What's new

Help me think of winter solutions...

Zath

Enthusiastic Enthusiast
Joined
May 24, 2014
Messages
584
Location
VA, USA
I know there are a hundred threads about all the different setups and terrariums, a lot of which have a lot of great ideas and potential. Yet not every set-up is going to work under every condition.

Here's the issue I'm going to run into this winter, whether I like it or not, and it may become a limiting factor on the plants I can grow unless I can figure out a reliable way of circumventing it.

Problem: I live in a rural area in a house which experiences frequent power outages in cold weather, ranging anywhere from a few hours to a few days. I'm far enough away from a highway (and on a hilly and twisting road with a cliff on one side) that if there's more than a few inches of snow, I could be unable to leave the house for days.

(part 2 of problem): Even when the power is on, our heating unit simply cannot keep up with the house on extremely cold days, and the upstairs can drop drastically.

The solution I need is something enclosed, with an efficient heating system, and it needs to be somewhat mobile, in case the power DOES go off for a few days, and I need to huddle my tropicals near a fireplace or propane heater to keep the room temp. above 45.

My house is wonderful...for the view...not so much for growing awesome carnivorous plants. At any rate, I'm not looking for a step-by-step guide, but more just ideas thrown out that I can further look into. I already have some things in mind, but I'd like to get some different opinions, and I might ultimately come up with something better, or something I wouldn't have thought of by myself.

If it makes any difference, I can't spend too too much money on any one piece of equipment (other than planning to buy a small gas-generator before Fall). That's why I'm trying to come up with something now, so that I can piecemeal the final cost over a few months.

The plants I will need to be keeping warm and on a photoperiod will be a couple intermediate Neps, sundews, utrics, and some seedlings that won't be needing a dormancy yet.

Thanks to anyone who responds for their consideration.
 
Joined
Jun 24, 2012
Messages
1,215
Location
Mansfield UK
What you need to do is grow plants that will be happy in your natural conditions ( plus a little protection). problem solved
 

NemJones

I Am the Terror Of the Night!
Joined
Jun 28, 2014
Messages
836
Location
Zone 5
What you need to do is grow plants that will be happy in your natural conditions ( plus a little protection). problem solved

Welp hes already got them, so thats not gonna work.

Perhaps you can line the entire growing area wi a crate of hand warmers?
Another idea that you could look into is solar power. Get a few panels,
Store the energy in the batterys, and try to figure out a way to wire them to either
Heating coils, or heating blankets
 

Dragoness

For the love of Science!
Joined
Jun 8, 2014
Messages
516
Location
Oakland County, Michigan
I have an idea that may work for you. It will be fairly cheap ($100 or less, depending on what you already have on hand.)

This was what I originally used as an emergency rehabilitation chamber for sick reptiles that needed heat and humidity no matter what, and also, in case they needed relocation due to power outages, etc.

You will need:

Large plastic storage bins, such as those made by Rubbermaid or Sterilite, etc. I'd go with a 50qt, or more than one as needed.
Hardware cloth (~$6.00/roll)
Zip ties
Lamps (Can use the ones you already have, or by $10 aluminum lamps)


If you get an opaque bin, you will need to make this modification for lighting it: Trace lamp fixture onto lid of plastic container, and cut out. Drill or pierce small holes surrounding the lamp-sized hole. Cut Hardware cloth to fit under lamp-sized hole with overlap on all sides. Use zip ties to attach hardware cloth to plastic lid.

If you get a clear bin, you can rely on ambient light for your plants.

It makes a great humidity and heat retaining box that is very portable, but it does rely on you having power to run it.

In the event of a loss of power AND inability to move the bin, you could put those handwarmer and shipping heat packs in there, and of course, something to keep it humid (a pot of damp sphag, etc.) and wrap it thoroughly with blankets to insulate it, or keep it near a fireplace or other warm area.
 

NemJones

I Am the Terror Of the Night!
Joined
Jun 28, 2014
Messages
836
Location
Zone 5
You have a very strange idea of 'natural conditions' Nem

My apologies fred, I thought you were telling him him to get some plants and throw them to the winter, and hope they survive lol.

One more idea at may be worth researching, perhaps you could get a good number of metal containers (thermos bottles, Metal tube, etc) and fill them with boiling water and add them to your environment. This could help keep heat and humidity Depending where you put them. Maybe even a metal tubing system under or above the plants that can circulate hot water/steam?

Last ditch option, create a thick metal box, fill it with hot coals and put a terrarium on top and that could possibly
Warm the terrarium and plants. (Be sure to test this/use heat shielding if you do try it. Nobody wants burned plants and broken glass.)
 
Last edited:

Zath

Enthusiastic Enthusiast
Joined
May 24, 2014
Messages
584
Location
VA, USA
Perhaps you can line the entire growing area wi a crate of hand warmers?
Another idea that you could look into is solar power. Get a few panels,
Store the energy in the batterys, and try to figure out a way to wire them to either
Heating coils, or heating blankets

That is....waaay too much money, either way.


@ Dragoness: Thanks. I've done something similar in the past when I kept more reptiles than I had 40+ gallon aquariums. However, I will have a terrarium or two set up which should do nicely while the power is on...but...

I've also got a small, off-the-shelf "greenhouse". What's nice about it (oddly) is the plastic covering does an excellent job of keeping in humidity, and the door is zippered. It gets too hot for plants in mid-summer outside, but I'm thinking it would be perfect if moved indoors.

The area is about 6.5' Tall x 4' W x 3' D.

It's aluminum or thin steel tubing, extremely light. But it's a rather large area for conductive heating (is that the word?), But even a small space-heater seems like it'd be a bit much, and I haven't been able to find any reasonably priced probe-thermostats...so if anyone has recommendations on a brand or whatnot that would be useful as well.

If I'm lucky, a couple bins of water with 100 watt fishtank heaters MIGHT suffice, but that's why I'm looking into alternatives, in case it won't.
 

NemJones

I Am the Terror Of the Night!
Joined
Jun 28, 2014
Messages
836
Location
Zone 5
Hot water bottles are a great idea if you can still heat water (depends on if your water heater is gas or electric, I guess.)

Wood is also a great way lol. Also, the jet boils that campers use work awesome.
 

Zath

Enthusiastic Enthusiast
Joined
May 24, 2014
Messages
584
Location
VA, USA
My apologies fred, I thought you were telling him him to get some plants and throw them to the winter, and hope they survive lol.

One more idea at may be worth researching, perhaps you could get a good number of metal containers (thermos bottles, Metal tube, etc) and fill them with boiling water and add them to your environment. This could help keep heat and humidity Depending where you put them. Maybe even a metal tubing system under or above the plants that can circulate hot water/steam?

Last ditch option, create a thick metal box, fill it with hot coals and put a terrarium on top and that could possibly
Warm the terrarium and plants. (Be sure to test this/use heat shielding if you do try it. Nobody wants burned plants and broken glass.)

O.O goodness...no.

I can technically heat water, provided I have fuel (firewood). But I'd have to be baby-sitting them, if it came to that. Warm water is fine when provided constantly and electrically.
 
Top