Lighting system for amaryllis seedlings

mariava7July 19, 2007

Hi! I have been so hooked on amaryllis for the past 2 years and have been cross pollinating my amaryllis collection (almost 80 varieties). I collected a LOT of seeds and have grown some of them. My first batch of seedlings are 1 1/2 year olds and the second batch are 6 month olds. I have read that amaryllis seedlings should be avoided to be put to rest during winter time at least for the first year. So that would mean that the first batch can be put to rest this winter time. The second batch will need to be grown indoors this winter. I have NEVER grown plants using artificial lights. I am planning to grow them in a semi-basement where the temp. stays in the 50-60s. Humidity is no problem with amaryllis. Space is also not a problem. I have this long countertop in the laundry room that I can occupy. I dearly need help or suggestions on which light bulbs to use that would be efficient enough and at the same time economical for me. I still have hundreds of seeds waiting to be planted. YES, I am amaryllis crazy. And here are the reasons why...

Thank you so much in advance! You all have a happy gardening day!!!

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Wow, nice collection there buddy. Hmmm lets see. You need more power than fluorescents, and a narrow but long counter top means multiple lights to cover the correct areas. dont get me wrong, you can keep the plants alive with 4' shop lights, but thats about it, they will survive not flourish. You can go one of two ways. A 400 watt mh light costs about 100 bucks( That will cover an area 3'x3' effectivley. You could buy 2 or 3 depending on how long the counter top is, or you could buy one light and a linear light mover. Multiple lights mean big electric bills, and lamp replacement costs will grow. If you have the funds I suggest one light and a light mover. Remember light diminishes quickly. At the bulb a 400 watt light produces around 35,000-45,000 lumens. One foot away only a quarter of the lumens are available and for every additional foot away, only a quarter of the light is available. With the light mover you can keep the bulb closer to the plants with out burning them. That means more light for your energy dollar. Plus your light mover can be expanded to cover 4', 6' 9' or even 12' spans. Another addition to the light mover is the garden will be lighted evenly, meaning no shaded areas. Stationary lights throw light in the same spot day in and day out. An evenly lit plant always produces more and is healthier.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2007 at 3:43PM
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Im an idiot an didnt realize you are talking about seedlings. Small plants should do fine under fluoro's. Just keep the lights 2-4 inches above the plants and you should do fine.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2007 at 4:54PM
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Darthhelmut...Thanks! No your not an idiot but a very nice person willing to help and share your knowledge. Isn't this what gardenweb is for anyway? So is it that easy? Just ordinary flourescent lights will do? I just measure the countertop and it is 2'X10'. With this width, how many bulbs would I need and how many watts per bulb? Again thank you so much!

Here is a sample of my crosses.
The seed parent H.Papilio 'Improved'

The pollen donor H. Emerald

The seedlings...

    Bookmark   August 25, 2007 at 12:17AM
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Hi Maria! I came here to find some ideas for shelving with lights for some of my plants, and I followed your link to your photo album... Unbelievable! You have the most gorgeous Amaryllis collection! I'm in awe...

The Worsleya is so unusual in its leaf habit... I didn't know they grew the leaves up near the top of the stem. And your other tropical plants are so healthy looking! You are quite the gardener! I am not worthy! LOL!

About the lights... I bought 2, 21 inch fluorescent plant grow lights at Home Depot or Lowes... I can't remember which store, but one of those home builder stores... they are made by a company called Portfolio, that's the name on the box they came in. If I remember correctly, they were not very expensive, and I think they had other lengths available on the same shelf at the store.

I plan to make a cheap shelving unit out of pvc pipe and use these wire grid pieces I already have as the shelves. The grid pieces are about 13 inches square, black, and were originally parts of a cheap clip-together shelf unit my son's girlfriend gave me. I would imagine she got it at Walmart or Meier's or a discount store like that. She didn't give me the clips, or whatever held these grids together, so I've had this stack of squares sitting here, and I knew that someday I'd find a use for them.

Anyway... since you already have a nice countertop space, you could just go buy cheap grow light units like these and hang them above at any height you need. Just a thought... especially since these light bulbs are already meant for plant lighting, and they're not too expensive. I'm sure they're not top-of-the-line plant lights, but they'll do for over-wintering.

Well... I'm off to finish looking at, and drooling over, your photo album! See you at the Amaryllis Forum! :-)

    Bookmark   September 9, 2007 at 10:42AM
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shrubs_n_bulbs(z8/9 UK)

You can easily fit four tubes in a 2' width, you can squeeze in more if you need to although you might need to make your own fittings. Depending on what you can find, eight foot fluorescent tubes would be a nice fit and they really put out a lot of light. Might be expensive or difficult to source, also a bit cumbersome to move about. Two sets of four foot tubes end to end would be nearly as good and much easier to find and deal with. Don't piddle about with two foot tubes, not worth it for a big space like yours

For that sort of space it will often be more convenient to use a metal halide lamp since you would usually need something like 400W of light. But for seedlings, an array of fluorescent lights is good for evenly covering the whole area without burning the plants nearest the light.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2007 at 4:12PM
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OMG Jodik!!! I really didn't expect to see you here girlfriend. Thanks!!! You should know by now how amaryllis crazy I am. That Worsleya is grown in Brazil where it is a native plant. Thanks for the info on the grow lights. This is a long countertop that will be filled with my seedling crosses. The seedlings would be a year old and younger. I want to keep it cost efficient as possible for this lighting system would only be used for a few months during the winter time. Spring, they will all be grown outside. Sunlight is still best for them. I have so many interesting crosses this year. I am really excited and want them to survive their first winter. See ya in the Amaryllis forum.

