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Over wintering

Posted by LilBit7765 6a (My Page) on
Fri, Aug 15, 14 at 18:06

Well I've always kept my plants inside during the winter. (But I have a LOT more now) space isn't a problem. But living in michigan, I'm wondering, should I pick up some grow lights? Oh, and humidifiers? I have mostly succulents. My house is heated with propane and a OUTSIDE wood burner. Oh almost forgot, should I also pick up a space heater? The reason I'm asking is I'm afraid we're going to have ANOTHER rough winter. (I sure hope it isn't like last year) I woke to 43 F one morning. The wood burner had gone out in the middle of the night and I forgot to set the propane incase it happened. All my plants made it. Some didn't like it (either did I :( ) But I had JUST moved into this house and it was my FIRST time with an outside wood burner. (My first experience with ANY wood burner for that matter). I just want to be prepared this winter, And do what's best for my plants. ALL your help is as ALWAYS, GREATLY APPRECIATED!!! Thanks! 😊

This post was edited by LilBit7765 on Fri, Aug 15, 14 at 18:08


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Over wintering

Sorry everyone!! I just realized just HOW DEPRESSING my post is! ESPECIALLY for us in the north. :( but I just want to get my plan down b4 it comes. We already had temps in the low 40's here last night. :( SO depressing! I am SO NOT looking forward to grey skies ALMOST EVERY day for 5 to 6 months!! :(


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RE: Over wintering

  • Posted by Deva33 5... southeast Iowa (My Page) on
    Fri, Aug 15, 14 at 23:53

I use a grow light and it seems to help. I suggest it. I bought it online. It was fairly inexpensive.


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RE: Over wintering

Succulents will not need a humidifier, as dry conditions are the norm for them. Grow lights depends on your conditions; I only have jades to worry about, and they do fine in a south window all winter. Last winter was 7 months long, so let's hope it's not like that this winter. I've found that cacti and a lot of succulents just don't do all that well up here in the north, because of the short summers and long winters, and providing intense light via growing lights is quite costly on the electric bill.

Joe


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Joe do you know around about how much more they would raise the electric bill? Thank god I DO HAVE huge windows with bright light but when the sky is grey and there's NO SUN to begin with........:( I'm just not sure what to do.....use grow lights have hellacious electric bill, hope for the best and hope they go dormant, or see what happens and pray they don't get too leggy?? If I DONT use grow lights what helps to ensure dormancy? If I DO USE grow lights what's the best for the most cost efficient?


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RE: Over wintering

The grow lights that run up your electric bill are usually used to grow cannabis, not cactus. You can get compact fluorescent bulbs that won't make much of a dent. LEDs are also energy thrifty but cost much more at present, though over time they may get cheaper just like other electronic devices. As far as the plants "going dormant," that may be part of their normal cycle and you should probably not interfere with that. Some "leggy" growth may be inevitable but you may be able to keep it in check by only watering maybe once a month.


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Thanks for the help!


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Hi LilBit, I feel for you, having a passion for cacti & succulents and then living in a place where they could possibly face their last winter like a Snow man in the summer, is not a good thing.

Sounds like you're a good mommie to your babies tho so you and your plants will be ok with your care & planning.

Keep us posted and by the way when does the cold cold weather begin?

For us we have summery weather all year but once in a while a cold snap rolls in but leaves just as fast as it showed up.

Planning ahead is a good thing, Greg


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Well Greg, they have a saying here in Michigan, if you don't like the weather, wait five minutes and it will change lol. Typically it doesn't get cold cold until the end of October or early November. But the weather has been CRAZY the Farmers almanac says that our FIRST freeze is Labor Day weekend. So I'm worried this winter is going to be as bad as the last or maybe worse. Last year it was a little chilly in October but didn't get bad until LATE November and then just went down hill from there. The last couple nights have been I the LOW 40's so (me being the worry wart I am, they ALL came in at night even the ones I KNEW would make it lol) thanks for compliment. You probably haven't EVER had to use grow lights lol but have you heard of anyone RAVE about a particular one? Thanks again for any advice!


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I can't say that I've heard anyone raving about growing lights but I remember reading on here about their use. I wish I could remember, as soon as I can I'll post it. (Please don't hold your breath, it wouldn't be safe.)

Wow Michigan! Your a brave girl and so nice to even bring the ones not endanger in too that's exactly what I'm talking about.

I'm actually at the beach right now so have a nice day.

Greg


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RE: Over wintering

LilBit,

Many cacti and succulents can survive even lower than 40 degrees, so I wouldn't worry too much. Remember, they can tolerate the cold as long as they aren't wet as well. I keep mine in the basement during winter under regular old shop lights with fluorescent bulbs. I set the lights on a timer and they're pretty much good to go.

