Does anybody use Christmas lights for the freeze?

c9pilot(9b/10a)January 3, 2012

I read I the paper that you can use older (not LED) Christmas lights to wrap around plants As a faint heat source in a freeze. The article might have said to also throw a sheet over the plant, but I can't remember.

I'm convinced that we didn't get any freezes last winter because I left my Christmas lights box in the garage, just in case I needed them, while the rest of the Christmas stuff went back in the attic.

Has anybody tried this? Any advice on how best to use them for this purpose?

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puglvr1(9b central FL)

This is my small Mango tree with 2 sets of C-7 (old fashioned type of Christmas lights)...I believe it has 25 lights per set, each bulb is 5 watts each so its 125 watts per set. I wrapped them around the branches and covered it with some sheets and frost cloth. This was taken last winter.

The C-9's I believe have 7 watts per bulb so it should put out appx. 175 watts per set of 25.

Nancy

    Bookmark   January 3, 2012 at 3:28PM
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sun_worshiper(FL 9b)

Yep, I do it too. Last year I protected hanging bunches of bananas with c9 lights. Worked great. The bananas survived 23 degrees and ripened in the spring.

This year, I have small citrus that have been in the ground for just over a year. Last winter I covered them fully with shelters. This year, I am just giving them xmas lights. I also have a hong kong orchid that I put inside a shelter last year. But this year it is much too large for a shelter, so it has a couple strings of c9s on it. Here's hoping that's enough=)

    Bookmark   January 3, 2012 at 3:59PM
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dirtygardener73(9a)

Which reminds me, I need to go drag my COT into the house.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2012 at 4:21PM
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thomas12

Yes, I have successfully used incandescent Christmas lights with a car cover to protect mangoes and papayas. They survived nights as cold as 24F without any damage.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2012 at 5:54PM
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sun_worshiper(FL 9b)

Here's a pic of my young orange tree with xmas lights.

The dome shelters behind it are protecting more sensitive trees like mangos.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2012 at 7:18PM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

GREAT Job sunworshiper! LOVE your set up for the rest of your fruit tress as well.Excellent job...very attractive and professional looking. Unlike mine,lol...

    Bookmark   January 4, 2012 at 8:06AM
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c9pilot(9b/10a)

Wow! I need to keep an eye out for any clearance sale lights for sure, although when I checked at 6:30am, it was only 41 in my backyard - whew.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2012 at 10:29AM
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ibarbidahl(9 (tampa-ish))

Be forewarned... I used c-9's this year and last. This morning some time between 1am and 6am a fuse went and the rest of the lights with it... my Brazilian/Barbados charries, strawberry guavas, young avocodos, mango - all my tropicals are toasty now. So make sure you are careful with what you've got out there. I should have used a frost cloth and kept those plants in pots. BLAH.

*crying*

Barbie

    Bookmark   January 4, 2012 at 11:01AM
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sun_worshiper(FL 9b)

So sorry to hear about your disaster Barbie! But you bring up a very good point! These lights draw a *lot* of power - definitely need to be aware of it. Luckily for me, my husband was trained as an electrician, so he calculated the load from all my lights and balanced it across circuits to help avoid such a disaster. But still, some of mine are at max capacity...

Hey Nancy - nice to hear from you! How are your trees this year? How cold is it where you are?

    Bookmark   January 4, 2012 at 12:01PM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

Hey Angela! My forecast low this morning was suppose to be 23 degrees...Thank goodness it didn't reach that! 29 degrees was the coldest it got...but only for a short while...it hovered around 30-31 degrees off and on most of the night to the wee hours till around 9am. One more frosty night. I hope its our last but I have a feeling it isn't :o(

Nice to see you too!

    Bookmark   January 4, 2012 at 9:55PM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

Hi
I used to maintain a heated shadehouse but since I'm getting old and feeble I moved my orchids into beds between two palms. Set up a temporary shelter using frost cloth and heated with a heat lamp which has a themostat.
Don't use it until it gets into the 30's. The advantage to this is that it can be left up for the 3 day length of a front and will not overheat even in full sun. Has worked the last two very cold years but those growing on a carombola tree with only a bed sheet survived as well.lol The Catts aborted the flower cycle though? gary

    Bookmark   January 5, 2012 at 5:57AM
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sun_worshiper(FL 9b)

Hey Nancy. My low was 29 too. Took the shelters down yesterday. Everything did fine - no damage. How'd you do?

That sounds like a pretty awesome setup Gary. Trees can give a lot of protection. I grow veggies and herbs under my maple tree. The tree canopy provides just enough shelter that usually my tomatoes and sometimes even basil survive without any additional protection.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2012 at 1:24PM
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Minderella(9 Lake County FL)

I was worried about causing a fire. Is it possible to start a fire with christmas lights?

