Grow Rainbow Beets

December 12, 2018

Beets are root vegetables that also offer edible leaves. There are many varieties of beets with a number of root colors, sizes, and flavors--a rainbow of beet options.

PC: Ball Horticultural Company

Direct seed beets into the garden, or into the final container you'll use to grow them indoors. Thin seedlings so that there are a couple of inches between each remaining seedling. Use a balanced granular vegetable fertilizer in the soil or growing media at seeding time. Then side-dress the beets or use a liquid fertilizer one or two more times during their growing cycle.

New BOOK! Gardening Under Lights: The Complete Guide for Indoor Growers


Why do Plant Leaves Change Color?

December 11, 2018

Have you ever wondered why plant leaves change color? Plant leaves contain several different types of pigments called Carotenoids, flavonoids, and betalins are additional support pigments— sporting shades of yellow, orange, red, pink, and purple—that also absorb small amounts of light, just like chlorophyll.

Colorful Rex Begonia
PC: Leslie F. Halleck

These pigments are responsible for creating different colors in plant leaves and stems. When the chlorophyll breaks down in fall, as temperatures cool, these pigments become visible. That's why you get a fall color change in your trees. This colorful begonia, that is growing under plant lights, has more of these colorful pigments which are visible all the time.

Gardening Under Lights Book


Carnivorous Plants Need Bright Light Indoors

December 10, 2018

While you could successfully grow a few species of carnivorous plants in a bright window, most need significantly more light and humidity. In fact, most carnivorous plants grow naturally in full-sun locales, so you must provide intense light indoors for your creature-capturing plants.

Purple Pitcher plants growing alongside sundews in a glass conservatory.
PC: Leslie F. Halleck

Light your carnivorous plants for 12 to 16 hours per day, depending on your light source and the ambient light available in your living space.

New BOOK! Gardening Under Lights: The Complete Guide for Indoor Growers


Optimal Humidity for Indoor Plants

December 9, 2018

Every crop has its own optimal humidity level, which may change depending on the stage of growth. On average, a good target for plant growth is about 50 percent humidity. Plants growing in low humidity will dry out faster. When the air around a plant is dry, it creates a high vapor pressure deficit (VPD).

This basil is extremely wilted from lack of moisture.
PC: Leslie F. Halleck

Plants that dry out because of low humidity in the air become more susceptible to disease. Pests like spider mites love dry conditions and will attack plants that are already stressed from a lack of moisture.

Gardening Under Lights Book


African Violet: A Perfect Houseplant

December 8, 2018

African violets are a classic indoor houseplant. But there's nothing old fashioned about them, as far as I'm concerned. I love collecting new varieties with beautiful flowers and they make for such a great houseplant.

Gesneriads are a large family of more than 3000 tropical species that sport beautiful flowers and foliage. Many beloved blooming houseplants, such as African violets, are members of this group. Most gesneriads have similar growing needs and are perfect for indoor gardeners. Be sure to allow plants to dry between waterings, just like with many succulents. Over-watering can quickly kill them.

New BOOK! Gardening Under Lights: The Complete Guide for Indoor Growers

This African Violet wasn't blooming, due to lack of light. So I placed it under an HO T5 Fluorescent grow lamp to encourage flowers.
PC: Leslie F. Halleck

African Violets are great for indoor gardeners who don’t have a lot of space but want to brighten up their home with flowers. African violets appreciate medium to bright indirect sunlight, such as you might find in a southern window. Hot afternoon sun can scorch them, but low-light conditions will leave them flowerless. Add an LED or Fluorescent grow lamp to boost blooms on your African violets if you don't have enough light indoors to keep them happy.


HPS Grow Lamp Light Spectrum

December 7, 2018

If you want to take advantage of the efficiency of HPS lamps but don’t want to compromise on light spectrum, you can (1) look for HPS lamps with enhanced performance in the blue spectrum, which are a great compromise, or (2) supplement your HPS lamp by combining it with some blue light from an MH or an LEC lamp, cool-spectrum, narrow-spectrum blue fluorescent tube, or blue LED.

Tomatoes and peppers growing under the yellow-colored light of an HPS lamp.
PC: Leslie F. Halleck

If you are growing in an open space where natural outdoor light is present, such as a greenhouse or a room with windows, you can use HPS lamps alone to supplement the light spectrum and photoperiod—although the orange visual color of the light is less than aesthetically pleasing.

Gardening Under Lights Book



Rooting Hormone Speed Up Plant Cuttings

December 6, 2018

The trick with taking cuttings, just as with germinating seeds, is to get the cutting to root before the tissue rots or dies. You can speed up the process by using supplemental rooting hormones, which are chemicals found naturally in plant tissues.

Soak or dip stem cuttings in rooting hormone before sticking. Always follow label instructions.
PC: Leslie F. Halleck

Rooting hormones are available in gel or powder form. Dip the base of your cutting into the rooting hormone, making sure to coat the entire tip, and place it in your rooting media or substrate.

Gardening Under Lights Book


Three Categories of Plant Photoperiods

December 5, 2018

Photoperiodically, plants fall into three primary categories: long-day, short-day, and day-neutral. Plants that are not photoperiodic are day-neutral. In other words, long-day plants initiate flower buds when the days grow longer than their critical daylength. Short-day plants will initiate flowering when the days become shorter than their critical daylength.

Fall-blooming garden mums respond to short days (long nights) to flower.
PC: Ball Horticultural Company

It’s not the length of daytime, or light, the plants are responding to, but rather the period of uninterrupted darkness. The plant measures the amount of PR phytochrome in its system after a length of darkness. Therefore, long-day plants need short nights to flower, and short-day plants need long nights.

Gardening Under Lights Book


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