Nancy


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Lol Greg!! I'm glad atleast SOMEONE can enjoy the beach lol!! It's raining like mad here now. :( oh well, atleast it's warmed up!!

Nancy, thanks for the advice! So just plain ole shop lights? Do they get leggy at all? And how far away do you keep yours from the lights? I'm just wondering if I need to suspend the lights somewhat close or does it matter? Sorry for all the questions Nancy, I've never used lights before (I moved back to Michigan from Florida) and didn't have to use them. Now I kind of have too. Like I said I have NO clue. Lol. So if I ask for EVERY little detail, I'm sorry! :) what wattage are they? (Or do they not have wattage? Lol). Sorry you're kind of dealing with a dingbat when it comes to this! Lol I just usually screw the light bulb in when they're bad and call it a day! Lol so I greatly appreciated ALL your advice :)


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Winter isn't even a fleeting thought. 104 yesterday here with lows in the mid 70's.


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Wantonamara you're a lucky duck!


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I was feeling more like a crispy duck

This post was edited by wantonamara on Sun, Aug 17, 14 at 11:49


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Lol that IS pretty hot! But low 70's is nice! :)


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Yea, but that doesn't last to long. and it is a muggy one at that.


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If you use plain shop lights, be aware that they don't provide much light. In fact, they aren't even close to what a bright window will provide. If you intend to provide light that will be very bright, enough to prevent leggy growth, and to provide a decent amount of square footage for multiple plants, it will give you a noticeable increase in you electric bill. HID lighting is what marijuana growers use, as noted above, and for good reason; it's very bright, and gives off some heat, which is good too, if far enough away from the plants. They are very expensive to buy, and operate though. Fluorescent lights work for low light levels, unless you go with high output, which is brighter. You need a lot of high outputs to match an equivalent HID setup, so the cost ends up the same for setup and operation. Compact fluorescent is out of the question in my opinion, as they are too small, and you'd need a fixture for every single plant. LED, as noted, is very expensive, but are cheap to operate.

You have to decide what you intend to do though; provide enough bright light to get good growth and health over winter, or provide low light, and have your plants limp through winter.

Joe


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Well that's an EASY one! Of course..... Better growth and health of my plants. Joe, is there brand that you would recommend? I have plenty of windows, BIG windows. I just don't think it'll be enough through our VERY grey, overcast winters here. I know NOTHING about grow lights. I've read about how you need different colored bulbs?? Any advice on that?? Or is that a different kind? And best wattage? And how far above to I put it from the plants?? 🙀


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If I were to get into some grow lights, I would go with a 2x4 high output T5 fixture, either 6 or 8 lamps. T5 lamps are bright, 54 watts each, but are also a tad pricey, but you can get a setup for a around $200. Ive looked into it, and figured it out to cost about $30 a month to run every day, at 16 hours a day. I decided I'd rather use the free sunlight in the dining room, which is what I've done for years, and have kept my jades happy doing so. A lot of cacti and succulents want more light than jades though, so you may be forced to use lights. Our winters here in WI are long and gray too, but even cloudy days provide more light than the human eye perceives.

As for brands, well, there's really no difference these days, but I'd avoid lights marketed towards plant growing and fish tanks, as they are overpriced, and take advantage of hobbyists that are unaware that you can buy the same things elsewhere. Look into fluorescent high bay fixtures, which are for warehouses and such. A lot of times you can order exactly what you want, getting to choose the number of lamps, the type, and the color temperature, which you'll want to get something above 5000K. Check out the internet and see what you find, and decide if you are willing to spend $30 a month or so.

Joe


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Ok thanks!!! I appreciate the help as I am CLUELESS about them!!! :)


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Hey Lilbit
Just wanted you to know that I am further north than you (mainland Nova Scotia) and my plants do quite well without supplemental winter lighting. Most go in large south facing windows as close to the glass as possible in winter. They are behind the blind so are not shaded when the blinds are closed. I have 150 or so plants now and most are doing quite well in this setup. They do summer outdoors in a small greenhouse or on my patio. I have been growing for over 10 years in this situation and know what works for me. I stick to small plants which are somewhat slow growing, as they are less likely to etiolate during our loooong winters. I grow various Crassulas, small Aloes, Kalanchoes, some Pachyphytums and other New World Crassulaceae, various Mesembs, a few Cotyledons, and various Echeverias. Oh and lots of Haworthias and Gasterias which need less sun. The Echies do tend to get a bit leggy, so I often behead them in spring and start over.
I have debated getting grow lights but have so far resisted...
Good luck, you will discover what works for you in time!
Happy growing,
Breton


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Thanks Breton! That puts me at ease a little. I appreciate the advice!!


