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Book Review and Giveaway: Gardening Under Lights

With the right lighting you can successfully grow herbs in your kitchen. This custom shelving is connected to a nearby wall switch and can be easily turned on and off as needed. Source: Timber Press

Perhaps the hardest subject for a garden enthusiast to tackle is indoor lighting. Most plants grown indoors need lights to compensate for the lack of sunshine. That much I’ve known for a time, but how to select and use the right light indoors has been a mystery to me.

Into the darkness of my ignorance has come Gardening Under Lights, by Leslie Halleck. This book is the answer to the prayers of gardeners everywhere who struggle to grow healthy seedlings only to see them weaken and die. This book has it all – from details of how light is measured, to what lights to use for your favorite indoor crop.

INFORMATION: This review contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, we may receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). Thanks for your support in this way.
Leslie Halleck is a confirmed plant-aholic as you can tell from this mix of indoor plants being kept healthy in her garage with grow lights. Source: Timber Press
Finding the Right Light

Leslie’s book begins at the beginning with the basics of how plants and sunlight interact in the natural environment. She then takes us indoors to discover the world of artificial lighting. This is the “meat and potatoes” part of the book. From years of study and experimentation, Leslie explains the intricacies of how light is measured and how different lamps produce different results with plants.

These pepper plants are putting out healthy growth in a 4×4 feet grow tent with a Ceramic Metal Halide (CMH) lamp. Source: Timber Press
How to Set Up Indoor Lights

Having guided us through the mysteries of artificial lighting, Leslie move on to the nuts and bolts of setting up lighting for an indoor garden. There are lots of practical tips here. Whether you just want a spotlight on a favorite orchid or a full-scale indoor garden, this book can help yo make it happen.

Growing Tips for Popular Plants

The book finishes with specific advice on growing popular edibles and ornamentals. Here you’ll discover:

  • More light is not always better. Plants can grow poorly under continuous illumination.
  • Herbs such as basil, spearmint and oregano need plenty of light but prefer cool-spectrum lighting.
  • Cannabis (yup, it’s in here) needs different lighting at different stages of growth.
  • Different types of orchids need different types of lighting. The same thing is true for succulents.
This bonsai tree makes a dramatic centerpiece under a spotlight LED lamp. Source: Timber Press

From microgreens to mint, daffodils to dwarf melons, Gardening Under Lights covers it all. A big thanks to the author for all her research and hard work bringing this book to life. It has earned a permanent place on my bookshelf of garden references.

Gardening Under Lights is a wonderful resource for anyone who wants to grow something indoors. Order your copy today from Timber Press or for years of improved gardening success indoors. We are also giving away one free copy of the book for readers of our blog. Here’s how to enter:

Just leave a comment on this post by September 22 using a valid email address; that’s how we’ll contact the winner. After commenting, be sure to check our blog posts for helpful tips for Southwest gardeners. You also can subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on social media.

Any visitor to Southwest Gardening Blog who lives in the continental U.S. is eligible. We’ll randomly draw a winner from among those who comment. The winner will receive one copy of Gardening Complete from the publisher. We’ll contact the winner for shipping information and announce the winner’s name on this blog by September 26. No purchase necessary.

The Gardening Under Lights Giveaway is sponsored by Southwest Gardening, LLC, of Ft. Worth, Texas, and Timber Press of Portland, Ore. All opinions expressed in this review are those of Ann McCormick, who received a review copy of the book courtesy of the publisher.

Ann McCormick, Southwest Gardening contributor

If you enjoy herbs and organic gardening, you’ll want to meet Ann McCormick, the Herb ‘n Cowgirl. A life-long gardener, she has devoted her time for the last 20 years to writing and speaking about her favorite subject. Ann is a feature writer for The Dallas Morning News.The Herb ‘n Cowgirl also shares her love of herbs and her gardening techniques as a speaker and media guest. She lives in Fort Worth, TX with her husband of 35 years and an assortment of dogs. To find out more about the Herb ‘n Cowgirl visit her at

10 replies on “Book Review and Giveaway: Gardening Under Lights”

We added a sunroom last year to expand our year-round growing options. Some plants thrived, some died. I’m very interested in continuing to enhance our growing setup!

I’d love to get a copy of this book. I recently started growing lettuce indoors via the Kratky method & I’m struggling with lighting options.

the current evolution of lighting options available in the industry will certainly create the need for a revised edition rather soon. A relevant and very useful topic. Thanks so much.

For sure, I’ll need to update this one sooner than most titles would require. However, all of the science and growing techniques will stand up to new emerging gear – you’ll be able to use it for years to come, even with newer grow lamps. Cheers!

I move plants around to take advantage of our eastern exposure, but realize I need more light to grow rosemary successfully. Wondering about Lavender indoors, too.

Thanks for the review! As always, your blog supplies practical and helpful info!

I would love to read up on how to grow an indoor herb garden for fresh herbs year round. Our home is so dark.

I always struggle moving plants to various parts of the house to see in what light they grow best. The book may help me end this trial and error process.

It’s a fascinating topic, Ruth. The light needs vary from plant to plant and from season to season. Vegetative growth needs one thing but fruiting and flowering often need something else. That’s why I recommend this book for serious indoor gardeners.

I sort of knew about shade vs. sun and lengths of light exposure, but I hadn’t considered different light sectrum being involved, too. How very interesting! Thanks for sharing your review!

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