bringing plants into a dark house for winter...

squidy(8a)September 8, 2011

...will they be okay, or would it be a good idea to get some grow lights to supplement the pitiful light that will be coming through my north-facing, tree-shaded window this winter? Plants go dormant in winter, so they don't need as much light, right? What about succulents, or tropical plants like my hoya carnosa?

How much light is needed to keep them healthy? And out of curiosity, how much light would be needed for them to actually KEEP GROWING through the winter?

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All of my non-cold-hardy plants (succulents) have to come in the winter - some grow, some don't, some are dormant. In your situation, at least for the succulents, I would cease almost all watering, given the light situation you have - all growth with insufficient light would mean the growth will likely be etiolated (spindly and unhealthy).

    Bookmark   September 8, 2011 at 11:09PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

They really don't go dormant. Because of lower light intensities, many of them dramatically slow down in the winter; we should water them less frequently and slow down on the fertilization because of that. Under such conditions, they LANGUISH through the winter, rather than thrive.

Some of us encourage normal growth for our tropicals by providing extra light, and it sure sounds like you'll need it! There are plenty of options available in suitable plant lighting. Just know that incandescent lights won't do the trick.

I never take my plants outside for the summer, but since the day length is so much shorter, they all slow down and pretty much cease putting on any more vegetative growth. I also keep it pretty darned cold in our home during the winter! I do not use extra lighting because I have great S, SW, SE, and E exposures. As the days begin to get longer in the Spring, my plants express a whole lot of plant exuberance by growing like crazy.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2011 at 11:15PM
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I'm with rhizo, my plants stay inside all year, with the exception of my succulents. My problem is that I have nowhere to put them outside that doesn't get blazing sun at some point in the day. I also enjoy my 100% insect free house plants all year, because I don't give any bugs a chance to hitch a ride in. Now, with my succulents, which is a couple of jades, p. afras, and an adenium, I do what is commonly suggested and acclimate them back into the house in fall. Basically, as things cool down now, bring them in at night, and put them back out when it's nicer during the day. Reduce the outside time by a bit each day, until they are finally inside.

But, if you have little to NO sunlight, your plants are doomed, and you'll need some decent artificial lighting to help them through winter. The dry heat from our furnaces is stressful enough, so adding light stress is definately not what the doctor ordered. I am fortunate enough to have a dining room that has a large sliding patio door facing south-east, and a large 3 pane window facing south-west. Needless to say, I get a lot of direct sun, although less in duration. Many of my plants keep growing through winter, albeit a lot slower then in summer.


P.S. By your asking this, I assume you have recently started this hobby, and have not dealt with wintering plants before? Also, what kind of plants are we talking about here?

    Bookmark   September 13, 2011 at 9:49PM
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Thanks guys. The watering/fertilizing tip is very helpful.

I just moved and have a lot less light here. Last winter I had some sunny windows and my plants did fine.. but you're right Joe, I'm pretty new to this.

The plants I have are a couple hoyas and a wandering Jew and spider plant, and I think I'll be bringing a few succulents in here, (like a string of pearls and a Christmas cactus, and some others I don't know yet that I'm receiving soon) but there's a small window in a different room I can put those in if I have to. It's a little chilly in there though, is that okay?
I have other plants, but I know they can do fine without muck light. (Pothos, snake plant, etc..)

I don't know if I can acclimate the one big hoya KQ that's outside in the way you mentioned, it has huge crazy arms sticking out all over and is very difficult to move without harming it. I'd only like to do it once. I will have a light for it right from the time I bring it in though, if I can just get some clear information on what kind of LEDs work as plant lights. The growing-under-lights forum doesn't seem to get much traffic though.. but here's the thread I made:

Here is a link that might be useful: my thread

    Bookmark   September 14, 2011 at 1:25AM
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Hi Squidy. For starters, if possible, a week or two before hauling your plants indoors, place in a little shadier spots each day until they're in full shade.

BTW, it's important to spray with organic insecticides, (organic is my favorite) prior to bringing inside. Mites, insects and eggs hide in soil and foliage. Treating is as important as sun.

