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.