Ask a Question forum: Growing Flowers with LED Lights

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Richton, Mississippi (Zone 8a)
Trying my best
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CitrusSweete
Mar 12, 2020 3:31 PM CST
Hello,

I have an indoor cat who loves to knock planters off windowsills (her current kill count is 3). To try and solve this problem, I'm looking to try and grow flowers indoors using LED lights to replace sunlight so I can place planters on spots out of reach of kitties.

Most of the research I've found on the internet doesn't really break down what I need to look for in grow lights, or at least not in a way I understand (or it's directed at marijuana growers.....which I'm definitely not). What I've managed to grasp is: leds are the most energy efficient, can give more usable light but less heat to potentially burn the plant, and they offer more customization for what you might need.

So far, I've found some full spectrum 100w LED bulbs that I could use in an adjustable desk lamp; however, I don't know if they're the best option or if I'm going to be wasting my money on separate bulbs and a lamp when I could get a grow light instead. Does anyone have any experience growing flowers using LEDs? If so, what do I need to look for or are there any brands/products I can trust?

I'm planning on trying to grow a dwarf canna lily, begonia, or ranunculus in a container, if that helps at all. Thank you for any help you give me!
Livonia, Michigan (Zone 6a)
Region: United States of America Critters Allowed Growing under artificial light Echinacea Hostas Region: Michigan
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BigBill
Mar 12, 2020 3:48 PM CST

Thumb of 2020-03-12/BigBill/ea9101

I grow orchids under lights. I have been for 2 years now. I purchased 2 three shelf plant stands and I just love them. There are two T-5 bulbs per shelf. The entire set up, six shelves and twelve bulbs cost me less then $10 a month total.
I am having such fun with them that I am considering a third.
I start seeds under the lights and grow several succulents under there as well.
Gardeners Supply is where I got them. A bit pricey but a real quality product and they have a few styles.
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
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DaisyI
Mar 12, 2020 6:49 PM CST
LED's, in spite of what the marijuana growers keep telling us, are not the most efficient or cost effective lights you can get.

Find t-5 fluorescent fixtures and put 6000k to 6500k bulbs in them. If your space is small, look into t-5HO sunblaster fixtures (the online hydroponic/marijuana supply stores are the best place to find them). The canna and ranunculis will appreciate all the sun you can muster but the begonia will want a shady spot (or a dimmer bulb).

Compact fluorescent grow light bulbs are available if you want to grow just one plant and have a desk lamp or similar.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

President: Orchid Society of Northern Nevada
Webmaster: osnnv.org
Livonia, Michigan (Zone 6a)
Region: United States of America Critters Allowed Growing under artificial light Echinacea Hostas Region: Michigan
Butterflies Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Orchids Cat Lover Birds Bee Lover
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BigBill
Mar 12, 2020 8:09 PM CST
But plants are like Lays potato chips, bet you can't grow just one!!!
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
Mar 12, 2020 8:39 PM CST
Oh Bill, Nobody ever has that problem! Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

President: Orchid Society of Northern Nevada
Webmaster: osnnv.org
Richton, Mississippi (Zone 8a)
Trying my best
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CitrusSweete
Mar 13, 2020 8:46 AM CST
Would the 6000k and 6500k bulbs be best for flowering? I'm looking into the CFL bulbs and some sources are saying that lower power bulbs (no more than 3000k) are better. Would it be best to get two bulbs - one 6000k+ and another lower than 3000k to switch out when the plant would go from dormant to flowering? Or would it be better to get a splitter and use both bulbs at once?
Livonia, Michigan (Zone 6a)
Region: United States of America Critters Allowed Growing under artificial light Echinacea Hostas Region: Michigan
Butterflies Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Orchids Cat Lover Birds Bee Lover
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BigBill
Mar 13, 2020 9:18 AM CST
If you are going to grow vegetables, flowers and house plants, I would imagine that the lower intensity bulbs would do the job.
I went with the higher intensity bulbs because I am growing Paphiopedilums, which are Lady slipper orchids under them. And they are just doing fantastic! These are not high light demanding orchids.
However, I am growing compact and miniature Cattleyas under these lights as well. I have had some success with these but they require more light. I am tinkering with the numbers of hours under the lights trying to increase bloom frequencies.
But in terms of your goals, I think that you will be just fine!!
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
Mar 13, 2020 9:32 AM CST
It depends upon how close, how many and how long. The lower the k value, the more lights you will need, the closer to your plants they will need to be and the longer you will have to leave them on. Your choice. I use only 6500k lights.

Also, I don't like the yellow color of lower k lights.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

President: Orchid Society of Northern Nevada
Webmaster: osnnv.org
Name: James
North Louisiana (Zone 8b)
Adeniums Cactus and Succulents Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Growing under artificial light Ferns Garden Photography
Region: Louisiana Region: Gulf Coast Enjoys or suffers hot summers Critters Allowed Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Container Gardener
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deepsouth
Mar 13, 2020 10:59 AM CST
I agree


full spectrum bulbs are sometimes advertised, listed, or sold as "Grow Lights" or "Grow bulbs".....

the light from 3000k bulbs is similar to daylight during sunrise or sunset .... yellowish to orange = less intense light

6500k bulbs is similar to daylight when the sun is overhead or sunlight at noon .... white light = more intense light

During the winter months - I use 3 ~ 48" ~ T8 fluorescent ~ 6500k bulbs on a timer .... have the timer set for only 11 hours to simulate the shorter daylight period of winter ....when outside (night) temperatures warm up a little, all my plants return outside and stop using the lights

and for a few other plants I use several folding arm desk lamps (that accept incandescent bulbs) - with "full spectrum" CFL bulbs, on timers

with both light fixture "set-ups" the bulbs are within 5" (or barely touching) the uppermost leaves
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
Mar 13, 2020 2:04 PM CST
BigBill said:
However, I am growing compact and miniature Cattleyas under these lights as well. I have had some success with these but they require more light. I am tinkering with the numbers of hours under the lights trying to increase bloom frequencies.


