Counter-top Plant Growing Systems

March 5, 2019

If you simply want to keep a single houseplant or a blooming orchid in your office or living room, you need only a single smaller spotlight fixture. A small crop of leafy greens, microgreens, or herbs is also simple to light with a small-footprint fluorescent or LED setup.

Counter-top growing systems allow you to tuck small greens and herbs into your kitchen or office.​​
PC: Homestead Gardens

Many self-contained home-growing units are already complete with full-spectrum LED lamps for growing seedlings and microgreens, appropriate for use on a counter-top.

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How to Water Orchids

March 4, 2019

If you grow orchids under lights indoors, you might be wondering how to get watering just right. While each type of orchid prefers slightly different watering levels, and can have different seasonal water needs, generally speaking your goal is to saturate all of the growing media around the plant's roots as well as provide increased oxygen to the root zone.

Dracula orchids should never be allowed to dry out.

Basic rule of thumb? Water common orchids once per week with tepid water. It is best to run water slowly over pot and roots for several minutes. Make sure you don't let pots sit in water that has collected in a tray. By using running water, you'll also deliver more oxygen to the roots.

Some orchid species, such as the cute little Dracula sp. in the photo need to stay consistently moist ALL the time. Other orchid species need to dry a bit between waterings.

Orchids also need a good fertilizer regimen. But how you fertilize, and when you fertilize, also depends on the species of orchid. Be sure to research your orchid species for ideal timing and rates of an orchid fertilizer.

What about ice for watering orchids? I'm not a fan and I don't do it. Why? Many mass commercially produced orchids, such as moth orchids (Phalaenopsis), are grown in heavily packed sphagnum moss in solid plastic pots. This is not ideal for long-term growth for such epiphytic orchids - they'd be happier transplanted into a looser orchid medium with more air around their aerial roots. BUT, when you grow them in a more aerated environment with a loose orchid bark you do have to be more attentive to the weekly watering schedule and make sure you adequately moisten the bark, without standing water. So, watering orchids with ice is regularly marketed to consumers as an easier way to keep orchids planted in heavy moss watered in a way that doesn't cause excess water to build up in those non-porous containers. Make sense?

While some recently published research didn't find direct detrimental effects from using ice, I have on a number of occasions observed orchids in bloom, or developing flower buds, suddenly drop flowers and buds after being shocked with ice cubes. Probably because the plants may have been a bit stressed already, or weren't getting regular moisture consistently (or enough light) - there are many factors. That's anecdotal, but it's my observation.

My translation: When your orchids are potted improperly ice can be a way to maintain them...if you want to pot your orchids properly, a traditional watering method is better- in my horticultural opinion.

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LED Grow Lights for Large Houseplants

March 3, 2019

If your houseplants are struggling, it's probably due to a lack of light. When you're growing specimen houseplants, such as large tropicals, you might need to provide some supplemental light. Specimen plants can be lighted with spotlight grow lamps--like the double barrel LED lights below.

PC: Soltech Solutions

Try growing foliage plants in one part of your home or office. If they are just not thriving, move them closer to an ambient light source. If that still doesn’t do the trick, add artificial light or switch to a lower-light species.

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Combining Single Spectrum LED Lamps

March 2, 2019

You can use LED lamps that produce a single spectrum of light, and LED fixtures also come in varying combinations of single spectrums. Some even offer the option within the same fixture to switch from blue only to red only, or to run them together, when you want to shift from vegetative to flowering.

This grow tent blends blue and red light together for growing plants start to finish.
PC: Garden Supply Guys

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Pollination by Hand

March 1, 2019

No bees in your indoor grow tents? I doubt it! Then you’ll need to give certain plants, such as this cucumber, a hand with pollination if you want it to develop any fruit for harvest.

PC: Leslie F. Halleck

One very important thing to remember about growing fruits indoors: the flowers require pollination to develop fruit. Wind and pollinating insects would accomplish that work outdoors, but indoor gardeners must play the role of honeybee. You can use paintbrushes to move pollen from male flowers to females flowers.

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Potting Soil for Indoor Gardening

February 28, 2019

There are many types of pre-mixed potting soil for you to choose from; just make sure you select a blend specifically appropriate for seeds, larger indoor plant, or outdoor plants, as they will each have different characteristics.

PC: Leslie F. Halleck

Small seedlings can dry out quickly and die, so they need growing media that can hold adequate moisture, but they are also susceptible to many soil-borne fungal diseases brought on by excess moisture. Make sure your potting soil isn't too heavy, and drains well, for all of your indoor garden plants. Coir is an excellent addition to help balance moisture and drainage.

Gardening Under Lights Book


Salvia benefits from Chilling

February 27, 2019

Some crops don’t require dormancy or vernalization, but will bloom better or produce better harvests after they have gone dormant or had a chilling period. Sedum and salvias, for example, don’t require cold to flower, but if they get a period of cold they will grow more vigorously and can bloom earlier or better.

PC: Ball Horticultural Company

Salvia ‘Blue Marvel’ sports more vigorous growth and blooms with some winter chilling.

Gardening Under Lights Book


Use Full Spectrum LED Grow Lights for White Light

February 26, 2019

Given that many LED grow lamps combine only red and blue light, the pink- or purple-colored light they produce might not be the most attractive choice for your kitchen or living room. Pink light also causes your plants to look pink or purple instead of green.

These attractive LED grow lamps are perfect for your indoor living spaces.
PC: SolTech Solutions

This pink or purple light makes it hard to identify a nutrient deficiency, fungal disease, or pest problem. A multicolor white LED, or RGB LED, will give you a more standard white-colored light.

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