Nervous about Light Situation Need Some Advice Please!

fairyskyla(z5NY)February 15, 2005


I am moving in about two weeks. Luckily for me it's not too far away. I am moving to the first floor in the same house and will have the backyard. I am in a three family house. Right now, all of my plants are in my kitchen and they have been flourishing and growing just beautiful. I have a really huge window, and the light is just incredible! This is the trade off for the backyard I guess..*frowns*..In my new apartment, it is definetely a bigger kitchen however a way smaller window. The lighting is poor totally..So I know I am definetely going to have to supplement with the lighting. I am so nervous my plants will not do well. I have all kinds, ranging from citris to cactus. I have been thinking nothing but their acclimitization that they are going to be facing here in about a week or so.

I went and purchased flourescent compact light bulbs, they are currently 1380 lumens. I have a three tier lamp and was thinking to use that to supplement the lighting. What do you think? Will this work? My plants range from high light plants to low light. Please help, I stink at lighting, I have never had to use artificial lighting before. From what I read flourescent seems to be the best. Will this be enough light? They will be at an east facing window which is small. The window itself can hold about three plants total. I plan to place my high light plants there such as my citris and jade plant. The rest can't fit maybe one more. I have enough plant stands to place by the window, but the light coming through is simply not enough to reach them.

Any help on this or suggestions would really ease my mind. I am a nervous wreck. I love all my plants and want them to be able to transition okay, I don't want to lose them.

Thanks for all of your help if you can help.

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If you place your plants under compact fluorescent light bulbs, you should be able to grow everything from highlight to lowlight plants. Keep the fluorescent light fixtures a few inches above the canopy of the plants.

Tip: if you have plants with dense foliage (shades lower branches) try to provide some side lighting, or keep these plants at the window.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2005 at 9:58PM
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Thank you so very much, I feel so much better about this.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2005 at 10:02PM
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I will say however, that the bulb you purchased doesn't sound like a very strong bulb...maybe 13W or so? If you want compact fluorescent bulbs that will do something for your plants, concentrate on bulbs rated at 42W-real watts, not "equivalent" watts-or more. You will have to look the packaging over carefully to find the true wattage of the bulb.

The brightest bulbs you will probably find in a hardware store are 42W. The brightest I've seen in grocery and department stores is 13W. On the internet, you can find bulbs as strong as 105W.

An 85W CFL bulb will put out 8000 lumens or more, just to give you perspective.

Best of luck!


    Bookmark   February 16, 2005 at 2:46AM
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shrubs_n_bulbs(z8/9 UK)

The most common 1380 lumen compact fluorescent is a 23W spiral, usually a warm white 2700K. Long-tube fluorescents can be slightly more efficient, are slightly cheaper, and last longer than compact fluorescents, so use 4' shop lights if you need to light an area that big. Really powerful compact fluorescents are available up to 200W which can be useful for high light plants.

Lighting large high light plants can be difficult. You can't just move the lights very close because you'd only be lighting the tip of the plant. You either need a very bright light maybe a couple of feet from the top of the plants or you need some vertical lighting at the side of the plants. High-light plants need 1,000 foot-candles or more, which means a minimum 20W of fluorescent power per square foot of lit area, assuming a good reflector system to get the light into your plants. Light levels a few feet from a small east window are almost irrelevant to a citrus tree so you have to do it all with your lamps. Plan on running the lamps for all daylight hours, maybe a little longer in winter. Try to find a cool white bulb also, maybe a 4100K or a "daylight" 6500K bulb.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2005 at 5:07AM
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Thank you all so much for all of this valuable information. I am going to the hardware store today and see what they have. Hopefully I can find the shop lights that you talked about and a higher wattage for the flourescent lights. They just finished painting the kitchen. I asked for a light color so hopefully this will help reflect the light too. I hate moving..I am personally taking my plants to their new home because I don't trust anyone with them and moving companies don't insure plants for damage. Thanks again for all of your great advice!

    Bookmark   February 16, 2005 at 12:26PM
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jkirk3279(Z5 SW MI)

"In my new apartment, it is definetely a bigger kitchen however a way smaller window. The lighting is poor totally.."

I see a couple of things you can do. Other than supplementing light over the plants, which is good. Overdriving lights turns out to be not that hard.

One: You could build a windowbox for the kitchen window.

It wouldn't necessarily be a permanent change. No tearing out walls. Just mount an extended bay window setup outside your existing window.

You might not be able to use the extra space in the winter, but ironically, the bay window will help insulate your kitchen when it's cold.

Two: this is outside the box. In fact, I threw out the box. If you have limited light in your kitchen, you need to squeeze all the lumens out of the available sun.

So, you could look up something called Holographic Diffraction Gratings, AKA HOE, Holographic Optical Elements.

This is a semi-transparent film also called a suncatcher.

I'm thinking of getting some of this stuff for my greenhouse and my own kitchen window shelf.

The film catches the light, and diffracts it from bright sunlight to a widespread wash of white light.

No shadows. No bright light here, darkness there. Which is good, as really strong light is bad for some plants.

You'd put this film in your window and it would spread out the light and redirect it to where the plants are.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2005 at 2:26AM
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