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The first rule of growing plants indoors with artificial light is to have a Ph.D. in botany – just kidding. It is to pay attention and make a commitment to learning. Introduce subtle changes over time and allow plants to respond.
Their response will help you develop stronger instincts about your rooms, seasons, species, light, warmth, and soil. Here is an excellent tool kit to get you started: 10-piece Gardening Tool Set with Zippered Detachable Tote and Folding Stool Seat with Backrest.
Artificial Light Set-Up Process: Know Your Indoor Garden
Growing plants indoors with artificial light is more challenging than you might think, particularly if you want to grow fruit, herbs, leafy greens, and vegetables. The typical “starter” plants for a novice indoor gardener include decorative species like African violets, succulents, and ponytail palms. And those are usually satisfied with natural light from windows. These are most likely to survive your learning process.
Start conservatively. Set yourself up for success by learning about light and temperature in your home with plants that can withstand a little experimentation. Consider house plants that are notoriously hard to kill. They are survivors and will probably draw enough sunlight from windows and won’t require a lot of trimming or watering.
Once you’ve tested different rooms and have a sense of where plants tend to thrive, move on to herbs. For growing food, a home does not usually have enough natural light. You might consider adding artificial grow lighting.
See the section below on managing heat along with your grow lighting and determining the required bulb type, temperature, light days, and other care instructions depending on the species you are cultivating.
What to Plant Indoors
Easy edible plants to grow indoors include:
Chives grow faithfully almost anywhere. Gather them like you’re cutting grass, at the base, and leave behind two-thirds of the bunches. Mint is invasive and tends to explode outdoors, so indoors is an excellent way to keep it under control. If you want to plant parsley seed, soak the seeds in warm water until the seed coat cracks and then move it to the soil. Plant the smaller spherical types of basil. Others grow too big and will take up too much space.
With cilantro, plant two or three weeks at a time. This will provide staggered harvests. Harvest outdoor rosemary at the end of summer to grow indoors during colder months. Start with a four-inch piece from the tip of a branch, cut off the leaves at the base, and plant in potting soil. Cover with plastic. This will keep things moist. When you have your first harvest, take a look at Favorite Recipes with Herbs: Revised and Updated.
When you want to move on to vegetables, start with carrots. They will forgive a novice gardener. Plus, indoors, they won’t have the chance to grow so big that they turn to wood. Keep soil moist. Garlic will sprout quite readily indoors too. Plant a sprouting garlic clove about 1-inch deep in a 4-inch container and add water. Within weeks, you will have garlic greens.
Peppers are tropical perennials, so they don’t stand up to even the slightest frost, but inside they can thrive. Plant some sweet or hot pepper seeds or pot some from your garden in August or September and bring them indoors.
Lettuce is really easy-going with indoor life. It will also continue to regrow. The container must be two to four inches deep and full of moist soil. Sow by gently fingering them into the surface. Mist to keep the seeds moist. The results will appear within two weeks.
Where to Plant Indoor Plants
Consider your indoor garden. It could be anything from a single shelf at a window to a full sunroom on the south side of the house. You can also purchase totally self-contained bamboo and PVC pipe units, a really convenient way to get started. Pot plants and beddings to suit what you have, with an appropriate distance between plants, whatever their containers.
Depending on the plant, group pots or trays 10 centimeters apart to allow for growth and easy access while trimming and watering. You’ll also want to make sure you purchase lights that accommodate your entire planting area. You may need more than one bulb or light source.
Growing Indoor Lighting Products
When purchasing indoor grow lighting, light intensity, duration, and spectrum are all considerations, and they are all proportionately impacted by temperature. Lighting professionals use what’s known as foot candles, the recognized unit of measure used to assess light levels. Do your research on each species you plant, including which grow lights are best for which species.
Grow light bulbs in any ordinary lamp or ceiling fixture are easiest for new gardeners. Grow light fixtures are more costly, but they offer a total solution. One can provide for multiple plants, dispersing the lighting evenly throughout the space. Here are some options in indoor grow lighting:
Phlizon Newest 600 W LED Plant Grow Light with Thermometer Humidity Monitor
Grow Light, Ankace 40W Dual Head Timing 36 LED 5 Dimmable Levels
MIXJOY GL-4000 LED Grow Light with High-Efficiency Samsung LM301B & Mean Well Driver
VIVOSUN 6500K 2FT T5 HO Fluorescent Grow Light Fixture for Indoor Plants
Heat is a problem with incandescent, and distance is a problem with fluorescent. A standard fluorescent fixture equipped with two 40-watt tubes will only light a space about 20 centimeters wide and a meter long.
Incandescent bulbs can hang higher above the plants and have a better spread. With this option, a 60-watt bulb will provide the equivalent of sunlight on an area one to one-and-a-half-meter square.
LED grow lights are the latest technology on the market today. They consume a fraction of the energy and put out dramatically less heat. The color light spectrum range is the fullest of any grow light. For these reasons, LEDs are preferable to both incandescent and fluorescent.