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Lighting for plants

Posted by Lamora 4 (My Page) on
Sat, Apr 14, 12 at 19:45

Hi Everyone. I hope everyone is having a great weekend since it is so slow here. That to me is a good thing. :)

I was reading on another thread a few weeks ago about cheap but good lighting system for house plants... and of course I cannot find it now, and I have looked! Should have bookmarked it, I guess.

I need something for my plants..(they are starting to protest!) cheap is good too. What kind of lights would be best? how far above the plants should they be? I googled this, but can only find a small articl on it. Mosly on florescent lights.

What would you recommend for a easy and cheap lighting system? I don't need a lot for the moment, (hope that will change-- lol)

Thanks for any advice in advance.
Marjie :)


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Lighting for plants

Cheap and easy? Go with CFL's, Compact Flourecent Lamps. They should be easy to find and reasonably cheap. Get some clamp on work-lights with aluminum reflectors if you don't care what it looks like, You can also hang them by the cord by clamping the clamp on the cord because they are light-weight. Ideally you'll get "Daylight" CFL's and get good ones, not the cheapest you can find. 23 watts or higher. You could also use a shop lamp with "Daylight" tubes but CFL's are easier to manage.

Also look on the package or on the base of the "bulb"(buy the pigtails without an outer shell)for the color temperature rating which will be in kelvins, For plants it's best to run 5500K to 6500k. they will look blueish-white with turned on. Don't bother with anything less than 5500k to grow with, They're fine for reading but not plants. Some brands of CFL's do not have that info on them, I would pass those up for lamps that do.

Warm CFL's aren't as good, the color temp is wrong but I guess you can mix them since the redder light is helpful when plants are flowering and full spectrum lamps are a waste since much of the energy goes into making light in colors that plants do not utilize, It'll just look whitish to you but it is a combination of many colors.

How close you place them depends on how they're used, how big the plants are, what type/species of plants, what wattage you get, etc. Usually you'll want them 6 to 12 inches from the plants but some plants don't need that much light, some need more.Just remember that if plant "A" is 12 inches away from the lamp and plant "B" is 24 inches away from the lamp, plant "B" is receiving only about a quarter of the intensity of light as plant "A". If you have a lot of plants you might want 4 to 6 lamps, maybe more.

Push your plants close together to make the best use of the lights and even though CFL's don't produce as much heat as incandescent lamps, a small fan blowing fresh air through the plants will help reduce the risk of heat damage and also lower the risk of fungus.

Here is a link that might be useful: wikipedia Grow_lights


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dellis~~Thank you so much for the link and your info! Very helpful.

I knew there was a lot to go into lighting, but didn't realize just how much until now. Going to have to get my DH to read it too, since he will be the one putting it up (I hope). But even if he doesn't,I know better now what to look for.

My plants say "thank you" too-- ;)


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RE: Lighting for plants

Hi Lamora,
Now that summers approaching will you need lights?
Do you not summer plants outside?

I couldn't afford to buy high pried lighting units, so the next best thing was shop lights and fluorscent bulbs. They're not ornate, but do the job.

One unit has two Gro-light bulbs. The second unit has one, white warm and one, white cool bulbs.

Price depends on size. Both units are 6' long. Each cost 19.99.
Standard fluorscent bulbs are under 10.00 per bulb.
6' Gro-lights are 20.00 each at Home Depot and Menards.

Hi Dellis..Toni


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RE: Lighting for plants

Toni, I do put my plants outside, but not really "summer" them out. They come in at night and they come in when the wind picks up (the wind can get wicked here)or when it gets overly hot. I think I may be a bit overly protective with them being outside. I always have been. Plus the stay dogs and cats that come up to the house and what-not. I just don't want to take a chance on leaving them out at night.

I put them out for a bit this morning, they really liked it, til the wind stated up, clouds moved in and temp dropped. But they got a bit of sun today, first time since we got here.

