Best indoor plants very low light

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University of Vermont Extension
Department of Plant and Soil Science

Anytime News Article

Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension Professor
University of Vermont

Artificial lighting from light bulbs indoors can be used to start seedlings in spring, provide supplemental light for sunlight to many plants, and to provide the sole source of light for low to medium light plants. The main aspects to consider when providing light for plants indoors is the quality, quantity, and duration of the light.

Quality refers to the actual wavelengths the lights provide to the plants. Light may look white to us, but is in reality made of many different wavelengths as seen in rainbows or when light strikes a prism. It is the red and blue parts that the plant uses for energy and growth, so these need to be provided by indoor lights. Terms you may see for light bulbs that provide these are “natural”, “full spectrum”, or “balanced.” They cost more than the usual incandescent bulbs that mainly provide red light to plants, or the cool white tubes that mainly provide blue light.

A less expensive solution for a balanced light quality is to use both incandescent and cool white lights, or cool and warm (appearance, not temperature) white tubes in fluorescent fixtures. Keep in mind incandescent bulbs only may last 1, 000 hours compared to 10, 000 hours for fluorescent. If using both incandescent and fluorescent, a balance ratio of 3 to 10 is best. So for every 30 watts from an incandescent bulb, provide 100 watts from fluorescent.

Additional terms you will see when looking at fluorescent tubes are “T” numbers. These refer to the diameter, in eighths of an inch, of tubes. So a T8 tube is eight eighths, or one inch, in
diameter. Older tubes are T12, with most newer ones T8 or even T5. These newer ones tend to be much more energy efficient, and even with lower wattage can produce more light due to new
technology and materials in their production. There even are high-output tubes with longer life, so even though more expensive at first they are cheaper in the end.

Quantity of light is crucial and, in addition to type and wattage of bulb, is adjusted by distance of lights to plants. Fluorescent tubes give off little heat, so can be placed as close as four to six inches above seedlings and plants. Incandescent and similar bulbs give off more heat, so need to be kept a foot or more above plants. If you see browning or “burning” of leaves and leaf edges, this may be a sign your light is too close to plants.


Ghetto Gardening in February

2007-02-06 09:31:22 by charlesgeorgetaylo

It’s time to start seeds inside. Spring is right around the corner. Tomatoes and green peppers should begin their germination process at this time. Do not wait until May to buy garden plants at Home Depot or another garden store. Real gardeners cultivate their own plants from seeds and the produce always seems much tastier than what one can buy at the supermarket.
It feels better to give birth to our own plants—adopting them is never really the same.
Plants that are started indoors in the dead of winter keep us going on cold winter nights. They are like pets, curling up in a window, purring for our love and affection


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