Series 2, page 4 – High light, low light, long day, short day plants

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seeds under flourescent 2
This series will help you have happy, healthy plants to enjoy all year round in your home.  Series #1 began with providing the proper growing medium and Series #2 will focus on the most important thing you can provide for your plants indoors – light. This, page 4, will explain in more detail, the differences in light and the plants that will thrive there.

by Mary Sue

Let’s Talk Light… pg 4

          Time for a few specific examples

 

Many plants will maintain in low light but only a few can tolerate less than their minimum requirements.  Know your plants requirements and you will be certain it is not just living off stored energy and slowly declining.  It is likely a plant will not come back from a situation of too little light.  Most plants even flourish when given more than the minimum.  Philodendron, for example, when given more of the indirect light they require, may have more green or red in their leaves and may even flower indoors for you.  Don’t overdo though.  While the light is on the plant will produce the sugars it needs to grow (photosynthesis) and when it is off it will burn those sugars (respiration).  Both are necessary.

During the summer the longest day is about 15 hours of sunlight where I live and the shortest is about 6 hours less in the winter.  9 hours is not enough for a plant from the tropics to flourish in my home, especially since the sun is also less intense.

On one shelf in the picture above I am starting perennial seeds under one 6400K T5 fluorescent bulb and on the shelf below I will plant my vegetable seeds under two 6400K T5 fluorescent bulbs.  This will give them all the blue light they need to get a great start on thick, green foliage before going outside.

High Light Plants

This does not mean direct southern sun but bright, indirect or filtered sun. You will see a sharply defined shadow on your plant when your hand is about 6” above it and between it and the light source.

 

African Violet will survive with less but flourish with bright, indirect light
Begonias bright but very indirect – off to the side of an east or west window
Brassias anywhere but north, filtered if south
Cacti lots of bright, filtered light
Cattleya orchids anywhere but north, filtered if south
Coleus direct sun will burn leaves, but bright will bring out the color
Croton color and health will seriously fade with little light
Gardenia lots of bright, filtered light
Gloxinia bright but no direct sun
Hibiscus (tropical) lots of bright, filtered light, long duration
Polka dot plant bright but very indirect light
Scindapsus (Pothos) can survive fine for a winter in less light but will have more color with more light
Succulents, Aloe Vera can survive with less but will thrive with more

Low Light Plants

This does not mean no light, but that you will still see a fuzzy shadow on your plant when your hand is about 6” above it and between the plant and the light source.

Aspidistra elatior – cast iron plant thrive in low light
Asplenium nidus – birds’ nest fern cool light (5000K+)
Bromeliads will survive with low light but may prefer bright, filtered light
Cyclamen need more light when flowering but do not like direct sun and need a rest period after flowering, usually late spring or early summer
Clivia does not like to be moved, even rotation
Dieffenbachia will have more color with more light
Dracena marginata will thrive and have more color with more but will survive the winter with less
Fatshedera lizei – cross of fatsia and irish ivy can be adapted to grow indoors
Ferns Exception: boston ferns like more light, never direct sun for any
Ficus binnendykii – narrow leaf fig will benefit with more light
Ficus decora will benefit with more light
Howea forsteriana – Kentia palm avoid deep shade
Hoya may flower for you with more light – does not like to be moved, especially when in flower
Kentia palms very forgiving, avoid deep shade and direct sunlight
Lucky Bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana)     low, indirect light
Maranta leuconeura – prayer plant tolerant of low light – will have more color with more indirect light
Monstera diliciosa – swiss cheese plant indirect sun
Nephrolepis ezaltata – Boston fern ‘Bostoniensis’ indirect sun or warm partial shade
Peperomia no direct sun, more color with fluorescent addition
Philodendron bipinnatifidum – tree philodendron indirect sun or warm partial shade
Philodendron light can be up to 3 feet away –  more light, more red
 
Sansevieria would also do well with bright, indirect sunlight
Saxifraga stolonifera – mother of thousands indirect sun or warm partial shade – cool temp
Schefflera low for a short winter period but prefer it brighter if possible, never direct sun 
Schefflera elegantissima – false Aralia indirect sun or warm partial shade
Senecio macroglossus – Natal ivy or wax vine copes with partial shade well

 

Long Day Plants

Plants that flower when the days are longer than their critical day length.  About 16-18 hours per day is a good average.

