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Help with new orchidarium

Discussion in 'Growing Areas' started by Martel, Sep 12, 2016.

  1. Martel

    Martel New Member

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    Hi all,
    I am thinking of starting two new orchidariums.
    The first one will be for growing seedlings whilst the second one will be for keeping / growing mature plants.
    The seedlings I want to grow are grammatophyllum, encyclia fragrans, bulbophyllum and some vandas. I have spent a lot of time reading articles on the subject and that has resulted in complete confusion, as expected. So here are some questions for you - I really can do with all the help I can get!

    My first question is, do I need a heat mat for the seedlings to give them a good start?
    With regards to lighting, how much and when do I start? Currently all my seedlings are in 70% ish dark but they will soon be moved into the orchidarium number 1. Depending on when they need proper lighting I may or may not put light bulbs there

    Second question is about the light in the second orchidarium. I have read with interest your debate re: T5 (which is what I was thinking of getting) vs led lights. The question is, on average (i.e. for plants needing medium light levels) is 33000 lumen / sqm enough for growing?
     
  2. Ray

    Ray Orchid Iconoclast Supporting Member

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    First thing for the seedlings - the genera you mentioned all need different light levels, so unless you can move the vandas and encyclias closer to the lamps, you shouldn't mix them with the lower-light plants. Yes, it is common that in-flask seedlings all need moderate light levels, once you start growing them individually, they should be transitioned to more standard light levels for the plants.

    Yes, a heat mat will help them grow good root systems and take off.

    33000 lm/m2 is a bit less than half of full sunlight. Again, not all plants will need that much light. Something else to consider is that the typical light level recommendations for a particular plant are the peak, noontime level, and the amount of light they get starts at zero at dawn, climbs to that peak at noon, then fades to zero again. If you are going to give them the same volume of photons with constantly bright, artificial lighting, you need to cut the intensity in half.
     
  3. Martel

    Martel New Member

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    Thanks Ray. I was planning to do different levels in the orchidarium (I have two big aquariums which I can use) and get the more demanding plants nearer the light and the others at lower levels.
    I take it that the seedlings are like the adults - they need a small drop in temperature at night? (so I need to arrange my heat mat temp)?
    On the light issue, there are two paths I could follow: I could provide an 'average' light level in the orchidarium and move the plants that are about to flower to windowsills (I have three very large, very bright windowsills with net curtains which I can use and where the vandas, phalaenopsis and Cattleyas have so far flowered successfully) or I could arrange the lights for the more demanding plants, making sure the others are further away from the light sources. I'd be interested to hear views on that one - which one would be preferrable?
    With regards to noon / peak time light levels - I thought that this was adjusted by the 6 - 8 hours window people usually suggest to have the lights on. Plants get light throughout the day - I was planning to start the timers noon time and finish round about 7 pm. In the summer that will allow for a natural light period (dawn to noon time and 7-10 pm) whilst in the winter the said light levels will be lower (and dark after lights off) which will kind of 'imitate' the day period where we are. Right or wrong?
    Final question for today (apologies all but I need all the help I can get) - do you think these lamps will do? I've started thinking T5s but I see more and more people using LED lights .... http://www.screwfix.com/p/lap-sliml...d=625212#product_additional_details_container
    Thank you!
     
  4. Ray

    Ray Orchid Iconoclast Supporting Member

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    I my experience, the "recommended light level", as I said, was a noon peak for folks growing in natural light. If the plants are under 100% artificial light for about a normal day length, then a constant 1/2 of that is fine. For using artificial lighting as a supplement to natural light, you'll have to assess the amount of natural light the plant gets, and adjust the supplemental light accordingly.

    For what it's worth, I had a "seedling incubator" in my basement, and the heating mats were on the same timer as the lights.

    I can't help with those particular LED lights. Maybe Naoki will have time to check in on this. He's the real expert in that field.
     
  5. Martel

    Martel New Member

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    Ī¤hanks Ray. I'll try the same thing with the heating mats.
     
  6. naoki

    naoki Well-Known Member

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    Martel, I'm not familiar with that particular LED light. Looking at the spec., it will grow plants, but it is not efficient (3600 lumen from 50W = 72 lumen/W, much less efficient than most linear fluorescent bulbs like T8 or T5HO, and it is at the level of CFL). And with this kind of cheap flood light, the actual wattage may be different from what is stated (youtube link). So it may be better efficiency than what is listed. The price in UK may be different, but it seems to be over-priced, too. You can get this type of cheap flood light pretty cheap directly from China via eBay, AliExpress etc.

    Common house-hold screw-in LED isn't so efficient in general, but something like this will give you better efficiency than the one you linked: Philips 12W PAR38.
    This consumes 12W (I measured it to be 11.6W) and gives 1100 lumen (92lumen/W, which is slightly more efficient than T8 or T5HO). So 3 of those gives similar amount of light and uses 36W instead of 50W, and the initial cost is similar to the one you linked. This particular Philips bulb seems to have fairly narrow beam, so you might need to place it a bit further. But it might be good for the high-light orchids you listed.

    I'm not sure about the size of the growing area. If you have a bigger area, linear light is probably better (more even coverage, and generally better efficiency). If you don't have budget up front, fluorescent is probably better. But if you shop carefully, you can find high efficiency T8 LED or shop light in hardware stores, which achieve around 100-110lumen/W.

    Ray, I still don't know lots of stuff related to LED and photo-biology, so I wouldn't call me a "real expert"! I read about the science of light and biology a little bit in an attempt to minimize the wasted money and electricity for growing plants. I'm just a cheap-skate. ;)
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2016
  7. Ray

    Ray Orchid Iconoclast Supporting Member

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    I'm with you on that, Naoki. To me, one huge gap in the available information is the spectrum. As we have agreed in the past, a pure red, and pure blue lamp may have the same PPF, but from a biological standpoint, will have entirely different effects on the plant. There are many "while" LED lamps out there that CAN be used for plants, but there seems to be no way to know which one is better.
     
    naoki likes this.