I have a variety of plants that I like to overwinter indoors. I know, I just can’t let go of the whole gardening thing, even during the winter. As we all know, plants perform best in natural sunlight, but that natural sunlight can be a bit hard to come by during the winter months in our area. For us indoor gardeners who like to keep plants looking great, artificial light is the answer.

Fluorescent lights are an economical and easy choice to use. They come in tubes or compact bulbs (CFL) that screw into regular lamp sockets and they are cool enough to put close to plant foliage. When buying fluorescent tubes, look for “full-spectrum” or use a mix of “cool” and “warm”bulbs.

LED lights are my choice for artificial lighting. They emit virtually no heat and require very little power to operate. My set-up consists of a basic shop light with one cool (“blue” light) bulb and one red (“warm” light) bulb. The blue wavelength light is for foliage growth and the red wavelength light is for flowering. The light fixture hangs from chains which makes for a nice adjustable feature. Horticultural LED grow lights produce only the wavelengths needed by plants so you may want to use those instead of the ones for general use.

Growth quality in most plants is dependent on the period of darkness they receive along with how much light they receive. Do not leave the lights on 24-hours a day. Plants need a period of darkness. This is where attaching a timer to the light comes in handy. Adjust the timer so that it is on 14 to 16 hours a day for best plant life. It is recommended to place the light about a foot away from the plant.

Most of the plants that I am overwintering are succulents. If you over-winter succulents you must be sure not to over-water them. Depending on the amount of heat in the room, succulents only need to be watered every two weeks. Let the soil be your guide. When it seems dry, wait about a week before watering again.

Artificial lights will make your plants feel like you’ve taken them on a tropical vacation!

As always, Happy Gardening!

Karen Weiland is an advanced master gardener. More information about gardening and related subjects is available online at hort.purdue.edu/ext/garden_pubs.html. The Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service can be reached at 499-6334 in LaGrange County, 636-2111 in Noble County, 925-2562 in DeKalb County and 668-1000 in Steuben County.

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