But yes- to answer your question- I would like a lighting system for them, for when mommy won't let them out to play-- lol


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RE: Lighting for plants

Those shop lights are good and a little bit cheaper but using CFL's with reflector fixtures that clamp to stuff are much more useful because they can be adjusted in different places to fit your plants.

I, personally wouldn't use "Gro-lights" because of the cost and "daylight" tubes or CFL's are just as good and cheaper. Remember to get 5500K to 6500K lamps.

Hi Toni
Danny


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RE: Lighting for plants

Lamora, you are soooo funny. Bring the children in by curfew..lol.

I know about wind..I've been outside 4 times this last hour lifting the same two plants..lol..
I'd bring them inside, but they're drenched..Big T-storms yesterday.

Once my plants go outside, 99% stay out until autumn. Hauling over 100 plants outside would be impossible bringing them indoors at night..
So, you'd best stick with the amount you have..lol. You'd end up spending more time carrying plants in and out than any other chore..or never sleep, lol.

Don't know about dogs, but stray cats might nibble..
Here, problems are squirrels, opossum, rabbits and raccoons.
Squirrels are the worse.
Last summer, they ate about 90% fruit off my citrus trees. I watched the little brats stand on their back feet to reach a fruit..those they couldn't reach, they'd knock to the ground, then dine..
Birds poop on plants, but it's not as bad as wildlife eating them.
Plants love summer outside, so out they go.

Also, you'd be surprised how cold hardy most plants are. Some plants, like succulents, prefer chilly nights. Same with Christmas Cactus..cold promotes flowering.

Yes, you are over-protective, lol..but that's okay..I understand..you don't want anything happening to your babies.

Hi Danny,

You're right about reflectors..especially for small plants.
As a matter of fact, one of my two light fixtures, has a short reflector or maybe it's an over-hang, lol. Because of the type of stand below the light, plants would get more light w/o the reflector..Hard to explain, lol.
But, I agree when it comes to small plants.

Danny, what are 'daylight' tubes?

I've only had actual Gro-Light Bulbs once..they've lasted a long time..either 2 or 3 yrs.
When they burn out, I'll most likely replace with regular fluorscent bulbs. One white warm, one white cool, unless I come across a coupon. lol.
BTW, the stand, fixture and bulbs were Christmas presents. LOL.

To be honest, any light bulb helps. I've got Begonia seedlings, Plumeria and Adenium cuttings and a few plants under a 100 watt, incandescent light bulb. Not a Gro-bulb, Danny, just a standard bulb in a lamp.

During winter, I rooted several Thanksgiving Cactus and Jade cuttings under this lamp.

Anyway, hope you're well..haven't seen you around much. Toni


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RE: Lighting for plants

yep-- in by curfew-- lol-- maybe when i get a bit more at ease with what I am doing, it will be different later on. Right now I just want to get to where I am comfortable in knowing what they can or can't tolerate.. KWIM? Right now the wind is cold and hard,I can't seem to find a place that the wind isn't hard here, but it is sunny. Maybe I will put them out later this afternoon.

The cats around here is what I am mainly concerned about, they are all over the place. (I put my CAT on a LEASH when he goes outside,, overly protective?? ME?? NAWWWW.. LOL)

But I will know better what they can tolerate, will be lessons learned, good or bad. I just need to figure it out. And if I know now what to do for light, by winter I won't be asking.. ;)

Thanks for all the great info tho-- very much appreciated- It will be put to good use..
Marjie :)


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RE: Lighting for plants

Funny, I used to take my cat out w/a leash, too..he was okay with it, until a car beeped or some noise occurred. This is back when I lived in Chicago..Chicago is very very LOUD. Poor babies..

It's best you wait before taking plants out then..until you're comfortable.
It's very important plants are put in shade.
I usually place plants out when rain is in the forecast, and days are cloudy..even then they're set near our Maple tree where it's fairly shady, then gradually moved to a brighter location.
High-light plants burn, including Cactus.

