Growing herbs indoors with Verilux light bulbs
At the risk of being spoilsports, we are not going to blithely dither on about the effortlessness of growing herbs indoors. The harsh reality is that in general they are not the easiest of plants to keep flourishing inside. But it is not impossible, and the rewards are certainly worth the effort.
Herbs can either be grown indoors year-round, brought inside from the outdoors in the fall, or newly started in the fall. Large planters may be heavy to move, or indoor space may be too small; individual pots are generally the best bet.
The key to successfully growing herbs indoors is bright light. A large window facing south is best, with an eastern exposure the next choice. If you cannot provide the necessary light but want herbs, consider investing in a grow-light unit. This may be a simple fluorescent work light with 4-foot tubes, one warm- and one cool-white. Verilux bulbs provide a better spectrum of light but are much more expensive. Those who are really serious about growing herbs indoors should consider a high-pressure light unit, perhaps also with a matching hydroponic setup as well. To be effective, fluorescent lights should be lit for at least 15 to 16 hours per day.
Next, most herbs need cool temperatures - in the 60° to 70°F range during the day and cooler at night. Maybe everyone should grow herbs indoors so that we think about conserving energy again.
Good air circulation is important to healthy indoor herb growth. That doesn't mean putting them near a heat vent. Instead, invest in a small fan to gently keep the air moving.
Because the herbs won't be as actively growing as in the summer, fertilize less often but continue letting them dry out slightly between regular waterings. Because most of our homes are dry during the winter, increase the humidity around the plants by using a room or whole-house humidifier. Alternatively, set the herbs on either commercially available trays that hold water and have raised racks for holding the pots, or on trays filled with pebbles or capillary matting.
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Mark Harris contributes and publishes news editorial to http://www.discount-light-bulbs.com.
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