Indoor Plant Light - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-20-2015, 03:20 PM Thread Starter
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Indoor Plant Light

This isn't precisely a terrarium question, but this section is the best match I could find.

I need some indoor lighting for plants. Eventually I might try a lighted terrarium for my windowless office, but for right now I am looking for a light for regular plants, like herbs. Can I use standard fluorescent lights? When I bought my two 30 gallon aquariums they came with regular fluorescent strip lights, which I of course replaced. The strip fixtures have been sitting in the back of a closet ever since. Now I need indoor plant lights and before I buy something I wanted to know if these might work.

What do you think?
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-20-2015, 03:43 PM
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Yes, fluorescents are very good for indoor plant lighting. However, some herbs require full sun, like basil for example. I would check about the lighting needs for your particular plants and then decide if you need to up your lighting. You may be good with just a 18" T8. You can get an aluminum reflector shop light and a 23w spiral CFL for less than $20. That includes the lamp itself, $6-$12 depending where you get it and $8 for a two-pack of 6500k 23W spiral CFL. This will do you for a year.

Stock lightly and carry a big filter. - I don't have aquariums. I have ecosystems in a glass box. - Hygrophilaholic and hoarder of Anubias.
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-20-2015, 04:32 PM
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Indoor Plant Lighting

Hello Sha...

This is very similar to hydroponics. Florescent shop lighting from the local hardware store is sufficient for keeping indoor plants. I use it to light my tanks and it works fine for my outdoor plants when I have to bring them in from outdoors when colder weather comes.

Longer lighting is best. I like to use 48 inch two fixture lights. The 6500K, 32 watt T8s or 40 watt T12s both work. There are shorter versions too. These are inexpensive, $20.00 or so. Check your local Lowe's or Home Depot.

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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-20-2015, 06:56 PM Thread Starter
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Great, thank you both!

I thought these hoods might not work, but I just wanted to know before I put them in the alley "free to a good home." I will buy some shop lights. It will be my first experiment with indoor plant lights and if it doesn't work out, well, these are plants that would have died after the first hard freeze anyway.
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-20-2015, 08:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BBradbury View Post
Longer lighting is best. I like to use 48 inch two fixture lights. The 6500K, 32 watt T8s or 40 watt T12s both work. There are shorter versions too. These are inexpensive, $20.00 or so. Check your local Lowe's or Home Depot.

B
Agree with longer bulbs. You get dimming at the ends of the fluorescent bulbs, so if you compare a 48 inch bulbs vs a 24 or 18, there's more wasted end space using the shorter bulbs. Of course, it all depends on what you have room for.

I did a lot of house plants and seed-starting back then using indoor 4-ft fluorescent lighting, don't have the room for it now, would rather do aquariums

You'll probably find a lot of info on this in sites belonging to organizations like African Violet Society etc; a lot of people do DIY plant stands using 48 inch two-bulb shop lights.

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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-20-2015, 11:46 PM
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Keep in mind that the plants will want to be close (within a few inches) of their light source if you go w/ fluorescent tubes, so plan accordingly. CFLs in cheap clamp lights (also from lowe's/home depot) would work as well, may give you more versatility in terms of placement.


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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-21-2015, 06:59 AM
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I only use T5 or T8 Aquarium Daylight tubes NOT the standard fluro tubes.

They should be replaced every 12months as you do with Aquariums.

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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-21-2015, 08:51 AM
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I think this would be related to info the OP would like to know.
How close to the top of a plant is too close?
I have two very small Cypress trees 15" that I want to bring inside for the winter and I will need light for them. After this winter they can stay outside in the ground.
But in pots now till they get bigger.
But I don't want to dry them out/w the light.

The shortest distance between any two points is a straight line...in the opposite direction...
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-21-2015, 10:00 PM
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When I was growing light hungry plants eg tomato seedlings I kept the tops of the plants within 2-6 inches of the lights. This was using 2x 48" fluorescent tubes. If they were further away the growth was leggy.

Plants like African violets were fine at six inches or more underneath the lights. I usually kept these guys at the ends of the fixtures, and kept the light hungry ones at the centre of the fixtures.

I used pieces of wood, brick, styrofoam sheets etc underneath the flats or pots to get them to the right height.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-21-2015, 10:27 PM
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My gf ' s spider plant was struggling in my darker than most fish room, she wanted to open the shades, i hate algae so got a 5000k led flood bulb and placed it about 16" from the plant... holy growth!! Its pretty amazing what simulated light can do for a plant in your home. Anyways.. i don't see much difference between cfls and leds in open air. I'm a sucker for leds though; )
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-21-2015, 10:36 PM
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Daisy Mae and brooksie321 thank you both.
My main concern is that these are actual trees but only 15" tall so they need good light to just live but that 15" tall thing...if the light is above them will the bottom get enough?
It will just have to be enough. I will have them in front of an East facing window which will get sunlight for about 2.5 hrs in the A.M. but when the sun is still low coming up.
Now they are living in a west facing window getting 3.5-4.5 hrs plus a Zoo Med Flora bulb over them all day.

The shortest distance between any two points is a straight line...in the opposite direction...
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-22-2015, 02:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raymond S. View Post
Daisy Mae and brooksie321 thank you both.
My main concern is that these are actual trees but only 15" tall so they need good light to just live but that 15" tall thing...if the light is above them will the bottom get enough?
It will just have to be enough. I will have them in front of an East facing window which will get sunlight for about 2.5 hrs in the A.M. but when the sun is still low coming up.
Now they are living in a west facing window getting 3.5-4.5 hrs plus a Zoo Med Flora bulb over them all day.
Hmm, is the bulb you're using a spiral one? Is it possible to direct it slanted over the plant, and opposite where it is getting window light? Would need to be rotated every few days. That 15" height sure is a bit of a doozie. My only other suggestion would be a reflector, i.e. put the pots on a white surface. Hope you find a solution that works for you.
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