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Planters’ Choice: Bonsai Starter Kit FirstLight

Full spectrum LED grow light

Friends of RainyDayMagazine gave us a bonsai kit for Christmas. We sowed them on New Year’s Day and will be chronicling our bonsai journey…for many years, apparently.

First Light

When the seeds were first sown for our bonsai project, we used a halogen lamp to provide heat for the greenhouse. That worked well enough for three out of the four types to germinate.

People in glass houses…should grow bonsai trees.

Once the seedlings put out a few leaves, we knew it was time to for the light to do more than just provide heat. The light needed to provide…light.

We didn’t know what frequency of light the halogen bulb put out, but we were pretty sure it didn’t provide the spectrum needed to grow plants (meaning the entire spectrum).

It was time for a proper grow light.

Full Spectrum LED Grow Light Panel

We found a generic full-spectrum LED light panel on Amazon, and decided to go with that.

Just like life, full-spectrum lights have peaks and valleys.

We didn’t want a large setup and so looked for something that wouldn’t take up much room. The LED panel we chose was small and flat and big enough for all four pots.

Another reason reason we chose it was cost. We don’t start many plants from seed indoors, so we didn’t want to make a large investment on lighting.

At less than $20, this LED panel was perfect for our needs.

If you aren’t a plant, the light from a full-spectrum light can be very, very weird.

The light panel came with anchors on the back (for hanging), but we opted for the we can rig some supports set up. Empty plastic containers to the rescue!

The panel is 5″ wide x 12″ long and can illuminate roughly a 1’x3′ area. The LED bulbs (47 red, 19 blue, 3UV, 3IR, 3 white) are rated for 30,000 hours, which is roughly 10 years if its on for 8 hours a day every day.

This may have kicked off the actual Close Encounter of the Third Kind.

What is full-spectrum, exactly? Different colors of light do different things for plants, so if you want to grow something you need to more or less replicate the light from nature/the sun (without all the heat and flares and stuff).

LED Spectrum consists of:

  • Red LED: 620-660 nanometers – enhances blooming and fruiting
  • Blue LED: 460-470 nanometers – triggers growth + photosynthesis
  • UV LED: 395 nanometers – seeding and sterilization
  • IR LED: 730-735 nanometers – flower + fruit
  • White LED: 6500K – enhances photosynthesis

Happy baby bonsais.

By Week 4, all four types had germinated. The Black Poui was the last to come up and only one seed germinated (it probably was making a statement about its name: Black Poui trees actually bloom a lovely bluey-purple).

Since we have no prior experience with bonsais we were unsure whether this was The Way of the Black Poui or just the runt of the entire lot.

We plan on taking extra care of our late bloomer because we really want this little guy to make it and our hope is high that the LED panel will do its part!!!

You can do this! I have faith in you! Grow little Black Poui bonsai, grow!

I would say “We are waiting with baited breath,” but as these things are bonsais trees, I don’t think we can hold our breath that long…

Amazon links to items mentioned:

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