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Which propagator is right me

If you're not sure what you need, choosing a propagator can be a difficult task. There are a number of different kinds and styles out there and this can be a little daunting, but of course, picking the right one will depend on what you want to use the device for, and where you want to use it.

The main types of propagator are as follows…


Fixed Temperature Propagators

These devices generate warmth at the base, creating an ambient temperature of around 19ºC which is spot on for most vegetables and plant seedlings/cuttings. They are also handy for giving plants which do not necessarily need extra heat a bit of a kick start.

Variable Temperature Propagators

Considered an upgrade to the basic Fixed Temperature version, these allow the user to choose what temperature they require. The temperature can usually range from anywhere between 5º and 30ºC, making them an ideal choice during particularly cold months, or if you are wanting to grow vegetables which would usually need a higher temperature to thrive. It is important to note that if these propagators are placed in a room which is already warm, they will not work as well. For best results, place in a cool space which gives the thermostat full control over the temperature.

Heating Mats

Although simplistic, heat mats can make useful items if used correctly. They lack the enclosed heating of a propagator and instead, simply act as a heat source which you place pots on top of. Since the heat is best utilised when generated from the root, this is perfectly suitable for seedlings and cuttings. They can be connected to a thermostat, or sometimes the actually include one, allowing you to get the temperature you need. Heating mats work best when placed on top of some form of insulator such as a sheet of polystyrene. Do not place them on carpet or similar surfaces, especially when used without a thermostat to regulate temperature, as they can become quite hot.

Heated cables

Cabling works in a similar way to heat mats, but allow the user to heat long lengths rather than single patches. This makes them ideal if you want to propagate plants along windowsills or shelves, where space is at a minimum. Alternatively, many gardeners use them to heat large plant beds in a cost efficient way, by 'snaking' the wire back and forth along the bed under the soil and heating it this way. This can also be utilised with seedling trays by running the cable underneath the tray in between each row of pots. Heat cables work best when connected to a thermostat, with a temperature gauge placed touching the cable itself.

Windowsill Propagators

These propagators use the natural light to trap heat inside the unit. They are often ventilated for particularly hot days, and some can have the vents closed too for cold days. Of course, the propagator temperatures will fluctuate with day and night, which some gardeners feel is beneficial to the plants. Be sure to turn this type of propagator from time to time, as the plant will lean toward the light source. Rotating the propagator every other day can help to ensure they grow healthily and upright.

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