Britain has a centuries-old love of gardening, but it can be hard to raise delicate plants in our changeable climate.
Heated propagators can overcome this by keeping your seeds at a consistent, ambient temperature. They can be used to grow seeds early in the season, to give them a head start or to raise more tender plants originally from warmer climates.
Plants like tomatoes, bell peppers and squashes need a long growing season in our cooler temperatures to ensure they have time to grow, produce fruit and for those fruit to ripen. Germinating them indoors in a heated propagator early in the year, when outside it would be much too cold for them to grow, ensures they get the long growing season they need.
But even hardier and native plants will benefit from being germinated at a constant temperature. Heated propagators with their bottom heat and high humidity can also be instrumental in helping cuttings to take root. Whatever you’re growing, a heated propagator will protect germinating plants during sudden cold snaps.
How to choose a heated propagator
Consider the following when shopping for a propagator:
- Space – unless you have a greenhouse with a power source, most of us will use a heated propagator within the home. Position it on a flat surface, a windowsill out of direct sunlight is a good spot, just make sure the dimensions of your chosen propagator are a good fit.
- Size – make sure the size of propagator is right for your needs. If you’re planning to grow on a crop of tomato plants you’ll need a bigger propagator than if your simply germinating a few small herbs to grow.
- Features – for most projects, a basic heated propagator is fine. However, if you’ve the budget to spare, look out for self-watering propagators. Some even come with lights to further help propagation.
Heated vs non-heated propagators
A non-heated propagator is simply a seed or modular tray with a transparent lid that aims to provide seeds and young plants with a safe growing environment. The lid helps to increase the humidity within as well as generate and trap warmth, particularly if placed in a sunny spot. Some have ventilation in the lid and may even have watering spots so you can water without removing the lid and splashing plants. Lids can also be purchased separately so you can add them to your seed trays as you need them.
Non-heated propagators are a lot cheaper than a heated propagator and but without the consistent and regulated warmth and bottom heat that you get in a heated propagator, growth will be slower and less consistent.
Six of the best heated propagators
Browse our selection of heated propagators, below:
Garland Fab 4 Electric Heated Propagator
The Fab 4 propagator is a great entry-level propagator for new gardeners. It gives a first-time user ease and simplicity without compromising on quality. With four cells, it’s great for growing a range of plants for the first time and easily keeping track of what’s what.
Garland Super7 Electric Heated Propagator
This heated propagator from Garland is built for propagating in bulk and can grow seven different cells of plants at once. If you’re after a bumper harvest, this lengthy propagator can give a host of plants a head-start.
Thompson and Morgan Heated Propagator with Air Valve
This propagator can be used without trays, so if you have lots to grow – little tomato plants, or a mix of cuttings, for example – this propagator is fantastic for general use. Great for running lots of small scale projects at once.
Harrod Heated Windowsill Propagator with Capillary Mat and Tray
This generous heated propagator holds three different trays, making it easy to grow a variety of plants. Most importantly, it has capillary matting which helps to regulate each plant’s water consumption, allowing them to absorb as much as they need and no more.
Dobies Large Heated Hydropod Cutting Propagator with Lights and Heater
This useful heated propagator is specifically designed to help cuttings take root and can nurture 40 different cuttings at a time. It has two grow-lights to further help propagation and even mists to keep the humidity levels up and avoid waterlogging.
Geopod Heated Propagator – Large 110W
This propagator has precise thermostat control, so you can tune your propagator to the exact temperature you need. The high dome allows plants plenty of room to grow and it has grow-lights to help promote healthy growth.
How to use a heated propagator
- Plant your seeds in damp, drained compost, in the trays provided.
- Place your propagator somewhere light and well-aired.
- Switch on the propagator.
- Keep an eye on your germinating plants. If excessive condensation forms on the inside of the lid, open the ventilating holes to regulate the temperature a little.