Question about lighting


Frakkin Toaster
I'm going to be moving into a college dorm in a few weeks, and since the building across from mine tends to block most of the natural light, I need to get some fluorescents. However, I'm not allowed to drill holes into the walls, preventing me from haging the necessary fixture.Anybody know where I can find a good, compact lighting fixure that I can use to keep my CPs in my dorm? BTW, I currently have a Venus Flytrap and two S. Leucophyllas, if that helps. I already know I need to get a cool blue and a warm red bulb to provde the right spectrum, I just need a good fixture for them. Thanks


Moderator Schmoderator Fluorescent fluorite, Engl
Hi Cynic

If you used a tank you could perhaps set a small (24") shop light (with one cool white, 1 Gro-Lux) over the top. Sarras of course will outgrow a tank. That only works when they are small. If you've got some money to spend (and some space) you can buy one of those adjustable wire shelving units (I got mine from Lowes for $44). You can hang lights on them...thats what I use for my indoor CPs. Works very well but it is some investment in money (but its also portable as they come apart).

Just some thoughts.

Good luck!
Hi.  First of all, I recommend the article on lighting in the greenhouse forum.  You would do best to get "cool white" fluorescent tubes.  I'm not sure if you meant you plan to get a red and blue bulb, but that's definitely not necessary.

As a fellow dormer.... erm, isn't that a kind of window?... i can tell you what i have to give you some ideas.  Perhaps it will be useful to others, so i'll post some photos to demonstrate eventually.

There are two or three options.
1- Terrarium
2- Grow shelves
3- Window w/ supplemental lighting

Note that these options aren't mutually exclusive.

For example, i have:
(1 & 3) 2x 10 gallon terrariums (one on top of the other) right against the glass of a NW window.  In the top tank (which is open) are most of my large sarracenias.  Even though they stick out the top, they get slightly higher humidity that way, which seems to help prevent burning of the pitchers.  In the lower tank are my lowland neps and other low-light tropicals light D. adelae and D. prolifera and U. calcyfida.

The light for these plants is supplemented by a 150W High Pressure Sodium lamp, which hangs from a converted torchiere lamp post (because i can't drill my walls or ceiling, either).  The HPS lamp comes on at sunrise and turns off at 11:00, when the natural light in the window becomes bright.


There are also some intermediate neps and sundews sitting on the windowsill, and a bunch of utricularias.  This is only an option if your dorm isn't horrendously dry during the winter months.  It depends a lot on the climate and geographical location of your school.

(2) For all the shorter plants, seedlings, and those that need lots of light, i have a grow shelf.  You can buy a nice set of metal shelves (at the local hardware store it was $80 for the whole unit, but you should be able to get it cheaper at superstores or outside of this gouge-a-rama city) with four shelves and 72" poles.  The shelves are 4' long, and adjust on the poles with semi-cylindrical plastic collars that fit into grooves on the poles.  Quite nifty, actually.  Anyway, i have two $7.50 Home Depot 2x 32W 4' (F32T8) shoplights with electronic ballasts that i hang from one of the shelves, and it makes a very nice grow shelf.


To answer your specific question, i'd recommend getting the shoplights i described, but you'll need a shelf that lets you hang them above the plants.  You might be able to stack up some bricks or build some simple wooden "feet" for either end, and set the lights on those.  Remember that the lights don't have to be over the plants.  For tall pitchers like leucs, you might put a fixture against the windowframe (vertically), so that the whole plant gets sufficient light.

I hope this was in some way helpful.  Let me know if you have any questions, and good luck.


Frakkin Toaster
firstly, let me thank everyone for replying. I was worried I wouldn't have a lot of options, but now I'm a bit more hopeful!

I already have an old 10gal tank I could use for the sarras, but again, my window doesn't get much light, how could I set up lighting for them? Also, D, it would help if you could get some pictures up of what you describe, as I'm having trouble picturing this in my head. I've gotten lots of input as to lighting, ranging from the cool blue/warm red idea to one guy saying I would need a metal-halide bulb to grow the Sarras.

I'll be sure to check the greenhouse thread, and if it helps, My school is Located in Richmond, Virginia.

Again thanks for the help! If worse comes to worse I'm sure they wouldn't make too big of a stink out of me puting in two of those screw-in hooks for the fixture, but I'll look into the metal racks.
I added a couple pics for clarification. Please excuse the mess.

If you decide to get a High Intensity Discharge light (High pressure sodium (HPS) or Metal Halide (MH)), it's more expensive for small wattages (like this one - a 150W). It probably makes more sense to go with shoplights unless you need the advantages or form factor of the HID. I got this one 1- to experiment with it and 2- for something that could sit out of the way of the sunlight as much as possible. This lamp should be closer to the plants, but it was either leave that freakishly long leuc pitcher without light entirely, or put the lamp high enough to shine on it.

Richmond dorms probably don't have forced-air heating (which dries out the air) in the winter (AFAIK it's not really very cold in Richmond) , so you probably will be fine without a terrarium.

vft guy in SJ

VFT and Drosera lover
Heres a thought... you could possibly look into getting like a 30 gal. TALL tank.. I dont know the exact measurements for those but its possible you couild find something that will fit your need. The tall hexagonal tanks might be another option. Either way it will be free standing and have a light support (and not too expensive). Good Luck



Frakkin Toaster
I think I have an idea of what I might do:
I'll probably get two of the metal rack shelves (just two levels, cen I do that?) and attach the fluorescent fixture to the top shelf. on the bottom shelf I'll put my two trumpets (and possibly a purpurea after I get the fixture) in my old ten gallon tank. I'll keep them in their pots, but keep the bottom of the tank full of distilled water, like the tray method on steroids. Plus it keeps humidity high. I may put the vft in this, or possibly keep it on the windowsill or under a separate light, I'm not sure, as I've heard many horror stories from those who have tried to grow vfts in terrariums. Speaking of which, my vft is aboute to be joined by several others, as I just got some seeds at a flea market today (god that place is good! ).

What do you guys think of that arraingement?
And I need a specific recommendation for the bulb, most the tech language is confusing the #### out of me.

EDIT: about the bulb colors, I don't think they are actually blue and red, but I've heard that when used in conjuction they provide a good spectrum of light for plants.