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I Need Advice

Posted by hank2230 z5 Canton, Ohio (My Page) on
Sun, Mar 7, 10 at 16:53

I am new to growing from seed. I have my set-up with a source of heating for the seeds made from rope lights buried under sand (kitty litter) and maintaining temperature between 75-80F.
My heating light is 2 48" GE daylight 32 cool natural light bulbs, 6500 color temp. The inside of the flouresecent cover is painted black, is this bad news, maybe should be painted white?
I am thinking of using paper pots (2.5 x 4" deep) for my seeds and placing them on an aluminum tray on top of the "sand" until they germinate and then moving them to the growing lights. Lights will probably be set at 2-3" above the seedlings. If I fill the pots about half full of growing soil is it probable that my seeds will exist, thrive or die under this plan. Thanks to all who can assist me.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: I Need Advice

The containers--actually mushroom boxes with holes or small fruit or salad containers--hold 2 inches of dirt. The only problem I have with your plan is getting the plants out for transplanting. if they are paper pots could you not fold the top down It would give more strength to the pot.

As for the black--black absorbs heat and light and white reflects it. I would think the white would be better, but I don't grow under lights so maybe someone else can give you a definitive answer. From what I've read here your 2-3 " is about right

As for the aluminum tray I don't think it would be a good idea. Too Aluminum will heat and though warm is good for starting plants hot isn't. Get yourself a plastic planting tray

RE: I Need Advice

Thanks for your response oilplanter.
I have a question re (The only problem I have with your plan is getting the plants out for transplanting) the paper pots I suggested are the same as I use for Winter Sowing and when the seeds germinate in WS and the temps come up, I just take the paper pots and move seedlings and pot to the garden and this works very well, maybe my reasoning here is wrong. This may not work for seed sowing though.
2nd question (black absorbs heat and light and white reflects it) I will paint the under side of the flourescent cover white as I have seen here in advice to others.
Third question is (and though warm is good for starting plants hot isn't. Get yourself a plastic planting tray)
The surface temperature will stay very close to 75-80 F(maybe less) and I thought that would be the range for the seed to germinate, again maybe not. What is a plastic planting tray, maybe I can call the closest nursery and find out. Thanks again.

RE: I Need Advice

Temperature requirements for germination vary based on variety of seed. 75-80 is pretty hot; lots of seeds won't tolerate or germinate in that kind of heat. Check out to see germination requirements for each of your seed varieties.

Plastic seed tray is a 1020 flat. You should be able to buy them at a good garden center or nursery. If not, they are what come with the Jiffy type greenhouse setup you can get for cheap at Wal Mart. That said, I don't think aluminum will generate enough heat on its own to transfer through the paper pot and the dirt to make a difference. I frequently germinate directly in aluminum containers without issue. But if you're running hot already on your bottom heat, aluminum won't help.

RE: I Need Advice

If your setup is too hot try just putting a block of wood under each end to raise the container a bit. My grow mat is barely warm when I touch it, but after the containers are on it a while they are warm on the bottom when I pick them up.

By the way your paper pots are fine. I might have been thinking plastic when I wrote that

RE: I Need Advice


As mentioned before, the temps for germination will vary with plant types. Your temp range is basically ideal for peppers, eggplant and okra. If these are your target plants, then bravo! If not, you will want to decrease this temp a bit. Probably the easiest solution would be to just remove some of the length of the rope light. The more rope light that is submerged in the sand medium, the hotter it would be. The less submerged, the cooler it is.

According to, most plants optimum germination temp (highest % and shortest # of days) is 77 degrees.

NOTABLE EXCEPTION: Spinach - optimum temp 50 degrees. The germination rate drops to about 25% at 77 degrees.

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