Best winter protection for SE Kansas (zone 7a)

Discuss greenhouse related topics and outside weather protection methods.

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Best winter protection for SE Kansas (zone 7a)

Post by kspalmguy » Sun Aug 31, 2014 12:47 pm

About time to start thinking about protection methods here in southeast Kansas...our first freeze falls around the first week of November.  Here's what I have in the ground: Trachycarpus, Sabal mexicana, three Washingtonia "filibusta", and a Chamaerops humilis. I plan to build boxes from that inch-thick pink or blue foam insulation.  These boxes would be placed over the palms and supplemented with strands of lights only when temperatures are forecast to be below 30 degrees (Fahrenheit) and removed during the day. My questions are, how much do I water throughout winter? Does an opaque protection method work, or should it let light in? I've never done this on this level before:P  Have a great Labor Day, fellow palm-ers ;)

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Post by TerdalFarm » Mon Sep 01, 2014 9:02 am

There are folks here who know more than I, so take this with a grain of salt (Magnesium Sulfate, preferably).

I am a big fan of pipe heating tape. Your local hardware store sells it. Wrap it around trunk and spear base, at least. It comes on when the built-in thermometer sense temperatures close to freezing, and turns off when it warms up. Never gets hot to the touch. Uses very little electricity.

If you use Christmas lights, get the old fashioned incandescent (C9) not the newer LED lights. They don't give off enough heat. Then, connect to a thermocube. Again, your local hardware store will have them. They turn on when cold and off when warm. All this is available online, of course.

I don't think palms need light in winter, but I like to see them. So, an aesthetic choice.

I like my palms dry in the cold. But, not too dry, esp. for those sunny days we get when it warms up.

Anyway, you can do it.

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Post by oppalm » Wed Sep 17, 2014 9:12 am

Are you serious? you cant grow palm in Kansas. what are you .... crazy? I am north of you about 2 hours and I use an insulated box and a thermocube (I use the 10/20) and 2 outdoor lights with two 60 watt bulbs for winter time. I have never watered my outdoor palm trees in winter. My palm trees are completely covered for the duration of winter, from mid November thru early March or so, no light whatsoever, except when the lights are triggered inside the box by temps less than 10F. Any more questions , let me know. Good luck.
Kent in Kansas
where it's cold in winter (always)
and hot in summer (usually)
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Post by Brooklands » Fri Nov 14, 2014 3:00 pm

Curious to know what you eventually went with.

In answer to your questions, dark all winter is fine if you don't get too many extended warm spells. A couple of CFL daylight bulbs are better if it gets warm enough to grow a bit. Only minor watering is typically needed if it's really dry and warm, and none at all if it's cold and wet.

Since the cold is heading your way, you may be in the middle of protecting right now. For what it's worth, my success with full boxes has been beter than wraps. The best bet is the pink or blue rigid foam insulation you have suggested, so I hope that's what you went with. The 1" would work fine with lots of C-9's, but 1.5" with 2 or more 23watt CFL's (depending on box size) would be preferable. Using "daylight" CFL's left on constantly all winter can actually lead to some minor growth, and the constant heat allows for some air circulation inside the box that doesn't occur with thermocubes shutting off the C-9's for warm spells. With concrete blocks holding down the boxes, the 4' square cubes can be lifted off in seconds when a warm spell is anticipated, though the larger ones left on all winter are fine as well.

Try to avoid foil lined styrofoam if you can. I have found the added condensation on the foils surface has led to more mold issues than the plain foam. If you do use foiled foam, make sure the fronds are pulled back from it.

Good luck, as that's a nice list of palms to protect.

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Post by lucky1 » Fri Nov 14, 2014 5:39 pm

boxes from that inch-thick pink or blue foam insulation.
Agree with suggestions, especially never watering in winter.

I'd add a 40 pound rock to the top of the foam boxes, spreading the weight over a 1 x 6 board so the box doesn't collapse.
Otherwise those boxes will be in Lake Erie within a week.

Good luck.
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Post by hardyjim » Mon Nov 17, 2014 7:02 am

Whatever methods you use,you want a temp sensor in there so you know how your protection behaves...
the Thermocubes are about the only way to take the guesswork out of it as you know the temp range will
always(roughly)be 35F/45F....unless the sun overheats the enclosure...back to the temp sensor if your wanting the suns help.
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