Wisconsin Fast Plants Network

To know a plant, grow a plant!

We've had a couple of questions come to the program recently about building light boxes, and our Program's light box construction has evolved as available materials have changed. For example, we no longer have to search for the "circle fluorescent" lights; now, the energy efficient coil lights are readily available (though a new version of circle lights may be around the corner). We'll be updating our website to reflect some of these changes, and in the meantime, Paul recently provided some good advice about building a light box like those we had at NSTA:
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The information that I suggest you follow is that in my "Sandbox" at www.fastplants.org/img/sandbox/uploads/73.file.pdf . On this Plant Light Box construction card, you will see that adequate lighting can be obtained from a 23W spiral fluorescent 'energy saver' bulb (=75-100W incandescent), if the box is in the vertical orientation (recommended orientation for Fast Plants) as depicted on the card and photo.

If the box is horizontal, or 'double decked' also as illustrated, then one higher wattage bulb or two lower wattage may be needed to provide the required > or = to 200 micro
moles /sec/meter square of radiant flux of photons, that the fast plants need for optimum growth.

The Plant Light Boxes used at the NSTA booth, and those I use in my Basement Lab are the vertical style (with 23 watt energy-saver spiral bulb) described above. My cost of construction for each box is under $15 per box.
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By the way, if you haven't visited Paul's Sandbox, yet -- check out some of his latest inventions and interests at http://www.fastplants.org/sandbox.php

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I wish to add a heads up on the bulbs. I bought a 23W spiral fluorescent at home depot for 6.97 each ( 3 of them ) to make a new set of boxes. I was in Costco the next day and they had for 5.97 a box of six!
Needless to say I bought this box and have just finished some more light boxes .
Jim Backus
Thanks, Jim, for shedding more light on this topic :-) I think I'm going to try having my students grow several generations of plants next year, so I'm going to need to plan for having enough light. I'm thinking these light boxes might be the way to go. Are you stacking yours? I'm wondering how many tall they can be stacked and still feel stable?
Pauline
No I am not stacking them as I have plenty of room in my classroom. I do not have stack them. But I will add this is the second week we have planted the seeds and for whatever reason it seems to be the best growing year so far!
Jim Backus
Jim, If you have pictures of your plants in the boxes -- the way you have them set up, it would be really helpful for me to see. Sounds like you've got everything just right since your plants are doing so well. I'd like to make mine just the same.

Has anyone else on the network stacked light boxes?
Pauline

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