Category Archives: Information

Supplemental UV Plant Lighting – Is It Worth It?

By   12/04/2015

We’ve been writing a lot of articles on plant grow lights recently. One of them main questions we get asked all the time when it comes to indoor lighting concerns ultraviolet lights. There is so much information out there about UV bulbs that it is difficult to know what the truth is and what is just a rumor or guesswork. With this post, I hope to clear up some of the confusion surrounding supplemental ultraviolet light for your plants.

Fluorescent UV grow light tubes

A fixture with 4 fluorescent UV light tubes

First, I want to clarify that there are actually two types of ultraviolet bulbs. There is UVA and UVB light and every bulb or tube gives off one of the other. UVA light has longer light rays and UVB light has shorter light rays. When it comes to humans, UVB light is the one that will give us sunburn and can cause skin cancer. The other one, UVA is generally blocked by glass, but doesn’t really harm us anyway.

UVA and UVB light graph

Here’s a look at how the ozone protects us from ultraviolet light rays

In terms of plant growth, you’ve probably seen quotes from the recent study that showed that UVB light increases yields and especially resin production in cannabis plants. But this is a bit misleading. They tested plants with no exposure to any UV light against plants with exposure to UVB light. They did not actually test UVA light. So all they found was that exposure to UVB light increases yields as opposed to no exposure to any UV light at all.

Other studies have shown that UVA light has a similar effect on yields and resin production. Basically, the conclusion we can draw from this is that both UVA and UVB rays will help your plants grow more flowers and will increase the resin production, making the flowers they grow more potent.

I mentioned above that UVB light is harmful to human skin. Well, it is also harmful to plant cells. Too much prolonged exposure to UVB rays will damage the plants. One theory is that this is what leads to the increase in resin production. The plants produce it to protect themselves from the harmful rays. Of course, given that we’ve established that UVA light also leads to an increase in resin production, this theory would not seem to hold water. Unless, of course, the other theory that only UVB light helps resin production is the correct one.

Do you see what I’m saying? It’s confusing. So many studies and so many different results. And none of the studies are really all that scientific or that far-reaching. A lot more research is needed into the matter.

So my advice for growers: get a light that includes both UVA and UVB rays. I’d only use UV light toward the end of the blooming stage and limit exposure to a few hours a day.

Many of the top LED grow light companies, like Kind LED and California Light Works include UV light in their fixtures. Kind includes LED diodes that give off both UVA and UVB rays, while California Light Works has fluorescent UVB tubes. They do not include UVA and clearly subscribe to the study that stated only UVB light is helpful. Black dog LED does the exact opposite. They include only UVA light and no UVB. Obviously, they are following a different study.

Again, this is why I would go with a light includes both. Until more research is done, we simply can’t know which of the two types of UV light is the most beneficial to plants. That’s why we use Kind LED lights; specifically, we love the Kind K5 XL 1000. It includes both UVA and UVB light as well as infrared light. Overall it has a full 12 band spectrum that also includes some white light. The spectrum on the light is completely customizable, so you could tailor it for whatever plant you are growing and whatever grow cycle you are in. You can also tailor it for the growing environment, so you’d use different settings depending on whether you are growing in a tent, in a greenhouse, or in a different type of grow space.

Another option is to just get a regular LED light that doesn’t include UV bulbs and then get some UV fluorescent tubes to supplement your light. This way you can even run your own experiment. You can get some UVA tubes and some UVB tubes and test only one type of UV light during a grow.

CFL grow lights

Not tubes, but compact fluorescent grow lights that can also put out UV light

So you could do one grow with using UVA light towards the end of the blooming cycle and another grow using only UVB and then compare the results. Then you could do a third grow with both types running at the same time. It would take you three grows, but you would have a much clearer picture of which UV light is the best or if, as I am suggesting, it is best to just go ahead and use both. I’m not sure why this is such a hard concept for researchers to grasp and why they have not been able to do this yet, but it seems like it would be easier, right?

