Lighting plants for effect

lighting plants

There is nothing less pleasing than the sight of dust-laden plants fighting a losing battle to survive in a corner of a room that is badly lighted and devoid of windows. Plants are attractive features in themselves, and their at­traction will be heightened if they are given an important position in which to grow and light to show off their beauty.

By going to some expense and fitting special cabinets with built-in lighting, it is possible for many plants to be grown entirely under arti­ficial light conditions, with no help whatsoever from natural daylight. Alternatively, plants may be grown on shelves placed one above the other and spaced about 60cm/2ft apart with lighting on the undersides of the upper shelves. For such situations, Grolux tubes will give the best results as the light from these will both improve the appearance of the plants as well as improve their growth. But it must be re­membered that the further the light source is from the plant the less effective it will become. By trial and error you will find that a great many plants are suited to this form of culture. The saintpaulia (African Violet) does especially well and may be had in flower throughout the year, with a collection of different varieties.

In larger rooms where bolder plants are in use, the standard warm white fluorescent tube will be satisfactory provided it is not attached

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to a high ceiling that is too far away from the plants to be effective. Where the natural light source is very poor and plants are more depen­dent on artificial, it will be necessary for the lighting to be switched on for at least 12 hours each day. Although coloured lights may im­prove the appearance of some plants it is really very much better to avoid strong colours as they can have very odd effects on the appear­ance of some plants.

Plant collections are often seen at their best when darkness descends and lights are switched on above them – unsightly pots and plant stems are lost in the darker, lower area of the plants, and flowers and foliage are highlighted. It is worth the trouble being taken to ensure that indoor plants are provided with artificial light­ing that will set them off to best advantage.

Should adaptability be an important advan­tage as far as lighting is concerned it is advisable to use spotlights that can be adjusted much more readily than fixed light fittings. Spot­lights can be used to augment the more perma­nent lighting, and may be used to highlight particular plants in a collection. But it is impor­tant that such lights should not be placed too close to the plants as there is every possibility that foliage will be damaged by the heat that is generated.

It almost goes without saying that almost anywhere that plants may be indoors there will also be moisture about, and any light installa­tions that are provided in the vicinity of plants should be undertaken with the problem of dampness in mind. It may be necessary, for example, to have the electrical wiring con­cealed in the peat in which the plant pots are plunged, which will entail use of heavy duty cable that is impervious to moisture, such as that sold for outdoor use.

how to light plants

Even the humble and solitary plant on the windowsill can have its appearance and per­formance enhanced by placing it under a wall or table lamp during the evening. But bear in mind when lighting plants for effect for a par­ticular occasion, it is better to err on the side of too little light rather than too much. Harsh lighting that is overdone is much less effective than softer lighting that gives the plants in a collection an air of mystery.

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