Still extremely windy here, too. I got tired of lifting one plant, Cinnamon Tree, so brought it back inside. Temps dropped big time. it's in the 40's..Yesterday, it was high 70's day and night mid-60's.

Marj, which plants are you planning on placing under artificial light?


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RE: Lighting for plants

This picture shows you what I mean when I say you can hang the lamps at different heights. It also shows how you can place a mirror in a select position to enhance lighting your space. I don't remember exactly but I think these are 46watt lamps.

Toni & anyone else interested; just like the old incandescent lights, Fluorescent(Tubes & CFL's) come in different colors usually referred to as "Warm" or "Cool" and a few others.

Warm-white lamps are 2700K
Neutral-white lamps are 3000 K or 3500 K
Cool-white lamps are 4100k
Daylight lamps are 5000 K to 6500

The lower the K number is the redder or warmer the light is. The higher it is goes towards the ultraviolet range and is considered cooler. The reference to Warm and cool are only perception, not actual temperatures. Warmer light is better for flowering and daylight is better for vegetative growth.

Incandescent will work but not as well, any light is better then no light.


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RE: Lighting for plants

Toni-- all of them, if I can. I only have 7 plants, and the Spider Plant is the largetst one. They are all in a dark corner of the room right now, barely 40 degrees outside right now, rain is in the forecast. So they will be inside today-- again. I feel bad for them. Thought about trying to put them near the window here, but even with that, it still wouldn't be much better. Plus we would have to move stuff around, and this is the only place the computer will go. It will be at least a month before I can put up any kind of lighting system, (this trip broke us)and by then it will be nice enough for them to go outside.

So IDK. I tried putting them in the kitchen the other day, It has some light, but mom is very confused about things and she wants to water them all the time. They are just safer in here. She has a plant that is so water-logged, I'm surprised it isn't dead yet.

But anyway- something will come up soon, I hope.

dellis- thanks for the pic, you have some real nice plants there. I don't think I will ever have that many plants, but if I could, room wise, I would try hard enough! lol

Marjie


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RE: Lighting for plants

Hi Danny,
Wow, what a set-up!!
I didn't know you were talking about cylinder fixtures. They work great.

Before shop light fixtures, I had three cylinders. One for the back room, two for the front. I can't tell if the bottom of your cylinder has a clamp.
Everynight, I'd hang one fixture from above, and attach a second by clamping to a large pot aiming at plants by alternating direction every other day/night.

Once, I went to the store. Thank God I was gone less than 10-mins. Our dog knocked down the light, the bulb sitting on carpet. While unlocking the front door I noticed the front carpet was smoldering. Talk about panic!!!

But, I used cylinders for years, they did well. I love the way you have your cylinders. Great idea.

Danny, your plants are doing fantastic. Very green and healthy.

I'm not sure what Daylight bulbs are. What are they? lol.

I agree, any light is better than none.

If you're wondering where I got the white/warm-cool info. I follow James Underwood Crockett religiously. The info using indoor lighting came from Mr. Crockett's House Plant book. I know very scientific, lol.

Marj, are you saying you have few windows? Oh Girl, you have to move, lol....J/K...sort of. lol

Before moving here, we had to live in a large studio appt.
The appt consisted of one east, two 'small' north and two west windows.
Before the two west windows, dh built a semi-generic green house out of plastic and wood. On top was a fan for air-circulation, and lighting, plus sun from the two west windows.
Believe me, this appt was tiny, yet I managed to fit about 75 plants..the house wasn't cluttered either. Unlike here, lol.

He placed low, wooden benches for mid-size plants, a pole before the window for hanging plants. A shelf above the pole for 4-6" plants. It worked fine.

The two north windows were unusable, which left me w/an east. The ledge was wide so quite a few plants fit there, including one Aloe that grew 4' tall.

So, you'd be surprised the number of plants that will fit in a small, in our case, tiny, one-room studio.
This was back in the 80's..So, if you ever feel like adding more...........................lol

The weather is weird..one day 80F, then 45F. Windy, rainy, then sunny. I pray we have a decent summer. Toni


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RE: Lighting for plants

Marjie, There's only 7 or 8 plants in the photo.

