lights for succulents

ianna(Z5b)May 26, 2005

Hello everyone,

It's my first time to grow succulents under growlights and need your help. I've several echeverias that have grown rather leggy over the past months under the lights. What kinds of light do I need to keep the plants looking full and lush?


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DanaNY(z6 Astoria, NY)

Hi Ianna, what kind of lights are you currently using and how many hours are the lights on? How close are the lights to the plants?

I plan to collect echeverias and will grow them under lights as well. I just got a sempervivum (thought it was an echeveria at first) and have temporarily put it under full-spectrum fluorescent tubes until I can repot it. I haven't had problems with legginess with other plants under those lights, but not sure how succulents will do under them. To be on the safe side, I'll probably move it to a sunny windowsill that has a compact fluorescent above it. I'm sure it wouldn't get leggy there.

Hopefully we'll hear from someone who's successfully grown them under lights. I'd like to know if it's possible for echeverias/semps to bloom under lights? And how would they do in a SE or SW window without lights? I've asked in the C&S forum, but no answers. I hope someone here can shed some light on this (excuse the pun). ;)

    Bookmark   May 26, 2005 at 7:50PM
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joezkool(z5 WI)

I'll try & help out here, as I have quite a collection of cacti and succulents under lights in my basement. I live I Wisconsin, so the time I can give my plants some outdoor time in summer is limited. I basically have to fall, winter, and spring them indoors, so lights became an absolute must. Before I get too in depth, I'll tell you I'm an electrician, so I have pretty easy access to lighting equipment, in fact, my set-up didn't cost me a dime. My main point is, please, if you set up an artificial lighting contraption, be sure you know what you're doing, and that it's safe. The last thing I want to do is check back and see someone's house caught fire because of a homemade plant light set-up.

Ok, you can very easily grow healthy succulents with lights, in fact, mine grow excellent under a 400w metal halide. I started with fluorescents, using (8) 4 foot lamps. But, having small cacti, up to a 2 foot desert rose, it's hard to use fluorescent light, because you need to position fluorescents no more then 6 inches above your plants. Also, it takes (42) 4 foot fluorescent lamps to equal the output of (1) 400w metal halide. Money is a big issue here. Metal halide systems will cost a LOT of money compared to fluorescent. If you have only small plants, fluorescent would be fine, so long as your plants are close to the lamps. Fluorescent light loses it's light intensity very fast, so the close the better. They also run very cool, compared to the high heat of halide.

Ok, into the growth habits, concerning blooming, leaving, and legginess. Lack of light, or the wrong color spectrum will effect the growth. Basically the blue spectrum promotes stocky, leaf and stem growth. The red spectrum promotes blooming. You need the blue most of the year, but in the plant's blooming times, you need the red. Metal halide is mostly blue, good for general growth. High pressure sodium, metal halide's cousin, is mostly red, for the blooming. For HID (High Intensity Discharge), a combo of both works wonders. As for flourescents, "cool white" lamps give out mostly blue, and "warm white" gives out more red. A combo of both is ideal. HID lighting is far more superior then fluorescent if you have a large quantity of plants, as it provides significantly more light. Fluorescent is cheaper to buy, and is suitable for a few plants, because all plants must be directly under the lamps.

As for blooming, yes, you can get just about any plant to bloom under artificial lights, IF you have enough light. You must also mimic the needed conditions, such as day length, temperature, humidity, water, etc. You also need to make sure you have air movement to provide the needed carbon dioxide to pass through the plant, but no drafts. All plants need at least 8 hours of rest, so that equates to no more then 16 hours of light per day. Any more then that equates to a slow death, literally growing them to death. Use a timer for ease of operation, and change the setting as the sun-up and sun-down changes there. Some plants are sensitive to photoperiod, such as crassula species, which only bloom when light is less then 12 hours. Placing plants in a partially sun-lit area, and using the lights as a supplement, is the best way to go. I have no windows except for north facing, which is useless, so I am restricted to full artificial light. Whew, hopefully I didn't bore you to death with my short book here, but if you have any more questions, I'd be happy to help ya.


    Bookmark   May 29, 2005 at 12:35AM
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Joe, Thanks for your inputs. It's what I needed to know.


    Bookmark   June 3, 2005 at 10:44AM
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DanaNY(z6 Astoria, NY)

Hi Joe, thanks for confirming that they can bloom under lights. I agree with everything you said about the lights and spectrum. I've grown lots of different plants under lights (3 different types of grow lights), but not succulents. I have it about an inch away from the tubes right now. It's making a baby already, which is a good sign. I will eventually put the offsets under all 3 light sources and see what happens. Luckily we can do that with succulents. Now I just need to get some more! :)

    Bookmark   June 3, 2005 at 3:51PM
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jwmeyer(Z8 OR)

If good spaectral graph is important for suculents, you should look into either the CMH or the Hortilux MH blue bulb.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2005 at 7:32PM
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I know this is an old post but I have to say thank you for this information. I'm about to move into a new apartment that has only north-facing windows and I have a whole cache of succulents, which are very dear to me. I was really in a bind, as I thought they could not grow under lights, but after reading this, I feel very relieved. Thank you for sharing your knowledge!

    Bookmark   February 8, 2014 at 11:52AM
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