Ask a Question forum: What is a grow light?

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Name: Anna
North Texas (Zone 8a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: Texas Clematis Garden Ideas: Level 1 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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canadanna
Oct 30, 2013 4:41 PM CST
I want to give some of the tender plants some light in the garage.I have one of those utility tube fixtures. What should I be looking for at the hardware store?
Name: Tara
NE, Florida (Zone 9a)
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terrafirma
Oct 30, 2013 8:23 PM CST
The answer to this could be quite involved, and a lot depends on what you're wanting to grow...I found some good information here… http://www.littlegreenhouse.com/guide3.shtml

Found another good info. one… http://extension.missouri.edu/p/G6515
[Last edited by terrafirma - Oct 30, 2013 8:33 PM (+)]
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Name: Louise
East Texas, zones 7b/8a
Garden Ideas: Level 1
louise
Oct 30, 2013 9:29 PM CST
Go to a pet store and tell them that you want a light for an aquarium. They produce
a different spectrum that the shop lights do and cost more. They are used in terrariums
and fish tanks.

I saw on the internet a few days ago where the government is phasing out fluorescent
bulbs as of this Jan. 1, no more manufacturing them. I think. I wonder how this affects grow lights.
This probably means that the replacements will be much better at producing light but will cost a
lot more. Surely, the fixtures will still be usable - and not have to be discarded.

Louise M

Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN zone 4a
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Leftwood
Oct 30, 2013 10:19 PM CST
>>>> I saw on the internet a few days ago where the government is phasing out fluorescent
bulbs as of this Jan. 1, no more manufacturing them.


This is a rumor blown way out of proportion. The first to be phased out will be T12s of a certain sizes and temperature rating. Approximately a year later more T12s with broader temperature range. There is even one kind of T8 slated for 1-3 years down the road, but no other T8s and absolutely NO T5s are being phased out. This information as of January 2013.


Name: Cheryl
Kingwood, Texas (Zone 9a)
Region: Texas Greenhouse Composter Plant Identifier Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Amaryllis
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ShadyGreenThumb
Oct 30, 2013 11:26 PM CST
I found plant gro bulbs and tubes at Walmart. I replace the regular florescent tubes with the Gro Lights.
Life is short, Break the rules, Forgive quickly, Kiss slowly, Love Truly, Laugh
uncontrollably, And never regret anything that made you Smile.
Name: Anna
North Texas (Zone 8a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: Texas Clematis Garden Ideas: Level 1 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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canadanna
Oct 31, 2013 6:38 AM CST
Are they labeled gro ?
Name: Louise
East Texas, zones 7b/8a
Garden Ideas: Level 1
louise
Oct 31, 2013 10:21 AM CST
Leftwood,
Thanks so much for accurate information about the bulbs. I thought that I
had only read reliable news sites but one never knows for sure.

Louise
Name: Cheryl
Kingwood, Texas (Zone 9a)
Region: Texas Greenhouse Composter Plant Identifier Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Amaryllis
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ShadyGreenThumb
Oct 31, 2013 3:11 PM CST
canadanna said:Are they labeled gro ?


I peeked at the bulb in the turtle vivarium. It is by GE and called a Plant Gro N Show. It is a flood like-shape but coated with something? The long ones in the garage units are 48" GE Eco Lux Technology Aquarium and Plant F40. Light output 1900 lumens, 40 watts, 20,000 hrs., 90 cir. Says "Specially designed to promote growth and flowering of plants and aquatic vegetation." The box is old. I am sure you can find something similar. I bought 4 at Walmart in their lighting/bulb dept to replace the regular shop florescent bulbs. I don't think they were outrageously expensive.
Life is short, Break the rules, Forgive quickly, Kiss slowly, Love Truly, Laugh
uncontrollably, And never regret anything that made you Smile.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
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RickCorey
Oct 31, 2013 3:56 PM CST
>> I want to give some of the tender plants some light in the garage.

The following is my opinion from general reading plus some experience, mainly with vegetable and common flower seedlings. Maybe your tender plants are fussier than random seedlings.

