Inside grow lights can be a daunting thing to the untrained brain. Scary images of astronomical light bills and out of whack feng shui frighten folks unwilling to investigate the potential of indoor growing.
Yes, high energy consumption is a valid concern, but smart planning (i.e. mapping out exactly what veggies, herbs, or flowers to grow inside) can deride some of the costs; not to mention the deep well of satisfaction derived when contrasting the grey blahs outside to the floras of reds, greens, purples, etc. flourishing inside.
The scope of available lights and systems can be daunting. Dig It will cover the spectrum, starting with the champion of the flourescent lights known as the T-5 bulb.
But first, a couple of basics.
Mimicking the outdoors can be a tad tricky. When a plant first starts its ascent to maturity, it goes through a vegetative cycle. This means the plant is acquiring leafy growth, as well as root and stalk strength. For indoors, a plant needs optimally 18 hours of light during the veg cycle. This can achieved easily by hooking the light up to a timer. For optimal lighting during this phase, a plant does well under blue spectrum lighting, which is the closest to daylight. Blue bulbs come in many varieties including T5 flourescents (with a temp reading of 6500 Kelvins), CFL’s (Compact Flourescent Lightsin the 6500 Kelvin range), and HID (High Intensity Discharge) bulbs, specifically Metal Halide Bulbs.
The next stage is the flower or bloom cycle where the plant stops its growth and concentrates on producing fruits and flowers (although most herbs, lettuce, chard, etc. can stay eternally in the veg cycle). The light can now be turned to a 12 hour cycle to induce flowering. It’s up to the grower to determine when a plant is ready to produce (like knowing the plant’s cycle in the outdoor setting). The optimal spectrum in bloom is red. Once again look at either T5’s (with a temp reading of 2700 Kelvins), CFL’s (in the red spectrum), or HID bulbs, specifically the High Pressure Sodium Bulbs.
Before too long, a garden will spring from the home, masking the dour setting outside the window. The consummate gardener will discover that his/her addiction has now spread to the inside realm, creating a craving 365 days a year.
Next Up: The T-5 Bulb: Friend of Plants and Wallets Everywhere