Winter Lighting

Fishyfish22

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well, it's that time of year. Winter's right around the corner. I found something to do with my trees going dormant, but Chicago winters are rough and I can't keep my tropical trees outdoors or in the garage. it's starting to get into the low 60's at night.

unfortunately my house has no west facing windows at all or any other one's i can use for that manner. I have 12 trees as well as a 1020 tray full of jade saplings I need to get lit. the estimated total area that I would need covered is approximately 6'x2.5'

I have a bathroom that I'm able to keep them in. but I'm looking for lighting that lets me light up all of the trees without having to spend thousands.

basically, what lights could I use that has a good intensity at a wide enough spread that let's me cover them? I have a budget of around $300, but i'm trying not to push it to the limits.

I've read about HPS bulbs and MH bulbs but i'm still trying to find the differences between them and which one is best. I'm looking for good solid growth throughout the winter, last year there was growth but it was leggy and slow.
 

Traken

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I use one of these, though was only lighting a 4'x1.5' area at the time:


That may be enough to cover your area, or you could always go with multiples and/or the larger sized ones. I had some decent growth last winter, albeit nothing like being out in the sun. Now that I keep buying more trees, lol, I'm likely going to add another fixture of some sort, so that I can light an additional shelf.

Something else to bear in mind is air movement and humidity. A small fan and humidifier can go a long way towards keeping things relatively happy. You don't have to turn the room into a swamp, but given the relative humidity of a room during the winter can get into the teens, adding some humidity back can really help. The fan is just to circulate air in the room, which is also helpful.
 

cbroad

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@Traken
I have the same light, definitely worked well for me.

@Fishyfish22
The agrobrite t5 4 bulb 4 foot long high output fluorescent is probably the smallest option I would go with for your needs. They make them as small as a single 2' bulb or as long as I think 12', with 2,4,6,8,12 bulb fixtures, maybe more. Mine easily illuminated a 6x3 foot area. Keep in mind the tallest plant that will be under it; the higher the light is, the less the light will penetrate further from the light.

If your plan is fluorescents, don't bother with anything that is not designated as "High Output." Other lights will only keep plants "surviving" while these will keep them "thriving." Though that might be all you need, in that case look for 4 bulb fixtures that are at least 4' long; these will say for t8 or t12 bulbs.

If you want to go the route of HID lamps (high intensity discharge), you'll want to use metal halide for the proper light spectrum. Also look into LEC bulbs and fixtures (light emitting ceramic). These will be more expensive for the fixtures and bulbs, and the MH are more expensive to operate. I bought a 600-1100w dimmable, interchangeable HPS/MH fixture that I haven't got to use yet:mad:

I don't know much about LED fixtures, never used them. Supposedly they're pretty great, but they cost so much more than anything I've mentioned yet. They don't cost much to run. But to get a similar wattage as fluorescents, you'll probably be paying at least $300. There are a lot of cheap LED lights out there, make sure you do your homework and don't get stuck with a shitty brand that doesn't give you the growth you're expecting.
 

Traken

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@Traken
I have the same light, definitely worked well for me.
You may have even been the reason I grabbed that one. I remember seeing it recommended here last year and decided to pick it up, but I forget which thread. If so, thanks. It’s been a great fixture. :)
 

cbroad

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I forget which thread
Maybe this one: Ficus Experiment

Shameful plug of my indoor grow that had to be taken down to make way for a roommate; notice how updates stopped :/

My plants grew really well with just the agrobrite, albeit they were hydroponically grown.
 

cmeg1

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Good led’s are expensive ,especially if you want to equate the coverage as the bulbs @cbroad was specifying.
If you do go led I have nothing bad to say about Hlg brand Quantum boards.
I have had two of them they even grew JBP superbly.They have smaller ones,that perhaps a couple would do,but they do need clearance of at least 12-24” above plants though,which is maybe where t5’s definately excel!

 

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Ive kept ficus, schefflera, and jade under these the last two winters. They almost stay in stasis, no real growth but also nothing really suffers except for willow leaf ficus - those guys are drama queens.

 

penumbra

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I am using the the exact same light and a mess of LED lights as well. I have been using the 2 foot 4 bulb version for about two years and I have been very pleased. It brightly lights an area about 20 x 30 inches where I have a medium ficus and two other smaller indoor bonsai. I just hung this 4 foot 4 tube version yesterday based upon my success with the smaller version. I used it over an 18" x 60" propagation bench because I have had better success with fluorescent t-5 bulbs than with led lights for starting cuttings. It replaced an led shop light that has 4 rows of lights and produces about 10,000 lumens with a kelvin rating of 5,000. I have 9 other led two row 5,000 lumen shop lights in use over my succulents and other plants that have served me well. I bought them for $20 each at Rural King. This is by far your best value. I also have LED COB lights (more like a spot light) that I light up a corner in my basement where I winter large plants. These rate the equivalent of about 200 watts each and light up an area about 6 x 8 feet like sunshine. I love the COB lights and would like to buy more eventually. The light on the COB lights reaches much further. I have these about 2 and up to 6 feet from the plants, whereas I have the t-5 lights and led shop lights from a few inches to about a foot away from the plants.
With the t-5 and the LED hanging only a few feet apart, it is easy to compare the actual visible light. While the LED actually appear to be brighter and have more of a crisp quality, the t-5 fluorescent s have a much more eye friendly light by a small margin.
There you have it, my experience. You can spend $20-$25 on LED shop lights. About $100 to $150 on 4' t-5 lights. Or a few hundred on COB LED lights.
Stay away from HPS & MH that both are expensive, produce a lot of heat with expensive replacement bulbs. Additionally, t-5 fluorescent lights should have tubes replaced every year because color spectrum shifts. They will at any rate seldom last more than 2 years. A good LED light will last several years and consume very little power. Even so, I prefer the look of the t-5 lights even though the LED fit my budget better with the hundreds of tropical plants that I keep.
As already said, air movement and humidity are important also. And above all else, look out for insect and mite pests. You don't want to bring those in.
 

penumbra

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Ive kept ficus, schefflera, and jade under these the last two winters. They almost stay in stasis, no real growth but also nothing really suffers except for willow leaf ficus - those guys are drama queens.