Toni, Was it that hot out by you? It never got higher then the 50's by the lake.

Daylight fluorescent lamps, Tubes or compacts are the cooler/bluer lamps that have a color temperature rating of 5500k to 6500k. They cost the same as any other lamps and can easily be found at most home centers. They will say "Daylight" on the packaging. You can use a mix of cool & warm lamps but the redder light of the warmer lamps are less useful to the plants unless they're flowering.


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dillis-- looks like a lot more.. ;)

Toni, windows we have, just the way they are covered by the roof, we get hardly any light. The only room that gets any real light is the kitchen, and that is only for a few hrs in late afternoon before it is gone from the neighbor's house.. and yes. we need a different place. for more reasons than just the lighting.. lol

but I will figure something out,, always do, and I have to agree-- hoping for a nice summer.. :)


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RE: Lighting for plants

I can sympathize completely with those in apartments or other situations where there is nowhere outside for plants to go who must supplement whatever light they have. But for Lamora, outside under a tree or on a porch would be an ideal spot for about any house plants. If they are in hanging baskets, hang them from the tree limbs. Those are my safest plants when wicked winds kick up. If they are at ground level, then can only tip over, not smash violently to the ground like off of a deck. You can also use fishing line to tie pots to posts or trunks or whatever is handy. I've never brought any plant inside and had it do better than it was doing outside (not counting issues with frost). I'm sure you could find an ideal spot for each one where they can achieve their optimum health. The only times I can recall having critters mess with potted plants is having squirrels dig in newly planted annuals.

Realistically and practically, I think you would want to save the money you might spend on lights to put toward other things right now. If I was your parent, I might be a little irritated by the effort being spent on plants when there are more critical issues, and full-blown PO'd if you started spending money on something like that. I know I've gone beyond the scope of advice you solicited and I apologize for the inappropriateness of that. I have a daughter not much younger than you and (vaguely) remember what it's like to be young. These things are said out of concern and experience, not trying to be critical, just holding the mirror steady. You may be doing everything humanly possible in the other areas of your life and it only seems like there is too much focus on plants because that is what one does here - talk about plants. So forgive me if this didn't need to be said but I wouldn't feel right just letting it slide by.

I sense that you are intelligent enough to do well in life and have loving supportive people around you, and am confident you will figure the plant thing and other things out and make an enjoyable life for yourself and, of course, your plants. Your energy and enthusiasm is wonderful and I'm sure you will use it well.


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RE: Lighting for plants

Danny, you're kidding??? Temps were between 80 and 85F..that's strange considering I'm not all that far from the City. Thanks, I'd never move east again, lol.

Marj, hope you don't mind me asking Danny a question that's non-related to lighting. :)

Danny, I posted on Midwest Garden Forum, but no one answered.. MW is a Ghost Forum, lol

I ordered Fritillaria 'Crown Imperial' bulbs, Allium, Ornamental Onion bulb, and a Mock Orange perennial. The order was shipped sooner than I planned.
I was wondering if I could plant in the ground now or wait? What happens if temps drop below 32? I don't know what to do.

Danny, are Daylight bulbs the squiggly shaped bulbs?

There's an incandescent bulb that is light blue in color. The glass is actually blue. Shaped different, (larger) than a standard bulb, but screws in the same way.
Not sure, but I think it's a Gro-Light Bulb. Know which bulb I mean?

Marj, do you live on an upper floor? 2nd, 3rd, etc?
So, the roof overlaps your windows? Is that what you mean? Heck, saw it off, lol.

You know, Marj. We have large windows, but unless plants are directly in front of the panes, they don't get much light, and/or hours.
When sun is shining brightly, certain areas in the middle of the room gets half an hour, if lucky.
The advantage of being able to keep plants out year round or keeping plants in a green house. Sigh.

