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Carnivorous Plants/Paraffin (aka. Kerosene) Greenhouse Heater

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Question
Hi Jeff/Jacob,

The time of year has once again come around for considering overwintering arrangements for my Sarracenia collection. Luckily however, I live in England, in zone 8, so I actually have very little I need to do in the way of preparation.

I grow my plants in a greenhouse in the summer, and this is also equally as useful in the winter to shield them from icy winds or cold snaps from time to time. (Please note I am fully aware of the disastrous consequences of Botrytis/other fungi and leave the collection out of the greenhouse on the patio in the open air when the weather is mild).

Now for the question:
I recently purchased a small kerosene heater (more commonly called paraffin in the UK), I appreciate this was not necessary but it is most useful to keep the greenhouse just frost free therefore preventing me from needing to insulate/cover over the collection. The only worry I have with using such a product is that it does create a distinct, fumy smell of kerosene in the greenhouse (the inside does not become visibly smoky or sooty though), so would such fumes pose any risk to my dormant Sarracenia would you know?

Thanks, Chris.

Answer
Hi Chris,

Be cautious using a Kerosene heater.  I don't have direct experience using those, but I have used unvented propane heaters, and experienced leaf damage on Nepenthes.  The heaters were used in an emergency during a power outage for about 5 hours.

Having said that, it may be a different story with dormant plants especially if you are only using the heater on exceptionally cold nights.  You still might need to supply a little ventilation in the greenhouse since the heater will use up much of the oxygen.  (I made this mistake in the above mentioned incident.)

If you have your plants in a greenhouse, you probably wouldn't need any heat at all unless you get an exceptionally cold spell of weather.  Our plants regularly experience temperatures in the 20'sF here in the Pacific Northwest completely outside.  A greenhouse would give a similar sheltering effect to covering the plants.  The exception would be if you have some more tender species such as sundews from South Africa or Australia.

Good Growing!

Jeff Dallas
Sarracenia Northwest
http://www.growcarnivorousplants.com

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If your carnivorous plant is showing poor growth, discoloration, abnormal leaves or possible infestation, the expert growers at Sarracenia Northwest can help! They have a great depth of experience dealing with diseases, pathogens, and abnormal growth in carnivorous plants.

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