Maybe you need some 6500k bulbs. Smiling

Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

President: Orchid Society of Northern Nevada
Webmaster: osnnv.org
Name: Paula Benyei
NYC suburbs (Zone 6b)
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Turbosaurus
Mar 20, 2020 12:25 AM CST
I agree with much of what was said. LEDs are not really more efficient in terms of candle power per watt. LEDs do run cooler, so can be placed closer, so I prefer them for seedlings, but for larger houseplants I don't think it matters. For me, a permanent indoor plant light has to look good more than anything else (opposed to temporary task lighting).

You defiantly want 6500k bulbs, you want the reds and blues (wavelengths) cool white does NOT work as well, the PAR is much lower.. When comparing look for wattage, more is generally better.
Don't count LEDs.. count watts. Some people advertise "60 LEDs!" but they're tiny.. only 0.2watts each... other diodes can be 5 watts each.. another tricky tactic is calling an LED fixture 45w in the title, but when you read the description it's a 45w "equivalent" .. the LEDs may only take up 5w.. so while shopping be aware of the fine print.
The plural of anecdote is not data.
British Columbia, Canada (Zone 9a)
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cullen_
Mar 20, 2020 3:07 AM CST
I grow most of my succulents through out the winter and part of the day in summer under LED lights. I have tried a few brands. When you start getting in higher watts the lights sometimes come with a fans. Watch out for this. When they advertise how much power it consumes, they do not included the power the fan consumes, which is often more than the light. You also have to live with the sound the the fan going. Some can be quite loud. If you stay under 100-200W equivalent, you probably not run into needing a fan.

This past fall I switched out my LED with fans for passive heat dissipating units, in other words fan-less units that use the way the light fixture is designed to get rid of the heat. (This heat is not put off by the lights, the lights put off very little heat. It's the internal unit that get hot, just like a computer gets hot) I love my new lights. Almost all my plants have bloomed under them. I have started seeds under them with success. I did burn a couple plants when I put the plants closer to the unit than the manufacture recommended.

I also have T-5 Sunblaster 18" unit that has has grown plants under it just fine, but the sunblaster does not give me the colour I want my succulents to be. Sunblaster now offers the option to switch out those fluorescent bulbs for LED bulbs. I just had a light die, so I bought one of those. It will be interesting to see the difference. I can already see a colour improvement of an aloe after only one week.

I prefer the LED to the fluorescent, because from the time you plug in a fluorescent it slowly starts to lose power. They really should be changed out each year if you want them at the best performance. I usually run them for 2 years. Because it is so slow, it is hard to notice the difference until you plug a new one in beside an old one. A LED will not need to be changed out for many years. If you take care of them they can still run at optimum power for 10 years. Taking care of them means not to run them longer than the manufacture recommends. Some can be run for only 12 hours a day others 18 hours. Anything above that starts to over heat the diodes.

But whatever you decide to do, always buy WHITE light, do not buy any coloured lights. Those are only giving you a small portion of the light spectrum. It maybe good enough to grow pot plants from start to harvest, but they are not good enough to grow a plant for the long-term.

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Name: Paula Benyei
NYC suburbs (Zone 6b)
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Turbosaurus
Mar 22, 2020 3:47 PM CST
Fluorescents light output and wavelength do degrade over time, but this whole 10-20 year life on LEDs is gibberish.. I've had diodes die in A matter of weeks, but rarely do my fluorescent fail outright. Fluorescent are still less expensive than a quality brand ( eg CREE) LED. LEDs are becoming cheaper every day, but when I've bought no-name brands they just don't always hold up, either the diodes or transformers start to go. The benefit to fluorescent is you can just change the bulb relatively inexpensively. With LEDs you're doing the whole fixture ....

Unless you're buying LEDs with the transformers in the bulb that are meant to plug into a fixture that was originally a different bulb type...
The plural of anecdote is not data.
[Last edited by Turbosaurus - Mar 22, 2020 3:52 PM (+)]
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Livonia, Michigan (Zone 6a)
Region: United States of America Critters Allowed Growing under artificial light Echinacea Hostas Region: Michigan
Butterflies Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Orchids Cat Lover Birds Bee Lover
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BigBill
Mar 22, 2020 4:44 PM CST

Thumb of 2020-03-22/BigBill/c64a75

Since I have extra room on my plant stand shelves I decided to try some seeds. This is something that I have not done in almost 40 years.
I just sowed this seeds 8 days ago. They are "blue Salvia" although they look purple to me. They are labeled as annuals. Perhaps that explains why they may have germinated so quickly.
I am curious to see how they progress from here.

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