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Newbie with lighting question

This is a discussion on Newbie with lighting question within the Semi Hydro / Lights / Greenhouses / Accessories forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; Hi there everyone, I've just recently ventured into the exciting world of orchids! I've learned ...

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  1. #1
    kpebbles is offline Junior Member
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    Default Newbie with lighting question

    Hi there everyone,

    I've just recently ventured into the exciting world of orchids! I've learned so much from you guys already, but still have a few questions..

    In regards to lighting, my orchids are next to a south-east facing window with a sheer curtain. I'm in CA. and lately they haven't been getting much sun because it's been raining. Also, there are some trees in front of my window so they will never get full sun.

    I have a Cattleya, 3 phalaenopsis, and one den-phal hybrid. I think I need to supplement the natural lighting with some flourescents (probably from boxstore). I was planning on mounting them above the plants on hanging chains that I should be able to adjust as needed.

    1. So given that the Cattleya and the Den-Phal need higher light, what kind of bulbs should I get (full spectrum, warm & cool) and how many do I need? The growing space is around 36", so I will probably go with that size bulb.

    2. How should I arrange the orchids? Cattleya & Den-phal closest to window and also in the middle (under bulbs) with Phals on the perimeter?

    3. I also read somewhere that it wasn't recommended to put den-phals under growing lights because of their size. Is this a concern for any of you?

    I'd *really* appreciate any input from all of you.
    Thanks!

  2. #2
    LJA's Avatar
    LJA
    LJA is offline OrchidTalk Tech Admin
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    Hi kpebbles, welcome! Glad you're finding this space worthwhile!

    I'll let the folks who grow under lights answer those questions in more detail, but in general, the plants with higher light requirements should go beneath the centers of fluorescents, while things like Phals do better out at the edges. Your answer to question 2 is exactly how I would place everything if it were me.

    If I remember correctly, light intensity falls off with the square of distance, so the lower leaves on very tall plants won't get anywhere near the amount of light the upper leaves will. Dends. can get very tall, so if you position your lights to accomodate one of those, your other plants on the same shelf may not get the amount they need. The Dend. might do better for you too in a location that's more evenly (and brightly) lit, to let the Cattleya take center stage on your growing shelf.

  3. #3
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    MikeWA is offline Senior Member
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    Default

    I would say that the Phal is just fine with the conditions you have for lighting. The Catt and Den you may want to supplement.

    I use lights from HD for my Lower light plants but only have them on a shorter duration of the day. The full spectrum lights at HD are fine for what you want. If you don't want those you can always go with those swirly compact flourescents. Those little light bulbs put out alot of light as long as you find the ones around 6000 kelvins. I think HD has 6500Kelvin compact flourescents. They are cheaper on the power and you get more bang for your buck.
    But if you don't want to wire something together yourself then stick with the regular T-8 tubes.

    Lighting can be very complicated and I have been researching lighting for quite sometime. I am trying to build 2 8ft by 4 ft orchidariums.

  4. #4
    kpebbles is offline Junior Member
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    Default

    Hi there Louis & Mike,

    Thank you both for your replies!

    Louis, I arranged the orchids with the phals on the perimeter like you suggested.

    Mike,

    Thanks for the lighting suggestions. In fact, I went to HD with my SO to check out the different types of lighting available. We decided to go with pendant lighting from IKEA. I got 2 pendant lights - fixtures are about 14" across and I'm using the swirly compact flourescents like you suggested. They are 20W each and put out about 1200 lumens each. I don't know how many kelvins they are, though.. I hope that is enough lighting.
    I need to play with adjusting the height of them above my orchids.. I'm afraid to burn them.

    To be quite honest, I haven't done that much research on lighting for orchids. However, it really reminds me of lighting for our saltwater tank that we had.. We had lots of hard corals in our reef tank so we went from power compacts to VHO actinic bulbs with 2 metal halide (HID) bulbs. We just got out of that hobby, and to think, we had all that equipment, but we sold it. I don't think I could justify spending that kind of money again..especially considering how small my collection is. But who knows, maybe I will revisit those lights again in the future when I have a makeshift greenhouse or something.

    Good luck on your orchidarium! Please upload pics when you're done.
    I looked into the ones you could buy premade, but they were pretty expensive. Then I thought I could maybe buy some sort of display case to make an orchidarium, but that wasn't cheap either. My main concern was humidity- with the humidity tray my SO set up for me, the humidity stays around 40-60+ so I think it will be okay. He used a mixing tub from HD and put the lighting egg crate on top for drainage - it works great!

    When I take a picture I'll upload it here to show you guys my setup. Thanks again!
    jenn

  5. #5
    LJA's Avatar
    LJA
    LJA is offline OrchidTalk Tech Admin
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    Jenn, it's a shame you got rid of your metal halides--you could have definitely used those! Not sure whether actinics would have benefitted the orchids (I used to be heavily into reef tanks also....) but it would have been a neat experiment.

  6. #6
    kpebbles is offline Junior Member
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    Hi Louis!

    Yeah, too bad I got rid of the halides, but I'm not sure I would've been able to use them anyways..or I'd have to walk around wearing sunglasses in that room.

    I take it you're not in the hobby either anymore? For us, the maintenance just became too much..not to mention the rising cost of electricity here in CA. There are times, though, when I miss our tank with all the beautiful fish and corals...

  7. #7
    LJA's Avatar
    LJA
    LJA is offline OrchidTalk Tech Admin
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    I finally had to give it up, same as you. Reefs are just one of those things that take an incredible amount of equipment and time! Plus, I was an equipment nut, trying to get the best water quality possible, so, for example, I had to get the venturi protein skimmer. But to make that as efficient as possible, I needed the ozonizer to inject O3. Of course, the ozonizer won't work well without the air drier ahead of it. And then, because you can't just dump ozonated water back into the tank or you'll burn the corals, I needed a special carbon filter to bind the ozone. Between all that, and the wet / dry filter, and the Eheim chemical filters, the 10 fluorescent tubes, the gazillion powerheads in the tank that pulsed on and off to set up currents, (this thing was a 125 gallon acrylic), the undergravel filter, the salt, the additives for micronutrients, calcium, and buffer, the exotic test kits: dissolved oxygen, calcium hardness, total hardness, pH probes, the hydrometers I kept breaking, the water chiller I finally had to invest in to get rid of all the blasted heat from the equipment, there was literally more stuff around and under the tank to support the tank than there was tank. And corals weren't cheap! A little piece of nothing rock with some yellow polyps on it--fourty bucks! Crazy, really. Prices of things just went up from there.

    So yeah, no more reef tank!

    Though you're right; after a maintenance (which literally took me 5 hours, once a week, pull the overgrown Caulerpa, water change, dehydrate the air drier beads, add additives, measure and probe, etc etc), when the coral stretched and extended fully, shimmering and waving in the currents, I swear, there was nothing quite as beautiful or haunting.

    BUT: what's cool about orchids now is that you can grow them as scientific or "seat of the pants" as you want. You don't *have* to invest in a mess of stuff to be successful. Reef obsession turned into orchid obsession, and though I miss having the tank sometimes, I really haven't looked back!

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