Growing plants in house, is it possible?

Bob Kirk reikirk at ksu.edu
Thu Nov 11 00:18:49 EST 1999


damedey at ingr.co.il (Doron Amedey) writes: 

>I want to grow plants in my house, the problem is that I'm hardly at
>home during the sun hours and there is darkness in the house and no
>way of leaving the house open.

   I suspect nobody has answered this because they don't feel up to
abstracting from tens of thousands of published pages on the subject -
plus goddess knows how many websites, but I can't help you there.

   Why is there darkness in the house when you're not there "during sun
hours"? Surely there must be at least one, maybe several windows, likely
with different exposures - and there are probably twenty books in English
alone specifically on "houseplants for different exposures."

If not, then let's look at growing under lights. Of course it's possible to
do so. Very roughly:

>is it possible to grow plants with help of spots, fluorescent light
>instead?
>if so here are my questions
>1.) what light spectrum is required?
>2.) for how many hours a day (with/ without any break?)
>3.) how far from them.
>4.) temp. from the spot would it effect the plant?

> ________is there any Internet address that I can read on my q. some data?

   1) Foliage plants for the most part require lower light levels and will
do well under the cheapest fluorescent tubes you can find. With a few notable
exceptions like African violets, flowering and especially fruiting plants
would appreciate the addition of some red wavelengths from "warm white" or
"daylight" tubes, incandescents etc. Often at higher intensities than it's
practical to provide, but that's entirely dependent on species and it's not
hard to flower quite a lot of plants under a fairly basic lighting system.

   2) Unless you venture beyond common houseplants into species that are
day length dependent, as many hours a day (up to 24) as possible. By that
I >don't< mean what in the US trade are called "gift plants" like
poinsettia, but those that you'll find in "houseplant" references.

   3) Ideally as close as possible. Some plants will tolerate having their
tops right up into the lights, some won't. Remember light intensity falls off
as the third power of distance from the source. Thus at 6 inches / 15 cm
a leaf isn't receiving twice as much light as at 12" / 30 cm, but 2x2x2 =
8 times as much. This isn't exactly applicable to non-point sources like
fluorescent tubes, but remember the closer the better.

   4) As noted this depends on the plant. Unless you want to get into
various high intensity lamps (inexpensive per lifetime-unit of light
output but they output a >lot< of lifetime-units), spot sources of normal
intensity aren't really a good choice. Incandescents turn too much
electricity into heat instead of light, and circular fluorescent tubes are
both expensive and of (for most plants) too low wattage.

   The question of lighting hardly settled, most indoor growing ventures
crash against the problems of potting soil and pest control. The first is
relatively easy, the second damn difficult, but both are outside the scope
of your question.

   I've crossposted this response to rec.gardens, where you might get 
more specific suggestions, and maybe find someone who can direct you to
something like the Indoor Plants mailing list (which last I heard no
longer exists). 




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