Something green for your flat

You may have some dark or darker places in your Flat/Room/House/Whatever – or – as i do – a complete souterrain flat. Now you may have tried having some indoor plants in there – just to make the rooms nicer. It just didn’t work, so you put ’em into trash and never tried again.

Well, maybe i just exaggerated a bit, it isn’t that worse most of the time. Still its kinda difficult growing and hatching nice plants virtually anywhere. As i like some green around me and *am* living in a dark souterrain flat i’ve put some reading and discussion with biologists into this and i think i’ve got it how to make that work by now.

First off you need to choose the right plants. Not anything is suited for this kind of enviroment, but some nice ones are spathiphyllum, ficus (benjamini), yuca, phoenix (dactylifera), calathea, dracaena, various ivys, but there are many many more. Just check your local library for nice books on that topic – believe me, books are way better than interweb for this :).

Of those examples i have the following ones around:

Next thing is that you want light for your plants – as there probably isn’t enough almost nowhere for them to grow nicely. After some reading you’d find something similar to this:

What this tries to tell you is that Photosynthesis mainly needs Blue and Red light, but way more Blue-Purple-Greenish than Yellow-Orange-Red-ish. Especially it seems like (based on what that biologist told me) that red light stimulates the plants to grow in quantity, e.g. grow larger – even to a unhealthy rate. Blue light stimulates “quality-growth”, aka doesn’t grow the plants much larger but improves the overall system, capilarries, etc. (don’t know in detail, sorry :/). So regular light bulbs are crap for plants – first off they emit more red/yellow light than blue, second: they get hot! Which is the killer for any part of a plant that grows near your lamp.

There also seem to be quite a few products marketed as special “plant lamps”. They range from cheap-ish (more expensive than you’d want to pay) to super expensive. The cheaper ones are most of the time either regular bulbs – which will kill your plants – or energy saving lamps with the wrong color spectrum. The expensive ones are actually really cool, gas discharger lamps … but you cannot afford them ;/.

Your plants simply want energy saving lamps which have a high peak in the blue region (which are sometimes *real* cheap :P). That kind of light will probably kill your eyes, but its really cozy for your plants. I’ve got cheap daylight (6500k) ones by Lumine. Simple measurements with a neutral-grey-card and my Camera did show that they have a spectrum thats near ideal for our usecase. If you can’t get a hold of those Lumine ones, just check the websites of the big manufacturers, Phillips, etc. They have datasheets for their lamps that include a spectrum like above.

What i do to avoid having to be in that kind of light is having two timers, one for the room where my desk stands and one for my bedroom. The bedroom plant-lights will light around ~1300 and stop around ~2030, thats when i’m not there. The “desk-room” lamps light at ~0100 and stop at ~1100, thats when i’m – most of the time – not working anymore.

As for where to put the lamps … i’ve mounted them into my ceiling. Where thats not possible, check your local DIY store, Ikea, etc. There are always decent hacks that’ll fit your rooms style :P. Just check for a large enough lampshade so you don’t waste too much light into your room not directly on your plants.

Sup, that was one thing, now the plants are there and have some reaaally cozy nice light (for them). I’ve noticed that i – and many many others – which aren’t (yet) good with plants make one biiig mistake – water them too much. Way too much. Sure, you can’t generalize that on all kinds of plants, but for most it’s true. What will happen is the roots are humid all the time, mold will get on them, no water can’t be absorbed through them anymore, the plant dies. Thats not what we want, is it?

About watering … for most of the “recommended” low-light, high-growth-rate indoor plants you’ll see its “water until the soil is completely humidified” (aka water too much, wait a minute, pour out leftover water from outer bucket/pot), then wait until it’s completely dried out (stick your finger in the soil and feel how humid it is every once in a while) – this can be up to 1-3 weeks depending on the size of the plant and the bucket – and water again only when it’s almost completely dry. (exception one: spathiphyllum)

I’m not quite sure about fertilizing myself. Currently i put some “general use indoor plants” fertilizer into the water i’m watering the plants with every 3-4 weeks. It doesn’t seem to kill ’em, even if it doesn’t seem quite ideal for most of them. My ficus and fern don’t seem to like that and don’t grow as much as the others. I’ll report back when i’ve developed a good case of action and theory why it works on this :P.

Another great addition to my roughly tri-daily coming-home-routine is taking a sprayer/spray-flacon(?) and emulating a nice rainshower for all of my plants. I’ve the feeling they like it, the leaves have a clearer greener look. Also note that it’s a good idea to use descaled water if you live in a region with very hard water. If you don’t want to invest in a ion-exchanger or kitchen-use device you can also simply bring the water to a boil, let rest and pour through a coffee filter – the results are quite good actually. Using descaled water for both watering AND spraying is quite important. Too much scale in the soil or on the leaves will clog the porosities/membrane of the plant and hinder anything that wants to go in or out.

So, this was a quite strange post on a anime and technology focused blog. Still even if i wasn’t to express myself to the level i’m used to (my english got worse, goddamn!) i hope i’ve made my point clear. Also don’t hesitate to ask something in the comments :P. I also want to encourage you and everyone else to apply your hack-ish methodology and knowledge to various fields, not just technology. It’s fun, try it!

Again sorry for the crappy pictures and writing :/.

1 thought on “Something green for your flat”

  1. Those light tips are exactly what I needed. 🙂

    I want to grow some carnivores and other things by myself and need to put them into another room, because last year sciarid larvae ate my first mimosa babies… and I don\’t want to risk that again. 🙁

    To find out about fertilizing I suggest the following links to German pages about plants:

    – <– You can search their lexicon by biological and German names. They give short descriptions about the needs of your plants. Including fertilizing.

    – <– They have a very large and active message board about plants, bugs and other health issues… People there are usually very fast, friendly and helpful.


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