Winter emergency center for our succulents

Winter emergency center for our succulents

In our previous house we had a veranda area (think "inside but kind of outside") area that was perfect for plants, as it had direct sunlight on it all day long. While I wouldn't want to spend more than a couple of seconds there during the hottest part of summer,  it had big windows we could open so the summer breeze could come in too, which is perfect for succulents.

Part of our "garden" at our previous house.

When the time came for us to move —in part because we wanted to find a house that wasn't as terrifyingly cold in the winter as this one was, and in part because the landlord was considering selling the place and I wanted to be ahead of that instead of wake up to a surprise one day, so to speak— we looked around and ended up choosing a house that is pretty great in most aspects, with only two real downsides. One is that it's an apartment, so neighbor noise, and the other is the main topic of this article today; barely any direct sunlight.

A photo taken somewhere on the mountain, one day.

We have a pretty great view of trees right in front of our apartment that, especially in a metropolis like Seoul, is certainly less easy to find. This is possible because we live pretty far up north, more on the outskirts of the city. It feels more like a smaller city out here than it does like Seoul, in many ways. We're also delightfully close to the mountains, so we get nice fresh mountain air.

Our apartment faces east, and so we get nice morning light. However, the rest of the day the sun is on the other side of the building and only at the very end of the day does it pop its head around the corner on a side of the house that is mostly designed for storage and drying clothes and the like. This, unfortunately, means that our poor plants started suffering from sunlight deprivation.

The first two winters we tried to make the best of it by placing them inside but as close to the windows as possible, to try to give them as much sunlight as we could, but it wasn't enough. We lost a few plants along the way, and most ended up growing in funny shapes in a desperate attempt to catch some extra rays of sunlight. Poor saps.

And so, this winter, we wanted to try something new.

The wonderful world of grow lights

As you might know, there are many kinds of grow lights out there, ranging from "just use TL lights" to proper, multi-hundred-dollar boxes that presumably power grow your plants into tiny tree-hulks. It was complicated and confusing for us to try to find something that would help, and that also doesn't break the bank. We settled on these LED grow light strips we found that had favorable reviews. We don't have unreasonable expectations here, but the hope is that it will give our plants enough light during these darkest few months that they don't have to grow into even funnier shapes to try to find more light themselves.

The collection of parts that will make up the Succulent Care Facility's lighting setup.

There is a built-in mostly glass vitrine-of-sorts that has two sections, and we thought one of these two sections might make for a good make-do winter succulent center. Some sunlight will come in in the morning from the living room windows it's next to, and we can leave the door open to continue to have some airflow too. The thinking is that we attach each LED strip to the bottom of each layer, connect them all up in series and, well, that's all there is to it, really.

The extension cables to cover the gap between each layer, with the long power extension cable to reach the vitrine shown in the background
Testing the lights out. They are.. very purple.

These certainly aren't lookers, much to the dismay of my wife, but as long as they help our succulents survive winter a bit better, it's a worthy cause.

We also added the optional remote control. This way we can select one of the less than 100% brightness options, should there be need for this. As there isn't a large amount of space between each layer in the vitrine, the thinking is we might have to reduce the brightness of these lights somewhat to compensate for this. Whether that's actually necessary with these kinds of LED lights, however, I don't know yet.

Laying them out before attaching, to see what layout works best.

We ended up going with a zig-zag layout, with the thinking being that one layer's light might help cover some of the next layer's less directly lit spots, even though it shines through a layer of glass. Perhaps the difference is completely negligible, but if it helps even a little bit.. why not.

One of the LED strips attached to the bottom of a glass panel.
All the lights installed and turned on, lacking some cable management.

It's looking pretty cozy, right? Albeit in a butcher/Amsterdam-y kind of way. Ahem.

The lights we bought were from a local seller and I'm pretty are made in China. I don't have a brand name for you, nor do I know if this will do well enough yet, so I wouldn't want to make any recommendations yet anyway. Time will tell if this is going to help.

That's all for now. I won't be able to have any definitive conclusions for you now, but if this does end up helping our plants, showing you this might perhaps help you see there are some more creative ways you can help your plants if you, like us, end up living in a place that has less sunlight.

Thank you for reading, and have a wonderful day.