Light sanatorium for plants - we deal with etiolation
The most common cause of decorative loss in indoor plants is lighting problems. Thin shoots, small leaves paled in the shade are the main symptoms of a lack of light. In the initial stages, coping with the effects of a lack of light is easy. With a running problem, the plant may not recover or require long months of struggle to regain its attractive appearance. You can deal with the problem in different ways - from simple rearrangement to lighting and isolation with a controlled light mode - light sanatoriums.
- Etiolation - the effects of low light
- Basic techniques to combat low light
- Light sanatorium, phytotron and their alternatives in the treatment of etiolation
- Seasonal Lighting Problems
Etiolation - the effects of low light
Problems in growing indoor plants cannot be avoided even by experienced gardeners. Any loss of decorative effect requires a comprehensive analysis. Improper care and inappropriate temperature conditions affect both the growth and condition of the leaves of indoor plants. Many difficulties in their cultivation are associated with pests and diseases. But the first of all the reasons that are checked and diagnosed, it is also the most likely cause of almost any negative phenomena - insufficient coverage.
Etiolation is a disease caused by insufficient lighting and manifested in a slowdown in growth, elongation of shoots, shrinking leaves and the loss of luxurious colors, general depression, as well as plant health problems. In fact, it is chlorosis, which becomes a growth disorder. The first and most obvious signs of etiolation are blanching of leaves and shoots. The longer the conditions are not corrected and the symptoms are ignored, the more the indoor plant looks depressed and the stronger the shredding, unnatural stretching, stunting, lethargy.
Etiolation threatens not only ornamental-deciduous plants, but also manifests itself most strongly in them, especially in plants with bright, variegated patterns on leaves or unusual colors, in which blanching is noticeably stronger and it manifests itself faster. There are plants that demonstrate enviable resistance and for a long time retain only the initial signs of the effects of insufficient lighting, and there are those that mutate, stretch and wither away literally before our eyes.
The cause of etiolation is always one - the wrong selection of conditions. Regardless of whether you are looking for a plant for a specific room and place, or, conversely, choosing a place to place your favorite green pet, it is the discrepancy between the lighting at the location and the individual requirements of the plant that leads to impaired growth and health problems. Etiolation is always the mistake of the owners.
The best way to combat etiolation is to prevent it. Avoid mistakes, measure the intensity of lighting, carefully study information about each type, clarify the nuances when buying - these are the measures that will help to avoid difficulties. But even with careful selection, problems in the development of plants associated with insufficient lighting still remain. And the point is not only that the photophilicity of some cultures cannot be satisfied in urban apartments, it is not always in the habits of plants grown and sold in ideal conditions with illumination or in unpleasant surprises that inevitably await during the winter. Problems with light-demanding plants can occur even with the most experienced gardeners. But they are not at all a reason to get rid of a plant or look for cardinal solutions. As with any problem or disease, etiolation can be dealt with. And whether it will be possible to do this depends, first of all, on your zeal and patience.
Just as indoor crops vary in their ability to adapt to different conditions, they also differ greatly in their ability to recover from growth disorders associated with a lack of light. So, as cacti and succulents affected by etiolation, as a rule, are not restored at all, a site damaged or deformed in poor lighting remains so forever. Indoor annuals and soil protectors, ampelous plants with strong shoots themselves will not recover. For them, in addition to correcting conditions or a sanatorium, you will also need to carry out the formation and pruning, stimulating the growth of new normal shoots. In flowering crops, the consequences of etiolation will be to skip a whole flowering cycle. But most decorative-deciduous plants, shrubs and woody trees, after correct correction and “light treatment,” are able to restore their beauty.
Before tackling the problem caused by insufficient lighting, it is worthwhile to exclude all other possible diseases or factors that could cause loss of color, stretching and stunting. Some symptoms of chlorosis are similar to the defeat of diseases and pests, and delay in solving these problems can lead to disastrous results. It is worth fighting for the restoration of a plant affected by poor lighting after all other more serious problems have been eliminated.
Basic techniques to combat low light
The first and most important step in the fight against any - both mild and serious problems associated with a lack of light - is an immediate correction of the conditions. The plant must be moved from a shaded and secluded place to one that is fully suitable for it in accordance with the requirements of a particular species. A sharp increase in light intensity is not the best option. The plant is moved gradually, closer to windows or to other rooms, softening the transition period. Direct sunlight is especially dangerous, from which it is better to protect even resistant crops for at least a few weeks. If the plant was already standing on the lightest window sill, then you need to additionally lighten the plants.
If etiolation is weak, you noticed the first signs of chlorosis and managed to take action, then you can stop there. The plant, timely moved to a comfortable place, will quickly recover. But if simple movement is not enough, the plant is badly damaged, in addition to chlorosis, there are other symptoms, it is worth taking more serious measures - proceed with the treatment of etiolation.
Light sanatorium, phytotron and their alternatives in the treatment of etiolation
Today, a small revolution is taking place in interior design and the approach to growing plants in a house. The return to fashion of florariums, the transfer of attention to complex compositions and unusual containers from classical plants are not the only trends of recent years. Increasingly, special kitchen greenhouses or mini-farms for growing greens and vegetables in room conditions began to be included in kitchen projects, and for lovers of exotic cultures, they are expanding their selection of terrariums, flower showcases and phytotrons, which are gradually turning from the dreams of the owner of a modern greenhouse into an increasingly affordable luxury.
