I'm planning on taking a shelf from my bookshelf and installing some floros
on the underside of the shelf and starting a little herb garden in the
kitchen. Has anyone done anything similar, I'd like some pointers if anyone
I plan on growing basil, chives, parsley, lavendar, and thyme.
How many hours per day should I leave the lights on?
Would it be easier to install the light to the shelf and move the plants to
the light or the other way around?
I am also planning on using some fairly small clay pots for the herbs. I'm
going to germinate my seeds in peat pellets so, how many seeds per peat
pellet or per pot should I use? I'd like to get them started..
Honestly, I have had poor luck with herbs under lights.
They would do best in a South facing window.
My herb garden is planted along the side of the house on the West, and
not only are they thriving, they are wintering over. Except for Basil
and Dill of course! I have to replant those every spring.
Now that I have a greenhouse, I may try planting some pots of Basil and
Dill in the fall in there so I can have those two herbs fresh during the
I had them planted at work where they had regular fluorescent light.
Funny, any other houseplant I have there just _thrives_ under those
lights, especially the African violets. ;-)
I tried Thyme, Rosemary and Oregano and all of them bolted, then died.
But, you may have better luck. Give it a try and see what happens! :-)
This may not exactly answer your question, but I hope it helps. I was having
trouble growi`````n`g sun loving plants in a southern window. They just did
not get enough light. I got a plant stand, it kind of spirals up, then put a
stand lamp with three adjustable lights that I could point anywhere I want
beside the plants. I also bought the highest light output compact
flouescents I could find. The plants thrive under this light. I have
geraniums, begonia, cyclamen, a miniature rose that's waiting for it to warm
up enough to plant outside, and others. I don't think a regular flourescent
lamp will give enough light. The only problem I've had is the CFs have
burneed out after only about 6 months. I may have to drill some holes in the
lamp covers to let some heat escape.
Do you have a list of herbs you want to grow? I wouldn't grow mint
(reproduces rapidly) or sage (gets too big). You could try rosemary, thyme,
Now we're talking! I was planning on taking a shelf from the bookcase and
putting some 30 watt tubes in there. Problem with those things are is that
the max intensity of the tubes drops off after a few inches away. Sounds
like the CF's are doing the trick nicely for you. Maybe I could some how
rig my shelf so has a few CF bulbs at different heights for each of the
How many watts are the CF bulbs you're using?
If you are going to use ordinary tubular fluro lights, they need to be
adjustable in height so that they can be maintained almost touching the
foliage of the plants. I learnt this from discussions on other newsgroups
and have not tried it myself. I expect similar thing would apply to CFs.
Or you can place the plants on a stand of adjustable height, whichever is
easier to built.
John Savage (news address invalid; keep news replies in newsgroup)
Nope, you don't have to do that with CFs. Just get the brightest that you
can find. I have 25 watters (equivelant of 100 watt incandescent bulb, it
looks brighter than daylight in that corner). I have them 2 or 3 feet off
some of my plants. The plants grow quite well.
Compact Flourescent. Very energy efficient for the light output (14 watt CF
= 60 watt incandescent) . I use them all over my house. I have no problem
with reading by them. I use them for plants requiring full sun in my house.
I haven't tried growing anything from seed under them, but I have propogated
a few plants by cuttings. They work really well for me. And they screw into
regular incandescent type sockets. Most around the house are 8-14 watts. For
the plants, I use three 25 watt bulbs. They also have the advantage of not
getting as hot as incandescents for the light output, so for applications
such as plants you can put the highest wattage CF bulb you can find, and not
have problems with the fixture getting too hot.
Downsides: insanely expensive ~$5 per bulb. They are touted as lasting ~5
years, but I've had several burn out after only a few months. Some brands
are better than others. Some of them come on quicker, others are dim for the
first few minutes, though most are pretty good. Because they contain
mercury, they should be disposed with your local hazardous waste site.
Contact your local dump, or wherever your garbage goes. They should be able
to tell you where you can dispose of CFs and other hazardous waste. Our
local hazardous waste facility is on site at the local dump. These bulbs
contain mercury and should not just be thrown in the garbage.
Yes, the bulbs will get hot, but not as hot as an incandescent with the same
light output. Around here the "daylight" bulbs are quite expensive. (4-5
times the price of a regular CF) My vote goes for the whitest light you can
find within a reasonable price range. I mean, if price were not an issue,
I'd go for metal halides. My plants do great under the lights I have, which
are not rated as "daylight" bulbs, but produce a white light. Plants need
light in the blue spectrum so they are not leggy, and in the red/orange
spectrum to flower, so the whiter the light, the better.
As for how far away to put the bulbs. Mine are not right on top of the
plants (read inches away), however the lights are on a stand lamp pointed
down, directly at the plants. Some plants are within a foot of the light,
others are three feet away. The plants are doing great. Granted, light does
diffuse the farther away it is, that is why I have a stand lamp, and am not
relying on the light in the middle of the ceiling under a cover.
For max growth the tubes should be within inches of the tops of the plants,
I'm not too worried about it since I don't need to mass produce herbs. I'm
going to fix the lights and have an adjustable shelf to raise the plants to
the light, this is easier than dealing with the cords from the lights as you
raise and lower them.
I'm in a different situation but I'll relate my experience.
I suspect you'll have to leave the lights on at least 12 hours
a day. As your plants will likely be different sizes you'll
probably be better off fixing the light, varying the shelf
position, and putting different size blocks under different
size plants to keep them a few inches under the lights. The
longer the lights, the better because they don't give out
much light at the ends.
I built a stand with five adjustable shelves. Then I built a
8' frame on wheels that rolls over the shelves. The frame has 8
4' 40 watt florescents hanging from it. Half warm. Half cool.
I put the lights on a timer that left them on 14 hours a day.
The adjustable shelves allow placing the plants within inches
of the lights regardless of their size. The rack is next to an
ESE facing window that is partially blocked. I had herbs
growing all winter and had good luck except for dill and parsley.
The dill (grown from seed) got too leggy and the parsley (also
grown from seed) was just plain sickly and never got more than
an inch or two high. I don't know if the parsley problem was
due to light or something else. Both standard basil and thai
basil did fine. In fact, I grew the thai basil from seed indoors
without problems. I also had rosemary, lemon verbena, peppermint,
spearmint, lemon basil, lemon thyme, english thyme, and oregano
that I brought in from outside in the fall and wintered over.
They didn't grow as fast as they did outdoors but they grew.
I had more problems with scale, whiteflies, and remembering to
water the plants than I did from lack of light.
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