Seedlings seem to do very well under average, generic fluorescent tubes. I think that using some "Daylight" or warm bulbs plus some "blue" or "cool" bulbs is plenty enough concern about spectrum to keep most plants happy. Light that is too "red" may tend to make some plants elongate. Flowering may respond to light color in some species.

i think that most plants care much more about intensity (lumens or foot-candles or watts and efficiency) than they care about color spectrum.

If you're going to spend twice as much for fancy gro-tubes, buy a second fixture instead. T-5 or T-8 are a better investment than T-12 - more efficient for sure and probably brighter per dollar of purchase price.. And keep them clean and close to the plants, use reflectors, and replace the bulbs before they show black spots.

I did research it once and wrote up a blog post, but never turned it into an "Idea" article because I couldn't find good non-copyright images of spectra. And even after the reading, the 'spectrum" still sounded like opinions to me, and not opinions from horticultural experts.

I'm not any kind of expert, and I've never grown fancy, rare, tropical or demanding species.

http://garden.org/blogs/view/RickCorey/
===

Broad spectrum tubes have tri-phosphor coatings to "spread out" narrow spectral peaks. They have a more uniform distribution of intensity all across the spectrum, instead of sharp peaks and low valleys.

I've read that really expensive grow-tubes are just moderately expensive "broad spectrum" tubes that were re-labeled with marketing claims.

Both broad spectrum and grow-tubes are less efficient, more expensive, and don't last as long as regular tubes.

It's debatable whether broad spectrum OR gro-tubes do any better for seedlings at all.


I believe that chlorophyll absorbs it all and turns it all into energy (except for the narrow green band that makes plants look green). But there may be seedling subtleties that I'm unaware of.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fluorescent_lamp#Color_temperat...
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Name: Paul
Utah (Zone 5b)
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Paul2032
Oct 31, 2013 5:55 PM CST
My lights are Gro-Lux. I have grown beautiful African Violets with lights and also hosta and iris seedlings.
Paul Smith Pleasant Grove, Utah
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Oct 31, 2013 6:23 PM CST
>> African Violets

Not that I know anything about them, but I would have little trouble believing that African Violets could be fussy about light.
Name: Anna
North Texas (Zone 8a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: Texas Clematis Garden Ideas: Level 1 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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canadanna
Nov 1, 2013 6:57 AM CST
I didn't realize this could get so complicated! I read your blog Rick, and reflectors are a good idea. I may put an old mirror on the wall. The link is great too.
Thanks all

Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Nov 1, 2013 10:54 AM CST
Even a white sheet draped down one side of the fixture reflects some more photons to where they'll do more good.

>> I didn't realize this could get so complicated!

That's probably my fault for going into too many details. I should have said:

"Use what you've got. That's what I did. If you need new bulbs, probably one "cool white" and one 'warm red" is a good idea. Two cheap fixtures are better than one fancy one."

But if someone experienced with difficult plants knows when or whether there ARE any benefits to the more expensive, dimmer tri-phosphor or "gro" bulbs, I hope they chime in!
Name: Anna
North Texas (Zone 8a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: Texas Clematis Garden Ideas: Level 1 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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canadanna
Nov 1, 2013 5:36 PM CST
That is a great summation! Thanks!
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Nov 1, 2013 6:23 PM CST
Every new boss tells me I'm too verbose!

Sorry it took two tries to get the usefull info out.
Name: Anna
North Texas (Zone 8a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: Texas Clematis Garden Ideas: Level 1 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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canadanna
Nov 2, 2013 9:05 AM CST
Smiling
Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Keeper of Poultry Farmer Roses Raises cows
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
porkpal
Nov 3, 2013 3:06 PM CST
Not verbose, - thorough!
Porkpal
Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
Charter ATP Member Garden Procrastinator Greenhouse Dragonflies Plays in the sandbox I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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woofie
Nov 3, 2013 3:23 PM CST
I agree Thumbs up
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Nov 4, 2013 3:37 PM CST
You're very kind!

Usually my bosses say things like: "I read the first few lines of your email. What did the rest say?" One boss said "Don't major in the minors."

I just like details!

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