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My UHL Setup (In Progress)

Joined
Jun 26, 2019
Messages
39
Location
North Carolina
Made an error. Post title should just be HL setup, not UHL.

It's been awhile since I gave an update on my growing conditions. As mentioned in this thread, I was previously using a small makeshift evaporative cooler that was honestly not getting the cooling effect I needed, along with the mold problems to boot. See shrinking growth tip on my hamata, along with damage from some long dead thrips:
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After a lot of headache attempting to rig peltier units and insulate fish tanks, use evaporative cooling, and even manually moving ice into the tank each night, I thought it was time for something that would work better and also look nicer. I was able to find a reasonably priced wine cooler on sale and figured it would be worth a shot at converting it into a highland environment for my N. jamban and N. hamata. Most of the cooler setups I've seen in the past have either utilized chest freezers that cycle on during the night, or wine cooler setups that cycle based off of a day/night temperature controller. I also purchased and assembled a dimmable LED kit that uses three CREE XML-2 Warm White and three CREE XML-2 Cool White lights, as done by others, along with an aluminum heatsink. By using eggcrate, two computer fans, a baking cooling rack and some magnet strips I was able to get something that looked reasonable with the capacity to cool at night down to 39 F. Below are some photos of the setup that currently contains a bottom bin where I set the plants at night (while doing environmental testing), as well as some rehydrated sphagnum with a few small Pinguicula grown from leaf pullings.
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48524714036_d528275e2b_c.jpg

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With the nighttime cooling having been achieved by adjusting the dial on the fridge to a setting corresponding to 54 F, I still have a few issues to sort out. One concern I had at the outset of this project was that the LED lighting and the closed system would warm the tank throughout the day with accumulated heat. Currently the heatsink is located inside the fridge with the computer fan, and if possible I would prefer to not damage the top of the fridge, for fear of ruining any internal components and for the overall aesthetic appeal of the fridge. When testing, five hours of continuous light warmed the tank from 54 to 90 F. To try and fix this I have set the fridge to cycle on for one half hour during every two hour period during the day. This prevents the temperature from getting too hot (it cycles between the mid 60's and upper 70's as seen on the thermometer in each two hour period), but it tends to drop the humidity in the fridge down into the 50's. In the last picture you can see where the refrigerant is pumped through tubes on the inside back wall when the compressor cycles. This back wall tends to quickly build up frost which melts in minutes after the fridge cycles off. I have included a couple of trays to catch the melted water rather than allow it to flow into the drain located at the back of the unit (the water tray on the back of the fridge is quite small). My biggest concern at the moment is the fluctuating humidity levels in the fridge and the cycling temperatures (12 F) occurring every two hours to counteract the LED heat buildup. The only solution I can think of that doesn't involve cutting out the top of the fridge is to use large volumes of water in some sort of container inside the fridge to act as a temperature buffer. I am also thinking that with enough moss and water in each tray, I could possibly keep the local environment around my plants humid, even though the humidity in the fridge drops. I would love suggestions that any of you may have, and will keep this thread updated with the progress of the fridge as well as the plants!
 
Last edited:
Joined
Jun 26, 2019
Messages
39
Location
North Carolina
No it is not. The suboptimal temperatures allowed it to grow well for a while but I think the stress of the thrips caused a bit of a meltdown that was bound to happen at one point or another. Hopefully this setup ( or a better version of it) can prevent that in the future.
 
Joined
Jun 26, 2019
Messages
39
Location
North Carolina
After a full day of monitoring lumens/sq. ft. and temperature, I've got a baseline to work with on improvements. Unless I am mistaken, the light measurements are a little useless as they don't readily convert to PAR, but the temperature values have been very helpful. I am hopeful that the addition of a gallon of water to the tank will help to round out or narrow the temperature fluctuations during the daytime. This buffering effect could also potentially increase the amount of time the fridge would need to cool at night in order to get a full eight hours at 53 F, but I can always have it start the night cooling earlier if needed. You can see that the daytime temperature max takes a few cycles to top out, and I'm hoping that the buffering effect of the water will slow that gradual heat accumulation.

