I received a note from a friend yesterday about mishaps starting seeds and the expense incurred by their failure and having to buy plants from the nursery. Seed starting can be very rewarding if you experience success. The first time I practiced seed starting, I lost the whole crop to damp off because I used a regular potting soil instead of a seed starting medium. Also, I did not have them under lights, and before they all sucumbed they were tall and leggy leaning toward the light. I realize now that they never would have been healthy plants.
Since then, I have practiced seed starting many times, with many successes and still some failures. Research needs to be done on the specific plants in regard to germination and the time frame from planting the seed to readiness for outside planting. Geraniums take a long time, petunias a much shorter time span. One March, I had 12" full blooming petunias under my lights. I had to cut them back several times before putting them in the ground.
There are so many products today to start seeds, that it is almost foolproof. I also found that it didn't seem to matter much in regard to lights just used for seed starting. I spent much more buying specialized plant lights than for flourescent, and both seemed to work equally well. If I were keeping the plants under lights permanently the special plant lights might make a difference.
My lights are packed in a box in the basement now, and the only thing that would prompt me to ressurect them would be a most unusual plant that I could not buy at the nursery. Good luck to all you indoor seed starters!