Grow Plants Indoors Under Lights

modern areo garden to produce veggies at home

Many outdoor landscapes depend upon indoor growing to provide them with colorful blooms and foliage during the dreary winter months. And isn’t it disappointing when plants lose their leaves, grow leggy and refuse to flower?

The main reason for such behavior is lack of light.

Sunshine Not Required

Nowadays you need no longer depend on sunshine to light your indoor plants. You can grow gorgeous plants under fluorescent light without ever exposing them to natural sunshine. Under this man-made sun, plants grow symmetrical, leaves have a brighter sheen, and flowers are more plentiful.

With fluorescents a basement, attic, a dark corner, bookcase or buffet, becomes a potential indoor gardening area.

A simple light setup consists of two 40-watt 48-inch tubes and their reflector suspended over the plants.

For good growth plants need a balance of blue and red light rays. One tube of warm white, and one tube of daylight helps achieve this balance.

A pair of lights and starters are low in costs from $10 to $25 – depending somewhat on the style of the reflector. A reflector, purchased or homemade, is necessary to force the light down on the plants.

This makes excellent plant growing equipment for porches, attics, basements and spare bedroom.

For your living room you may want something more decorative, perhaps a lighted bookcase, one of the portable units, or a handsome glassed in case.

When using artificial lights inside such pieces of furniture, paint the plant growing area white for better light diffusion. If there is space enough, install the lights so they are about 18 inches from the plant shelf.

If the shelf is less than 24 inches wide, a single strip fluorescent will give the plants enough light. Flowering plants need 12 to 16 hours of continuous artificial light every day.

Foliage plants thrive with four to six hours of light per day. You can switch lights off and on manually, or purchase a timer to do the job for you.

Operating Expense Low

The average cost of running fluorescent light is low. A tube lasts a year or more with replacements costing a few dollars per tube.

Artificially lighted indoor gardens need the same care as sun lighted gardens. Most house plants grow best in daytime temperatures of 70-72 degrees with a drop of five to ten degrees at night. Water plants thoroughly with room temperature water and do not water again until the topsoil feels dry to the touch.

Ficus growing under flourscent lights

Visit Live Urban Green for great images and ideas on the topic.

If you spill water on furry leaved plants you needn’t blot it off. Fluorescent lights are “cool” lights and will not burn the leaves. Plants growing directly under the lights do not need to be turned.

Those growing toward the edge of the lighted area may need occasional shifting to keep them perfectly formed.

Fertilize house plants only during their period of active growth. All plants bloom better when grown in humid air. To increase humidity around your plants, set individual plants on pebble filled dishes.

Place pea rock in the bottom of the tray or saucer and keep water on the rocks to just below the pot line.

If your plant setup is in the basement, you might like to increase humidity by making a plastic covering to slip over the entire group of plants.

Amount of Light Needed

Mature African violet plants need at least 300 foot-candles of light to induce blooming. When spaced so there is about 11 inches between the 40-watt tubes and the pot rim, they will be receiving the right amount of light.

Gloxinias need more light, so space them so there is about eight inches between the tube and pot rim. As the gloxinias grow and buds expand, move them farther from the lights.

Inverted pots make good “boosters.”

Here’s how to check the amount of light your plants receive.

If petioles (stems) are long and willowy and blooms are few or non-existent, the plants are not receiving enough iight. Boost these plants closer to the lights.

If leaves are yellowing and hugging the sides of the pots, the plants are receiving too much light.

Move these farther from the lights. The center 12 inches of the light tubes emits the strongest rays with the light weakening as it approaches the ends of the tubes. Under the weaker tight, you may grow such beauties as rex begonias, episcias, variegated ivy, philodendron, or cissus.

Use neem oil for plants to make short work of pests such as thrips, red spiders or mealy bugs.

Propagation Is Speeded

Plant propagation is exciting and fluorescent lights speed the process. Covered glass or transparent plastic soda bottles make “greenhouses’” for rooting leaves, starting tubers or germinating seeds.

Vermiculite or sand are excellent rooting media. My favorite propagation case is a clear plastic sweater box, 16 inches long, 14 inches wide, and 7 inches high which cost a few dollars. Check dollar stores for some good buys.

In the box I place two inches of moistened milled sphagnum moss.

Leaves or cuttings are planted in the moss. After planting them, I place the cover on the box and set it about four inches from the lights. This planting never needs watering. If the cover ‘”steams” over, I remove it, wipe it dry and replace it.

It is not unusual for African violet leaves to root in a week to ten days , gloxinias in two weeks. If you’ve never treated yourself to the fun of growing house plants from seed, you have missed something special.

Seedling African violets or gloxinias flower just as rapidly as those propagated through cuttings. And you get a rainbow of colors from a packet of mixed seed.

Sow fine seeds atop moistened sphagnum moss, sand or vermiculite. Place the transparent cover over the planting and set it about four inches from the lights.

African violets take from ten days to six weeks to germinate; gloxinias from a week to ten days.

When the seedlings show four good leaves, prick them out and plant into a community pot (pot large enough to hold several seedlings) of good poting soil. After planting, set them about four inches from the lights.

They grow rapidly and when leaves begin touching one another it’s time to shift them into individual small pots. Keep them four to six inches from the tubes.

African violets will flower in these small pots, but gloxinias need at least one more shift into a larger pot to make them produce first flowers.

plastic sode bottles as growing greenhouses

With lights you can have flowering seedlings in four to six months. Get the jump on your outdoor garden by starting bulbs, tubers or seeds under light.

Tuberous rooted begonias and caladiums root readily on moist sphagnum or vermiculite. When rooted they can be potted up, kept under the lights and later transferred to the outdoor garden.

Start seeds of annuals or perennials under lights. Plant them in pots or flats of sphagnum moss or light soil. Keep them warm and moist and as soon as seeds sprout, set the plantings four to six inches from the lights.

These seedlings will be sturdier if you can contrive to add more red rays – say 10% incandescent light to the existing setup. Some manufactured light setups come equipped with small incandescents (ordinary light bulbs) as well as fluorescent lights.

Many of our day lilies and iris seedlings got their start under artificial light. This past year our garden boasted a bed of carnations which I started in late February under the lights.

And a package of tomato seeds gave us enough plants for our own garden and to share with friends.

Push-button gardening helps you grow superb plants. Give any of your potted plants ten days under lights and you’ll notice a tremendous improvement. And before long, they will be flowering – the ultimate goal of most indoor gardeners.

For more information on grow lights visit PlantLightingHydroponics.

Tips To Improve Your Plant Care
Sign Up For My Free Daily Newsletter

We will never share your email address period.

{ 0 comments… add one now }