48541129192_a4f8a032c2_c.jpg
 
Joined
Dec 23, 2002
Messages
354
Location
Munich/ Germany
The suboptimal temperatures allowed it to grow well for a while but I think the stress of the thrips caused a bit of a meltdown

No, the new growth is deformed which is caused by a massive mite infection.
Under warmer conditions the effect gets more prominent and N. hamata is
the first plant which shows these signs (from my experience).

Try getting a good miticide and spray this and also the other Nepenthes in your collection.
I am located in Germany, so I can´t recommend which good miticides are available to you.

Good luck with your plant!

Joachim
 
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Joined
Jun 26, 2019
Messages
39
Location
North Carolina
No, the new growth is deformed which is caused by a massive mite infection.
Under warmer conditions the effect gets more prominent and N. hamata is
the first plant which shows these signs (from my experience).
Joachim

Can anyone confirm this? I had not heard that recommendation yet. For reference, here are some photos of spots that have appeared on the newer leaves of N. jamban. I assumed this was just some Cercospora or a stress related phenotype due to temperature, however I have only had this plant for about a month and a half. I noticed yesterday that the first developing pitcher in my care turned black around where the peristome should have been (before and after), and that there were a few brown spots and one distinct black spot (not shown) on the leaves. It could be that there are multiple different symptoms showing up due to a combination of factors. I have not seen any mites when inspecting the plants with a magnifying glass, but that doesn't mean they aren't there. Thanks again for your help!
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Joined
Aug 4, 2008
Messages
1,814
Yeah, I'd agree you probably have some mites. The incompletely developed, rough textured leaves you have on your hamata are pretty spot on for mite damage
 
Joined
Jun 26, 2019
Messages
39
Location
North Carolina
So it looks like the gallon of water worked to buffer the overall temperatures, with it taking a longer time to cool during the night but also having slightly lower low's and clearly lower high's, during the early day in particular. This slightly reduced the temperature fluctuations at the most from 15 degrees to around 12, so not a total success in terms of really rounding out the variation and moving the needle, but it's a start. I've had a hard time finding much information on fluctuations like this during the daytime and how it impacts plant growth, but I imagine that even someone with a probe thermostat would have a similar (although less extreme) problem.

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Joined
Jun 26, 2019
Messages
39
Location
North Carolina
Just a brief update on this project, below is my final setup as far as plants and materials in the tank. I am still seeing a large temperature drop when the fridge cycles on during the daytime, so I'm planning on getting a digital timer so that I have more flexibility than the half hour peg timer I am currently using. Having the moss basin has really kept the humidity much higher than sitting water. It did not drop below 70% at any time during the several days I let it run.
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As for the hamata, I have ramped up the application of Bayer 3 in 1 and am seeing no ill effects so far. Initially when I had applied Neem Oil I was seeing some burning of the leaves after each application, so I have switched over to the 3 in 1 completely for this round. It appears that the primary growth point may be dead or on its way out, so after the spraying regimen is complete I will try applying some keiki paste to the nodes below the primary growth tip. The roots on this plant are monstrous so I anticipate that the plant should have a decent chance of bouncing back after it settles into the new conditions.
 
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Joined
Dec 23, 2002
Messages
354
Location
Munich/ Germany
I will try applying some keiki paste to the nodes below the primary growth tip. .

This won´t be necessary. As soon as the main growth point
has died off, one of the lower nodes will start to grow.
Of course it will take some time, but your setup is much more
favorable now.

I have a S. spectabilis (from o local grower) which came with mites.
After one leaf the growth point was missing:
DSC09937.jpg

After a severe treatment with a miticide some weeks later a node
below started to sprout:

DSC04714.jpg

Good luck with your N. hamata!

