Heated Propagators

Good or bad?

Personally I think they are responsible for a lot of disappointed to newcomers to gardening.



  • LynLyn Posts: 8,110

    I absolutely agree David, also thompson and morgan telling you to put everthing in plastic bags, it can only sweat, causing too much damp for tiny seedlings.

    If you sow at the correct time for your weather conditions, all will germinate under their own steam, IMO propagators drag them up quicker than they would otherwise grow.

    I have never owned one and wouldnt want one.

    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 
  • scrogginscroggin Posts: 2,052

    The advertising can make them seem like there is no other way to germinate seedlings.

    I dont use one, but I can see they are a valuable tool if you also have the adequate facilities for the after care of the seedlings once they are germinated, i.e a heated greenhouse, otherwise I think you would end up with seedlings that are not yet ready for cooler conditions.

    Most plants will catch up if you sow them when the ambient conditions are correct for their survival without artificial means.

    There are obviously some seeds that need a controlled temperature for consistent germination but I dont think this is what most heated propagators are used for.

    Basically a GOOD tool, often BADLY used.

  • Thank you, pleased to hear that others agree.

    Personally I think it's the cheaper type without thermostats that are the biggest waste of time & money.

  • BookertooBookertoo Posts: 1,306

    Indeed, when I started out (not recently!), I cooked lots of seedlings, not realising that is what I was doing, in a non thermostatic propagator.  Rarely use mine with heat now, just as a sowing tray.

  • punkdocpunkdoc Posts: 5,116

    I think it is also worth mentioning their use to help cuttings root, for which purpose I find them invaluable.

    There's one more kid that will never go to school
    Never get to fall in love,never get to be cool.
  • I'm inclined to agree with the above......non thermostatic are a no no unless you are constantly standing over them.  The better thermo controlled ones do have their uses and can be part of your growing regime.

    I used to use soil warming cables in both an unheated and a heated g/h - more for raising "exotics" than anything else.  I found them excellent but depending on the set up, a tad expensive given the cost of electric these days.

    I would use a decent propagator for raising Toms, Aubergines and the likes but I am amazed how many people are sowing these seeds so early on windowsills  Unless you have somewhere to put them to continue their growth now, I think it can be a bit of a waste.............tho I am always ready to be persuaded otherwise and those that manage to produce good plants that way should be salutedimage

  • BookertooBookertoo Posts: 1,306

    So easy to understand the enthusiasm which gets people planting so early, but over the years I have discovered (not fast, 'cos these things take time to percolate through to my brain!), that sowing much later gives me much better results.  

    Interested in your remarks pundoc re rooting cuttings in the heated trays - I'll try that and hopefully get better results than previously. 

    I also get rather cross with the shops which sell rooted seedlings in February, the people whom buy them often don't have a place to rear them well, or possibly the knowledge - the plants die, the person thinks he/she cannot 'do' gardening - and spend a second lot of money later - I think this is just a cynical way of getting people to spend more money, which most of us can ill afford these days. 

  • Bookertoo............couldn't agree more...........bottom heating for cuttings is the way to goimage 

    Also agree that many new gardeners can be put off  by buying the wrong things at the wrong time....disaster follows and they automatically think they've done something wrong.  Hopefully most will try again and get it right but it is a shame if people are put off by lack of correct info/advice

  • Bookertoo wrote (see 

    I also get rather cross with the shops which sell rooted seedlings in February, the people whom buy them often don't have a place to rear them well, or possibly the knowledge - the plants die, the person thinks he/she cannot 'do' gardening - and spend a second lot of money later - I think this is just a cynical way of getting people to spend more money, which most of us can ill afford these days. 


    I second that, Bookertoo......It's something that's annoyed me for years.


  • scrogginscroggin Posts: 2,052

    Wandering around  a garden nursery last weekend and they were selling runner bean plants ready for planting out! Where in the UK are you going to be able to do that!

    Like the above posters it can dishearten the beginner when they buy these plants and then they die on them early on through no fault of their own.

  • artjakartjak Posts: 4,168

    I agree about Greedy Nursery.com selling seedlings that are quite inappropriate for this time of year; BUT must differ about the heated propagator. I only bought one in February, wish I had bought it to get Aubergines and Peppers started off in January. I DO have a heated greenhouse (with just a frost buster type heater) and a conservatory that is unheated, but the boiler is in there. It , along with the g/h which is in it's 2nd year has revolutionised my gardening, am starting to understand far more about germination and ongoing cultivation.

    I am not a beginner, but over the years have suffered so much disapointment from seeds not germinating through lack of heat, that I would recommend a heated propagator, mine does NOT have a thermostat, but gets switched off every morning (one could have it on a time switch) and any of the containers that show signs of growth; the ventilator gets opened.

    In short, I am thrilled with my new toyimage

  • Artjac...........I think we need to differentiate between "heated" g/h and a "frost free" g/h......... a permanently heated g/h (hot water pipes via a boiler ) gives far more options but sadly these days is not an option for the average gardener.  I enjoyed mine for several years....the range of stuff you can grow  is quite staggering.image


  • artjakartjak Posts: 4,168

    ph2, for the purposes of this discussion, a frost free g/h gives one the option of nurturing seedlings that have outgrown the heated propagator.image

  • Artjac..........I take your point  image   But new gardeners can't always differentiate between the two.  Got carried away is my excuseimage

  • artjakartjak Posts: 4,168

    Ph2, I think that a great deal of 'new gardeners' are basically fairly practical, intelligent, (lovely) people; those who are basically impractical are always going to struggle a bit. And that is through no fault of their own; some people are simply born that way.image ...and it's great to get carried away with gardeningimage

  • chickychicky SurreyPosts: 7,116

    I love my heated windowsill propagator - been using it for a good few years now and nearly everything germinates - whereas before it was hit and missimage.  Once seeds are up they get moved to another windowsill, with no heat, and grow on slowly but happily til the clocks go back, when they get pricked out and put in an unheated GH.  I do it once the evenings are lighter, so that i can check on them (lids/fleece etc when frost is forecast) before and after work.  Works for me .....

    The Stone Age didn’t end because they ran out of stones ......
  • Artjac......I'd be really upset if anyone thought I was having a go at novice gardeners - that was the furthest from my thoughts.  Everyone has to start somewhere.......there are plenty of subjects that I know B....r all about - perhaps it is just as an "oldie" sometimes I am surprised at some of the queries. But then I just cannot get my head around "Black Holes" and such like.  I expect someone on this forum has the answer even if they can't sow a seed.image and I would certainly be glad for someone to explain this to me in a language I can understand   i.e.-very basicimage.

    Having said that tho, I think as far as gardening is concerned, there is a lot of mis information/bad advice given by garden centres or so called experts or just simply "non information" which spoils the experience new gardeners can have.

    What can I say other than "sorry ".........image

  • artjakartjak Posts: 4,168

    Ph2, you have raised an interesting subject thereimage I'm going to start a thread about the worst gardening 'old wives tales'

  • I'm glad I came across this thread, I am a new gardener and was wondering if a propagator is a must-have image
  • i've found using a heated propagator for streptocarpus cuttings much better than without, and it's a massive relief if i forget to sow seeds and need them to catch up with the rest. 

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