards the strongest light source. Rotate the seed container 180 degrees every day or two (or move the light to the opposite side of the garden if that is more practical.) This helps them to grow upright and stronger. Another thought on lighting is to put the lamp as close to the seed containers as possible. Sometimes it helps to combat the legginess, sometimes it doesn't seem to help. I think it depends upon the type of light bulb being used. (I sense an experiment developing…)

    Movement. Wind motion, animals brushing past, and rain crashing down on seedlings all help them to exercise their 'muscles' and get stronger. Often times seedlings do not get any exercise under a grow light. I like to run an oscillating fan near mine for an hour or two every couple few days. Some people hand fan theirs several times a day. Some people sweep their hands over the top of the plants every time the visit. It all works to build a strong little stem.

    Tina's aquarium idea is BRILLIANT!! People are always throwing out aquariums if you keep your eye open and cruise the alleys frequently. For seed starting, who cares if one side is broken out. If maintaining humidity is a concern, however, a scrap piece of plywood or sheet of plastic from the dry-cleaner would work just as well. Could be a great Go-Green Re-Use project. Thank you for the inspiration Mike and Tina!

  • Mike Lieberman

    I'm sure I can find something on the sidewalk to make it work.

  • Mike Lieberman

    Great idea, but little chance of it happening.

  • Mike Lieberman

    Thanks Perry. You always provide great, insightful info.

  • Perry J Post

    Glad you like it. You have awesome stuff going on in your blogs. You are a warehouse of inspiration to me.

  • truecrimson

    If not the sidewalk then check craigslist. I have seen plenty of broken fish tanks for free in our area, plus that display case I scored. If my wife didn't wat to use it for display my plan B was to make it a greenhouse.

  • Mike Lieberman

    Good call. Will look into that as well.

  • panyvinito

    Hey Mike! I just started my own vegetable garden… I'll send you pictures soon… I got a Fig Tree, blueberries, strawberries, green peppers, dill, cilantro, parsley, and here a bell pepper Hugs!

  • Mike Lieberman

    Nice. That's awesome. Definitely send me pics. I'm hoping to get some backyard space here in LA. Working on that.

  • June Ribaldi

    Halo <3"s Ive just started growing Organic Food. So much toearn. I appericate greatly your insights an post. Hope to be able to show you my Organic Heirloom Tomatoes in 72 Days. Oh I found organic stater plants from a place called ORGANIKS. Awesome starters.