Lighted Plant Stand - Build Your Own
The sap rises in gardeners a long time before it does outside. The yen to grow something causes many gardeners to cram their windowsills with greenery during the winter. Some go a step farther and get a fluorescent light or two to grow some seedlings or houseplants. After going through those stages I decided I had to have a lighted plant stand for my indoor gardening.
I didn't have the four hundred dollars the garden catalogs quoted for the kind of stand I wanted, but I had something better: a husband who was as handy as the dickens. As we finished assembling my plant stand the thought hit me: this is so easy that I could have done it myself with a little help, and so can you.
The construction requires no woodworking or mechanical skills, merely the ability to use a measuring tape, a hacksaw, and a paintbrush. We assembled the plant stand in less than a day, and I had seeds germinating in it the next day.
My stand is large enough to hold three 2 x 4 ft. shelves, so I can fit four 21 x 11 in. flats on each one, or 12 flats in all. You can make your plant stand any size you want by adapting the directions below.
TOOLS YOU'LL NEED
measuring tape or yardstick
hacksaw for cutting PVC pipe
drill (optional) to anchor shelves onto the PVC pipes
MATERIALS YOU'LL NEED TO MAKE A PLANT STAND LIKE MINE
4 20 foot lengths of 1.5 in. PVC pipe
4 PVC elbows to fit on top of the plant stand
16 PVC Ts
1 sheet 4x8 ft. exterior plywood, cut into 2 x 4 ft. pieces (the lumberyard will cut it)
6 4-ft. shop lights. They should include S-hooks. If not, get 12 S-hooks.
14 ft. lightweight chain cut into twelve 14-in. pieces (The store can cut it for you.)
12 heavy duty cup hooks to hang the chain on
8 2 in. nails for anchoring the shelves
1 qt. exterior latex paint for shelves
1 6-outlet strip to plug in the fluorescent lights
A few days before you want to assemble your stand, give the wooden shelves two coats of paint on each side and edge. Measure the height of the ceiling where you want to put your plant stand and decide the distance apart you want your shelves. (Leave at least 6-in. headroom clearance.) I start with detailed instructions, but after you get the hang of it the diagram will show you what goes where.
1. Cut your PVC. We cut ours as follows:
8 4 ft. 4 in. pieces for long shelf supports
4 18-in. side pieces to go on the top and bottom
8 4 in. connectors for the legs and top corners
12 uprights. Mine are: 4 – 18 1/2 in., 4 - 19 in., and 4 - 17 in.
2. Starting at the bottom, take four long shelf supports and put the bottom of a T on each end. One side of Ts will go on the floor.
3. Put a 4-in. connector in each other side of the Ts.
4. Put the ends of two 18 in. side pieces into the bottoms of the Ts
5. Put the 18-½ in. uprights into the top sides of the Ts. These will be the bottom lower sides.
Continue construction using the diagram as your guide to which pieces go where. When you finish putting the PVC together, the structure is quite light, so with assistance you can move the stand where you want to use it, before you put the shelves on it.
6. Screw two cup hooks centered about 12-in. apart into each end of the shelves. Place the shelves onto the long shelf supports.
7. For stability, drill a hole in the corners of the four shelves about an inch from the front edge through the PVC, and place the 2-in. nails in the holes. The nails prevent the shelves from moving when you shift your plants around.
8. Attach an S-hook in the holes on each end of the top of a fluorescent light and attach a chain to each one. Hang the chains onto the cup hooks on the ends of the shelves so that the lights hang about 8 in. up from their shelves. Hang the other lights and adjust the heights as needed.
9. Plug the six lights into the outlet strip. Plug the strip into a timer, which is plugged into a wall socket.
10. Set the timer for the correct time of day and the "daylength" you want. (I set mine for 12 hours.) Now your plant stand is ready for your seeds and plants.
Some experts say you should use a warm-white fluorescent light with each cool-white to promote bloom, but I've found that flowers bloom just fine with the cool-white fluorescent bulbs provided with the shop lights.
With no woodworking skill and few tools, you can build your own lighted plant stand. Mine cost about $160.00 for materials, a fraction of what a commercial stand would cost, and it is tailored to my needs. It satisfies my yen to garden several months ahead of the growing season, and the seedlings I’ve grown on it every year are sturdy and raring to grow and bloom outside.
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