Indoor Lighting on a Student's Budget

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Indoor Lighting on a Student's Budget

Post  mbolos on Fri Oct 14, 2011 3:33 am

It's come to that time of year where the tropicals need to come in. Rather than prop them as close to the window as possible, I decided to try out the much debated use of fluorescent lighting. I read all the online materials on setups. Then I bought a 4' hood and lights from amazon, snagged a putty mixing table and wood pallet from a construction site next door (with permission first), and in 45 minutes for a grand total of $45, made this (oh also, the bougainvillea sits on a little table I found in a dumpster). It's far from beautiful, but since this is my last winter before I move across the country, it'll do.

Any thoughts / advice from those who have tried this technique before would be much appreciated. I was thinking 16 hours on, 8 off. Sound right?


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Re: Indoor Lighting on a Student's Budget

Post  John Quinn on Fri Oct 14, 2011 3:44 am

I think they will get enough light as you have it set up. The tricky part will be dealing with the low humidity you will have in the home. "Humidity trays" under the pots will not really help...

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Re: Indoor Lighting on a Student's Budget

Post  Tatang Nuryaman on Fri Oct 14, 2011 5:10 am

Hi mbolos..you had a very nice trees..i think it would be nice if you photograph it a litle bit closer...nice lighting any way

regards

Tatang

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Re: Indoor Lighting on a Student's Budget

Post  Jerry Meislik on Fri Oct 14, 2011 1:09 pm

Nice setup. It should work quite well.
Jerry

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Re: Indoor Lighting on a Student's Budget

Post  Todd Ellis on Fri Oct 14, 2011 1:21 pm

Hi Mbolos,
Your set up looks good. You are on the right track. Humidity trays will help by the way. I use lava rock on plastic cafeteria trays. This allows me to contain the water that drains from the pots and the humidity does help. Also, spray the trees with a fine mist sprayer as often as you can. And remember to rotate/turn your trees every couple of weeks. Good luck with them.
Best,
Todd

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Re: Indoor Lighting on a Student's Budget

Post  mbolos on Fri Oct 14, 2011 2:02 pm

Cafeteria humidity trays sounds right up my alley. Thanks Todd!

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Indoor Lighting On a Student's Budget

Post  bonsaisr on Fri Oct 14, 2011 2:31 pm

Humidity trays are a myth. Yes, turn them periodically. How much extra humidity you need depends on your type of heating and which species you are growing. The Bougainvillea might need added humidity, Ficus probably not. Do not mist regularly. It promotes disease & gives hard water deposits. It is not a substitute for humidity. Get a humidity gauge. Most tropicals will do all right with 50% to 60%. You might need a room humidifier.
One other point about your setup using raw wood. Watch out for mealy bugs. They colonize raw wood in between attacking plants. If you get mealy bugs, be sure to spray the stand as well as the plants. Most of the wood preservatives you could use are not rated for indoors.
Iris

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Re: Indoor Lighting on a Student's Budget

Post  mbolos on Fri Oct 14, 2011 2:40 pm

Thank you for your thoughts bonsaisr. What do you recommend I do with the raw wood to avoid a possible worm issue?

As for the humidity debate, I've played with many techniques over the years. I have done well with (1) a humidifier nearby and (2) a fan. The biggest issue is air movement, once I started keeping air circulating, the problems I had with indoor growth went away.

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Re: Indoor Lighting on a Student's Budget

Post  Norma on Fri Oct 14, 2011 4:44 pm

Hi Mbolos,

Looks good...I would however recommend some kind of tray to catch watering runoff. The trays I like are from orchid sites and not too costly; they lift the base of the pot out of the mucky water and my trees are healthy. There is humidity from the heat produced by my HID light on the side and all the shelves have florescent lights in the south window. I, seldom mist the tropicals but do watch for spider mites and scale.

I also have another small basement room for a large ficus forest and herbs in pots.

Here is a quick shot of my kitchen setup.

Norma


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Re: Indoor Lighting on a Student's Budget

Post  mbolos on Fri Oct 14, 2011 5:05 pm

Norma,


That's a beautiful set-up. For me, since I have so few plants, I just take them to the shower whenever they need watering, that way I can soak the entire tree and not get anything on the walls / floor. Those are gorgeous trees on the side (especially given that you're in Minnesota).

Thanks for sharing!

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Re: Indoor Lighting on a Student's Budget

Post  Rob Kempinski on Fri Oct 14, 2011 5:46 pm

Norma wrote:also have another small basement room for a large ficus forest and herbs in pots.

