Brought my peppers in.....now what?

milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)October 13, 2008

I have read lots of posts on this forum and the more I read the more confused I become. I have about 10 pepper plants that I would like to keep going through the winter. I'm not interested in hydroponics yet, I just want inexpensive lights to keep my peppers growing. Is there some very basic information I could get that will do for this type of set up? The cheaper the better! Also, what about a timer? How many hours of light per day do I need? I confess I don't understand the lingo on this forum, so please keep it simple!

Thank you!!!

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xmaslightguy(4/5)

The best of all is if you can give them sunlight...if they
can be placed in a south facing window you shouldn't need
any extra light.

The least expensive & easiest light to use is a standard
shoplight...just go to Home Depot you can get a 2-bulb
48" light for around $10. Bulbs will vary in price depending
on what you get.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2008 at 9:15PM
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hydroponica(5-6)

I would say you'd want to get at least one if not two or three shoplight-type CFL fixtures. I don't have the specifics, but there's a 4 foot fixture they sell at Home Depot that runs about ten bucks (make sure they run T8 bulbs). Line your plants up under them and lower the lights to within about 4 inches or so.

You can get them down as close as 2 inches if you want, but I imagine your pepper plants aren't all the same height so it'll be a little tough to get them close to all of them. Just get as close as you can without letting the plants touch the lights. They'll burn the leaves if they touch, but otherwise it shouldn't be a problem.

When I say you want to get 2 or 3 of the fixtures I mean per 4-foot section. You want them side-by-side. If you have enough plants that you have to go longer than 4 feet, you need another set of 2-3 fixtures. With 10 plants I'm betting you'll have to squeeze them in pretty tight to get them in a line only 8 feet long, so you're looking at 4-6 shoplights, 2 bulbs each.

Also, you want to get one of the warm light and one of the daylight type bulbs for each fixture so you've got a mix of both. (Generally these are 2700K and 6500K color temperature, respectively.) That gives you the spectrum needed to keep them happy.

It's a lot of work, but worth it. With lights like that you'll be able to grow decently well indoors year-round, get an early start on your seedlings, and so on.

You want to read the wattages on the box of your fixtures, add them up, and make sure you get a timer that can handle that kind of power. For that much juice you're probably looking at an outdoor timer, something beefy enough to have a three-prong outlet you can plug a power strip into to make it easy to plug all your lights in.

DO NOT use a 2 to 3 prong adapter and a cheapo timer. Cheating on your electrical equipment means that you won't have to worry about watering your plants because the fire department comes and does it for you... with a few thousand gallons of water.

For peppers I'd say anywhere from 12 to 18 hours a day of light will be fine. They flower and bloom without any specific day-length requirements (at least they do for me) so you can go 12 hrs a day if you want to save electricity, or 18 if you want to maximize growth, or something in between.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2008 at 9:40PM
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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)

Thanks for the advice. I did a search on craigslist for T5, as I had read some good things about them. I found a 2-foot, 4 bulb fixture for $120.00. Would that do the trick as well?

I failed to mention that in the spring I bought some grow lights at Home Depot, Philips 120W bulbs, and they just seemed to melt my tomatoes. I'd like something cooler and more energy efficient.

Here is a link that might be useful: Craigslist T5 bulbs

    Bookmark   October 17, 2008 at 12:05AM
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hydroponica(5-6)

T5's are better than T8's, so yeah those would work. I'm not sure I'd call a 2 foot four bulb fixture a good deal at $120. For that much you could probably get a 250W or even 400W HID light which would be better than any amount of fluorescent light.

What "grow lights" did you buy exactly? For the most part if it's called a grow light it's probably not a good bulb for growing. HID lights, sure. But anything cheaper you can buy off a shelf in a hardware store won't be good for growing if that's what it's sold as.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2008 at 1:59AM
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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)

Well, now I'm seriously considering LED lights. I've read a few posts here and they seem to be a good deal, especially with regard to energy consumption. Also, there is little heat. I haven't purchased anything because I'm still trying to wade through the muck! Would the UFO type be better than the square?

    Bookmark   October 23, 2008 at 10:45AM
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jeremyjs

You could go to a hardware store and get 4 2 bulb 4' fixtures with bulbs and a timer for 100 bucks or less. That amount of light with LED would cost you a pretty penny. Add it up it. When I did my wallet got mad at me and threatened to beat me up.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2008 at 12:35AM
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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)

jeremyjs,

Just any kind of fluorescent bulb? That sounds too easy. I admit that I have not purchased anything because of cost. I'm carrying my peppers out for sunshine when it's not too cold. That can't go on much longer!

