Orchid Grow Light Supplementation

Often times it is necessary to supplement orchid grow light conditions. Optimum lighting conditions will help produce healthier plants and can be a factor in flower production.  Phalaenopsis, Miltoniopsis, Masdevallias, and some Paphiopedilums will do best in low light to bright shade conditions. Brassias, Cattleyas, Miltonias and Oncidiums like brighter indirect light conditions and Brassavolas, some Cattleyas and Vanda's can do best in very bright light condition. All orchids can benefit from some grow light supplementation. 

Lighting Solutions

There is a large variety of lighting solutions on the market and orchid grow light fixtures can range from a few dollars to a few hundred dollars and more.  The two most common choices in lighting are compact fluorescent light bulbs and tubes and LED (Light Emitting Diode) bulbs and panel fixtures. Compact fluorescents are less expensive on the front end, and also are somewhat cooler in temperature (heat) than LED lights. LED lights have become very popular, are somewhat more expensive on the front end, but less expensive overall when measured in terms of longevity. They run slightly warmer in temperature (heat) than CFL's (compact fluorescents). 

Orchid Grow Light Design Ideas

If your collection of orchids is small, you may be able to find a location near a shaded window area in your home that can provide sufficient light for your orchids. Remember that orchids prefer moderate to bright shade and direct hot sun will most likely kill your orchids. Windows that receive early morning light or late afternoon light are suitable for most orchids. Vanda's and Cattleyas like bright conditions, but  keep them out of direct sun. Venetian blinds, bamboo shades, cellular shades and other types of shades on the market can be used to manipulate and filter the sunlight that your plants receive. 

Orchid Grow Light CFL Fixtures

CFL (Compact Fluorescent Light) fixtures can range from simple lamps, clamp on lamps, spotlights, panel shop lights to more decorative flushmount panel style light fixtures and are excellent orchid grow light choices. Any fixture that uses a compact fluorescent bulb can be used creatively to supplement light to your orchids. Daylight grow light bulbs work best for orchids and other indoor plants. Some companies make indoor waterproof shelving with height adjustable built in lighting. Alternatively, if you have DIY skills, you can build your own shelving units or assemble wire shelving that will allow light from an overhead source to penetrate through the shelving. Plants can be staggered according to their light needs, with the lowest light requirement orchids on the bottom.  A word of caution if you do build your own units would be to only install your lighting above all your plants and keep watering in mind with your design. Vertical lighting can also be used if necessary or as part of the design, just remember to keep a minimum  distance of 6 to 12 inches between the cfl light bulbs and plants.  

Orchid Grow Light LED Fixtures

LED lighting has become a very popular orchid grow light choice over the last decade and advancements in the field have been continually improving. The production of LED fixtures has increased dramatically over the last decade and is beginning to rival if not overtake traditional incandescent lighting fixtures in terms of variety. LED Panel fixtures can be mounted both horizontally and vertically depending on the design parameters specific to the situation. The main values that we want to look at when it comes to LED lighting is the PAR value and the footprint value of the fixture.  A PAR (Photosynthetically Active Radiation) value between 450 and 600 is ideal for most orchids.

In simple terms, PAR is a measurement of light that defines the light spectrum that drives photosynthesis in plants. Between 400 and 700 nanometers is the range where light is Photosynthetically active. A higher PAR number does not necessarily mean that the fixture produces more light that is photosynthetically active because there are factors such as the ratio of red to green to blue light spectrum that are unaccounted for in the measurement of par. In general a slightly higher red to blue ratio is good for plant growth, and green light in the panel makes the light source more adaptable and pleasing to the human eye. 

The footprint value is the measurement of light coverage area that the fixture provides. The amount of light usable to the plant will diminish with the distance between the light source and the plant, lower leaves will not absorb as much light. The sweet spot with LED light coverage is usually between two and three feet from the light bulbs. Since LED lights run a little warmer to CFL's some experimentation may be necessary to find the right distance between the light source and the top of your plants (or flowers, if your orchids are in bloom). Start with the light fixture at approximately 30 inches (75cm) above the leaves or flowers.

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