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Artificial Light - Inexpensive ways that work?

Gardening Reference » Gardening in 2005
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by Blue265 on January 20, 2005 09:53 PM
Hello all,

I am new to maintaining and growing house plants and have a question about using aritifical light. I am a new condo owner and my main living room window faces South. I live in Canada and there isn't a whole lot of light coming through the windows in the winter time, and would like to know the best forms of light I can use are.

I was looking at buying a desk lamp for starters and using this to add some light to the plants I currently have. However, I've heard that fluorescent and hallogen lights work well. I am at a loss as to which one would be best to use.

Right now, I have a small lemon tree (I think this requires a lot of light), a Peace Lily, Dumb Cane, English Ivy, Spider Plant and a Dracenia plant. The ivy is slowly dying and my lemon tree already has a leaf or two that is slowly dying.

Would a Halogen light be decent to give them light for the winter, or would a fluorescent light be better?

Thanks for any help you may offer.
by Sorellina on January 20, 2005 10:08 PM
Ciao Blue,

Sorry I can't offer any advice about artificial light as I'm kind of in the same boat you are. This is my second winter in Toronto and I'm still adjusting. It's great to find another gardener in the GTA !!

I'd love to have even a tiny greenhouse, but I'd need to learn more about using it as I never had any use for one when I lived out West. Have you had much luck bringing herbs or any other plants inside before the frosts? I tried with some, but the whiteflies followed them in and by the time I nuked them with insecticidal soap, it was full-blown infestation and I said to heck with it.

Good luck with the lighting thing..I'll be following this thread closely because I'm also in need of info there. [Wink]

by Blue265 on January 20, 2005 10:59 PM
Hi Julianna,

I don't live to far away from you. I live in Oakville and work downtown TO.

Anyways, I don't have much experience with outdoor plants since I was living in Etobicoke with a roomate and his cat would eat my plants so I didn't bother too much at the time. Now that I have my own place, I will be trying to grow some outdoor plants and try to bring them indoors before the frost. I only have a condo though, so it will take some thought as to how I will place the plants on the balcony.

I was looking around and found this product at Canadian Tire. Maybe it would be good for a beginner gardener who only has a few plants such as myself. I don't know if anyone can comment on whether this would be a helpful light or not. It doesn't give much detail on what spectrums of light it gives..such as blue or red light which is what plants need.

canadian tire

by Jiffymouse on January 21, 2005 03:11 AM
hi blue... welcome to the garden helper. i edited your post so that the url of canadiantire wouldn't run off the page. hope you don't mind.

you want to use flourescent lights. halogen lights burn too hot.

and a desk lamp or floor lamp with a flourescent bulb is your best bet.

the peace lily and draceana both do very very well with flourescent lights. so will your dumbcane (diffenbachia)
by Cricket on January 21, 2005 03:49 AM
Hi Blue,

Welcome to the forum! [wayey]

Canadian Tire sells full spectrum light bulbs that plants seem to appreciate in the winter. They're a bit more expensive than regular bulbs but are worth it, particularly if you, like so many of us, feel down during the dark months. Full spectrum bulbs come in incandescent and flourescent, so you don't have to change fixtures. Home Depot or Home Hardware also carry them, I think.

by Blue265 on January 21, 2005 05:11 PM
Thanks for your replies.

Yesterday I was at a store and saw a lot of the energy saving compact fluorescent bulbs that fit in regular light sockets. Unfortunately, all of the CF bulbs were soft white and I couldn't find full spectrum CF bulbs for sale individually. I did find a three-pack of light bulbs that contained 2 soft and one full-spectrum bulb, and ended up buying that. I hope compact fluorescent work as well as regular fluorescent.

Anyways, I set up the full specrum bulb near my plants which are also near the window. Hopefully the plants will receive all the light they need and do well. I'll follow up in a little while [Smile] Maybe I'll try and look at some other stores that have more CF full spectrum lights. After setting up the CF bulbs I do have, I was amazed how much the light changed the appearance of my place. Its almost like a light blue tone and very similar to daylight. I think these bulbs will help me fight off the winter blahs!
by Bess of the Piedmont on January 21, 2005 07:06 PM
I use a rather ancient, cumbersome fluorescent desk lamp over my seed starters in March and it works great! It is an ugly old thing with a huge brown head with two tubes in it. It has an elbow joint in the arm and a swivel head, so I can bring it around horizontally about three inches above the seedlings. I'm sure it must have dominated whatever 1950's or 60's desk it once sat on. I almost threw it away once, but now I'm glad to have it. I put a timer on it to be on for twelve hours and off for twelve hours.

You can bounce more light around on your plants by using reflectors around the window and fluoresecnt light. An English gardening book I read suggested a sort of open box around the window made of foil-wrapped cardboard. You could even buy a cheap mirror and set the plants on it to bounce around more light. I hope this is helpful to you.

* * * *
by Jiffymouse on January 22, 2005 05:07 AM
bess, the mirror thing is a great idea! i think i will get some mirror tiles from home depot and use them!

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