Problem- No light in my apartment.

vertigoatJanuary 11, 2006

Solution- whip out power tools and attempt to build a plant stand.

Without going into excessive detail like I did in the houseplant forum, and please forgive me for cross posting, I want build what will amount to a 55" long by 48" high plant stand that will have 2 levels. The plan so far is for each level to be lit with 2x40 watts fluorescent light from shoplights. between the height of the pots and the fixture and hardware to support it the top of the pot/base level of the plants would be 12 inches from the light. I could move the light fixtures around, raise/lower.

good bad or ugly idea? I'm not sure whether "low" "medium" or "high" light plants refer to an actual measurable amount of light or are more an eyeballing it kind of thing so I am trying to figure out what kind of plants I could keep under a set up like that.

I don't have a terrestrial green thumb so I'm kind of at a loss, adrift without practical experience.

A specific question I have is if a Ti plant would be ok under those levels of light. If not, I'm wondering if I could group several on top of my fridge, where it's warm, and if a 55 watt CF fixture and bulb would do the trick. If not would a 96 watt CF work? What WOULD work to make a Ti plant happy?

I really appreciate any constructive feedback and criticism people have.

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shrubs_n_bulbs(z8/9 UK)

What do you want to grow? The basic concept is sound. High, medium, and low light plants are vague terms, but very roughly: high is full sun, medium is part sun, and low is shade :) High light plants are difficult to grow under artificial lights, you need ome serious hardware like multiple high-end fluorescents or a HID lamp.

Ti plant is perhaps a medium light plant, but the all green types do well in low light. Variegated ones need more light or they go all green. Ti plants grow tall, not ideal in a shelf system.

A single 55W (250W incandescent equivalent, not 55W equivalent which is actually a 20W CFL) is more than enough for a single Ti plant. Put it, in a suitable reflector, a couple of feet above the plant. A 20W CFL would be a little dim, try two of them. Without a decent reflector you won't be able to light the bottom of the plant and will probably overlight the top.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2006 at 2:59PM
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Really appreciate the translation of highmediumlowlight :> thank you.
not sure if I'm confused or something but my CF bulbs are literally are in 55 and 96 watt amounts, not equivalents. The reflectors I'm using are MIRO aluminum and seem to be pretty effective, so far.
and oopsy again sorry for not being clear, I'm thinking the Ti plant needs to go on my fridge, more head room for them there

The things I want to grow on the shelf system are the lower level for herbs and the upper level for uhm. the silly stuff I like. Alot of them are tropicals that remind me of hawaii.. wondering now if I'll need more light than just cramming shoplights will accomplish to grow those properly. and I know I'll need to build something else long term for them to account for the height.. This is like the children's book "if you give a mouse a cookie"

I really appreciate your response, thank you for taking the time !!!

    Bookmark   January 14, 2006 at 12:34AM
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shrubs_n_bulbs(z8/9 UK)

A 55W is a seriously bright light, capable of lighting a whole room. A 55W equivalent would make a good side lamp. So you can be fairly sure which you have. An actual 55W CFL will also be a hefty bulb, far larger than a standard lightbulb. A 96W would be huge, bigger than you hand. Bigger than my hand anyway :)

As I mentioned, a 55W CFL in a reflector is more than enough for a single large Ti plant. Make sure you don't put it too close. The 96W would be good for lighting several mature plants, but not so good as the shoplights for starting seeds because it is hard to get even illumination over a large area of trays. Also, the CFLs use more electrical power to get the same light as a modern T8 fluorescent, so they cost more to run.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2006 at 5:34AM
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Hi, the only thing that should be grown on the fridge (and that only very temporarily) are seeds and new seedlings that need extra warmth. Everything else will dry out too quickly and even though the top of the soil feels moist to touch, the bottom will be dry.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2006 at 8:34AM
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K. The shoplights versus CF makes sense on the seedlings versus full grown plants thing.

I understand that CFs are bright and I'm pretty sure that the ~2'- ~3' fixtures and lamps I have are not CF equivalents. ;)

Guess I really need to figure out what I want to do with space to figure out how to light it properly. Or, I hate being pinned down to one thing.. Since the lighting's going to be only covering a length of 55"s and it's only about 10 inches wide can I just put 2 96watt lamps down it? They wouldn't quite fit in the space 34"+34"=68". but I could offset so one was more forward and one was more back. Or is this another bad idea? If I went with 55/66 watt CFs and used 2 that would only cover 44 inches.. leaving nearly a foot that's not actually under the lighting.. So I'm not sure how to best work this.. Or I could just stick with the original plan of using the shoplights...

I'm seriously bummed that the fridge is a bad place to grow plants.. Would it be workable for plants that like wet feet like taro though? Just keeping the whole plant constantly wet and not having to worry about it drying out from the bottom up?

    Bookmark   January 17, 2006 at 12:29PM
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shrubs_n_bulbs(z8/9 UK)

Seems like a 48" shoplight is a better fit than two 36" compacts. Do you really need 192W under the shelf? Hard to imagine what might need that much light in such a small space. If 80W from a shoplight isn't enough, you could put in two 54W T5s. If you can stretch the shelf a little, you could move up to 60W T5s at 57.5" and there's a wide range of high output tubes at 60".

I wouldn't worry too much about the fridge unless you have a 1950s gas guzzler that could heat a basement. Just stay away from the back where 90% of the heat comes out and make sure you water enough. Tropical plants plus warmth plus water plus bright light is a good combination.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2006 at 10:17AM
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