However, you can use either type of lights during either stage and still get good results. People also use "Daylight" (5000K) bulbs with success.
Any part of the plant that is further away then 1-2 feet from the fluorescent grow lights is not getting an optimum amount of light, especially in the flowering stage when plants need a lot of light to produce buds.
The other great thing about fluorescent lights is that they are usually relatively low powered and won't make a huge mark on your electricity bill.
In recent years, we've seen the creation of new high-light-output versions of fluorescent grow lights which can actually be used through the entire vegetative stage.
There are many different levels of fluorescent grow lights including the T5, the T8 and the T12. I strongly suggest sticking with the T5 style of fluorescent grow lights for cannabis because they give off the most amount of light for the size, and are specifically designed to be able to support taller plants up to 24 inches.
For flowering, choose bulbs that are "Warm White" or "Soft White" colored (usually labeled as "2500K" or "3000K").
Example of a ScrOG (Screen of Green) Grow Under a T5. Using a screen can be an effective way to create a flat, table-top shape to take the best advantage of T5 grow lights
T5 grow lights should be kept as close as possible without burning your plants.
A few years ago, growers usually only used fluorescent tube lighting as a supplemental light for cannabis plants, or for young seedlings and clones only.
Compare the Pros and Cons of Each Grow Light
Full tutorial on CMH / LEC grow lights
(LEC stands for “Light Emitting Ceramic” and is a type of Metal Halide bulb that is built with ceramic like an HPS – basically it’s sort of like a blend between MH and HPS bulbs)
T5 Grow Lights
So if you are growing tomatoes indoors with artificial light (or cannabis, of course), how can you give them the light they need with fluorescent bulbs?
If you’ve got a very small garden, CFL bulbs (pictured at the beginning of the article) make the most sense.
In the beginning, flowering plants need the same light as non-flowering plants. When they are seedlings and when they are growing (vegging), they need light that contains more blue than at other times. This is also often referred to as ‘cold light’. It is the kind of light our sun gives off naturally during daylight hours.
What Fluorescent Bulbs For Growing Flowering Plants (Marijuana, Tomatoes, Etc)?
So what type of light do your plants need?
As for which brands are best, follow the links provided above to see my recommended bulbs for each color temperature. I like those lamps, because they offer the best value for money.
Fluorescent Growing Lights: CFL or T5 Tubes?
When it comes to T5 lights, I always recommend the AgroBrite fixtures from Hydrofarm. Check out my AgroBrite review to see why I prefer these lights.
The short answer is: any type of fluorescent light will help any type of plant grow, whether it is cannabis or lettuce or orchids.