What kind of plants do you have? Some will do just fine leaving them outside all winter in TX, such as Sarracenia, and many Drosera.
Unfortunatly, I will not be in TX all winter or else I would.
I will be leaving TX mid November, and hope to have the plants entering a dormant stage by then, to make travel easier. *
I will be returning back up to fridgid Rochester NY, where it is too cold to leave them outside all winter. *I also live in a college apartment area, so there isn't really any place I can leave them outside without the fear of drunken vandalism, or at the very least, beer being spilled into the pots.
Another thought which may work well in a college apt-- one of those small fridges are roughly $70 at wal-mart or k-mart. If your plants fit in a styrophom container the fridge should be about the same size. The one here in our office has max-min temp dial (I could stick a theometer inside and see what the range is if you want). Anyhow, if it is dedicated to just the plants, I would bet the temp could be maintained at 50ish (which is warmer than your average fridge for food). That should avoid your mold issues but keep the temp right. It is also small enough to fit in the corner of your room and not be in the way of your roommates.
I bet it could be modified fairly easy too---remove the door and cover with a piece of glass (then you can see them all winter). The florescent light fixtures for under kitchen cabinets could be rigged inside to provide light.
Oh, by the way, your plan sounds possible also. The number of ice packs needed to keep the temp right might become a problem; remember the apt will be heated so even though the cooler will keep the cold temp in, I'm not sure that keeping a stable temp will be easy.
Oh, one more thought, get an apartment with a balcony or fire escape out your bedroom window. Many CP's would do just fine sitting out there and I'd bet your roommates won't party outside once it gets cold. LOL My sarrs and purp and VFT were in 20F for a good 2 months last winter and did just fine.
Good luck, have a great school year and may all your CP's do well.
I have exactly the same problem. I live in a relatively cold area where it sometimes reaches 32F in winter. I don't have a balcony and my room is too small. After reading this thread, I think it might be good to lower the temp slowly using the styrofoam-method and then putting it in the refridgerator. That way you don't have to struggle with the ice-packs and the heating in winter. I reckon keeping the styrofoam at a constant temp will be almost impossible over the course of two or three months.
I fear my plants are doomed [img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/sad.gif[/img]
Does anyone know of any CP's (besides our AK native ones) that could handle being left outdoors in Alaska for dormancy? The lowest temperature I've seen in the winter was a little past -50F. Our usual winter temps in this part of AK are from 30F to - 40F. I thought about putting my plants by the windows in an unheated garage all winter. That should keep the temps a tiny bit warmer. And the photoperiod would naturaly drop to 4 to 5 hours of daylight a day by Janurary. Or my bed room is a possibility..it usually varies from 50F to 40F in winter.. is that too warm? It's really hard for me to keep any kind of maintained temp (outside of the terrariums) because we only have a woodstove for heat so the temp varies alot.
Or there's always the frigerator...