Lighting for Indoor Plants

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webskipper

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Like to know your results of using Fluorescent Reptile lamps versus Reptile Mercury Vapor versus regular full spectrum flood lamps (GE Reveal etc) for growing food plants indoors.

I'm torn between using 2 48 inch double strip lights and 1 100 watt reptile lamp (hot spot) across my 8 foot Super Table or using 3 100 watt Reptile lamps for heat and growing food.

One hot spot lamp over the square yard of flagstone is all the Greeks need.
 

webskipper

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Did some research about growing specialty plants indoors, and had my own trials and errors. I have concluded that it is far less expensive and most productive to use incandescent lamps for growing plants indoors within the Super Tortoise table than to rely on fluorescent lamps.

Several months after completing the Super Table the seedlings just were not as robust as when I was seeding in between established plants or when they were in close proximity to the reptile flood lamps. Granted the dinosaurs were eating the sprouts; the surviving sprouts had long thin roots with little leaves.

The lighting setup is now one 45W, 50W or 65W GE Reveal flood lamp per flat (@$5 with GE coupon). Now the wattage depends on how much over ambient you need to keep your Torts comfortable. My ambient is 80F so there is no need to bake the plants. Lamp housings are Zoomed Mini Domes (@$15). The fluorescent fixtures compared were double and triple tubes.

Previously, the plants were in 17" clear plant saucers. Roots had no where to go. Good for seed starting just no future crops.

I dumped it all and started over. 1- 18 X 18 flat of Dichondra (or other) can be repotted into 2- 15" Diameter engine oil drain pans ($3). About 4" deep. I have 4 pans total in the table and an extra for the Tortoise bath.

Drill a 1/4" hole into the pans for drainage and then add screening, a thin layer of pebbles, stones, or old mulch to keep the soil from eroding out the hole. Cut 4 strips of sod out of the flat and lay into the pan. Now start cutting squares out to fill in the voids. Fill the gaps with clean soil and your done. The fewer cuts the better as you don't want to shock the roots. Don't trash the plant litter as it is still food. :)

Timers- Since I don't need the basking 100W Powersun on all the time, a timer controls it to be on only when the Torts are most active 8-3. The smaller flood lamps are on 7-7.

Sounds like a lot of energy running the Hydroponix, in reality it's not when running the 45W's.

Image below is with the plant lights off. In the evening the spots over the lush green looks pretty cool for indoor landscaping. Tortoise smiles are priceless.

DSC00977.jpg
 

PeanutbuttER

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Thanks for the update! I've never been able to get plants to grow in my tort table and I believe improper lighting has been my biggest culprit. I'll have to give this set up a shot sometime.
 

Logz23

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the easiest and most cost efficient lights to use are the standard fluorescent twist lights.I have grown plants three feet tall in a closet with tree 24 watt lights.the only problem is they said that the fluorescent lights burn the torts eyes, so you would have to grow them under the table like i do and just put them up whenever and take them back down to grow back.Incandescents are much higher in the red spectrum and promote upward leggy stem growth while the fluroescents are higher in the blue spectrum which promotes short lushy leafy full growth.
 

biglove4bigtorts

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I have found that when growing outdoor plants, such as weeds, it is almost pointless to use anything but incandescent bulbs. I go to Lowes and get the 120 watt Sylvania SpotGrow. These are great basking bulbs and give out lots of useable light. I have even lit planted freshwater and reef aquariums with these lights, though I didn't have corals yet. The aquatic plants grew exceptionally well. I have used these lights for years and other than Mercury Vapor, High Pressure Sodium, Metal Halide, or T5 lighting, they are the best. FYI, the Phillips brand is much shorter in life and burns out in a few months.
 

webskipper

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so you would have to grow them under the table like i do and just put them up whenever and take them back down to grow back.


The point of the super table is to provide a romper room with a perpetual food source and the sum of it all yields more time to enjoy the wiggly pigglys. I have 4 lights on a timer controlled outlet strip (hom depot) and the powersun on it's own timer. Trying to Save a few pennies with off peak hours. You cannot change a Torts body clock.

I can leave for a few days any not worry about them missing a meal.
 

j156ghs

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Zoo Med told me to use the 5.0 Reptisun as it has both UVA and UVB, and that within 12-15" a 10.0 Reptisun, which has more UVB, might be too much and damage the tortoise's eyesight. It seems that by trying to ensure the tortoise's vitamin D3 needs, I was overdoing it. Among the so many different lighting and diets needs, to name just two things, and the cross information I read, I feel like my head is going to explode. One must really care for one's pets, in both senses of the word "care", so I keep plugging along.
 

jobeanator

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what type of plants are you growing in those pictures? clover? and where did you get it from?
 

Balboa

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Wow, very different experiences here.

I rely primarily on linear fluorescent lights to grow indoors. Incandescent and Halogen lights seem to work well to augment, but I've found I can't rely on them alone. They produce far too little blue, and they make a HELL of a lot of heat. Don't get me wrong, I've been a long time defender of them for growing (most serious indoor plant growers would scoff at the idea of using incandescents), as for growing plants IMHO they are not nearly as inefficient as they are for illuminating.

Right now I'm getting good growth and blooms from 2 four foot T-8 lamps over my Hibiscus, and I really didn't think they'd be enough. I was expecting to need 4 T-12 lamps.

The quality of the lamps may be a stumbling block for some folks. As posted above, too much UV from too many reptile lamps will harm plants (but they may likely benefit from a little, in correct proportion to sunlight). Most modern "bright" lamps will lack heavily in the blue and red color spectrums, which is exactly what plants need. If available, look at spectral distribution graphs, as these can give an idea about how well a lamp will work to grow plants. If the majority of the output is green, don't expect plants to do well.

The all-time king of in-door fluorescents, the gro-lux, is sadly hard to come by these days. It produced more red and blue light per watt than any other lamp before or since. GE Plant and Aquarium (PLAQ) lamps available from most hardware stores are a sort of watered down version.

A good work around is to get some daylight fluorescents (which have alot of blue) and augment them with reveal incandescents to get more red extension. (maybe 1 60 watt reveal to 80 watts daylight fluorescent or so).
 

j156ghs

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jobeanator said:
what type of plants are you growing in those pictures? clover? and where did you get it from?

Sage, some grasses, a spider plant, geranium, pansy -- the tort likes the younger seedlings, could be they are at eye level. Couple of plants were taken indoors before the frost and the other houseplant has been around for years. Never used pesticides or such things on them.
 
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