New ideas in the organization of phytotrons and flower terrariums also reminded of a much simpler, affordable and do-it-yourself embodiment of caring for plants - a light or solar sanatorium. The method of growing plants without lighting, interesting studies that have been forgotten for a long time, again attract attention. The idea developed by N.M. Verzilin for the treatment of indoor plants suffering from a lack of light, today again discussed and implemented. Of course, not everyone will allow himself to build a special meter-long box of plywood for plant restoration in a limited area of apartments, but the idea underlying the method itself should still be used to combat the consequences of etiolation.
Solar or light sanatorium - a way to compensate for the lack of sunlight, seasonal or general characteristics of the lighting in the room with electric light. In fact, the same principle is used as in lighting greenhouses, heated or in the climate systems of greenhouses and terrariums, but with a new purpose. In apartment conditions, for indoor plants it is not even necessary to use special phytolamps with reflectors - ordinary, modern bulbs with a power of 100 to 200 watts help treat plants no worse. Incandescent lamps, obsolete and slowly replaced by modern solutions and technologies, are associated with the risk of overheating. But even they make it possible to solve the task of treating etiolation. The easiest way is to buy a ready-made lamp specifically for terrariums and florariums in stores specializing in aquariums.
The purpose of the sanatorium is to provide the affected plants with ideal conditions with intensive lighting, literally “saturate” the leaves and stems with light and restore their healthy appearance in stable optimal lighting with controlled conditions. Such methods are used not only if the plant is significantly affected by etiolation - in addition to blanching, other symptoms also appear, the plant is in a very depressed state. Light sanatoriums also use:
- for the purpose of prevention, placing plants to prevent stretching and loss of shape for several days a month or regularly for several hours;
- for rooting cuttings;
- to stimulate and control flowering;
- for growing seedlings.
There are four treatment options based on the principles of light sanatoriums:
1. Phytotrons - portable or semi-automated portable greenhousesfully controlling the microclimate - from light and temperature to humidity and watering. They have not yet become fashionable with us. But the trends of Western design, actively using phytotrons to grow greens to the table, are already beginning to appear in our market. If earlier the phytotron was considered more likely a scientific or industrial technology, today it has moved to a room and portable format. In the phytotron, the lighting intensity and its duration can be set so as to achieve the effect of treating etiolation. Phytotrons help to cope with a lack of light or its consequences, and are suitable for growing exotics or capricious plants.
2. The classical method of the solar sanatorium according to Verzilin - placing the plant in a closed, isolated from light box (box or camera) with a working phytolamp or standard household lamp for 100-200 W for 2-4 weeks until restoration of decorativeness. You can build a box of plywood yourself, use ready-made plywood boxes or shade the walls of the aquarium or terrarium with dark film. The main condition for the "work" of such a sanatorium is to control the intensity of illumination, the duration of daylight hours and constant high-quality ventilation (openings should be sufficient for a constant flow of air, but to preserve all the light inside. To protect against over-drying of the air, for most plants, put containers with water or wet nearby pebbles, moss and expanded clay (except succulents) .In such a sanatorium all the light is directed exclusively to the plant.
3. Placement of hygrophilous plants in a terrarium or backlit florarium - transfer of simple room culture to controlled conditions with stable lighting. The organization of flower showcases for growing moody crops can also be attributed to this option. Such options do not have a therapeutic effect similar to phytotrons and sanatoriums: they are inferior to closed drawers with darkened walls, they are aimed not so much at light therapy as at creating an optimal environment.
4. Using proximity to a lamp without plant isolation. Indoor plants suffering from a lack of light can simply be placed under the lights, placing them at a distance of 30-50 cm above the plant for constant stable illumination. A lampshade that directs light or a cap will greatly enhance the effect. This option does not provide for isolation of the plant in a separate “box” or container, is the simplest and least effective. True, it affects the owners most of all: constantly working lighting fixtures can interfere with the use of the room for its intended purpose, cause discomfort.
Seasonal Lighting Problems
Any grower has encountered signs of a lack of light at least once: even with the perfect selection of growing conditions, seasonal reduction in light causes temporary etiolation in light-dependent stars. In autumn and winter, in regions with severe winters, insufficient lighting is a pattern that can be compensated, but difficult to avoid.
The effects of seasonal changes affect all indoor plants, without exception. But it is far from being necessary to deal with them in all cases. When studying the individual preferences of indoor plants, it is worth paying attention to whether the plant needs stable lighting and whether mandatory measures should be taken in autumn and winter. If a plant can do without backlighting or rearrangement, its wintering period coincides with the rest period, then even the signs of a lack of light that appear in the winter months are not a reason for panic. As soon as active growth begins in the spring and the light intensity increases, the plant will recover itself. For all cultures that are recommended to be relocated to more illuminated places in winter to maintain constant, familiar conditions or that are recommended to organize backlighting, measures to prevent etiolation are the only reliable way to avoid problems.
To prevent blanching, stretching, and dysplasia associated with seasonal reduction in light, several measures can be taken:
- Rearrange the plants located inside the interior on the windowsills.
- Move plants from northern or western windowsills to lighter southern ones.
- To organize partial illumination with phytolamps, increasing the duration of daylight hours.
- Provide constant illumination to increase the intensity and duration of lighting.
- Move plants to a flower display or phytotrons.
If a light sanatorium was built to treat other plants, then in winter it can be used to prevent the elongation of shoots. Highlighting for 20-30 hours a month (several days in a row or a couple of hours a day) will prevent etiolation.