Growing strawberries indoors can be a great option if you live in an area that does not have a lot of outdoor space.
Many individuals forgo growing any kinds of fruit because they live in an apartment or other dwelling without a yard. With technology these days, anyone can become an expert strawberry grower with a little bit of knowledge.
Understanding how much space you have to utilize and planning it out well is key to growing plump and tasty berries. Understanding what kind of light source to use is part of the indoor growing process. It is vital to understand all of your options and this article will explain them in detail as well as efficiency, and what will work best for the space that you have.
Window Sill Growing for Strawberry Plants Indoors
When growing inside, one must decide whether to use artificial lighting or natural sunlight. If you make the decision and choose to use natural sunlight inside, you need to make sure that your plants are getting enough sunlight to grow effectively and to the desired taste and size that you want. An option that you have is putingt them in pots or containers and place them in a window.
One thing that you need to watch out for is placing them too close together as over-crowding however, can become an issue. When strawberries are placed too close together, they can be more likely to form diseases and mold on them. Strawberries like to have plenty of space to grow and flourish. Proper spacing is critically important for healthy strawberry growth.
There is also the issue of having enough exposure to the sun. The minimum amount of light required to grow berries is six hours of sunlight a day. They do however, like more light if you can get your plants in an area that has the most sun exposure whee you live. If you are starting your plants from a seed, it is best to freeze them for approximately a half a month to a month. This will cause them to germinate faster.
Alpine strawberries can be grown closer together, which makes them great for growing indoors. There are June- fruit bearing strawberries and twice yearly bearing strawberries. Make sure to look up the specific type of strawberries that you are growing so that you can plan accordingly for proper lighting conditions if you choose to use the window lighting method.
Using Artificial Light Sources for Indoor Growing
There are a few different types of lighting systems that work great for indoor strawberry growing. Full spectrum lights, which provide all the lighting of the natural sun are a popular choice for an indoor garden. Both fruit growing enthusiasts as well as those who grow plants, fruits and vegetables commercially love to use this type of lighting.
One choice that is available are LED lights. These are good because they can be placed closer to the plants as they do not emit as much heat as traditional lights. They emit approximately at a temperature of between 104 and 140 fahrenheit (40 and 60 degrees celsius). Since they are so close, less light is wasted. One can even use smaller LED bulbs around the leaves without drying them out and harming them.
Here are two varieties of chlorophyll in strawberries. There is Chlorophyll A and B. Type A has an absorption rate that peaks at 420nm as well as 662nm in terms of wavelengths. Type B Chlorophyll produces at 453nm and 642 nm. Type A is more abundant than type B. However, Type A Chlorophyll has a longer absorption range than type B. There are also more chemicals in plants that also take in light. Using a lighting system with many colors like an LED grow lamp or light fixture can cover the entire range needed to grow strawberries indoors.
PAR or Photosynthetically Active Radiation
Photosynthetically Active Radiation or PAR measures the value of the light energy being utilized that is of use to the strawberries to promote healthy sized fruits.
LED grow lights have a higher PAR value than other light sources. Fluorescent lighting works well too, but the par value is lower and it emits a higher level of heat, which can lead to diminished growth of your berries. LED lights operate on an infrared and ultraviolet light scale which uses bands that are naked to the human eye. LED lighting works well because of the lower heat factor, as berries tend to be closer together when grown inside. This is because indoor growing has much more limited space, than outdoors, which is more expansive.
Do not skip on a cooling system simply because LED lights use less heat. Utilizing fans that blow on the berries, or smaller LED systems that have them inside, are necessary. Make sure to keep a clear pathway between the fans and the strawberries to keep them cooler. Blocking fans that are inside of lights can cause them to break. LED lights are considered solid state device lights and last a long time. One can get up to a hundred thousand hours out of an LED lighting system if maintained properly.
Automated Light Timing Can Help You Get the Proper Amount of Lighting Needed to Grow Berries
If you do not want to be constantly turning lights on and off all the time, using a light timer can be wise. LED lights usually come with timers that are built into the system and are easy to use. All plants need rest times from lighting. In nature, plants do not get 24 hours of light a day, so inside, they don´t need that either. A minimum amount of light as stated above of six hours a day. You can give your berries around seventeen to eighteen hours of light a day with six to seven hours of darkness.
Different species like different amounts of light, but if you do a general timing of 16-17 hours a day of light, that will work for most species of strawberries. If you have a specific type of strawberry in mind, then doing research into that particular breed can be helpful when deciding if you should get an automated light timer.