If you don’t have the money to spend on a Kind LED grow light or similar unti that includes ultraviolet light in its spectrum, I’d suggest going the supplemental route route. Just get some florescent UV grow tubes and use them as supplemental lighting for your HPS plant lighting or your LED fixture. Hook those UV tubes up when there are about two weeks left in the blooming cycle and you should enjoy increased yields and a much more potent harvest. Happy growing!

Here’s some additional reading on UV light and its effect on plant growth.

HID Grow Light Systems Still Work Really Well

By   11/13/2015

Regular readers of our blog will know that we use predominantly LED lighting in our grow space. Recently, though, we’ve been getting a lot of requests from people using HID lighting systems. They know that we’ve used them in the past, specifically double-ended lights like this one, and they have been asking us to write about them. So that’s what we are doing with this post.

We did use HID systems previously, but we switched to LED. This is not because HID lighting doesn’t work. Quite the opposite, in fact. It works very well, but it does use a lot of power, mainly due to a lot of wasted light in spectra that plants don’t need. If you look at the spectral output of HPS bulbs or MH bulbs, you see a lot of output in areas that simply aren’t used by plants. Good LED systems avoid this and only provide the bandwidths of light that plants need.

HPS grow light color spectrum

The color spectrum of a typical HPS grow light bulb

That’s why we switched, but if you are currently using HID lighting and you like it, there is no reason whatsoever to switch over. Keep using it and keep getting good results.

At this point we would like to clear up all those abbreviations above, for those who are new to grow lighting. HID stands for high intensity discharge. There are two types of HID lights: MH and HPS. These stand for metal halide and high-pressure sodium. Generally, growers are best served using both types of bulbs, with MH bulbs being more suited for the vegging stage of plant growth, due to their strong blue spectrum light and HPS bulbs being suitable for the flowering stage, due to their red spectrum light.

We actually never used the two types of bulbs in this way. We did not use one bulb for vegging and then switch it out when it came time to flower. Instead, we had twice the fixtures and used both bulbs at all times.
We did this, because we were growing a number of different plants and at any given time, some of them were vegging and some were flowering and some were doing something entirely different. As a result, we wanted all spectra of lighting at all times.

Obviously, we leaned more heavily toward the red spectrum, since that is better for the plants when flowering, but we always included blue MH bulbs as well. Additionally, we supplemented our grow with blue spectrum fluorescent bulbs. We used compact fluorescent lighting, also known as CFL.

When it comes to reflectors, we started out with wing reflectors since they were cheap and they provided a good coverage. The problem is that all of the heat escapes into your garden and you really have to spend a lot of money in electricity and cooling.

We eventually switched to contained reflectors. First, we used cool tubes, which were great. You can shoot cold air right over the bulb and get all that hot air out of the fixture before it ever escapes into your grow space. The main problem with cool tube reflectors is that the actual reflector part is very small, meaning you do not get a great coverage area.

Our next step was to use a combination of cool tube hoods, which are like cool tubes but include a larger hood to give you more coverage and cool hoods, which don’t use a tube at all. Instead, they covered the entire opening of the hood with a glass covering that swings open when you want to change the bulb.
Cool hoods give a great coverage area since they have a large hood. The main drawback here is that they are not cheap.

So if you’re starting a new garden and you really want to use HPS lighting and MH lighting, we suggest you go with these hoods, if you have the money. In fact, we actually suggest you go with double ended reflectors so that you can use double ended bulbs. These give much more output for the same wattage and also provide a better spectrum for your plants. They last longer as well, meaning you won’t have to replace them as often. They’re just better all around. They are more expensive, but not that much.

Lit HPS indoor lighting bulb

An HPS bulb shining brightly in a test

Basically, double ended bulbs are the future of HID lighting. Actually, that is not quite true since they are here already and have been for a while. But they are the next evolution and they are currently the best HID bulbs available. The main drawback here is that they are usually sold out. They are so popular and everyone is switching to them that all of the manufacturers have a hard time keeping up with demand.

