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Supplementing window light

Posted by henrikn z4a-4b (My Page) on
Tue, Aug 28, 12 at 18:49


I'm writing here since the growing with lights forum seems rather sedated, and I'm thinking there might be some people in a similar situation here.

With autumn approaching the amount of sunlight is rapidly diminishing (especially as far north as I am located). Are there any people here who supplement the window sunlight with artificial lights?

My idea is to hang a fluorescent bulb in my windows where my plants are sitting.

Would a single 54W T5HO bulb per window give any meaningful supplement (note: not the sole source of light) to my houseplants, or are more needed to have any effect at all? Putting more bulbs in each window seems somewhat unwieldy.

When reading around about the spectrum of light used by plants, I often come over the factoid "blue = vegetative, red = flowering". Does that mean I should go mainly blue for a plant like a Ficus benjamina? None of my plants are of any especially flowery kind.


Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Supplementing window light

I don't think that will be much additional light. Here's what I have in my den. Those are metro shelving from HD or Lowe's, one 48" fluorescent fixture over each shelf. The empty space on the shelves is for plants this winter.

RE: Supplementing window light

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Tue, Aug 28, 12 at 20:41

I'd shoot for a hooded pair of 4' T5 54wHO 6100K bulbs you can have within a few inches of the foliage. I'm currently using T8 fixtures as close together as I can get them w/o overlapping. Pictured are T12s but I changed bulb type and fixtures (electronic ballasts) after a lightning strike a couple of years ago.



RE: Supplementing window light

Thanks for the advice.

Hrm. I am sort of worried about the brightness of using 2x54w for each window, since it is in a home environment. Of course, light intensity is the whole point of the exercise, so I'm a bit torn on the issue.

We have very short days in winter (sun graph), and the sun stays very low and weak. What I'm trying to figure out is what I'd gain by using for example 1x54W per window, vs 2x54W per window, compared to doing nothing, as measured by how it affects the plants. No plant has so far shown any significant amount of stress (from my amateur assessment) from winters, but most likely have much less growth than they would have had in better environments as well.

What results could I expect from using lights as a complement?

What do you guys think about using such high artificial light intensities in a common home environment? Unfortunately I don't have any basement or other area which I can use specifically for my plants, since I live in a rather small apartment. The windowsills are the natural place to keep the plants, but not an optimal place for having lights, I feel.

So if there's anybody in a similar situation, who uses artificial light at home, let me know of your experiences.

Best regards,


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