My sun lovers, Pachypodiums, Cactus, and Euphorbias are placed nearest the windows, but despite direction, none get more than an hour of direct sun..'that they need.'

On the other hand, tropicals get adequate light from late Jan until/if they go outside. Not all my plants are summered outdoors.

You'd be surprised the amount of light/rays plants get sitting before a window. It might not seem like a lot to you, but does to your plants.
Some plants can burn in windows we deem 'not bright enough.' It's happened to a few of my plants, on a first floor, 'east' window!
Second floor windows are even brighter than first floor. Several Hoya leaves reddened, late Feb. They're 4-5' away from the window.

Sun guages can be purchased under 10.00. (from ten up to several hundreds.' Rapitest products last long and are accurate.

Hello Purple. I thought Marj was married. lol. Toni


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RE: Lighting for plants

Toni, The lamps with blue glass are just blue lights. "Daylight" will look the same as any other on the shelf . They will be in long old style fluorescent tubes or in the pigtail coiled lamps with a screw base and even a few other type of connectors. The will be labeled "daylight" That's all you need to worry about. I explained what they are in my earlier posts.

I know the Midwest Gardeners forum is a ghost town, I think I got hit by a tumbleweed while I was writing that post, Actually, purpleinopp answered with one of the two ID's.

Marjie, $20 will get you a halfway decent clamp on light fixture and a good quality CFL, One fixture and a 46watt or as high as you can find will keep your small collection alive and slowly growing, two will get them going well.


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Marjorie, thank you for contacting me. I have replied to you privately and wanted to add this public apology for my not-fully-informed remarks. I'm sorry.


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RE: Lighting for plants

purple-- it's ok now, I replied back... friends?

Toni, I AM married,, 35 yrs. next month! Something I/we are very proud of.. :)
Not sure we will be together for it this year, but if not, we will make up for it.. ;)

ok--back to the subject-- Thanks for all the info on this. It will be a while till I will be able to put it to good use, (lack of money will do that) but now I know what to look for later. I think I will put them outside for a while, get some air at least, it is really stuffy in here, maybe even put the cat on his leash and take him out, he keeps walking on the keyboard!! GRRRR!!
(is it really 11:30?? wow, morning is gone!!)
Marjie :)


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RE: Lighting for plants

Howdy All,

Danny, some time ago, HD had a blue bulb, packaged in a cardboard box. The print said, good for house plants, reptiles, etc.
Perhaps we're talking two different bulbs. LOL

Actually, I'm not looking for bulbs/fixtures, however, next autumn, I'd like to add some type of fixture for plants in the bedroom.
Mostly Hoyas.
Problem is, the tallest Hoyas are on the top shelves. I don't have any idea what type of fixture would work w/o hitting upper Hoyas leaves.
There isn't much room between the ceiling and top leaves.

Yep, I don't visit Midwest 'Ghost' Forum often. Since I've been a member of GW, visited Midwest half a dozen times or so.
At first I thought no one answered because I'm considered a 'newbie,' lol, but after browsing replies, which have low numbers, it's just a ghost forum. :)

BTW, I looked at your plants..Wish I could help, but I know very little about outdoor plants.
I know basic annuals, and very few perennials.
Both perennials are very pretty. Did you plant them? Are they fragrant?

Purple, thanks for posting on Ghost Town Forum. lol.

I saw variegated Mock Orange at Botanical Gardens one summer..the variegation was amazing. I vowed, one day I'd have a Mock Orange. Hope mine is the same speciees Botanical Gardens had.

Marj, how you doing? Any decisions on lighting? Toni


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Marjorie, thank you for accepting my apology. What a relief!

Cheering for your plants!

I think the whole Midwest/Ohio Valley/Great Lakes thing has always been confusing and seems like a lot of overlap. As you can see, Toni, I can't stop checking them even though I don't live there anymore. I purposely left nothing but questions so the next reader would feel there was still something to say, get some more action.


