Hydroponics or Hyperbole?


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I've been doing some research on "grow lights" and am having some difficulty separating marketing salesmanship, from what's really necessary. We have some perennial pond plants that would not survive one of our winters outside. Last winter I brought several of them inside and put them on a bench in the cellar with two 4' inexpensive shop lights over them. They didn't die, but didn't thrive either. I thought I'd show them some love this year and treat them to some hydroponic grow light therapy, but began to suffer sticker-shock at the prices of the systems. After a couple of (resale) inquiries I was told that regular shop light fixtures would not/could not support the bulbs required. Is this true? If this isn't the case, and I could use the original fixtures what bulbs do I want to ask for?
My only aim here is to maintain the plants in a "semi-conscious" state, I'm not going for any cash crop, trophy orchids, or anything fancy, just some simple lights on a cheap timer and I'll water them every few days as required.
Idea's?
 

Meyer Jordan

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When you used the shoplights, what distance did you have between the plants and the lights?
Back in my 'serious' gardening days I grew many of my plants from seed that I started and grew out indoors. All I ever used were 40W Cool White flourescent bulbs in cheap fixtures. All were on timers and had adjustable height. Light source was never more than 6" from the top of the plants, whether sprouts, seedlings, or transplant size.
 
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Mmathis

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I wonder if some plants, even perennials, are "programed" to slow/shut down during the off-season even in the presence of adequate lighting.....?
 

Meyer Jordan

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I wonder if some plants, even perennials, are "programed" to slow/shut down during the off-season even in the presence of adequate lighting.....?
Some plants are photosensitive and respond to day length (or more correctly night length), all respond to overall seasonal temperature changes
 
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Thank you Meyer. When I asked our local vendor about using the grow bulbs in a regular shop light the look of horror was dramatic! (must be a pretty good mark up on the fixtures!) What is the significance of "T5", "T8", "T12" etc? Seems all of the growers speak of "T5", but I can't relate that to anything.
(I see immediately I had the lights too high...probably 18-24")

Lisa, I'm not sure, there's a couple pots of herbs. My wife wants to try and nurse along some Begonias, but most of them are from the island. We're going to set up a slow moving "bog" using three big storage boxes from Lowe's, and a dozen or two mosquito fish and maybe a couple of gold fish. I built the three box system a year ago, and it worked very well. The pump is in #3, and the return in #1 with syphon tubes in between.

We did notice the ones that "napped". They were the ones we were concerned about. When we put them out in the spring they finally responded, but we're hoping with some artificial sun we could "jump start" their spring growth into early May instead of early June.
DSC00947.JPG This is what we started with early this summer. It's the center pot in the island.

DSC01758.JPG This is what we'd like to preserve and split up for another island in the spring.
(The net is up to keep the leaves out.....hopefully.)
 
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Thanks again Meyer! Those two links were worth the price of admission!:)

For what we hope to accomplish, a case of selected bulbs from a big box store will certainly do the trick. Height, and timer seem to be the major keys with wattage the third leg.(y)
 
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HARO

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A T5 bulb is 5/8" wide, a T8 is 1" (8/8"), and the older style T12's are 1 1/2" (12/8").
John
 
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Right T12, 4 feet long is your standard "shop light". You can definitely get bulbs in the size. A quick search on HomeDepot.com showed such a light for about $11. These bulbs, as I recall, have a much better set of frequencies for plants. So much so that you could probably run half or fewer lights than you would for cool whites and get better growth. Allowing you to save on your power bill.

My recollection from my aquarium days is that T5 and T8 can be used to generate much brighter light per square foot (and much higher wattage too) which is why real growers move towards those. I have NO idea how the LED revolution has impacted fluorescent lights for growing plants.
 
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A T5 bulb is 5/8" wide, a T8 is 1" (8/8"), and the older style T12's are 1 1/2" (12/8").
John
Just like hydraulic hoses! Imagine that.:)

Right T12, 4 feet long is your standard "shop light". You can definitely get bulbs in the size. A quick search on HomeDepot.com showed such a light for about $11. These bulbs, as I recall, have a much better set of frequencies for plants. So much so that you could probably run half or fewer lights than you would for cool whites and get better growth. Allowing you to save on your power bill.

My recollection from my aquarium days is that T5 and T8 can be used to generate much brighter light per square foot (and much higher wattage too) which is why real growers move towards those. I have NO idea how the LED revolution has impacted fluorescent lights for growing plants.
Thank you Eric. I'll be visiting Lowe's or Home Depot tomorrow!
 
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As long as you keep the color temperature between 4500 and 6500 k, you'll be fine.
Stay away from the grolight bulbs, they are made for people that just want to buy the equipment without thinking about it too much and are priced higher.
I use the 4500k t5 bulbs myself for my planted aquarium. I also use a single 13000k bulb so the appearance isn't quite so yellow.
The color temperature will be printed on the bulb itself.
Check out the wattages on the bulbs. The t-8's will do just fine for keeping plants over the winter. T-8's use less electricity for less light, but will do fine for your needs.

Led's use much less electricity, but are more money up front. They could be considered for long term setups.
 
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No need for the specific grow bulbs, you just need the right color temperature. I do my seeds under 5500k t8 florescent fixtures. Once the plants are off and growing I have a 400 watt metal halide type fixture hung over another table that they get moved to. If the plants are tall florescent lights will never be enough just hanging over the top of them. You could rig them along the plants as well it might help.
There are also some grow lights based on giant compact florescent type bulbs that are decent as well.
Kind of like this.
http://www.discount-hydro.com/hydrofarm-fluorowing-compact-fluorescent-system/
 
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