 

African Violet photo-period 14 hours – 9-12” distance
Seedlings
Veg beets, carrots, lettuce, peas, radish, turnip, fennel, spinach

 

Short Day Plants

Plants that flower when the days are shorter than their critical day length.  About 10 hours per day is a good average.

 

Gardenia do not like to be moved – try to find a good location where it can stay
Kalanchoe to force blooming – total darkness for 14 hours per day
Christmas cactus do not like to be moved – try to find a good location where it can stay
Poinsettia to force blooming – total darkness for 12 hours per day beginning Oct. 1 and little light during the day
Cattleya orchids good morning sun, then more shade
Bougainvillea with good light should bloom in the spring and again in the fall
Begonia
Viola they flower in the cool of the spring so keep them cool and short days under lights
Veg beans, cukes, some tomatoes, potatoes

 

Day Neutral Plants

Plants that begin flowering due to age.

Coleus
Geranium
Veg cabbage, corn, kale, rhubarb

 

On to page 5 for the summary on light

 

Series 2, pg 3 – Artificial light choices

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light shelf   Let’s talk light…page 3

This series will help you have happy, healthy plants to enjoy all year round in your home.  Series #1 began with providing the proper growing medium and Series #2 will focus on the most important thing you can provide for your plants indoors – light.  This, page 3, will explore the different options you are likely to find to supplement the light your plant needs indoors.

by Mary Sue

 

 

          Time to know what to look for

Artificial lighting options

There are numerous plant lighting systems on the market today, each with their own good and bad aspects. Choosing the right light for your situation is the most important part to growing indoors effectively. Plants benefit from all wavelengths of light but the reds and blues are the most important. This can make it tricky to accomplish the ideal light conditions for your plants.

Types of bulbs Read More →

Series 2, pg 5 – Light Summary

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light article 7

 

This series will help you have happy, healthy plants to enjoy all year round in you home.  Series #`1 began with providing the proper growing medium and Series #2 will focus on the most important thing you can provide for your plants indoors – light.  This, page 5, is the conclusion and you are ready for the best indoor season ever.

by Mary Sue

Let’s Talk Light… pg 5

          Time to light it up

 

When you know the available light from windows and balance brightness, color and intensity of artificial light you can create the best conditions for your plant.  The amount of light in any room is extremely variable.  Sometimes you have the exact window location necessary and you’re all set.  Often you do not due to the location of the windows, the season, weather, trees, overhangs, or nearby buildings, and will need to supplement.  The single advantage to the winter sun is that it is lower in the sky than the summer sun so it will reach into a room further.  If artificial light is only a supplement to hours of natural light leave it on through the daylight hours to increase the intensity for say, a 12 hour natural day.  If it is the main source of light, add to the length of the day by leaving it on for about 16 hours.

 

An eastern window may be a good beginning because it will provide early light through to mid-day and will not be too hot which causes water loss.  A filtered winter southern window will provide the most hours of light and you should not have to worry about the heat as you would from the summer sun but keep an eye on moisture and any leaf burn.  For those plants that need more light, western exposure may also be too hot in the summer but would be fine in the winter, with a sheer curtain for a filter from the hot rays of a very sunny day. A northern exposure will provide very little light.  A plant can often maintain itself in lower light than needed, living off stored carbohydrates, but it will not grow and be healthy.

 

The picture above shows that the Kalanchoe will flower, the Dieffenbachia will hold it’s color, and the greens seeds for salad will sprout even in the winter months with a little added fluorescent light.

 

There are plants that will need a dormancy time.  This rest period is peculiar to each plant.  Caladium, for instance, would like good light but very little water.  Dec. through Feb. it will die back considerably, and will put forth new growth in spring, when the days lengthen and you start increasing the water.  Oxalis and rubber tree (Ficus elastica) are some others.  If you overwinter fuchsia you may not want to encourage it to bloom with a lot of red/yellow supplement but concentrate on the blues for good green growth.  Again, know your plant.

 

You will combine the brightness and intensity, duration, and color to get an appropriate light.  Then just place it the correct distance from the plant, leave it on for the correct amount of time, and enjoy the show.

 

Series 2, pg 2 – brightness, color, intensity

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overhead spots

 

This series will help you have happy, healthy plants to enjoy all year round in hour home.  Series #1 began with providing the proper growing medium and Series #2 will focus on the different things to balance that will give your plants the best lighting conditions in your home.

by Mary Sue

 Let’s talk light… pg 2

          Time to find your balance

3 things – brightness and intensity, duration, color

Now that you know something about your plant and the natural light in your home from page 1 you can find the location your plant will need to thrive in your home by balancing these 3 things.