    Bookmark   January 10, 2012 at 8:46AM
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loufloralcityz9

Minderella,

If the wires are not bare anywhere, no cracked rubber or plastic and/or nothing frayed you should be OK putting the Christmas lights for plant heat. Just make sure each of the light bulbs is not laying against any plant material.

Lou (retired electronics engineer)

Now if you are planning to start a fire it's a heck of a lot easier to use a match or a lighter.

MOO

    Bookmark   January 10, 2012 at 7:51PM
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grem

LED Christmas lights also provide the benefit of being much less trouble. These virtually unbreakable lights don't have any filament and aren't susceptible to exactly the same kinds issue .lighting is the major concern for this time .C9 LED Christmas lights is the best for decorating your home in Christmas.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2012 at 1:36AM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

Hi
I use a non light infrared bulb with thermostat . Covered with frostcloth. the advantage of the frostcloth is that it can be left in place for the usual 3 day duration of the front without overheating even in full sun.
i found Christmas lights either were not enough or too much lol Be sure they don't touch either the plants or the cloth!!! Most LED lights I've seen don't put out enough heat in my experience gary

    Bookmark   August 2, 2012 at 4:10AM
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aloyzius

For the next cold season, you can hook them up to a "thermo cube". It's a plug that kicks on at 35 degrees. I got mine at home depot when I lived in Utah for 12 bucks. It kept my palm trees from freezing. But they probably
aren't big sellers here and you might have to order online.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 12:13PM
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muscledbear(10a)

I have had success with the larger non-LED lights when I was living in Houston and protecting plants from freezes. I found that by weaving the lights through larger plants and , then covering them with a sheet or fabric, I could get protection down to 28 or 29 degrees. Especially if there was not a wind. Much below that, I never had any luck, it was just too cold for the lights to do much good.

I never bothered worrying about keeping the bulbs from the plants, I figured that a little burn was better than freezing, but you do want to keep it away from the fabric or plastic that you cover it with.

And the main feature of LED lights is what makes them not as useful for frosts. Its all that inefficiency of C9 or C7 bulbs that you want, all that "wasted" heat.

I have mine packed separate from Christmas stuff, so they were easy to pull out when needed

    Bookmark   August 18, 2012 at 7:20AM
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saldut

And they are so pretty at Christmas!! when my mango was small it was lit up like a Christmas tree and people commented on our 'Holiday Spirit'.......sally

    Bookmark   August 18, 2012 at 5:10PM
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jofus(9b/10a Englewood, Fl)

Yikes, have never experienced a 23 deg night in my 4 years here just south of Venice ! I use the large bulb Xmass lights exclusively on my four mango trees now. For the first 2 winters I also wrapped old bed sheets around each tree with the lights strung thoughout the tree underneath. But now the trees are getting too big ( the Valencia Pride is now about 13 feet tall !!! ) so I threw out the sheets and strictly rely on the heat from the Xmass lights ! Have not had a problem so far, and am hoping that the trees are nearing the stage where, with each extra layer of bark they grow, they won't even need the lights. So when a very cold night comes after that, ( say 28 - 32 degrees for an hour or so ), it might wipe out the coming seasons fruit, but not kill the tree. Always the optimist.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2012 at 1:24PM
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jtwg

Does anyone remember how hot Christmas light bulbs used to get? I always assumed that they were higher wattage than new incandescent bulbs, which are must cooler to the touch. The new ones I use for freeze protection are 7 watts, which should be a measure of heat output. But I took a real close look at some of my vintage bulbs, and they are also 7 watts.

Someone explained that it might be reasonable that different 7 watt bulbs can feel different to the touch, and that it might be due to different type of coating/paint on the bulb. Does this make sense?

    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 4:07PM
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mrs_tlc

We put this tent over the whole garden and closed it on the sides with dollar store shower curtains....not real attractive but it worked. We then put a halogen shop light in the ground in the middle and everything was fine.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 8:48PM
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jofus(9b/10a Englewood, Fl)

Hmmm, here it is almost a year since the question was first asked and the topic is still going. I have used both the C 7 and C 9 bulbs on my four mango trees sucessfully for the past 5 years. In the beginning, when the trees were young, I also covered them with a sheet. Now the trees are too big for that, so on the few nights when temps are forecast below 42 or so, I turn on the old fashioned Xmass lights at dusk and also wrap old towels around the trunks. So far so good, trees are growing up fast & healthy.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2012 at 5:45PM
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billbrandi(9)

I drape Xmas lights on my fruit trees (the young ones, that is) and also spray them with a chemical called Freeze Pruf. I starting using the chemical a few years ago after losing several trees in the cold and after using the spray, have not lost a one.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2012 at 11:23AM
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