Are you saying your house only has one north window?
How cool does the one room get? Succulents prefer cool temps in winter, in fact, cool/cold promotes flowering. Especially among succulents. The importance is soil MUST dry between waterings in cooler rooms. Some people refrain from watering throughout winter altogether, but if soil gets too dry, especially smaller potted sux, can shrival and die.
I do not fertilize plants after October, but whether or not you do is up to you. Since plants don't get proper light in winter, I feel force-feeding will do more harm than good. Also, growth is spindly.

I suggest you get lights. There are many types, from inexpensive to outrageously priced. lol.

Some of my light fixtures have Gro-Lights, others have one cool white, one warm white. They do the job. Gro-bulbs are a lot more money. I don't notice any difference between bulbs. In other words, the less expensive bulbs work as well as Gro-Bulbs.

Good luck. Toni

    Bookmark   September 14, 2011 at 2:22PM
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Helly Toni,
My window situation is this: I am staying downstairs in someone else's house and I don't want to get my plants all over the place and be all in their way and stuff. The room where I CAN get plants all over the place has a north facing window partly shaded by trees and two east-facing windows with a rock wall about 3 or 4 feet from the windows and a row of fat shrub-tree things at the top of it that reach most of the way up the house. Soooo, not much light. The other window I can use faces west and it does get some light, although it's shielded from most direct sunlight by the second floor deck, which isn't directly over the window, but slightly to the north. That's the one in the chilly room. I guess it probably won't get bellow the 50s in winter. These people don't really turn the heat on ever, but they might when it hits 50 inside. (My room stays warm with body & computer/TV heat.)

I have definitely been learning about watering less, none of my houseplants dry out very quickly here. I'll be sure to cut back even more in winter.

So, you just use normal bulbs in a lot of your grow lamps? Like, CFL bulbs you can find at the grocery store, or what? And how bright?

    Bookmark   September 14, 2011 at 8:23PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

That's the one in the chilly room. I guess it probably won't get bellow the 50s in winter. These people don't really turn the heat on ever, but they might when it hits 50 inside. This sounds like a great place for plants for the winter. I have spider plant, Tradescantias (WJ and others,) Dracaenas, snake plants, Dieffenbachia, and others that love this. My best indoor spot for plants is in an unheated room which stays around 55-65. It has a nice south window but unfortunately the porch roof keeps a lot of the direct off of it. But my plants love it, and the air isn't zapped of the humidity. Some of them only need water about once a month.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2011 at 11:08AM
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Hi Squidy,

Is your appt temporary or are you planning on moving?

50F degrees is perfect for plants, as long as they're not over-watered. Soil takes longer to dry in cool/cold rooms. Your succulents will love 50F degrees, but proper watering is important..otherwise they'll rot.

Yep, I use two, regular, one white warm, one white cool fluorescent light bulbs. They work as well as the two Gro-Lights (much more money) in another room. Heck, there were times I used standard bulbs in a lamp. lol. If you can manage a large stand and buy an inexpensive light fixture, you're in business.
Believe me, before moving here, I lived in low-light appartments. The owner/s didn't allow plants outdoors in summer, either, so they stayed inside year round.

For standard bulbs, I'd suggest, at the minimum, 75 Watts. If your lamp can take brighter bulbs, do so. You wouldn't believe the number of lights I keep on during winter, and our electric bill isn't all that expensive.
Fluorescent bulbs are less expensive, but we use what we can afford to do. Right?

Truthfully, natural light is best, so if you decide to use artificial lighting, it's best keeping near a window, despite obstructions.

Shop lights are about 20.00 unless you want an ornate, made-for-plants unit.

Although there are some beautiful shelf/light units, they can run in the thousands. lol.
I'd rather buy more plants than spend money on an expensive light fixture. If we were rich, my feelings would probably change, but we're not, so I do with what I have and can afford.

so, what are you thinking about doing?

Hey Purple, long time no talk...Toni

    Bookmark   September 15, 2011 at 3:20PM
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