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Will reptile lights work for sprouts?

 
Octavia Greason
Posts: 28
Location: Ohio
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So, long story short I'm having trouble with tall, spindly sprouts that are too young to put out. I only have two cat-free rooms to put them in but my roommate happens to have a lizard tank with a uv light and red heat lamp. I was wondering if these kinds of light might be okay for the sprouts. I figure between the two they run a decent range of the light spectrum. I could put them on his precarious window sill as it gets more light than mine but I'm afraid with how cloudy it's been that won't be enough.

As a side question, if my sprouts are leggy but young (just developing true leaves today) are they salvageable? If I get them proper light and prop them up will they be able to get the girth to support themselves by transplanting time? (In case it's pertinent, my sprouts are cilantro, basil, and catnip).
 
chip sanft
Posts: 354
Location: 18 acres & heart in zone 4 (central MN). Current abode: Knoxville (zone 6 /7)
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Two things. First, I don't know for sure about the lights, but aside from the spectrum (which I think would be fine) I wonder about intensity. All the indoor sprouting and growing arrangements I've looked at have the plants directly under the bulbs. It seems like that's not what you're talking about. I'd tend to want to put the sprouts on the windowsill, assuming it gets full light. Even with lots of clloudy days,, there's still energy getting through.

As for the spindly sprouts: You don't mention exactly what plants you've got. I would plant out everything and see what happens, just because. Some sprouts (e.g., tomatoes) can be set in deep and they'll grow roots from the buried stem section, and I definitely do that with spindly ones.
 
Tee Jay
Posts: 11
Location: Zone 6a
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In my experience, for whatever that's worth - lol, I've almost always had trouble with leggy seedlings doing well afterwards. I've actually started new seeds after accidentally allowing seedlings to get too long and leggy and planted them all. The newer seedlings, even thought they were younger, quickly outgrew the older, yet weaker, leggy seedlings and produced more fruit. I'm not sure why it stunted them to get leggy but it did. It is important to keep the light right on top of the seedlings as they are growing because the strength of usable light disperses very quickly as you get further from the light source.

I've been using T5 fluorescent bulbs over the years and have been very happy with them. And now, last year and this year I added some LED shop lights to my seedling setup and I LOVE EM! Because they run so cool, I can drop the light right down on top of the seedlings and not worry about burning the plants. Not to mention they cost a fraction of the electricity to run. The initial cost of the LED shop light is quickly regained through energy savings and no more bulb replacements.

As for your reptile lights, they may run too hot. I wouldn't place my seedlings on a "precarious" windowsill, especially if cats are in the house but that's just me.
If you can keep the LED or fluorescent lights right down on top of your seedlings as soon as they sprout, they should not get leggy in the first place. On a side not, if any of your leggy plants are tomato plants by chance, then not to worry. You can always repot them in a taller pot or planter and bury the long leggy stem right up to the bottom set of leaves as the tiny hairs on the stem will then take root and thereby increase your root base. Only try this with tomatoes though as most other plants will not tolerate this.

Good luck with your seedlings and let us know how you make out.

*Haha - yeah what Chip said. It took me so long to type that out I didn't see that you already had the same answer - lol.
 
Octavia Greason
Posts: 28
Location: Ohio
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Thanks for the info guys. I left them beside the tank with its heat lamp on and with some supports. It may well be my imagination but they seem to be standing up now but perhaps that's the supports. The light fixture sits on top of the tank (maybe 6" up) but the fixtures are these wide lamp heads so they're only a couple centimeters to the side of the light. I'll plant some more regardless, there's only a few of each. As said before, they're basil, cilantro, and catnip which I can't honestly have too much of. When I have a little more money I'll invest in some nice bulbs and light fixtures since I hope to grow at least herbs year round.
Again, thanks for the advice. That tomato tip will be handy later I'm sure (I got a late start with a lot of my plants. Only one tomato has sprouted)
 
Troy Rhodes
Posts: 618
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Reptile lights are generally optimized for heat (infrared) not light for plants (red and blue wavelengths primarily). So, far from ideal. And any plant light you pick will need to be very close to the plants, just a few inches.

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