Houses are built for people, not plants. By a plant’s standards, houses are too dark, too dry, and often too hot _like sunless deserts. The wonder is that so many plants survive.
Light needs of plants have received careful study by scientists in recent years. The amateur indoor gardener now has at his command the results of their research.
The chart at the bottom of the page and the photographs of typical home situations at the right will help you to determine how much light plants in your home are actually receiving when measured in footcandles.
Scientists use the unit, ‘footcandle,’ to denote the quantity of illumination. Technically, one footcandle is equal to the amount of illumination cast on an object by one candle at a distance of one foot. Light meters used for photographic purposes measure light on the object to be photographed, rather than the strength of the light itself.
But, with a chart that some manufacturers can supply, these photographic light meter readings can be converted to the footcandle units plant experts refer to. Or, much handier, there is now on the market a pocket-sized meter made especially to measure the amount of light available to plants. It has a range of from 0 to 5000 footcandles.
What happens when a plant gets too little light? Nothing, at first. Plants can survive for long periods on reserve food. Ultimately, however, new growth becomes spindly, new leaves smaller, and lower leaves die.
It may take only a few weeks, or as long as a year for a plant to show symptoms of light starvation. The cure is not a massive dose of light, this could kill a plant, but a return to adequate light conditions.
Nor is it wise to set foliage plants next to unshaded windows that face directly into the sun except during the coldest winter months. Even then, with the reflected light from snow, the total could be excessive. Very few foliage plants can tolerate direct sunlight, especially when magnified by clear glass. Shifted to such a spot from a dim corner, they will sunburn.
There are several ways you can give your plants lighter safely: by moving them a little closer to windows, by moving them to a brighter room, or by leaving draperies and blinds open during the daylight hours. The most convenient way is to supplement the natural light available with artificial light.
There are several ways to supply proper light. You can use incandescent lamps, fluorescent tubes, or special growth lamps to supplement sunlight. Ceiling spotlights can be a successful light source, too, and they are decorative as well as functional in supplying general lighting for one area of a room.
There is still another trick employed by clever indoor gardeners who wish to use a plant for a major decorative role but find that the best location has insufficient light. This is to buy two specimens of the particular plant you want and shift the two periodically from the spot where the plant performs best decoratively to the location where the light is ideal. This shift should take place every week (or more often) to keep both plants healthy over as long a period as possible.
If the plant in question is a large one, a tubbed palm, totem-style monstera, or another plant that is four or five feet tall, it is a heavy job to shift the plant from one place to another. This problem can often be solved by displaying the plants on low platforms equipped with casters, thus, reducing the physical exertion to a minimum when the time arrives to shift the two. Such platforms on wheels are available commercially, but they are simple enough to build so that almost any handyman can easily put one together, at a total cost of only a few dollars.
Lights For Houseplants To Bring Your Garden Indoors
Lights for plants, or grow lights are artificial light sources that replace the sun’s natural light. They are designed to help grow plants and to be used indoors. Artificial planting lighting is a necessity if you want to produce healthy seedlings indoors because most homes, even those with abundant southern exposure, cannot capture enough sunlight in the early spring to grow strong seedlings.
Plant lights use special types of light bulbs, usually fluorescent, halide, high-pressure sodium, or LED, which are different from incandescent or compact fluorescent light bulbs. Grow lights are also known as grow lamps. Grow lamp bulbs emit an either cool or warm light. Cool light, which is primarily in the blue spectrum, is excellent for promoting foliage growth; whereas warm light, primarily in the orange spectrum, is excellent for producing flowers and fruit. Plants do not in fact use the entire spectrum of the sun’s light, only the red/orange and blue ranges are necessary.
Light for House Plants With Fluorescent Lights
Fluorescent plant lights are recommended for seedlings and low-light plants. Fluorescents can’t deliver the strong light you need to grow plants taller than six or eight inches. Fluorescent lights are a well-loved choice because they can get much closer to the plant than an ordinary light without damaging your plant. The closer the light source, the stronger the light, and consequently, the more benefit to your plant.
Fluorescent grow lights are some of the most commonly used lights for indoor gardening. Plants grown under cool white bulbs will be stocky or even slightly diminutive. If you are growing seedlings under 2-bulb fluorescent fixtures, you can usually achieve an excellent color weight by combining one cool white and one warm white bulb.
Within the fluorescent grow light class, there are some different lights to choose from including standard fluorescents, high output fluorescents, compact fluorescents, and HID hybrid/High output fluorescent lights. Fluorescent lamps need a ballast to operate; it is nearly always built into the game. The 2 lamp shop light fixtures available at the hardware store are inexpensive.
Metal Halide and High-Pressure Sodium Grow Lights for Houseplants
Metal halide and high-pressure sodium plant lights are the most efficient and productive lighting systems available to take plants from seedling to maturity. Metal Halide lamps emit cool blue/green/violet light, simulating daylight. High-Pressure Sodium growth lights supplement MH lighting with their warm red/orange light.
Metal Halide grow lights are generally used during the plants growing cycle and HPS lights are used during plants blooming and fruiting periods. Also used in street lighting and for industrial use, these bulbs provide a splendid deal of light from a small source.
Plant tops under metal halide must be kept 12 to 18 inches from the bulb or they will burn. Metal halide will help nice, healthy plant growth up to 24 inches or so, and they will reach this height much more quickly than with fluorescent s.
HPS/MH setups are much more effective for growth than any other type of lighting system, LED included. The lumens per watt ratio of an HPS or MH cannot be matched by any other type of light. HPS bulbs are very efficient, producing up to 140 lumens per watt.
There are two subtypes of HPS lighting: one is enhanced for the blue spectrum, which is better for fruiting, and the other is red spectrum enhanced, which specific repayment flowering. HPS and HM lamps need to be used in conjunction with a ballast, a piece of equipment that controls the flow of electricity to and through the lamp.
LED Plant Lights
LED grow lights deliver only the colors of light (wavelengths) plants use most efficiently for healthy growth. This grows light uses very small energy and still provides all the light your plants need for vigorous growth indoors. LED grow lights are an excellent choice if you are interested in growing indoor plants without a lot of hassle. Traditional grow lights generate a lot of heat and use large amounts of electricity.
LED grow lights run much cooler, which not only means that you can place them closer to the plants safely, but they reduce the need to take measures to keep your grow room cool. Plants receive all the light they require without growth-stunting excess heat. Also, your plants will suffer less from heat-related root hurt that can occur when hot conventional grow lights heat the soil.
LED panels have no ballasts to burn out like other plant lights. They do not run hot, just warm. LED bulbs last up to 50,000 hours and are recyclable after they finally die out. LED plant lights deliver light that is perfect for your plants, but relatively dim to people. Your plants get only the light that they really need.
If you like to grow your own plants, indoors and out, consider setting up some indoor plant lights. You can set up a tiny small system on your kitchen counter to grow salad greens and herbs, or convert an entire room to start vegetables and once a year flowers for planting out in the garden for earlier crops and blooms.