Here is a quick shot of my kitchen setup.

Norma


Nice trees Norma. What dedication to tropical bonsai so far north!.

You're lucky, my wife would go non-linear if I left trees in the kitchen for any extended period of time bom bounce No Twisted Evil

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Re: Indoor Lighting on a Student's Budget

Post  bonsaisr on Sat Oct 15, 2011 3:21 am

mbolos wrote:What do you recommend I do with the raw wood to avoid a possible worm issue?
You mentioned that this is a temporary arrangement, so I don't think the wood will be around long enough to be seriously infested with wood organisms. For a permanent arrangement, you will use white painted wood. The paint stores sell additives to use to deter mold and insects, but they are not listed for living quarters. I still recommend that you get a humidity gauge. It is always safer to fly with instruments.
I agree you should have trays. The cheapest place for drain trays is the restaurant supply store. They have plastic containers in all shapes & sizes, well suited to a student's budget. I cut egg crate to fit across the top, and pile plastic pots in them to keep the egg crate from sagging.
Iris

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Re: Indoor Lighting on a Student's Budget

Post  drgonzo on Sat Oct 15, 2011 3:51 am

As a guy who runs a whole Upstate NY winter on nothing but a wood stove, I am the king of low humidity (usually around 35%). The only tropical I found that has suffered from dryness in my 5x8 foot south window was my Bougey, so he gets a humidity tray, the ficus's just get a nice shower from the spray head when they get watered and they are fine. They seem to like luke warm water too, like an Orchid. The window is of course on the other side of the house from the stove. I don't mist due to fantastically hard water and after a winters worth of spraying suddenly I have variegated leaves, via lime deposits. I also cluster ALL the tropicals under that window I think that helps with humidity, i think I have 13 or 14 plants in there right now.

Iris, is there a need to worry about using untreated wood in grow boxes? These would be all outdoor trees in training that I have in pine grow boxes.
-Jay

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Re: Indoor Lighting on a Student's Budget

Post  marcus watts on Sat Oct 15, 2011 7:46 am

excelent set up for the money,

one small improvement to further increase ther light efficiency is to add some highly reflective silver shiny sheeting to the back, and sides if you wish. this will bounce useable light that is missing the plants back at them so you will bet better results with side branches and areas that are in shadow from above.

if you do this the viewing side is the 'dark side' so turn everything 2 or 3 times a week to keep the tree even.

cheers Marcus

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Re: Indoor Lighting on a Student's Budget

Post  Todd Ellis on Sat Oct 15, 2011 1:00 pm

Certainly some people are in favor of humidity trays and others are not. The proof is in the pudding so to speak. My experience tells me that most tropicals do well with with supplemented humidity whether its on a tray or provided in other ways. Look at where they grow in their natural state. Have you ever compared how tropicals grown in greenhouses look more lush versus growing them inside a typical home? When I water my trees on their outside benches they thrive better because the benches are wet and the ground below them is wet; it all helps. Indoors in most people's homes, the conditions are very arid; often less humid than most deserts around the world. I'm not a scientist but I know that arid means "less moisture". So when growing indoors "just add water" as the old saying goes!
Todd

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Re: Indoor Lighting on a Student's Budget

Post  bonsaisr on Sat Oct 15, 2011 2:58 pm

drgonzo wrote:
Iris, is there a need to worry about using untreated wood in grow boxes? These would be all outdoor trees in training that I have in pine grow boxes.
-Jay
I don't think so, in our climate. You might want to ask Nina Shishkoff, the Bonsai Doctor, acrasis@yahoo.com
Iris

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Indoor Lighting On a Student's Budget

Post  bonsaisr on Sat Oct 15, 2011 3:13 pm

Todd Ellis wrote:Certainly some people are in favor of humidity trays and others are not. The proof is in the pudding so to speak.
I conducted my own little experiment 40 years ago, and found that on a sunny windowsill in winter, a humidity tray raised the humidity around the plant about 2% to 3%. I inquired on the old IBC, & responses varied from 3% to 7%.
Mary Miller wrote a book about growing tropical bonsai. She consulted me about humidity trays. She interviewed numerous growers in various locations. This is what she said in her book (not quoting verbatim): The growers who use humidity trays also take better care of their plants. They water and fertilize more regularly, and pay closer attention to their plants' needs. The plants are healthier, and they may attribute this to the humidity tray when it is actually the result of other practices.
If you want a reference, Kohl, Douglas
1995 "A Study in Humidity: Douglas Kohl Evaluates the Effectiveness of a
Common Method to Raise Humidity around Orchids Growing in the Home" in
American Orchid Society Bulletin, 63(Cool, pp. 916-917.
Iris
PS Oh, how funny. The reference is supposed to say 63 (the digit eight), but the program turned it into a smiley face.