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Toni- My Hunny Bunny wants to look into it some more, but I think we are leaning towards the Fouorescent lights for the time being. We have a hook up for it from dad, (IF we can find it-- hahahaha) and so all we would need is the bulb. If I like it, we will keep it, if not, we will try something else later on.

He is somewhat smarter then I am with things like this. I'm glad he wants to look into it first tho and not just jump in w/o thinking. But for now, like I said, cheap, and it's what we have. And putting them outside more. I am trying NOT to be overly protective with that,I mean, they were outside b4 we brought them inside, right?? lol

My motto has always been, "Do with, with what you've got" and I live by that most the time. :) (kinda hard sometimes when you haven't the "got")
But it's all good.. :)

Thanks again
Marjie :)


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RE: Lighting for plants

Marjie; I'm guessing that your talking about a shop light or something like that. Try to get the "daylight" tubes for the best bang for your buck and in most cases they are better than "plant" or "Gro" lights and certainly will be cheaper.

Toni; The bluish lamps sold for reptiles would be either wide spectrum or full spectrum lamps. With those lamps, the color rendering in those lamps range in color from red to ultraviolet, the visible color when it's turned on would be white to slightly bluish-white.

They produce UVA and UVB light as well as visible light because reptiles require ultraviolet light exposure to produce vitamin D. This type of lamp is overkill for plants, not necessary and cost more money then is required for plant growth.


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RE: Lighting for plants

Purple, funny, can't desert your roots, huh? lol.
Thanks for responding and leaving your reply opened, but I doubt anyone will jump in, lol.

Don't know if you'll go back there soon, but as I mentioned on the Midwest Ghost Forum today, I forgot I purchased Daliah corms from Walmart.
Literally forgot..they'd been sitting in the back room which, when temps were higher, was warm/hot.
I don't know if corms have growth..thought so when they were first purchased.
W/temps in the 40's, now, during daytime, 'supposed to be really cold tonight, 30's,' don't know if the corms will freeze if planted in the ground.

Hey Marj...it's good hunny-bunny, lol, researches. Better than jumping into something you won't like or doesnt' work.

YOU, over-protective??? lol. j/k.

I'm certain you'll find proper lighting at a reasonable price.
You're right, we do what we can, with what we have. No sense going over-board.

Maybe I was brainwashed when buying bulbs for a 'shop light.' Gro-Bulbs. Although I wondered if they'd really make a difference, the skeptic said no, but I wanted to give these bulbs a try at least once before my life on earth expires, lol. Considering the bulbs will be 2-3-yrs old next Christmas I can't complain.
It was an experience, a little more $ than I planned on paying, but it could have been much worse.
An ornate lighting unit for 5,000.00. lol.

Marj, in case I forget, Congrats on your coming 35th. :)

Hi Danny. I still wonder if we're talking about the same blue bulb, lol.
The cost was, I think, around 5.99. When I used the cylinder fixtures, 'like those in your picture,' I used both the blue bulbs and smaller, 'size of a standard incadescent light bulb, Gro-bulb.
Heck, when a bulb burned out, I replaced w/a regular light-bulb.
Problem using standard light bulbs w/cylinders and 'pets' is, bulbs gets hot. Which is the reason I came home to find our carpet about to start a house fire.

Danny...I forgot to mention. I said cylinders were sold at HD, which they are but:
The first two I purchased were not from HD. HD didn't yet exist when I discovered cylinders.

Notice the newer cylinders aren't as well-made as they once were? Metal now bends.



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RE: Lighting for plants

dellis- I think that is what he has for us- shop light. we have yet to find it-- lol. And daylight bulb is what I was thinking too. Right now they are all outside enjoying the sun thru the clouds,very little sun, almost, not quite, 60F and light wind.
We even have mom's Golden Potho out with them, poor thing, really needs some new soil. But that too, will have to wait a few more weeks. Hopefully not any longer.

But that's the plan with lights right now. Hope it works.
Marjie :)


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