Lighting for plants of assorted requirements
Hi! I'm trying to figure out what lighting I should use for my small but varied collection of plants and plants-to-be. I have a first floor, north-facing apartment with no outdoor space so needless to say I'm pretty much stuck with growing things under lights if I want to expand my collection, let alone keep it alive. I'm not 100% sure how much light my window gets -- it's huge (like 80% of the wall, floor to ceiling) and relatively unobstructed but I'm suspicious that it doesn't give enough light, because, well, it's a north-facing window and I am without a light meter.
I have one of those 4ft wide wire racks with five shelves that you can buy at Target and similar and want to dedicate one shelf to plants. I am going to spread the shelves out a bit so one level has somewhere between 2 and 3.5 feet of space (or however much I can get it to be) and hang florescent lights from it, possibly enclosing it to keep in humidity. My main issue is figuring out how I do the actual lighting.
I think I have pretty much two groups of plants -- one group that's 600-1000fc, one group that's 1000-1500fc. I wrote up the list below.
Phalaenopsis orchids - 3 plants, but two are in orchid ICU for previous bad potting medium. If they keel over, may replace with paphiopedilum and/or other low-light orchids (odontoglossum?).
African violets - 2 standard, 2 semi-miniature, only one purchased at the moment, others are planned
Rex begonia - Planned purchase, "starry night." I've read a bunch of different things about the light requirements and am not sure what to trust. Still doing research. This one may be in the lower range?
Cane begonia - Planned purchase, "looking glass." See comment above about begonia lighting. This one is probably in the higher range?
Guzmania bromeliad - May stay by window with a dracaena, but it sounds like it'd match the orchids as far as foot candles go, no problem.
What is the best way to do this? Can I manage with one 4ft fixture and just put the lower light stuff on the sides where the light isn't as bright, or do I have to split it into two 2ft fixtures, and if so, what would make that difference between two likely identical fixtures (bulb type, distance)? Does anyone have any recommendations for setups that would be close to these light ranges (fixture & bulbs, distance from plants), preferably on the relatively inexpensive side of prices? I just don't want to go out and buy stuff that I think maybe will work and have it turn out to be totally not feasible because I have no clue what I'm doing besides lights = good. Because, well, that's pretty much all I know! If there's somewhere an explanation for how to shop for a specific setup, that'd also be good (not just here are the bulb types and how people generally use them, but like actually trying to figure out what would hit your target foot candles).
Also, does anyone have any recommendations for a cheap (less than $40) light meter that has fairly...