seed starting- can I leave lights on at nighttime?

jenottawaApril 8, 2013

Since we are on a "peak" and "off-peak" rate hydro billing schedule, I am wondering if it would be possible to set lights to be 7pm-7am, rather than 7am-7pm (for example). They will be growing in my basement on the workshop bench. There is a small window in the room that gives natural night, but no direct sunlight. Do I need true dark downtime for seedlings?
(lettuce, cucumbers, squash, kale, swiss chard..)
Thanks very much! This is my first time starting stuff inside, I am very excited! I am borrowing a couple of fluorescent light setups from my neighbour (a warm and cool tube side by side), if that makes a difference!

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hardclay7a

I don't believe the plants you mention are as fussy about it as others particularly during seedling stage. But you can cover the window with a Shade or a curtain etc. Or consider a compromise like 4 AM - 4 PM or 10 PM- 10 AM for examples. 4 - 8 hours of subdued light should be fine for plants that are not photoperiodic. However keep in mind many plants prefer cooler temps during their dark time.
~Ken~

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 11:39PM
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susanzone5(z5NY)

Plants under lights need 16 hours of light. Keep the lights no more than an inch or 2 from the plants. Put some dark fabric on window to control light times.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 1:16AM
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susanzone5(z5NY)

Plants under lights need 16 hours of light. Keep the lights no more than an inch or 2 from the plants. Put some dark fabric on window to control light times.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 1:20AM
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SouthCountryGuy Zone 4b-5 SE BC(Zone 4b-5 SE BC Canada)

jenottowa,

I have my lights set to run from 10am-2am. This way I can check the plants before I go to work, before their daytime begins, and when I get home, half way through the plants day. This way I have less chances of drying out.

FWIW, one 80w fixture (two 40w bulbs) would cost me about $2.90/month at 16hrs/day in BC at my most expensive rate.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 9:01AM
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overdrive

I run mine from 12 noon till 7 a.m. - the plants make use of the extra light - they just grow bigger faster and bushier. During the weekend - the weekend is all off-peak, so I run my lights 24 hours a day on weekends :)
- pm.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 10:31AM
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pioneerwoman01(5-6)

Once seedlings have their first leaves (not true leaves), do they still need the grow light?

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 10:47AM
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rusty_blackhaw(6a)

You can certainly run indoor plant lights during the night (it might be well to cover the window to prevent seedlings leaning toward that light source when the lamps are off).

If cost wasn't a concern, it might be possible to get good results from running lights continuously (some growers do this, and if other needs are attended to there are crops that turn out quite well without a dark period during their seedling and early growth stage).

    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 12:49PM
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susanzone5(z5NY)

Pioneerwoman, to answer your question, yes, you still need lights or else the seedlings will grow very long stems trying to reach light and they won't produce strong plants. Grow lights an inch from the plants are needed till they are outdoors in sunlight.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 5:29PM
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