I have lots of tropicals, I'm wondering if it would be worth installing them.
If anyone has experience with them I would love to hear if they are worth using
Cyn, yes, they are worth it, and you don't have to spend a fortune either.
Cost depends on style, size and type of bulbs. Toni
I have around 100 houseplants & tropical/subtropical bonsai commonly grown as houseplants under fluorescent lights in the basement. The lights are just shop lights with hood reflectors to sort of direct the light toward the plants. I use T5 bulbs 5100K, which you can buy anywhere - they're about the cheapest. They work ok, but there are better choices by far. I'd have HPS lights, but the way the basement is set up, I'd have to have my growing benches very low to get the distance needed between the light & the plants (heat) - so for now, they work, but a sun room with a west or south exposure would still be much better.
Before I owned my sunny home, I grew many cacti and succulents in my basement, under a 400w metal halide. I had a fan blowing on the light to disapate the heat. I got some really good results, and my jade actually went into flower. Mind you, this was before the day of the high output T5 lights that Al mentioned, and I would choose the T5's over anything. If you were to go that route, pick up a 4 or 6 lamp T5 high bay fixture, which will have the highly reflective silver to make use of ALL the light. The 6 lamp would allow you to place it higher up, in turn giving you more growing space. I'm no plant expert by any means, but I am an electrician, so I can definately help you out on that stuff.
thanks Tony, Al and JO for your responses. Ill check them out next time I go to the hardware store. The plants are in my living room so the lights have to be decent looking or hubby wont go for it. My ceilings are only 8ft. How much space has to be in between plants and lights?
You won't find T5 fixtures at a hardware store, and I hate to say it, but it doesn't matter what you get, any kind of light hanging in your living room for plants is NOT gonna look good. You'd have to invest in some kind of growing shelf, with enclosed lights, because hanging shop fixtures or lights are ugly, not to mention trying to watch TV with bright lights shining. You may have to move them elsewhere to keep the ole man happy.
As for spacing, that depends on the light you use. Low level fluorescents like T8 or T12, will require as little as 6" spacing from your plants. Basically, the brighter the light, the farther you can be away. You'd have to choose what lights you want, and then figure out your spacing based on that specific one.
My apartment gets very little light, so I keep all of my plants under a combination of T5, T8 and overdriven t12 fluoros.
If the lights have to look decent, then you can't go the shoplight route, so you'll either have to install a T8 fixture or buy a direct wire t5 fixture used for hydroponics. If you're handy and don't want to spend much money, I would go with t8s. If you're willing to spend well over $100, go with the t5s.
The distance that the plants should be from the lights depends upon the type of light and the light requirements of the plants. They generally will have to be within at least one foot of the lamps.
I'm very sorry - I misstated myself. I don't have T5s - I'm growing under T8s. My home was struck by lightning a couple of years ago and I replaced all my T12 fixtures with the T8s - electronic ballasts. They hang from a horizontal chain and are connected to that by smaller vertical chains/hooks so they are adjustable both laterally and for ht. I have them almost touching the plants.
For wintering plants over I use HID lights with a switchable ballast so I can use MH and HPS bulbs but honestly I stick mainly with the MH bulbs because I'm more interested in vegetative growth. As soon as it warms up my plants go outside. I use fluorescents to start seeds and cuttings and also in the greenhouse because they really don't put out heat and can be placed very close to the plants. HID lights should be placed about 4' above the plants. If you have a lot of plants inside I definitely recommend some type of grow light system.
I guess I would have to move my plants around so the same size plants are together since they have to be a ft above the plants. I have plants from 2 in to 7 ft.
thanks for the info Joe, Count, Al and Karyn.
I have to do some thinking on this matter.
I have t5s and a purchased stand. While they look OK, I know my nubby wouldn't let me put it in the living room! It lives in my office with my computer, bookcases, potting mixes, pots, etc.
You can buy carts that do look quite nice and have adjustable lights, but they are spendy - $500 and up usually.
the one I wanted was just under $500. I bought the cart without lights, bought lights I hung, bought a cover separately - all for about $220. My friend bought a stainless shelving unit and shop lights and set hers up for about $150.
Lots of ways to do it, all depending on what you want it to look like.
You can definately spend a few bucks on lighting, but as stated, you can save a lot too if you're handy. Obviously being an electrician, I can set up custom delux lighting for minimal cost, if any at all, because I have access to extra lights and parts.
