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Chamaedorea Cataractarum Under Artificial Lighting

Question:

Two weeks ago I have bought a cat palm from wal-mart for my new apartment room, problem is that it gets almost no natural light. I am very dependent on artificial light. Right now I have it under a 100 watt equivalent 24 watt CFL florescent bulb (Cool white spectrum) and a 32 watt Philips Linear cool white Fluorescent Light, will this do??, what can you suggest in terms of artificial lighting for this type of palm?.

The lighting is timed on a 8/16 cycle every day.

I do not plan on growing under artificial light for long, just until spring/summer comes along.

-In need of advice. Thank You!

Answer:

Let me start by saying that your existing setup is probably just fine for the next several months.

Cat Palms prefer lots of bright, but indirect natural sunlight. Artificial lights do not provide the full spectrum of light that sunlight does. However, fluorescent lights do provide lots of light in the blue range that plants require and some in the red range that plants also need. If you have the option, changing one of the cool white bulbs to warm white would provide a better balance of blue-red light quality.

You might want to move the CFL a bit more above the plant so that the light is not so concentrated on one section of the Palm at the expense of the other sections. You didn’t indicate if the CFL is a flood or a spotlight. Flood lights are preferred because they spread the light over a wider range.

The fluorescent tube covers a broader area and is good in that respect. However, because light intensity drops off significantly with every foot of distance, the closer the tube is to the plant, the more helpful it will be for your Palm.

Finally, I would suggest a 12 hour on, 12 hour off cycle for your Palm.