[font=verdana, arial, helvetica]Can i use a 15 watt fluoro to grow/flower 1 plant of the lowrider strain? or do i need a hid? What if i had 1 175 watt Metal Halide, could i grow 3 lowrider plants under it?[/font]
E-Athlete: Yeah, I believe it is possible to grow a plant to harvest with a 15-watt. It will take a long time though, even if it is lowryder. Your yield/potency, as others have noted, will also suffer.
If you have a plant going, try keeping it in veg with your 15/W until you can afford a cheap HPS system. Use an MH conversion bulb to squeeze some more veg out of the plant, then 12/12 with HPS bulb. Then, after whatever harvest you get, you'll be well positioned for your next grow.
I'm in a similar position as you. Ready to invest in lights, but don't have the particulars of my grow room figured out yet.
One more thing. Some people can do some amazing things with flos. And there are high-output (95-200W) CFLs that put out some impressive lumens. They're so pricey though, that you might as well spend a little extra for HID.
I'm not an experienced grower, but from what I've observed in my lifetime, I can say that soil/flos will never, ever beat a well-maintained hydro/HID setup for yield/potency indoors.
15 watts isn't adequate for flowering any strain. It simply is NOT enough light.
Compact flourescents are less than $10 and have their own built-in ballast, so they screw directly into any regular light socket. You'd be far ahead purchasing one of them over the 15 watt tube.
MAX.. A well maintained soil grow with HID, will do everything a hydro system will do, and more. Hydro is said to be "quicker", but quality organic soil is unsurpassed in flavor and potency. "IMHO"..