The Q&A Archives: Growing Tomatoes Indoors

Question: I'm planning on growing tomatoes in my basement during the winter. Would a 400 watt HID metal halide grow light system be OK? I'd like to grow them in 5 gal. buckets in an area of 3 feet by 3 feet, about four plants.

Answer: There are commercial hydroponic tomato growers using HID metal halide lights to grow tomatoes,
so, yes, I think they are a good choice in your situation. I would check with the manufacturer of
the lights for specifications about recommended wattage. For example, I checked a brochure for
HydroFarm (, a company that sells the lights, and it suggests that a 400 watt
light will illuminate a 5' x 5' growing area. Because HID lights emit more heat than conventional
fluorescent fixtures, be sure to follow the recommendations for how far above the plants you should
suspend the lights so you don't damage the foliage. For example, the brochure suggests a distance
from 1 to 4 feet between the 400 watt lights and the plants.

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