Seeking advice about grow-lights, other techniques to fight low light conditions

Greetings all!
My wife and I live in Southern California, USA; our house is on top of a hill with NO shade from any trees; we have huge sliding glass doors and/or windows on the east, south, and west sides of our house. So, long story short, I believe we have TONS of ambient light. Still, some of my indoor plants (mostly concerned about large dracenae marginata) seem to want more direct light than I can possibly give them; they may grow fine for a few years, but at some point, they start to look less than robust. Don't get me wrong -- I am NOT one of these people who tries to grow full-sun plants in full shade, and then complains when the plant performs poorly.
One option of course is to move the ailing plants to someplace in the house where they get more direct light. I have done that with some, but some plants really cannot go anywhere other than where they are. I am thinking in particular of a huge pot of dracenae marginata (some stalks of which are over 8 ft. tall) -- this pot (a) won't fit anywhere else, and (b) provides an important decorative focal point exactly where it is. [Relatedly: I am a little concerned about the ambient light fading our couch, so I could move the couch to a closet, but then I wouldn't have anything to sit on when I watch TV; sometimes the functional costs of moving something outweigh the benefits].
So...apart from moving plants from their current locations...is there any way to compensate for the possibility that some plants aren't getting quite as much direct sun as they'd like? I have tried some "grow lights" before, and observed no significant effect, but I confess I have only used the 60 watt, bluish, "plant gro 'n' show" bulbs one can purchase cheaply at Walmart and hardware stores. Frankly, I never expected those to do much anyway, and consequently never really got into an appropriate lighting regimen. Are there any "grow lights" that actually work? If so, I am willing to embrace this option wholeheartedly this time. Are there some online sites I should visit to research this issue further, or is the whole notion of "grow light" effectiveness kind of a myth? What kind of lighting regimen should one employ with these kinds of lights (if indeed they have merit at all)?
Also: While I am not suggesting one can easily replace sunlight with chemicals, is there anything one can do with fertilizers to help a plant which may be getting less direct sun than it optimally requires? If I lived in a cave, my doctor might say, "You aren't getting enough sun, so you should take a vitamin D supplement;" are there any parallels for plants?
Thanks in advance for any guidance in this matter!
Chuck
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

It may not be the quantity or quality of the light that is causing the problem. Dracaena marginata in particular is not very light demanding and tolerates low levels of indirect light extremely well. I'd look first to some other cultural issues - watering schedule, periodic fertilization, repotting as necessary, or the possibility of some sort of pest problem. Dracaenas tend to attract things like scale and mealy bugs which can quickly impact the appearance of an otherwise healthy plant.
pam - gardengal
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Dolchas wrote:

IIRC, those "gro-n-show" lamps are blue-tinted incandescent light bulbs. That's about the worst thing you could use. Something that works well is a four foot fluorescent fixture with an electronic ballast and modern F32T8 triphosphor lamps. They're not nearly as expensive as you'd expect, but you really need to position the lamps as close as possible to the plants.
Even more efficient would be a high pressure sodium (HPS) flood light. Depending on the wattage and the plants' light requirement, this could be set up as far as 6 feet away from the plants. HPS lamps are an ugly pinkish-gold color, and the light is very unflattering. I don't have any experience with "deluxe" HPS lamps. They give much better color rendering, so they might be a good option.
The other option is metal halide (MH) lighting. They are not quite as efficient as HPS, and you have to change the bulbs a lot more often, but they put out an attractive white light.
I suspect none of these will really fit your plan to provide supplemental lighting and have it look nice.
Bob
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Look out! I posted the same thing a few weeks back and someone ripped me a new one for posting "misinformation."
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Vox Humana wrote:

WTF are you whinging about? I don't recall you posting anything recently about HID lighting or high efficieny fluorescents, but I guess you may have posted it during that week or two while you were in my killfile.
Regards, Bob
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

She's talkin about your misinformation IDJET!
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
zxcvbob wrote:

Vox, After reading the email you sent me in reply to this, it is obvious that I *totally* misread your r.g. post. I thought you were being sarcastic and mocking me about something (which made no sense and had me kind of confused.) That got me pissed because I thought you had some kind of grudge against me.
Please accept my apology. I was gonna email you, but figured a public apology was in order.
Best regards, Bob
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Thanks Bob. I guess that one of the limitation of written communications is that we don't always read things in the spirit that they were written. I've certainly misinterpreted messages myself. Most people wouldn't have posted a public apology, and I do appreciate that. I suspect that we are in agreement more often than not, and I hope that when we disagree that we can do so without it becoming personal. I enjoy reading your posts.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Greetings again!
Actually, I am not too concerned about how the supplemental lighting would look. I might turn it on when I went to bed, or I might just leave it on while I am at work or something. If this supplemental lighting had to pretty much be on most of all daylight hours to be effective, then I suppose the look of this lighting would be a bigger problem for me.
Chuck

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Okay, let me try this again. From the lighting situation you describe, there is MORE than sufficient light for the dracaena. It does NOT require high light levels and will grow very well in rather low levels of indirect light. The problems you are having with this plant are more likely due to other factors. I don't know what other "houseplants" you might be trying to grow, but few of the legal kind will require the need for supplemental halide or gro-lites IF your exposure is as you describe it.
pam - gardengal

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Site Timeline

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.