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propagator recommendation

Can anyone recommend a good propagator, I want to start seeds off early this year for summer bedding, I have a greenhouse in which i have a small heater in but its uninsulated so only have to set frost proof setting.

I have a large garden so need a fair few plants. I usually buy plugs in March/April but thought i would try and save a few quid.



  • LynLyn DevonPosts: 16,780
    I’ve never found the need for a propagator but what you need to remember is that however early you start them off, you still can’t plant out until start of May at the earliest.  For me it’s the start of June. Have you got plenty of room to pot on a couple of times before planting out. 
    If you start them too early you will get weak leggy seedlings. There’s not enough light earlier in the season. 
    I sow hundreds of seeds for my garden, including enough plants for 25 baskets and 53 tubs, never used a propagator. 
    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • barry islandbarry island Posts: 1,054
    If you need a lot of seedlings get the biggest propagator that you can afford with a variable heat control and grow light if possible. The problem is though that while you can start seedlings off in a propagator they will need to be grown on in good light with a constant temperature and ventilation.
  • Pete.8Pete.8 Billericay, EssexPosts: 6,186
    I have a Vitopod propagator. I know several other forum members also have them and like me are very pleased with it. They're available is a couple of sizes and different height tops.
    As said above, at this time of year sunlight isn't strong enough.
    I don't sow anything before early/mid March, so by the time they're up, sunlight is good enough to grow them on without becoming leggy
    Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
    Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  • BluebaronBluebaron Posts: 226
    hmmm got me worried now all the packets say sow in jan-march. i have got a large greenhouse (8m x 4m) so should have room but don't want to be heating it a lot due to cost.
  • Pete.8Pete.8 Billericay, EssexPosts: 6,186
    edited January 2019
    I'd suggest waiting until March.
    What seeds are they?

    I've tried sowing tomatoes and the like in Jan and Feb in a heated propagator. The warmth makes them grow quickly, but there's not enough energy coming from the sun, so by March they're about 18" with 3 sets of leaves and a stem with the thickness of a toothpick - completely useless.
    Last year I sowed 7 varieties on 10th March in the propagator - they plants grew sturdily and were planted in the g/house border and I picked the first (sungold) on 29th June and had a very good harvest

    Here's another option
    Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
    Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  • Pete.8Pete.8 Billericay, EssexPosts: 6,186
    I think the model you like would probably do the job. It's not very high though. Also consider that once all your seeds have germinated a week or two after you've sown them, they'll need to be pricked out and transplanted to grow on, there's the possibility that they wont all fit in your propagator - I've been there.
    Even sowing later as I do, a sharp frost in April/May causes anxiety but I whip out my handy 8ft tubular heater and mount it just under the staging until frosts are gone
    Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
    Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  • BluebaronBluebaron Posts: 226
    Thanks Pete,

    I'm planning on Begonia's and chills first followed by other bedding, toms and herbs.

    Ive got a fan heater but a tube heater is a good idea might get one of those as well.


  • Pete.8Pete.8 Billericay, EssexPosts: 6,186
    Fair enough - begonias do need an early sowing, and they grow on quite slowly.
    Hope you can manage to see the seed, they're like particles of dust.
    The chili also benefit from an early sowing - and if you can provide decent light as well as warmth then you should be ok.
    I always put 1-2" of sand in the bottom of my propagator. It really helps stabilize the heat and saves a few bob on the 'leccy too, just don't get it too wet as it increases humidity too much, fresh air is important

    I've also found a heated mat to be very useful for when plants are too big to be in the propagator but could still benefit from some warmth - It's not easy to see in the photos, but it's aluminium with a heated cable and very sturdy. They also sell a plastic tray which is a perfect fit on top. I fill mine with 1-2" sand, add a thermostat poked into the sand and I've got another propagator. For a perfect fitting top, I use one of these

    Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
    Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  • KiliKili Posts: 445
    edited January 2019
    BlueBaron I have the exact propagator you linked to but I got it from here

    Wouldn't be without it. In fact I have two which I setup in my garage and use a timer to turn the T5 lamps on and off to give 16 hours of light at the start of the season.

    I can thoroughly recommend them

    'The power of accurate observation .... is commonly called cynicism by those that have not got it.

    George Bernard Shaw'

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