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Thread: Styrofoam Cooler Overheat Roots?

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    A leuco by any other name would still be as gluttonous. CorneliusSchrute's Avatar
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    Styrofoam Cooler Overheat Roots?

    Alright, group, I have a question. I am going to experiment with planting a Darlingtonia or two in a polystyrene cooler. It is a quality, 2-inch-thick-walled box used to ship temperature sensitive medicine. Just guessing, it has a potting space of 8" by 10" by 6". My logic says this will keep the roots cool through the day (I will also shade the foam box), but I worry the foam will hold on to any collected heat from the day into the evening and night time hours. This would be a huge bummer, as it would negate any evening temperature drop, no?

    The box has holes in the sides about 2.5 cm from the bottom on all sides. I am using a course mix of peat, perlite, and fir bark and will expose the plants to morning sun.

    I would have placed this in the pitcher plants sub forum, but I thought it had info that could be adapted to other genre of plants.

    Thanks!

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    You could get around the problem by flushing the pot really well with cold water every evening.

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    A leuco by any other name would still be as gluttonous. CorneliusSchrute's Avatar
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    Good point. I make several trips over the summer, though. These are usually during some of the hotter months. I had considered a recirculating pump setup run off the house or a small solar panel. Think this would sufficiently dissipate the heat?

    I guess it comes down to this: is the plastic an advantage in that it allows for rapid cooling in the evening?

    My logic is leading me to think now that the semi-open (i.e. filled with media) cooler will buffer the high temperature swings rather than acting as a a vessel for heat energy (as a closed cooler does).
    Corey Bennett

    My cultivated vegetation, carnivorous and otherwise...

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    theplantman's Avatar
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    Hi. I live in GA and I have been fantasizing about doing this for Darlingtonia for a long time. I feel something like it would be necessary to keep this plant through my summers. I would love to know every detail about how this works for you!! My plants aren't big enough now to need this system, but someday I will definitely give it a go.

    Since I too have had quite some time to play around with this idea in my head, I have several theories I'll throw out there that may help out:
    1)punch holes in the bottom of the cooler and set them in a larger pool of water (kiddie pool?). This will wick up a constant supply of water that, when evaporating, will cool the media. Thus, you have the dual benefit of insulating the roots from solar heat and cooling the media.
    2) I do think it is important to prevent heat from reaching the media in the first place. I think you are heading in the right direction by trying to shade or otherwise prevent solar heat from getting to the media. However, I'd try to do so in a way that does not limit evaporation because its cooling effects can be substantial. For example, if you place the cooler's lid on and maybe drill some holes for the plants, you may inadvertently create a "heat box" that retains any heat hat builds up in the root zone.
    3) Try to water in the middle of the day somehow, even if you have to automate it. It'll cut your daily heat buildup in half. The soil's already going to cool during the evening and watering prior to that seems--at least theoretically--useless.
    4) Also, since you can't overwater Darlingtonia generally, maybe you could just drip irrigate them multiple times per day. Say 2-3x every 4-6 hours. That should, as long as you're not using boiling water, moderate your soil temps a good bit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cbennett4041 View Post
    Good point. I make several trips over the summer, though. These are usually during some of the hotter months. I had considered a recirculating pump setup run off the house or a small solar panel. Think this would sufficiently dissipate the heat?
    I have read that if the roots of Darlingtonia have access to running water then heat is not such an issue. Don't know for sure if this helps, as I haven't tried it, but its worth a shot.


    I guess it comes down to this: is the plastic an advantage in that it allows for rapid cooling in the evening?

    Good question. If your Summer lows really fell to acceptable levels I would say stick with plastic (assuming no special cooling efforts are made) but, at your Summer time temps, I think you might be in trouble no matter which pot you use.

    My logic is leading me to think now that the semi-open (i.e. filled with media) cooler will buffer the high temperature swings rather than acting as a vessel for heat energy (as a closed cooler does).

    Yup, that would be my guess as well.

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    A leuco by any other name would still be as gluttonous. CorneliusSchrute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by theplantman View Post
    1)punch holes in the bottom of the cooler and set them in a larger pool of water (kiddie pool?). This will wick up a constant supply of water that, when evaporating, will cool the media. Thus, you have the dual benefit of insulating the roots from solar heat and cooling the media.
    I had thought of something similar: floating the cooler or placing a non-insulated container over a reservoir and pumping water up and through the media to percolate back into the reservoir. I did this last year with a plant in live sphagnum, though, and I think (upon conferring with others) that the constant flow compacted the media and caused heat accumulation and lack of oxygenation. Also, the reservoir was itself a separate cooler which may have kept the water warm into the evening, thus my curiosity as to whether a cooler-planter would retain heat in the media. I like your idea of merely floating the container: your logic is sound.


    Quote Originally Posted by theplantman View Post
    2) I do think it is important to prevent heat from reaching the media in the first place. I think you are heading in the right direction by trying to shade or otherwise prevent solar heat from getting to the media. However, I'd try to do so in a way that does not limit evaporation because its cooling effects can be substantial. For example, if you place the cooler's lid on and maybe drill some holes for the plants, you may inadvertently create a "heat box" that retains any heat hat builds up in the root zone.
    Indeed; I won't use the lid. If the planter-cooler has an internal water table of an inch or two (holes punched in sides) and the media is left freely open to evaporate, would the cooling prove adequate?


    Quote Originally Posted by theplantman View Post
    3) Try to water in the middle of the day somehow, even if you have to automate it. It'll cut your daily heat buildup in half. The soil's already going to cool during the evening and watering prior to that seems--at least theoretically--useless.
    Good point! Stay ahead before getting behind.


    Quote Originally Posted by theplantman View Post
    4) Also, since you can't overwater Darlingtonia generally, maybe you could just drip irrigate them multiple times per day. Say 2-3x every 4-6 hours. That should, as long as you're not using boiling water, moderate your soil temps a good bit.
    The pump would help here, no?
    Corey Bennett

    My cultivated vegetation, carnivorous and otherwise...

    Formerly cbennett4041

  7. #7
    A leuco by any other name would still be as gluttonous. CorneliusSchrute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Huntsmanshorn View Post
    Good question. If your Summer lows really fell to acceptable levels I would say stick with plastic (assuming no special cooling efforts are made) but, at your Summer time temps, I think you might be in trouble no matter which pot you use.
    My lows aren't Darlingtonia acceptable, that is for sure!
    Corey Bennett

    My cultivated vegetation, carnivorous and otherwise...

    Formerly cbennett4041

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    kulamauiman's Avatar
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    I use live sphagnum and lava rock as a media for them. Have grown well in terracotta pots and plastic. Initially considered the live sphagnum, lava rock, and terracotta pots to enhance evaporative cooling. Might not be an issue for me. My night time lows even in the summer are in the 50-60 range.....

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