Shrubs and Bulbs...Hello and thanks you for that info. How are your plants doing in UK? We have a member in the Amaryllis forum that grows beautiful amaryllises in UK. I think I would go with your suggestion of 2 sets of 4 foot flourescent lights for the width. I have one more question though. I hope you don't mind. Is is necessary to get one "cool" and one "warm" florescent for each set?

Here's more of my crosses. Hope I don't bore you with them. Just wanted to share...

MoonlightXSanta Fe

Moonlight...the seed parent

Santa Fe...pollen donor

CarnivalXPapilio 'Butterfly'

Carnival...seed parent

Papilio ' Butterfly'...pollen donor

And here they are. They have grown bigger since this pic was taken. They now have a second leaf. MoonlightXSanta Fe on the leaft and CarnivalXPapilio on the right.

You all have a nice gardening day indoors and/or outdoors!!!

    Bookmark   September 9, 2007 at 10:29PM
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More gorgeous pictures... thanks for sharing, Maria!

I wasn't thinking your countertop was that huge for some reason... larger lights would be best in your case. I don't have the room for something that large, although I'd probably make it fit if I had all the seedlings that you had!

Catch you on the other forum!

    Bookmark   September 10, 2007 at 1:18AM
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Personally, I would go with six shoplight fixtures. You have a space that is 20 square feet, but narrow, 2 feet wide, by 10 feet long. It is very difficult to achieve a uniform illumination over a space like this, especially is you have seedlings. If you would say, aim for 20 -30w/square foot, you would need 400 -600 watts. If you used a 400w HPS lamps, this would give 20 watts per square foot and 50,000 lumens, but the light distribution will be very uneven. Under the lamp, the seedlings will get bleached out, light will spill out across the width of the bench and be wasted, and the ends of the garden will not get enough light. 6 fluorescent fixtures x 2 lamps x 32 watts = 384 watts, just
about right for seedlings. Lumens would be 37,200. If you tried to overdrive the fixtures to 54 watts per lamp, this would give 648 watts and about 60,000 lumens, which would be excellent for larger seedlings, but you probably don't need to do this for a medium light plant like hippeastrum. Overdriving would require the purchase of 6 more ballasts, which are cheap on e-bay. I would buy fixtures that have a curved reflector, like the Lithonia 1245, and if you have some metallized mylar, you can line the reflector for even
better performance using 3m double sided tape, or consider buying 8 cheaper narrower Chinese shoplight fixtures. Having experience with HID myself, I would think you would run the risk of chlorosis (bleaching out your seedlings) if you illuminated with metal halide or HPS, and the illumination from fluorescents will be extremely even and work very well. If the light is not enough, then overdrive the fixture. Be sure to use high lumen output T8 lamps at 3000K, like TCP high lumen T8.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2007 at 8:35PM
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I notice Lithonia has a decent looking shoplight for $11.36, with curved reflectors.

Here is a link that might be useful: Lithonia shoplight.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2007 at 9:13PM
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I've been scouring the net for shoplights, and finally stumbled upon the best one, that I'm going to order for myself. It's called Cooper Lighting #9240 48" 2 Lamp Shop Light. They go for 11.60, they have a curved 6" reflector which is ideal. The only slight drawback is the ballast is for a T12, but that's not really a big deal, because you'll want to buy some decent quality T8 ballasts anyway if you want to give yourself the option of overdriving. 6 fixtures with
shipping would be about $86, and 12 ballasts could be picked up for $65, and $30 for the T8 tubes, total of $180, and you will have a very nice and versatile setup. Install toggle switches to allow yourself the option of turning overdrive on or off, and line the reflectors with mylar, and that would be lighting heaven. Or you could just keep it stock, and save yourself a lot of money and hassle, and still get decent results.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cooper Lighting Shoplight.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2007 at 1:44AM
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Actually, I looked at the Cooper Lighting website, and found out that the picture is wrong. That light has no reflector, so don't bother getting it. has a nice
Lithonia 1241CW that I would look into.

Here is a link that might be useful: Lithonia 1241cw

    Bookmark   September 12, 2007 at 10:38PM
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Hi Object16! Thanks for those info and links. I kinda liked the first Lithonia. I think I might order that...soon!!! We are going down to high 40s tonight. Fall is just around the corner. The seedlings will have to be taken and grown inside ASAP.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2007 at 12:27AM
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We've dropped to the mid 30's at night already! I am SO not ready for the cold weather! I have my lights, but I can't decide whether to wait for my husband to build shelving and mount the lights, or just hang them where I need them!

The heat mat and mini table top greenhouse I ordered for seed and cutting starting arrived. At least I've got that ready!

And I can't wait for the stores to get in their Amaryllis bulb kits for Christmas... I want to try some under the lights.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2007 at 11:39PM
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