More and more growers are saying goodbye to their fluorescent lights in exchange for the convenience of LED’s. LED lights use less electricity, last longer, and are more cost effective. They also use substantially less heat making them safer, and I’ve noticed I don’t get water spots on leaves. Here I will show you the results of lots of trial to show you how to grow African violets with LED Lighting.
How To Grow African Violets With LED Lighting
Yet another advantage of LED’s is that they are dimmable. This allows you to customize the amount of light for each shelf depending on their specific needs.
The dimmers also allow the lights to be closer to the plants. When I used fluorescent lighting on the same stand, I could only fit three shelves of plants as the plants had to be further away from the bulbs. But now with my dimmable lights, they require less distance between shelves, which freed up room to add another whole shelf, which meant more plants coming in the mail!
I’ve used the same LED light tape for over a year and my plants all seem very happy.
My Lighting Setup
What You Need:
Some affiliate links are used in this post for your convenience. See my full disclosure HERE.
Plant Stand – Click HERE for a similar shelf.
LED Light Tape – Click HERE for my lighting.
LED Dimmer – Click HERE.
Power Supply Cord – Click HERE.
Clear Gorilla Tape – Click HERE.
Clear Shelf Liner – Click HERE.
LED Connectors – Click HERE. – YOU CAN USE THESE TO AVOID SOLDERING!
Soldering Iron – Click HERE.
Solder – Click HERE.
Wire – Click HERE.
Zip Ties (optional for holding wires in place) – Click HERE.
Light Meter (optional) – Click HERE – There are also iPhone apps that you can use as a light meter.
Here is a plant stand filled with younger plants. I have four, lighted shelves per stand each at varying light strengths. (I measure the light for each shelf with a light meter and each measurement is taken 6 inches below the light tape). My lights are on for 9-10 hours a day.
Shelf 1 (top) 260 fc (foot-candles)
Shelf 2 330 fc
Shelf 3 260 fc
Shelf 4 330 fc
This gives me a lot of flexibility to tailor the light needs of various plants. For example, I have several Russian and Ukrainian hybrids, which prefer cooler temperatures. As the floor is always the coolest part of any room, I put them on the bottom two shelves. Also, plants that need more variegation go to the bottom shelf. Lots of my Buckeyes and Cajun’s are on the second (330 fc) shelf as they need more light.
If the crown of a plant on one of my 330 fc shelves looks tight, I move it to the end of that same shelf or to a 260 fc shelf. If a plant on the 260 fc shelf is reaching up, I send it to the middle of it’s current shelf or to a 330 fc shelf. This gives me a lot of options to ensure plants are getting the correct amount of light.
The LED light tape I use is 6000K which is pretty cool in terms of color. I haven’t seen any negative effects and there is also warmer light tape if you want to alternate between cool and warm.
The Set-Up: How To Grow African Violets with LED Lighting
I use LED light tape (these are the actual lights) which is sold on a long roll with an adhesive backing. On the tape, there are marks every couple inches where you can cut the tape to customize the length for your shelf.
I cut the light strips to my desired length and planned for three strands of light per shelf about 4 inches apart. My dad taught me how to solder and I used old stereo wire to connect the strands at each end. (There are several YouTube videos like THIS one that show you how to solder – I promise, it’s easy!) IF YOU DON’T TO SOLDER, YOU CAN GET THESE CONNECTORS.
The end of each roll of light tape has an adapter which I connected to a dimmer. The dimmer comes with its own remote control to change the light level. The end of that dimmer cable then connects to an AC adapter, much like the power cord to your laptop.
Each shelf has its own dimmer and power adapter. From there I put all 4 plugs into a power strip and connected that to my digital wall timer. You could have a couple different timers if you wanted to change the lighting duration for one shelf of show plants as you ramp up for a show.
Attaching the Lights to Your Shelves
On each of my shelves, I have transparent non-adhesive shelf liner. I simply taped the light tape to the underside of the shelf liner and between the wires with clear gorilla tape every 6 inches. They need a flat surface to adhere to. (The adhesive on the back of the lights is not very strong, which is why I used additional tape). Another option is to get 2-inch plastic window blind slats and cut them to your shelf length. Then, tape the lights to the slats and then use cable ties to attach the slats to the underside of each shelf.
I wanted my lights to be completely flush to the bottom of the shelves because I like the fact that you can’t see the lights sticking out.
There’s only one negative to these lights I have found. Each dimmer has a separate remote that comes with it, but each remote affects all the dimmers equally. So, if I push the “On” button on one remote, not just one strand goes on, they all do. This can be a pain when I want to adjust the light intensity of one shelf. However, I just unplug the others first, adjust the light of the one shelf and re-plug the others in. Fortunately, I change my settings very solemnly so this is not really a big issue.
The cost to light my 4-shelf plant stand was just under $70 which included 4 power adapters, 4 dimmers and 2 spools of light tape.
I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have (Karin.email@example.com). The exact details to the lights, dimmers, power cords, tape and shelf liner found can be found under African violet supplies HERE.
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