CFL supplemental light advice for side growth

igrowindoorsMarch 9, 2010

I have a very nice 4 ft. T5 fluorescent unit set up in my kitchen called the "Tek Light". I have one 3000k bulb and one 6500k bulb installed and this grows 4 to 5 plants to fruiting stages with good results. I have one concern - the light isn't strong enough to penetrate the top canopy, so all of the growth occurs near the top half of the plants. Therefore, I need some advice on CFL's to supplement side growth.

I have some questions:

1) How many CFL's do I need? Max/Min

2) What are some websites I can visit to purchase the CFL fixture(s)/bulb(s)?

3) What spectrum should I shoot for and why?

4) What wattage should I shoot for and why?

5) What will it cost me? Max/Min

6) Will the setup be attractive so it complements my decor?

7) What are some good brands?

I don't think I need a hood or reflector for the CFL's since they will just be for supplementing side growth.

Thank you in advance for your help.

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No one here has CFL experience/knowledge I guess.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2010 at 2:46PM
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I have CFL growing experience - lots of it. Even tried an experiment trying to grow a Delicious tomato (indeterminate). Great until it reached about 15" in height.

Perhaps if you had been mo-re specific in exactly what you are doing it would have generated mo-re responses? What type of plant-s? Indy, Determinate, Dwarf? How much area are you hoping to cover? Will they be in an area where the walls are covered are covered with Mylar or painted white? Will you trim the bottom leaves or let them grow?

I'll presume you are growing four plant-s in 1' wide containers, two rows of two. They are determinates that will not get much over four foot tall, and the bottom leaves will be cut off once they start to turn the least bit yellow. Going out on a very weak limb, my guess is a minimum of 50 watts per side, 200 watts total.

There is an iron-clad law about growing that one cannot get around - plant-s need X-number of mols per day to produce fruit. (A mol is a measurement of the total light intensity a plant gets, sort of like a rain gauge measures rainfall over a total day, not drops per minute.) You can Google to determine how to calculate mols/day needed or search this forum - I have posted the info. Leaves contributing to photosyntheses need the minimum of mols per day if you want great production.



    Bookmark   March 10, 2010 at 5:09PM
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Thanks Mike. Here's some info:

What type of plant-s? 1) Determinate, small-fruited gold nugget tomatoes 2) Early jalapenos 3) Orange Habaneros

How much area are you hoping to cover? 2x4' growing area

Will they be in an area where the walls are covered are covered with Mylar? Yes

Will you trim the bottom leaves or let them grow? No pruning is necessary for determinate tomato plants that grow in containers. If the leaves fall off, I discard them. The reason I want to get CFL supplementation is to encourage leaves and fruits to grow below the canopy of leaves that occur near my HO T5's.

I'll presume you are growing four plant-s in 1' wide containers, two rows of two? Nope - They are mature now, in 2-3 gallon pots. But if I were to grow them again, I would start with starter cells, progress to 3-inch containers, and then slightly larger a couple more times. My mature plants are 2 to 3 ft tall.

Thank you for your reply. I hope to see more so I can buy some CFL's. What do I need other than the bulbs? What wattage/brand? How many? Take into consideration that my grow area is already putting out 10,000 lumens directly over the plants.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2010 at 6:49PM
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I have had good results using CFL's as you want to do. In my case I had a box of old light sockets from an used car lot. They have a screw on bottom and you attach the wiring and screw on a water proof cover.

I just hung the lights between the plants and stayed with smaller ( less than 20 actual watts ) lights to avoid burning the plants.

You could use cheap shop lights and remove the reflector.

I once grew a Sweet 100 cherry in a closet with shop lights vertical in the corners. It had over 20 feet of vine before a white fly infestation killed it off.

I have been thinking about trying a small hydro grow next winter.


    Bookmark   May 1, 2010 at 3:40PM
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