Can I grow peppers indoors under lights?
"I want to grow peppers under lights how do I get started??"
Generally speaking, growing peppers under lights can be divided into 2 categories. First is the person who just wants to get a headstart on the growing season, or wants to try the more exotic seeds unavailable locally in his or her garden center. This requires only a modest investment in a couple of fluorescent shoplight fixtures from your local DIY (Do It Yourself) superstore (Lowes, Home Depot, etc.) or even Wal-Mart. Rigged up with any of a dozen combination of bulbs, from the cheapest "Cool Whites" to the most expensive "Gro-Lights", hung above an unused card table, or a plant stand made from plans available on the net, and you have the basic ingredients for seed starting. The light fixtures should be hung on chains or pulleys, allowing height adjustment as your seedlings grow. Great results have been obtained from all Cool White bulbs. (A dollar or two apiece)
Gro-Light bulbs are incredibly expensive, and the results are often less than expected, as the amount of light available is usually less than the cheaper bulbs. Go with whatever your budget allows.
Successful gardening under lights depends on several factors: light intensity and wavelengths available to the plants (Cool White are more intense and richer in the blue spectrums, stimulating stockier seedlings), correct watering, and temperature control.
Good air circulation is a must to prevent fungus, molds and mildew around your seedlings. Fluorescent fixtures are only able to provide enough lumens (the measure of light used to rate bulbs) to penetrate several inches of foliage, therefor they must be placed within 1"-2" of the tops of your plants. This becomes a problem as the plants get more than 6"-8" tall, as there just isnt enough lumens available to keep the high-energy peppers growing stocky. They will begin to get "leggy", stretching for all available light. Simple reflectors made from aluminum foil around your setup will direct every available lumen to your plants, as well as keeping humidity and temperature up (important if you are gardening in your basement in a cold climate). Never try to start seedlings under regular incandescent light bulbs such as floodlights, regular lamp bulbs, heat lamps, etc. The light they provide is almost totally in the "red" spectrum, and very weak, stimulating fast leggy growth, and in several days your seedlings will be 6" tall with 2 tiny seed leaves, or cotyledons, and flopping over. Heat buildup under the fluorescent fixtures is rarely a problem, as the heat is spread out over the entire length of the fixture.
Once you have started your seeds in whatever way you do, place them under the fluorescent fixtures as close as 1", water only enough to keep the medium moist-to-dry, provide good air circulation with a 6" fan from Wal-mart, keep the temperature warm (70-82 degrees is fine during the day, a little less at night is OK), and place your lights on a timer to...