Also, I would highly recommend against overdriving fluorescent lights. I know it works and all, but you're rolling the dice and risking a fire, and you also waste money by killing the lamps. You're better off just buying more intense lights then overdriving less intense ones. I'm tellin' ya, T5 is the winning ticket now-a-days.
My hubby is pretty handy, he built two houses so I guess I might be able to coerce him to build something that looks good if I got the right fixtures. Like I said problem is all the different sizes of the plants.
Joe where do you buy them, if not a big box store? Electrical store?
Thanks Laythrus and Joe
Yes, an electrical supplier, and there are many, will have a wide assortment of lights. You might beable to find T5 lights in big box stores in some places, because they are getting more economical price wise, in turn becoming more available. When it comes to electrical supplies of any type, big box stores always cost more, and hardware stores are practically highway robbery. Or, as always, you can do a google search of "T5 light fixtures" and click "shopping" to find plenty of places to get what you need. A lot of times, internet shoppping, even with shipping, can get you a great deal.
OK Joe I apprecitate the information. We have an electrical supplier near us, I will check it out.
You can also get all the t5 stuff you'll need at hydroponic stores, whether you want to build your own fixtures or just buy a prebuilt one. You can get really good deals if you look around a bit.
Dont think we have one of those around here, but thanks for the info.
I concur with Al... I, too, utilize a few shop light fixtures, mostly just as supplemental light. I've got a few T12 fixtures, each containing one cool bulb and one warm. I wouldn't want to rely solely upon them for a light source, but they help a little. There's nothing quite like having a good southern or eastern window exposure, though.
Depending on how much you want to spend, you can get quite technical, and get quite good light from some of the units available.
I lucked out with decent eastern exposure, so I just supplement with the usual shop light fixtures.
I've grown under T8 lamps before, and as mentioned, I grew cacti & succulents under a 400 Metal Halide fixture. This wasn't supplemental, but full time, and I got real good results, mainly because I gave my plants 16 hours a day of sun, which here in Wisconsin, is only available in the peak of summer. It is very easy, if not easier, to grow under lights, assuming you definately have enough intensity. The only negatives are obviously the cost to buy the lights, and the cost to run them, plus the space they take up. I agree that sun is best, for obvious reasons, but with lights, you can control everything, even things like the blooming of certain plants, like Christmas cactus and such. Be warned though, that once you figure out how well lights can work, it's real easy to get lots more plants, because there isn't a window limiting the space available.
my windows are 5ft by 4 ft and 3 ft deep. BUT they have walls on the sides. The house is round and we intended to stone the sides of the house. That's why they don't have side windows. Anyway our big windows go around half the house and face from east to west consecutively. Because of the sides of the windows they don't get sun all day but still get quite a bit. I would just like to supplement.The summer we don't get any sun in the windows because of the over hang.
In our old house I could put the plants on the deck in the summer, but we haven't added a deck on yet so Im concerned for the summer.
JOE Hahaha yeah Im already on the way, I have over 50 plants now and when the upstairs is finished Im sure I will be adding more. lol
sorry typo approx 2 ft deep
If you don't have a deck yet, just get some plant shelves. You can even make a bench out of some blocks and a wood plank, or long 2x10. Most of my plants were part of my shuffle, winter in, summer out. I also had many that just stayed inside under the lights all year, and as I said, they did fine. I since had 2 daughters, who take up a lot of my time, so I no longer have a lot of plants. I basically have all of them in my sunny dining room, where they are easily accessible. My dream is to have a large solarium someday, so I could basically have a greenhouse attached to my house. I'll keep dreaming, but until then, the dining room will have to do.
I use inexpensive floor lamps for my orchids and have used clamp lights for my Plumeria. I use the screw-in CFL's and get good growth and flowering.
A bit of 'over-kill' but I use these for a few months to continue growth over the dark days of winter.
I like the octopus floor lamps because I can point each bulb in various directions. I can also raise and lower each bulb individually. Plus the floor lamps are inexpensive (Target-Home Depot). I buy the CFL bulbs when on sale.
They work great!
Thanks Jane. In our old house I had a grow light to screw into a ceiling light socket. I used it for my ficus. It really seemed to help.
Your plants are beautiful.
Using combination newer generation of 120W LED and 6500k T5s. I have the T5's around the perimeter where the LED light falls off in a 4x4 area. Have been able to bring peppers to fruit using this combination. Directly under LED is harsh to young plants though, so they go outside under the T5's which are lower then the LED. Once they get large enough I put them directly under the LED. So far so good.