Fluorescent Grow Lights
These 4 foot long lamps are an ideal source of artificial light for your peppers because they provide the right amount of heat and do not cost a lot of money. You can buy these lights, typically called “grow lights” or “plant lamps,” at a nearby hardware store and each lamp usually sells for $12 to $15.
Before you run to the store, check around your house because you might already have what you need. In our situation, we had an old fish tank and I saw that it still had the aquarium light on top. Sure enough, I verified that it had fluorescent grow bulbs. I grabbed the light and we placed it over the pepper seedlings, which responded really well.
Additionally, take a look in your garage or shed for an unused fluorescent shop light because that will work too. Nothing is more cost effective than being free!
Indoor growing lights are designed to be hung or mounted directly above your plants, which you can safely do because they do not contain the lumens that makes them burn too hot.
The key factor here is making sure that the light is close enough to the pepper seedlings so that they do not become “leggy” and use all of their energy to grow a long stem with hardly any leaves. Most pepper growers place the lamp 2 to 4 inches away from the top of the plant to avoid this problem.
Next, be aware that the plant will bend towards the heat if the growing lights are not directly above them. When we first tried growing peppers, we had a fluorescent grow lamp with a smaller width and it didn’t quite cover all the pepper plants in that row. Not knowing any better at the time, I watched as the plants in the middle grew well, while the ones on the right and left bent at dangerous angles trying to get to the heat. It was so sad! Luckily, we replaced the light in time to save most of them, but one beautiful early jalapeno plant bent so much that it fell over and never recovered. If you need to, buy extra lamps to cover the width and depth of your chili plants.
How Long to Keep Your Plant Lamps On
Leave your fluorescent growing light on for about 12 to 16 hours each day. This time frame gives your chile seedlings the exposure to the heat that they need. You can make this process easier by acquiring a plant timer from a hardware store (about $10) to turn the lamp on and off automatically. And don’t worry, your electric bill shouldn’t suffer because the fluorescent bulbs typically use the same wattage that a regular light bulb does.
Did you enjoy this article? If so, check out the "Grow Your Own Jalapenos and Super Hot Peppers in Containers" e-book for detailed, step-by-step instructions that explain how to grow all of your favorite chillies from beginning to end.
In the hydroponic method, soil is not used and the roots of the plants are just suspended in liquid nutrient solutions or mixtures containing gravel and rockwool. In all cases, the containers are kept sealed, save for a tiny hole to insert the plant stem, so that growth of algae is prevented due to light falling on the roots.
By adapting the hydroponics technique, you enable plants to achieve a higher growth rate and yield more fruits as compared to traditional methods of planting. Hydroponics is also the ideal method when outdoor growing of chili plants is not the preferred option.
Other advantages of hydroponics include:
• More plants can be grown per foot as compared to conventional methods.
• It makes best use of moisture and nutrients and thus is more efficient than traditional methods.
• There is no problem of dealing with weeds.
• There is no worry of crops getting infected by soil borne disease.
• It is often more economic than conventional gardening.
• It is an easy and fun do-it-yourself project and a good alternative.
Static Solution Hydroponics
In this method, containers filled with static nutrient solution are used for growing plants. The solution is gently aerated with air pumps so that the roots get oxygen and stagnation is prevented. As with aquariums, in this case the solution is changed at least once a week, or adjusted so that a beneficial concentration of nutrients is maintained.
Continuous Flow Hydroponics
This method is more advanced than static solutions and is used in larger setups involving several plants. In this type, the solution is pumped continuously around the plant roots. The systems are also equipped with automated sampling and nutrient level adjustments.
Nutrient Film Technique
The Nutrient Film Technique is the most common of continuous flow type growing techniques. Here the plants roots are positioned in sealed narrow gully through which a shallow film of water is flowing. Such an approach supports a thick root system and also allows roots to access oxygen from above the water stream. This makes it the most efficient hydroponic nutrient method. However, the system can be delicate, causing starvation and death of plants on account of reduction of flow.