Different Types of Lighting for Strawberries
High Pressure Sodium or HPS lights, Fluorescent Tube Lights, High Intensity Discharging or HID lights are also types of lighting systems that you can explore.
Although the price for LED lighting may seem higher at first than other types of lighting systems, they come in different types of systems and have many benefits. They can be placed on shelving units or grow tents and use space more efficiently than the conventional systems. LED bulbs can fit into basic light sockets. They are sometimes called compact fluorescent lighting. They have a lower range of power and do not get as hot. These can be great additions to larger systems or for smaller indoor gardens. They also come in different light wavelengths. This is what allows the plants to have light that is closely simulated to sunlight when combining light systems.
Using LED light panels can give you versatility in the dimension and length of the lighting used. Using full-spectrum lighting helps to make sure all parts of the plant grow evenly and properly. Getting a light panel with around six to nine bands seems to work best for berry growing. Proper positioning and plenty of cooling units is necessary when utilizing these as they can cause an extreme increase in temperature. There are hanging grow light panels, ones that plug into already installed panels and stand up LED panels. These types of lighting systems can last up to a hundred thousand hours, making them the longest lasting lighting systems available on the market today.
Technology is ever changing, and better LED lighting systems are constantly popping up in stores and online.
Fluorescent Grow Light Systems and Strawberry Growing
Fluorescent grow lights can also be used with a T5 or T8 tube. A T5 fluorescent lighting system measures 5/8 of an inch in diameter and lasts for approximately 25000 hours. They are much less expensive than LED lights, and do have some benefits to them.
They are an older and time tested type of lighting system that is known to be effective. It is important to make sure that you use the right type of T5 or T8 light, however. A T5 light is an upgrade from a traditional fluorescent lighting system. They produce a much higher amount of light for your strawberries to grow. One can use them completely alone if you have enough units of light, but they work best as a supplementary light source in addition to an LED lighting system. They do work well for planting seeds from scratch and allow the plants to adjust to the lighting slowly starting from a seed.
They do not emit an extreme amount of heat either, but their range of lighting is quite short and only works up to 12 inches away. They do not use a lot of electricity and do produce a high amount of light when placed close enough to the strawberry plant. Plenty of fans are needed for this type of lighting system. There are new types of fluorescent lights that utilize a much higher level of lumens to produce better conditions for your plants. This allows the T5 and T8 lightening systems to mimic natural lighting much better than the older style fluorescent systems of the past.
High pressure Sodium or HPS grow Lights For Strawberries
As far as efficiency goes, high pressure sodium lights are considered to be quite an efficient light source. One good thing about them is they produce around 140 lumens per watt of energy. The downside is that they run at much higher temperatures than the other kinds. They also require a lot more fans or other cooling sources as they can get incredibly hot. They need to be kept further away from the strawberries and they may be cheaper to purchase, but your electric bill will be much higher.
They are part of the high intensity discharge or HID type of lighting. One must always be considering the cost of initial buying costs and long-term costs. High Pressure Sodium Lighting systems are cheaper initially, but with the electric bill that comes later, they can become quite expensive to operate on a daily basis while growing strawberry plants. This type of light system uses the electromagnetic spectrum to stimulate plants to grow. it works really well for the photosynthesis processing. It also very closely mirrors regular sunlight as the temperature and color spectrum are quite similar. They do not have as long Everlasting bulbs however and can only generally lasts between 12000 and 24000 hours.
As stated above, LED light systems can last up to a hundred thousand hours. There is also something called metal halide grow the lights but they have high carbon emissions that come along with using them. You can use a 400 watt light bulb to cover around 15 square feet. If you have an area of around 7 by 7 feet, a thousand watt light bulb will do the job. they do however get as hot as 500 to 600 degrees Fahrenheit. They require mini Parts like a reflector, a ballast bulbs and sockets as well as many additional cooling units.
Deciding Between All Light Sources Available
Between all of these choices, it may be difficult to choose.
If you have electric built into your rent each month, then you have more options than if you pay an electric bill separately. Combining a fluorescent light system with an LED system can allow for a truly full spectrum experience for your strawberries.
If you are completely new to the entire indoor strawberry growing arena, there are all in one lighting systems that you can explore. Fluorescent light systems still have the cheapest initial costs, but they will not last as long as purchasing a high quality LED light system that will last for approximately four times as long. A full spectrum LED system is great for the new grower if you can afford it.