Moving plants from the windowsill to under fluorescents.

seajJanuary 13, 2013

Hello, I don't frequent this forum often but I would like some help from the experts here. My African violets have to move from my east windowsill to the top of the fridge. I always intended on setting up a 4 foot wide grow stand, but there is no room anywhere in the house for such a shelf. This is the only available unused space so I need to find a way to make this work.

The space is 36" wide, 24" deep, and 19" tall, but I only need to light a 24"x24" area for now. For lights, I want to use the 24" grow lights from Walmart for $11 each. I'm thinking of setting up two 17 watt T8 lights about 12 inches apart right above the growing space. Will two fixtures be enough, or would 3 be better? Also, how high above the standard plants should T8s be?

Here is a picture of the space to get a better idea. Hopefully the white walls will help maximize the fixture's light output.

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I think you might only need one for that size space. You can add a second one if needed. I use those lights too and my plants are doing great! You can email me for pictures of my setups. How many plants are you trying to put there?

    Bookmark   January 13, 2013 at 3:22PM
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I'd love to see your setup.

Forgive for the picture quality, but here is a mockup of how the plants could be arranged in a 24"x24" area. As you can see, there will also be some phalaenopsis that need to be moved too. I couldn't rotate the phals when they had flowers so now they are all lopsided. The violets here haven't been getting as much light as they need to flower, even though the ones in my bathroom flower regularly. They're right against a window though. Many of the plants in the picture aren't full size yet, but I do plan on finding homes for the duplicate plants. I only bought two standard sized plants, but they both came with 4 or 5 suckers each. All plants, including my 3 miniature violets are potted up semi-hydro style.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2013 at 5:05PM
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Your Plants look very healthy, and still small, which will be helpful : ). I hope to send picture soon

    Bookmark   January 13, 2013 at 8:28PM
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I'm sure that plants would be bigger if they were potted in bigger pots. I will move some once I get these lights set up. I think I will start with two lights for now for 6 hours a day, adding an hour a week until the plants tell me they have enough light. It hard to tell from that picture, but three violets on the bottom row and the two in the middle top row are all from the same plant. They all have different shades of green because they are all receiving slightly different light levels currently. The plant on the middle left is suppose to be semi/mini, but I think it needs more light because it has been growing up towards the light and hasn't bloomed in a long time. The phals are also in need of more light seeing as how their newest leaves are so dark and floppy. Hoping for blooms soon!

    Bookmark   January 14, 2013 at 12:02AM
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irina_co(z5 CO)

I would put 2 t8s. You can even try 2 t5s - they have these "kitchen above the counter" t5s in Home Depot - they do not produce as much light as 48 inch ones.

Good Luck


    Bookmark   January 14, 2013 at 12:43PM
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Thanks for the input Irina. I was originally thinking of putting up 3 t8 lights, but I will try out 2 first. I really want the phals to get as much light as they can take so if they ask for it, I will gladly give them a third light.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2013 at 5:16PM
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Alright, I finally got one of the Walmart lights for $10.97. All my violets are Optimara plants so I figured that they didn't need as much light as the fancier types to perform well. I placed the fixture above a 2'x1' shelf above the kitchen sink instead of above the fridge. It is 9.5" above the top of the cups that I grow my plants in and I draped a piece of foil over the fixture to help direct more of the light downwards. I may remove the plastic cover/diffuser once I get the light more securely attached to something since it is just resting on deli containers right now.

I started off at 8 hours of light, but moved quickly to 12 hours. I will keep extending the photoperiod until the plants flatten out and/or start to bloom. If 16 hours of light isn't enough to get them going, I'll get another light. The plants are still reaching up for light at this point, but I can already tell that they are growing much faster than they ever did prior to moving them.

Here are some pics.

All the plants are the variety except the plant in the top left corner.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 3:47PM
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irina_co(z5 CO)

Seaj -

they all need about the same amount of light to bloom - Optimaras or not - so probably another light stick is due. But they will bloom for you with one stick, just not that often. They all look good!


    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 6:32PM
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Your setup looks great, alot like some of mine! I have some plants that have bloomed great under one light, but after many months they have gotten so healthy they are reaching up for more so I am moving them to a 2 bulb light setup. I have others that don't like to be that close to a one light setup. Your plan is good - if you have to move them much higher toward the light or extend the light length too much, may be easiest to add a light and reduce the time its on. The plants I have that need more light were under the one light for about 13 hrs, and only about 3-4 inches between them and the light.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 8:42AM
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Thank you both for the input. I'm treating these plants as guinea pigs. They are all really just extra duplicates and have been neglected for some time, but I want to see them all bloom before I find them new homes.

All my other violets are still growing on the windowsills until a new grow space is set up for them. They are getting light from a northeast window currently, but I started supplementing them with ~4 hours of additional light at night with a table lamp about two weeks ago and now they are all sending up blooms. Many of these plants haven't bloomed since last fall.

The space above my fridge will probably be put to use soon. I want to install a stable shelf, instead of putting the plants directly on fridge.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 2:35PM
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Here is an update on the plants. They are growing so much faster now under the light. I have some pictures to track their transition. (Top right plant is not under the same light, but I like to include it in the pics because it is the original plant that I got all these suckers from. The leaf produced 3 babies that are now individually potted.)



The leaves are so much darker, harder and larger than before. The centers are tight especially for the plants placed under the center of the bulb, but I don't mind. The flowers are also larger and more vibrant than the plant on the top right which receives mostly window light. They are getting 14 hours of light a day. They are in desperate need of grooming now that all the new growth has covered all of the older, smaller leaves.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 3:28PM
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irina_co(z5 CO)


Hmmm- looks you cracked the secret code.

I would decrease 14 to 12 hours - and find new loving homes for 5 out of 6. You need more varieties now!


    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 4:04PM
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I definitely need more varieties!!! In total I have 9 Rhapsodie Gisela and 3 Rhapsodie Michelle violets as well as a few minis. I see them at every big box store I go to haha so I don't think any violet enthusiast wants one of these, and I don't want to give them to anyone I know because I know they will just end up in the trash.

My next purchase will probably be from The Violet Barn or Cedar Creek Violets since they offer assortments, though I've also considered leaves. All I know is that I need some variegated plants and maybe some petrocosmeas. I'm ready to see if I can get some fancier varieties to thrive.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 5:45PM
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irina_co(z5 CO)

S. -=

Petrocosmeas require lower light and cooler temperature - so probably top of the fridge is too hot for them. Both vendors are great - but if you will be ordering from Violet Barn - order not only Rob's and Ma's varieties. They carry the choiciest varieties of other hybridizers.

If you order leaves - it will take time - but you will minimize your exposure to bugs, grow the starter plants which are adjusted to your environment - and do it economically.

Lyndon Lyon is a good place to order as well - but make sure that you get a selection of varieties from different hybridizers.- you never know what plant will be perfect for your conditions - they all are different.

Regarding multiple Giselas,,, you cannot keep them all - and think about pleasure you can give to other people - and potentially share your hobby.


    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 8:00PM
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