Monday, December 13, 2010

Grow Lights

While everyone else is talking about Christmas lights, let the gardeners talk about Grow Lights. December ushers in the time of year that proves the diehard gardeners and disheartens idealists. Sure, some of the self-sufficient plants can continue to grow and thrive indoors during the blustery season, but more needy greens have a habit of making their discomforts known. Think: Princess and the Pea”—only, “Gardener and the Rosemary”.

The sweet Rosemary plant, she is as needy as they get. Too much sunlight gets her wilty; not enough and Rosey is scaly. Don’t even think about water. Really, don’t. Since, if gardener’s can keep a Rosemary plant alive for the long winter haul, they can keep just about anything alive, she’s a great place to explore the proving grounds.

Success with Rosey is tricky indeed, but a few pointers might make the difference between life and death—for the plant that is. She can’t live without a spot of high sunlight. That means growing a plant in a bay window probably won’t be enough. It may seem like she’s getting a lot of natural light, but windows tend to filter too much UV to supply the intensity of direct sunlight. And most people can’t afford a greenhouse or greenhouse glass.

That leaves the brave gardener with a winter Rosemary plant only one good option: the Grow Light. Grow Lights provide UV from the high spectrum in which they shine. They’re heat producing—quite warm in fact—and costly to purchase. Some are sold to fit standard light fixtures, others to fit standard fluorescent housings and others for customized Grow Light systems.

A single UV bulb, for standard fixtures, typically costs around twelve bucks. The majority are advertised to last a year or longer, but with the constant time that needy plants require to soak up enough UV for photosynthesis, the light bulb’s life expectancy is typically about half as long.

Specialized set ups, and fluorescent grow-lights have significantly longer lifespans, and the purchase of a system that provides adequate light for a few plants is a significant expense. A fluorescent tube should last two to three winters and cost about forty dollars, but if a household does not have any fluorescent lighting already set up, a grow kit must be purchased.

The grow kits run the highest cost, both to run and to purchase. They provide heat, and UV for the most controlled growing environment, and most also have adjustable lighting conditions and heat settings. Rosemary is happiest with a grow kit, but she’ll survive with just a standard bulb.

The gardener has to speak words of love to his plants. That’s the real secret: being attentive. If she needs a pillow, get it for her. If she need the shades drawn, go. But no matter what, the gardener should never let her persuade him to leave the light on for more than fourteen hours. She’ll take it, and get to wanting it and become dependant on it, and then, what’s left?

About the Author
Jody Sperling is a contributing writer for Mike the Gardener Enterprises, LLC who operates the largest Vegetable Gardening page on Facebook.


  1. Hydroponic Tents

    G8 post.........really interested....I lov gardening......but I don't hv time to spend on my u suggest me some easy way to grow plants without spending more time on it!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. I use 1 soft white and 1 cool white flourescent bulbs for my grow lights at a combined cost of about $5-6. They worked great last year and will be doing again this year. I pulled it from a Purdue University article.