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LilBit,

Keep in mind that I am only speaking for MYSELF and what I do.
I have four 4' long shop lights hung side by side and use natural light 40 watt T12 bulbs. The lights are hung so that they are no more than 4-6 inches above the tallest plant on the top shelf of a 4 shelf greenhouse unit (plastic removed, so it is essentially 4 wire shelves). I have two mirrors from discarded dressers that I put against the wall behind the shelves to help reflect light. The only plants that have gotten leggy on me have been echeverias. I don't really care for echs, and the few that I do have, yes, struggle through the winter....(I'm trying to figure out who in my family I can pawn them off on :) )

 photo DSC02157.jpg

 photo DSC02159.jpg

Nancy


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Hey Lilbit
You are welcome. However I realized that my US geography is way off, you are probably at a similar latitude to Nova Scotia, not further south! However, I suspect you have colder winters than we do in Maritime Canada...

Cheers,
Breton


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Hi Nancy! I REALLY appreciate the pics so I can get an idea what I need to do! Thanks for your help!


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Whats your light color temature ?
I ask cause there is a slew of lower wattage useage from T- 4 CFL's that have a wide range of color temapture as well and can out bright a few T-12's that need a higher wattage for a lower brightness

Even at the same T-4 or T-12 color brightness
It's your budget Lower watage use resuls in lower electric use


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RE: Over wintering

LilBit, I am in SE Michigan (now Zone 6) and I too am dreading another winter like the last one. It went on forever it seems. I used 2 long narrow purple "grow" lights over my succulents in the basement but this year I am putting them back in my East and West windows. I want to be able to see them and going to the basement is not something I crave (I'm old as dirt). I agree the compact fluorscent light bulbs are a great option if you can point them in the plants' direction instead of facing them up to the ceiling.
My sucs will go up against the windows also, I had good luck with that a couple of years ago. Seems like cacs and sucs like their dormancy next to the cold windows. I would not purchase lights this year, just see how the windows suffice. Maybe we'll get more sunshine this winter, who knows? Keep us posted during the winter with your success, won't you?
Pat


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I do use grow lights for my plants but I have LOTS and more than just succulents.

My dad has lots of cactus that he puts in front of windows and no grow lights and he lives further north than I do.


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Thanks everyone! Just nervous, I keep hearing this year might be worse than the last! That would be something that would probably make me consider moving back to Florida ! Lol. And I hate Florida! Messing with an outdoor wood burner in the dead if winter SUCKS! Anyway.........it sure doesn't hurt to go price everything and see which one I EXACTLY want , that way I'm prepared if that's what I'm gonna do. But I do notice that my A frame windows that are from floor to ceiling get TONS of light. Infact I bought an aloe and it burned it pretty good (black beauty aloe pretty small but not a seedling or anything that small) in one day. I didn't think plants coul burn by windows? How did that happen? So I'm thinking all my plants that are outside SHOULD do fine there. What's real nice is it's got BIG, HUGE, window ledges 8 or 9 feet up and then big sliding doors that I can put tables in front of if I don't have enough space. Here's a pic (it's night time) whatcha think? The windowsill above the sliders are definitely wide enough for my biggest pot.


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I just realized what a horrible pic this is lol. Well above that sliding door is a ledge and above that is more window lol I'll take a better pic in day time lol


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Ok it's overcast today (gonna rain) but I swear bright light ALL day)


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•Posted by Joe1980 5

If you use plain shop lights, be aware that they don't provide much light. In fact, they aren't even close to what a bright window will provide.

I would have to disagree with you, in part, Joe. I grow orchids under standard shop lights with daylight spectrum 40W bulbs -- mostly Cattleya which are higher light plants. (Growlights, IMO, are grossly overrated and quite unnecessary.) Most do equally well there as in a "bright window". Proximity to the lights will make a huge difference. I place my plants within in an inch or less to the lights for high light lovers when possible.

Furthermore, what are you classifying as a "bright window?" In my case, the window I am making my comparison with is a completely unobstructed SE facing sliding glass doors (what some folks call a "doorwall"). Lighting in such an area can get quite intense.

Now I will agree that trying to match direct outdoor sunlight with fluorescents is very difficult if not almost impossible, to say the least. Cost-wise, running shoplights is not that expensive.

Lil, if you have a very bright -- preferably an unobstructed SE, S, or SW window, your plants may do just fine without supplemental lighting. I have had no issue with etiolation on mine over the winter and they simply sit on a SE window ledge all winter long. Now I will hasten to add that they also get next to no water all winter long ... just a few dribbles once or twice a month. The dimmer light, cooler temps (being by a window and all) and the sharp reduction in water all leads to zero to little growth. I keep them in this state until temps warm up in the spring. An exception are my Haworthia -- as they stop growing in the heat of summer and don't pick up again until the fall/winter. (They get more water during that time and they desire lower light levels than many commonly grown cacti/succs.)


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RE: Over wintering

Thanks so much for your advice :)


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