Brightness and intensity

This is the amount of light you supply for your plant for photosynthesis, fruiting, and flowering.  Humans and plants ‘see/use’ light differently.  Light for humans is measured in lumens and light for plants in micromoles.  For the home gardener reading packaging at the store you will most likely look for lumens.  More lumens does not directly translate to more useable light for your plants but it is a good indication for you.

A low light houseplant may survive with 500 lumens and prefer 1500 but a high needs houseplant will survive with 1600 (for a short time, winter months) and prefer 5000-8000 lumens.  The closer you place the bulb to the plant the more intense the light will be.

A low light plant may survive with 500-800 micromoles and prefer 1500 but a high needs plant will survive with 1600 but prefer 2000 micromoles. A T5 high-output fluorescent will give 400mm, a cloudy spring day 500-800, and a clear spring day 1500-2000 micromoles.

Duration

Once again you should know your plants natural habitat.  A flowering plant like an African violet will need the light to be closer and on for more time than a philodendron which grows well in shade.  You must also be careful of the heat given off by the bulb(s) you use.  Some, incandescent and HID bulbs, are very hot and will burn a plant if placed too close.  Fluorescent and LED are much cooler and can be placed closer.  More about long day and short day plants here.

Color

The color spectrum (CCT, or correlated color temperature) is measured using the Kelvin scale.  You will see these numbers also on the packaging of bulbs you purchase.  Plants need both red and blue light which are at opposite ends of the spectrum so it is best to provide both.  A “warm” – more yellow/red light will be labeled from 1000K to 5000K with 2700K being common.  Plants use this light to promote growth and flowering/fruiting.  A “cool” – blueish appearance will be labeled from 5000K to 10000K+ with 5000-6500K being common.  Plants use this light to keep the foliage compact, a nice green vegetation.  Plants considered to have high light needs should get plenty of blue light.

PAR – photosynthetically active radiation – will be on some fixture and bulb packaging and is a measure of the wavelength needed for photosynthesis.  Plants need 400nm-700nm for maximum growth and 450nm when at the seeding stage and 650nm at the flowering stage and are some good starting points to look for.

On to page 3 for light choices.

 

 

 

 

Series 2, pg 1 – light basics

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light article 2

 

This series will help you have happy, healthy plants to enjoy all year round in your home.  Series #1 began with providing the proper growing medium and we’ll talk about water later in Series #3.  This, Series #2, will focus on the most important thing you can provide for your plant, light.

by Mary Sue

Time to talk light… pg 1

     First some basics

All plants need a good medium, water and light to grow.  Light is the one most important thing we can provide for our houseplants through the winter for their healthy survival.  Light provides the energy plants need to make the food to grow both foliage and flowers.

Almost all of my houseplants take a vacation outdoors as soon as spring weather permits and thrive with all the lighting options available throughout my patios and yard.  From deep shade under deck roofing or evergreens, to lighter shade under a small deciduous tree, and to the brilliant sunshine in the middle of the yard, they each can be placed in the location best suited to their needs.  When they come back indoors, as the days and nights cool for fall, there is often a need to supplement the light available from the windows.  Winter light is less intense and the days are shorter.  When you put a plant indoors the light is a fraction of the light outdoors.

Whether you just want to keep your plants healthy or flowering, grow greens from seed for stir-fry or salads, keep herbs in the kitchen, or start vegie seeds for the summer, lights will keep things growing.  Bonus – Your healthily growing plants release oxygen into the air and remove toxins adding to the health of your home and you.

Know your plant

The first thing you must know is where your plants native habitat is and what the light conditions are so you can duplicate this in your home.  Sunlight includes all the colors of the spectrum, from red to yellow through to blue and violet. Your plants will process the light you give them (along with water and CO2) to make carbohydrates which the plants use to grow and flower – photosynthesis.

Know your natural light

Daylight is the best type of light for your houseplants but not everyone has a greenhouse or a south facing sun room with proper filters and temperature control so this natural light is not always available.  Depending upon the placement of your windows, and things like overhangs, trees, or curtains, you will have more or less natural light.

Give your plant too little light and it may use all of its stored food and perish or too little light may result in small leaves and be weak and spindly.

Give your plant too much light and it may be pale and weak or even get a sunburn.

Window direction pros and cons

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