The Q&A Archives: Basement Question

Question: I am not very knowledgeable about plants. I have
a living room and bedroom in a basement. And I am curious if there are some plants that would prefer the conditions a basement gets as far as lighting and moisture are concearned. If you could reccommend any ideas I would be appreciative. Or if they would not do so well down there, could you let know

Answer: Most basements would not provide sufficient light, but you could add lighting. However, if you are also living in the basement, this might not be conducive to your sleeping schedule! Nothing beats sunlight for growing plants. However, the important things when choosing a light source are that the bulb doesn't give off excessive heat, and that the light is as close as possible to sunlight--that is, it covers the full spectrum, containing both "cool" and "warm." (Cool and warm refers to the color spectrum, not the temperature of the lights.)

Fluorescent lights satisfy the "cool" requirement, and they are reasonably close to full sprectrum. Or you can purchase full spectrum grow lights. Because indoor lights aren't nearly as bright as sunlight, you need to be able to keep the lights 4-6 inches from the top of the plants, adjusting that as they grow. Lights should be on 16 hours a day and turned off at night. Putting them on a timer is helpful.

As for moisture, as a general rule, let the top just barely dry out between waterings. Snake plant (mother-in-law's tongue) is a good choice for low light conditions. Most houseplants do best in bright to medium light, but some will tolerate low light. Some choices include cast iron plant, chinese evergreen, corn plant, dumbcane (dieffenbachia), dwarf schefflera, hearleaf philodendron, dracaena marginata, pothos, rubber plant. You might want to try a few smaller plants to see how they respond to your conditions before investing in large plants, which can be expensive. Good luck!

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