Joachim
 
Joined
Jun 26, 2019
Messages
39
Location
North Carolina
It looks like another node had already started forming a shoot on my plant without me bothering it so I'll leave it alone for a while and see how it progresses!
 

nepenthesl0ve

Supporter
Joined
Dec 24, 2018
Messages
280
glad things seem to be going better for you, i only keep my room at 65% humidity as a low threshold and my humidifiers would fly through water so fast at first. now that my room is full of potted plants the humidity is buffered very well by all that moist grow media and humidifiers only get filled once per week. and not only that, the humidity stays in the 70s purely through evaporation and the humidifiers are only being triggered when the AC unit turns on.

i actually had a hamata that was struggling through something similar and by treating it for fungus and insects it has turned around big time! hope yours does the same, heres progression from diagnosing a problem to today.

20B170A6-ABC8-4B6F-9526-92A35AB24F38 by myles geishecker, on Flickr
unnamed by myles geishecker, on Flickr
A1DE06D2-CD74-463C-A49E-7128E8AD6159 by myles geishecker, on Flickr
 

nepenthesl0ve

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Dec 24, 2018
Messages
280
I applied first treatment early June, highlanders seem to take their time in everything they do lol
 
Joined
Jun 26, 2019
Messages
39
Location
North Carolina
Some quick updates from the wine cooler setup. I purchased some live sphagnum to spruce up the tank, and it looks to be doing well. Overall the temperatures have been on the lower side, with a high of 72 during the day so I am currently fine-tuning the on/off cycles to let it get a little warmer in the tank during the day time. So far, the plants do not seem to mind the temperature swings when the cooler turns on during the day, and humidity has been very stable never dropping below 75% with the sphagnum and water reservoir underneath the plants.
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All of the plants have started growing after acclimating to the cooler, but they are quite a bit slower than without the temperature drops, as expected. I'm hoping this will pay off with a more long term healthy growing situation.
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The N. hamata has begun to resume new growth after the pest/pathogen issue. I am still unsure of what caused this damage, but it is likely a bug issue in combination with the lack of night time temp drops. After looking the plant over thoroughly with a dissecting scope I was unable to find any bugs or obvious signs of insects, although the uppermost shoot meristem was deformed and looked to have some browning and leaves that failed to unfurl. There were multiple small nodules around the growth point that were a mix between green and brown in coloration, and I made the decision to excise this from the tissue to promote laterals to develop. So far there are two shoots that are starting to form from the leaf nodes. Hopefully this is a good sign and the growth continues with these better conditions and without me fussing over it!
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Thanks again to all of you for the great suggestions and willingness to help! The plants have improved vastly from the suggestions I received here and the information from older threads.
 

jpappy789

I hate bugs. Carnivorous plants get me.
Joined
Apr 7, 2010
Messages
1,208
Location
Miami, FL
Hey [MENTION=13936]Leafgeek[/MENTION], wondering how this is going for you and the plants? Did you switch to a more temp controlled setup or is it still just cycling on and off?

I'm trying to find ways to get more HL-ish temps in a small space living in a subtropical climate (i.e. swamp coolers will not be effective for me either) and yours is the most recent wine fridge setup I could find as an example. You mentioned not wanting to cut into the top for the lights, and that is my biggest concern as well. It's a bit hard for me to grasp based on the pics, so I was also curious how did you get the wiring for the lights and fan out, just a smaller hole?

My other option is a chest freezer, but I'm worried about frozen plants if something malfunctions (and it wouldn't be as easy to view them). Thanks for any guidance!
 
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NickHubbell

It’s a trap!
Joined
Jul 30, 2002
Messages
1,225
Location
Findlay, OH
Looks great. Just a word of warning on the digital thermometer/hydrometer. They don’t like getting their internals wet [emoji23]. I killed the one I have just like yours.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
Joined
Jun 26, 2019
Messages
39
Location
North Carolina
[MENTION=7814]jpappy789[/MENTION] I have left the cooler on a timer for now and the plants seem to be doing OK. To stabilize the humidity a little I've made a sphagnum wall in the back next to the cooling coils that sits in a water tray to keep the dehumidification away from the plants themselves. Temperatures have been pretty consistent, and it's mainly the humidity fluctuations that concern me the most at this point.

The wires I have for the leds and fans are just placed through the top of the door for now. It doesn't look so bad and gives a little fresh air exchange through the crack in the door. Good luck with your setup and let me know if you have any node questions I can help with!
 
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