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This is a discussion on A mirror? within the General Orchid Culture forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; Well I know that. But a mirror reflects everything that goes onto it...it seems like ...
Well I know that. But a mirror reflects everything that goes onto it...it seems like it would reflect more light than white, because it is literally a reflective surface.
I honestly do not know the scientific reasons behind it, but YEARS ago I was trying to create a grow room in my basement and was doing the research on whether to paint the walls with aluminum, gloss white, etc and found out that flat white would create the most light.
I think it probably has something to do with white diffusing the light evenly as it reflects back, whereas mirrors bounce the light around. It's the same reason photographers use white lined boxes for product photos.
Principally a mirror will reflect more light, but Ali is right the white surface will diffuse the light more evenly. Unless you use a concave mirror which focuses the light to a single point your plants will not burn
A mirror reflects light at "equal angles": that is, a beam that comes in at 45 degrees to the mirror will be reflected at 45 degrees. A white surface will reflect most of the incoming light, equally at all frequencies, but at many different angles. The white surface absorbs some light while a mirror doesn't absorb light at all. A room with white walls will appear to be more brightly lit than a room with mirror walls.
It makes perfect sense, now. Thanks everyone!
(feeling kind of dumb right now. lol)
Go for the white -- I'm not personally sure either way on the quantity of light reflected, but a matte white surface will reflect light in an incoherent manner, which means it'll be more evenly distributed. You won't be in danger of having a sunset shot right into your plants. Plus, you could get any cheap, non-breakable surface and paint it white. You could probably even hang an inexpensive white sheet out there. A mirror big enough to make any difference would be expensive, and seems like several accidents waiting to happen.
Yep. I just bought a few of those huge, sturdy, foam white poster things kids use for projects in school. I taped them together and put them against the wall of my balcony. Cheap, easy, and hopefully effective.
Wow, what a difference! The reflected light from my balcony wall used to read around 800-1,000 FC in full sun (the wall was already a very light beige) and with the my new stark white "backdrop" the meter zooms past the 2,000 range. Amazing.