    Bookmark   October 29, 2008 at 7:21PM
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xmaslightguy(4/5)

LOL that craiglist post probably ain't too far from me...
but there's no way i'd pay that much for a small light
like that.
Really just go to Home Depot (or somewhere) and pick up
a couple of their $10 2-bulb 48" shoplights.
For bulbs personally i prefer mixing 'daylight' and 'grolux ws'
bulbs (those are older T12 style)... but with the newer
lights you can also use T8's - with those just use a mix of
'Warm White'/3000k and 'Cool White'/4100k (or 5000k is
better if you can find it).

    Bookmark   October 30, 2008 at 11:03PM
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wordwiz

milehighgirl,

A way cheaper and easier method - cut your plants back to nubs and stick them someplace where they will get very little sunlight. Water them lightly, maybe every 10 days to two weeks, until spring returns. It's called overwintering. They will grow back in the spring and from what I have read, produce more pods than what they did this year.

If you really expect to "grow" them this winter, for the ten plants you have, unless they are very small plants, you are going to need enough lights to deliver at least 5,000 lux of PAR light to them - that's a lot of light. And if they are decent size, you can multiply that by 10 to give the total amount of light you will need for the plants to produce pods. I have a 45-watt LED panel that works decently but it only covers about one plant, two at most. But with these lights going for >$50, that's going to be quite an investment.

Plus, you will have to deal with aphids, mites and other nasties, unless you plan on introducing a lot of other insects into your abode.

Shop lights and such are great for seedlings but they simply don't have enough power to produce fruit for many plants, at least IME.

If you interested in learning more about peppers, let me suggest the "The Hot Pepper" forum. It covers everything from seeds to powder and a hot topic now is overwintering. Lighting is also always a big topic, except in the middle of summer when we use sunlight!!!

Mike

Here is a link that might be useful: Hot Pepper Forum

    Bookmark   November 1, 2008 at 5:33PM
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hydroponica(5-6)

wordwiz makes some good points - it's tough to put enough light on a plant indoors to get them to thrive like they would outside. But that isn't to say you can't grow them inside. I have. You just can't expect the same kind of vitality without some really serious lighting power (HID's at least).

The important thing I completely overlooked is the bug issue. Bringing plants inside brings their "friends" along with them. If you're putting them in the garage that's fine, but most of us wouldn't want to share the house with plant pests.

As far as the bulbs go there's two basic types you want to get (I mentioned it in the previous post). You want a more "red" light and a more "blue" light in combination for most plants. They look more yellow and white to us, but we don't actually see the light spectrum very well. In the small bulbs that we use as low-energy replacements for incandescent bulbs theres 2700K and 6500K light temperature bulbs (the lower being redder and the higher being bluer).

I don't believe you can find those exact numbers in the florescent tubes, but find the closest thing you can. Plants only really utilize a few specific parts of the light spectrum and bulbs that are too far off these numbers aren't likely to put out enough light in the right frequencies.

I think what you'd probably find would work best for you would be to take wordwiz's overwintering advice for most of your plants and try to grow 2 or 3 of them inside over the winter. It's a lot of fun to have fresh, home-grown veggies in the middle of winter but that many plants could start to feel like a chore.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2008 at 6:18PM
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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)

I've come to realize that your are right, wordwiz and hydroponica, regarding overwintering. My main goal is to have grown plants that will produce fruit before the first frost next year, not to have fruit during the winter. I didn't know that peppers could stand a dormant period. I will try to accomplish this and see how it goes.

I did start to have an aphid problem with a couple of peppers I put under my aerogarden. A few days outside in close to freezing temperatures seemed to get rid of most of the aphids!

I will prune them back and hope I remember to water them enough to keep them alive. I hate to cut off all those little buds, but maybe next year they will be more abundant and hopefully the fruit will actually have a chance to ripen before frost!

Thanks for all your input!

    Bookmark   November 13, 2008 at 11:29AM
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wordwiz

milehighgirl,

I don't think you will be disappointed. One thing a buddy from Texas found out is that if you bury your pots in dirt (if that is possible) so that the roots can grow out of the bottom of the container and the sun cannot beat down on the sides) your plant will be much better. If your plant starts growing sprouts this winter, you can always trim them. I like the ideas of having a few sprouts showing - I can tell if the plant is getting stressed and needs watered.

Mike

    Bookmark   November 13, 2008 at 7:37PM
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hydroponica(5-6)

Sounds like you should do fine then, if you're just wanting to overwinter. But you can grow them and actually get some fruit if you have enough light.

Something to think about at least.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2008 at 1:48PM
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