Last edited by bonsaisr on Sat Oct 15, 2011 3:19 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Explanation)

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Re: Indoor Lighting on a Student's Budget

Post  Todd Ellis on Sun Oct 16, 2011 12:19 am

Thank you Iris. I defer to your research and must admit that a tree that is tended to daily, and with affection, will surely flurish. I do know that most homes are drier than deserts, very arid, and I think any extra moisture helps; sans extra watering.
Best,
Todd

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Re: Indoor Lighting on a Student's Budget

Post  Guest on Sun Oct 16, 2011 12:37 am

Hi people.
although we don't have humidity problem in our region. I used plastic to confine a tree material/yamadori after the initial planting. One of the purposes of this is to protect the tree from dehydration while the roots are not yet capable of absorbing water and to have a controlled humidity.
It is cheap to produce and easy to do, all you need are PVC pipes and PVC joints to form the frame specific to the size of the tree, then large sheets of plastics for covering.

regards,
jun Smile

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Re: Indoor Lighting on a Student's Budget

Post  Todd Ellis on Sun Oct 16, 2011 2:09 am


It is cheap to produce and easy to do, all you need are PVC pipes and PVC joints to form the frame specific to the size of the tree, then large sheets of plastics for covering.

Hi Jun, The Greenhouse Effect! Very Happy

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Re: Indoor Lighting on a Student's Budget

Post  Guest on Sun Oct 16, 2011 4:29 am

Yes Todd. but it is for individual trees or two. It would take less than an hour to do and would cost less than $20 to produce for a 1 square meter size.

If this will help you guys in the cold areas, I'll post a step by step photos of the procedure.

regards,
jun Smile

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Re: Indoor Lighting on a Student's Budget

Post  Ryan on Sun Oct 16, 2011 4:36 am

You could always use a large aquarium:


Or an indoor greenhouse:


Or my latest creation, a "grow tote." A 55 gallon tote:


With aluminum foil to reflect light:


Add a fogger:


And some trees:


And a light:


And you're good to go. And I'm a freshman in college, so you know my budget is tight Wink

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Re: Indoor Lighting on a Student's Budget

Post  mbolos on Sun Oct 16, 2011 4:44 am

Ryan,

A terrarium, an industrial tub, pea gravel, fog systems, fluorescent lights, and acrylic tops hardly seem a budget setup, you're recreating the rain forest in there!

Nice assembly though.

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Re: Indoor Lighting on a Student's Budget

Post  Ryan on Sun Oct 16, 2011 4:51 am

mbolos wrote:Ryan,

A terrarium, an industrial tub, pea gravel, fog systems, fluorescent lights, and acrylic tops hardly seem a budget setup, you're recreating the rain forest in there!

Nice assembly though.

It was a total of less than $85, I swear Laughing

I removed the gravel as the fogger was pumping in a bit more moisture than I expected and the water was pooling at the bottom of the setup. So instead I've drilled holes in the bottom and the water escapes that way.

I've found this is the easiest way to get aerial roots though:


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Re: Indoor Lighting on a Student's Budget

Post  Guest on Sun Oct 16, 2011 10:21 am

Hope this will help in a little some guys in the cold region with winter fast approaching.

This is how I keep my yamadori in humid condition, but it got no leaves yet to protect from the possible plastic burn, so it is still ok for the plastic to touch the bark of the branches. nets are for shade. No cost at all.
Casuarinas inside BTW. Moist on the plastic means it is working, that is to increase the chances of this very difficulet yamadori.



This one below is for more sensitive trees that I am avoiding to have any contact with the bark and plastic.- cost less than 10$.



Will take less than an hour to make...
the materials from any regular hardware store..
1/2" pvc pipes, pvc joints, saw, and pvc glue
If you can take measurements and can saw, anybody can do this.










This photo below is just for illustration, with established tree inside. We don't need green house here.
..but sometimes I also do this to trees that are not in good health.
It will lessen the possibility of branch die backs, less the light ofcourse...it will look stupid here.





..then you can put the humidity pan inside to increase the humidity.

regards,
jun Smile

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Re: Indoor Lighting on a Student's Budget

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