We will close this post with a little warning. If we were to start growing today, we would use LED to start, unless we had a very small grow operation, in which case would use fluorescent lighting. We would not even bother with HID lighting.

We love it and we got great results from it in the past, but the truth is, it simply harder to set up and deal with all the heat. LED lights are just so much simpler to use and if you get good ones then you don’t even have to worry about choosing the right spectra and everything. It’s all programmed right into the lights and everything is automatic. Everything works.

You can find HID lights here on ebay.

Grow Tents: Do They Make For A Better Grow Room?

By   11/06/2015

Ever since we started indoor gardening, people have been asking us why we don’t use grow tents. They assume since we are not using one in our own grow room, we must know something they don’t. There must be a reason why we do not recommend the use of tents. This reasoning is false and we would like to clear that up right here and now.

View inside an indoor grow tent

An indoor grow tent with LED lighting.

We love grow tents and definitely recommend using them, if they work for your grow operation. That said, we only recommend high quality tents, but more on that later (you can also find a breakdown of popular brands here).

First, we would like to explain why we don’t use a grow tent in our basement grow space. The room we use to grow our fruit, vegetables and herbs was already pretty well sealed off to begin with. We did a little work on the walls and have basically created a fully sealed room. We added some ventilation and for all intents and purposes, our room is like a tent itself. There is no need for separate tent.

A tent comes in handy when you are only using a small part of a larger room or when you have a room that isn’t sealed off. Tents create a small climate-controlled space in which to grow your plants. Since we already had that, we had no need for a grow tent. But don’t let that lead you to believe that we don’t recommend them. We definitely do.

As mentioned above, quality does play a large part. There are so many tents out there but only a few of them are any good. Unfortunately, those good ones will cost you a lot of money. That is actually another reason we don’t have a grow tent. We don’t need it, so we can save a lot of money by not getting one. If they were much cheaper, we would probably have one anyways, despite our room already being very similar to a tent, because it would add that extra layer of insulation and protection.

So which company do we recommend? Well, that answer is simple: Gorrilla grow tents. This company makes by far the highest quality tents. Their material is a higher quality, the construction is a higher-quality, everything about them is better than the other tents on the market. That said, the prices are also much higher.

If you don’t have the money to spare, go ahead and go with a cheaper tent, but know that you will have some issues. Zippers will stick, seals will be break and you’ll have to reseal, the fabric might tear, the lights you hang in there can’t be too heavy, etc. Saving money will create more trouble for you, but if you don’t have the money to begin with, a cheap tent is better than no tent, if you are in a situation where you absolutely need a grow tent.
Another nice thing about Gorrilla grow tents is that they are very tall. This gives you a lot of space to hang your lights, which is especially important if you’re using an HID lighting system. With LED lights, height is not as important, but it is still nice to have all that extra room in a tent.

They do offer a Shorty line of tents as well, that gives you less vertical space but is ideal for short grow spaces like an attic. They also have a Lite line, which allows you to save a lot of money. The Lite line is made from lighter material, as the name might suggest, and thus costs a lot less. It is not quite as sturdy as the standard line of tents, but it is still better than anything else on the market. And, you save a ton of money.

So don’t worry so much about what we are doing. We’re growing in our way because it works for us. We don’t need a tent, so we don’t have one, but many of you who have written to us and demanded to know why we don’t recommend tents are doing so because you are in a situation where you absolutely need to grow in a tent and you know it. And for some reason you want our permission to use one. Why?

If you need a tent, use it. We can help you by recommending a brand, sure, but please don’t take our word as gospel. The only difference between us and you is that we started growing indoors earlier. That’s it. And we started a blog, of course. But other than that we’re really the same.

Yes, you can and should learn from our mistakes and that is why we created this blog, to help out others so they don’t make the same mistakes we did. But don’t rely on us exclusively. If you disagree with our advice, go with your gut. In this instance, that means getting a grow tent if you really need one. And where you can follow our recommendation completely is in getting a Gorrilla tent. You will not regret it.