Stasis is all you are going to get with these lights. I started with them years ago but they have all been replaced and I get stellar growth. Under my t-5 lights I have to prune consistently.
 

cbroad

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And above all else, look out for insect and mite pests. You don't want to bring those in.
Good post, and great advice! One can never stress the bug problem enough.

I landscape and am in the thick of things all the time and never know what I'm covered in. I always made it a point to change and shower before going upstairs to tend to my plants. The only time I had bug issues was when I introduced new plants; had to start quarantining new plants in a downstairs window...
 

penumbra

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Hydrofarm Agrobrite Designer T5, FLP44, 216W 4 Foot, 4-Tube Fixture with Lamps - Amazon
 

penumbra

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COB LED Grow Light, Niello 600W Full Spectrum Light Grow for Indoor Plants, Cooling Stronger Heat Dissipation Without Noise LED Plant Lamp for Hydroponics Greenhouse Indoor Plant Veg and Flower System - Amazon
 

Fishyfish22

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@Traken
I have the same light, definitely worked well for me.

@Fishyfish22
The agrobrite t5 4 bulb 4 foot long high output fluorescent is probably the smallest option I would go with for your needs. They make them as small as a single 2' bulb or as long as I think 12', with 2,4,6,8,12 bulb fixtures, maybe more. Mine easily illuminated a 6x3 foot area. Keep in mind the tallest plant that will be under it; the higher the light is, the less the light will penetrate further from the light.
if I got the 4 bulb one and then the 8 bulb one, how far above the trees can I hang them?

Also how do I deal with having different trees of different height and keeping them all happy?
 

penumbra

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if I got the 4 bulb one and then the 8 bulb one, how far above the trees can I hang them?

Also how do I deal with having different trees of different height and keeping them all happy?
I have plants as close as a couple inches and as far away as about 10 or 12 inches with this light.
Your talest plant will obviously be in your humitity tray and other plant heights can be adjusted by placing them on stands which can be as simple as an inverted pot.
 

cbroad

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how far above the trees can I hang them?
With the t5 bulbs, no closer than an inch. My ficus was constantly growing in to it and getting burned. With t8 or t12 bulbs, they can touch the foliage basically without burning.

Also how do I deal with having different trees of different height and keeping them all happy?
That's what I was talking about when I mentioned figuring out your tallest tree. If the tallest tree is say 20" tall, you might have to use some blocks or something to raise your jade cuttings closer to the light. The closer the better without burning your plants from the heat of the lights. I'm only guessing, but your best light will probably be within 0-24" of the light emitted. Try to keep all of your plants within that range for optimum growth, whether it's tilting the lights or raising the plants closer to it.
 

Fishyfish22

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With the t5 bulbs, no closer than an inch. My ficus was constantly growing in to it and getting burned. With t8 or t12 bulbs, they can touch the foliage basically without burning.
Wow t5s are that much stronger. My question was slightly different though, rather than how close they can be it was sort of wondering how far away the plant could be from the light? 1 foot 2 feet, etc.

Also does the 8 bulb one mean theres just a larger coverage than the 4 bulb or does the intensity get stronger too(meaning it can he a little further away)

Another question I'm wondering, does humidity affect the fixture at all as far as decreasing life or damage? And then the trees will be indoors from probably 2 weeks from now until around april/may, how often will I need to change the bulbs?

And then which bulbs do I even get? All I know is they should be HO bulbs.
 

penumbra

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Wow t5s are that much stronger. My question was slightly different though, rather than how close they can be it was sort of wondering how far away the plant could be from the light? 1 foot 2 feet, etc.

Also does the 8 bulb one mean theres just a larger coverage than the 4 bulb or does the intensity get stronger too(meaning it can he a little further away)

Another question I'm wondering, does humidity affect the fixture at all as far as decreasing life or damage? And then the trees will be indoors from probably 2 weeks from now until around april/may, how often will I need to change the bulbs?

And then which bulbs do I even get? All I know is they should be HO bulbs.
I think your question has been answered. Keep the plants as close to light as possible without burning. Lower light plants will be ok a few feet away but light drops off dramatically after about 2 feet. Mine are within a foot. As to the 8 tube light, both better coverage and intensity.
Humidity for these fixtures is fine, it is to be expected and designed for green house use. But it is not waterproof.
Replace bulbs annually with same type of bulb. You will not normally find t-5 at a hardware store. I buy mine at Amazon.
 

Carol 83

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Ive kept ficus, schefflera, and jade under these the last two winters. They almost stay in stasis, no real growth but also nothing really suffers except for willow leaf ficus - those guys are drama queens.

Heartily agree willow leaf ficus are drama queens. Mine dropped all leaves shortly after being brought in last fall and sat like a dead thing all winter.
 

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