If you can’t afford Gorilla and want something cheaper, try Walmart. They have a decent selection.

What Happened To The Old Houseplants HQ?

By   11/01/2015

This post is for people who have been fans and/or customers of our site for a long time. It’s also for people who arrived here for a reason, hoping that they would find houseplants to buy (if you arrived here for the first time and were not expecting houseplant store, you can safely skip to the next post). The rest of you, however, probably arrived here today wondering: what happened? Where is the houseplant headquarter site I’m so used to?

Well, we’re still here. We’re just different. We’ve decided to stop selling houseplants through our website. To be honest, we weren’t making much money anyway, since most people get their houseplants from real stores in their area. Not many people buy them online.

Also, we simply did not enjoy our business model anymore. We felt that by just selling houseplants, we weren’t really making much of a contribution to the world. Sure, we were giving people the plants they were looking for, but that was it. It was basically retail sales, except we were selling a product we loved, at least.

But liking the product we were selling was not enough. Instead, we thought we should help people. Naturally, we wanted to help people as it related to their houseplants, so we started to wrack our brains for ideas on how we could do that. What angle should we take?

Once we hit on the right idea, we couldn’t believe it had taken us so long to think of it. For the past few years, we’ve been growing our own houseplants, as well as fruits and vegetables and herbs and many other kinds of plants, in our own indoor garden. Like many other people, we do not have space for an outdoor garden or a greenhouse, so we converted our small basement into a little garden. A closet or any other spare room would work for this as well, though.

Indoor garden growing houseplants

A small indoor garden

We bought pots and soils and nutrients and everything else we needed. We started with cheap fluorescent light bulbs that we got from a local hardware store, but those are only good for very small gardens, so we soon switched to an HID lighting system.

If you don’t know what that is, don’t worry about it. We’ll go into that in other posts. Suffice it to say that it works very well for growing plants, but it is expensive in terms of electricity costs and it gives off a lot of heat, which means you also need a cooling system. The cooling system costs more money and consumes more electricity, which costs even more money.

We quickly realized that LED grow lights were the way to go. Sure, they cost a lot more upfront, but the savings in power costs and from not needing to replace the bulbs and not needing additional cooling equipment, more than make up for the initial outlay. In fact, after only a year, we were already saving money over our previous HID lighting system.

Once we got used to the LED lights, they also grew so much better than our previous lights. Our houseplants are growing amazingly well in our little indoor garden and the same goes for the fruits and vegetables and herbs and everything else we are growing.

And you can’t even imagine the feeling you get, watching your own plants grow in front of your very eyes! It is so much more rewarding than buying a houseplant from a store and just having it.

Yes, we enjoyed all of our plants, even those bought from a store, but I have to say we love the ones we grew ourselves so much more. And, of course, we also really love all the fresh fruits and vegetables and herbs we get to eat straight from our indoor garden.

No more worrying about any pesticides or other contaminants. We know everything we grow is organic and healthy and unbelievably delicious. Seriously, you can’t even begin to imagine how good these taste. I don’t think we can ever go back to buying groceries at a grocery store after enjoying the homegrown versions. They beat the pants off any farmer’s market veggies, too.

Anyway, I just realized I’ve been rambling a bit; all I really wanted to do was let you guys know that we’re still here, but we’re different. If you’re looking for houseplants to buy, I’m sorry you have to look elsewhere. But if you think you might enjoy growing your own plants in your own little indoor garden, stick around.

Check out the rest of our site and see if this might be something you would enjoy. We will talk about a lot of random stuff too, like a new ceramic to-go mug one of us bought to make drinking tea easier and more convenient.

If this site is something you might enjoy, we can definitely help you. Most of the answers will be on our website soon enough. Anything you can’t find here, please feel free to get in touch with us and we will be more than happy to help you get started growing your own houseplants indoors with your very own LED lights and your very own seeds.

If you’re just looking to buy some houseplants, here is a good site for you.