Our site is reader supported, this means we may earn a small commission from Amazon and other affiliates when you buy through links on our site.
Last updated on December 16th, 2020
If you want to grow your own plants from seed then investing in a good propagator is way to go. We look at 6 different models to see how they compare
Germinating seeds the natural way is fine and dandy, but sometimes things do not work as planned. There are many factors that would affect the successful germination of seeds into seedlings, with temperature and humidity levels just some of those. But by using a seed propagator, you provide a stable environment that can be controlled to foster optimal growth. Seed propagators allow you to plant all year-round despite the temperatures outside.
We have assembled a list of different seed propagators that will serve you well. Depending on the plants you want to propagate and your budget, we are sure you can find the best heated propagator you can lay your hands on. First things first, below is a rundown of the seed propagator models that made it to the top of our list.
6 Best propagators we review in this guide
- Stewart 52cm Propagator With Adjustable Thermostat
- Rinbo Seedling Heat Mat
- Garland Super7 Heated Propagator
- Stewart Essentials Electric Propagator
- Super 7 Self-watering Propagator
- Garland 24 Cell Self-watering Propagator
Why use a propagator?
Propagators can be used to help cuttings strike and take root, but they are most commonly used to aid the germination of seeds. By using a propagator you can control the environment and get a better success rate, often a heated one will result in more even and often quicker germination of seeds.
Types of seed propagators
There are three main types which are sold in garden centres and nurseries, the first is simple propagators which consist of a seed tray and a transparent clear lid. They are simple to use and help to retain moisture which will help to stop seeds and seedlings from drying out. They also keep the air inside slightly warmer than the outside environment.
The second type of propagator is a heated type. These provide a consistent temperature which is set by the manufacturer, the heat is usually constantly on and cannot be turned off. These are ideal for lots of seeds but are may not suitable if you are growing different types of seeds that will germinate at alternate temperatures.
Lastly, (and often regarded the holy grail of propagators) are the heated propagators that come with a thermostat. These can be set to your required temperature, usually between 5°C and 30°C so they are perfect for many types of seeds. These work by regulating the temperature to within 1°C.
Most heated propagators are powdered by electric, so ensure you have access to a power socket near to where you plan to put your propagator.
Below we will look at just some of the most popular propagators available. They include non-heated, heated, thermostatic as well as models that are designed to fit on the windowsill which is ideal for many gardeners that commonly grow seeds on the windowsill.
Best Heated Propagators
1. Stewart 52cm Propagator With Adjustable Thermostat
This is the third propagator by ‘Stewart’ we have looked at and this model has the same quality, durable construction and crystal styrene clear cover as the other models. The clear cover provides optimal clarity and maximum light transmission for a better germination rate as well as air vents to control humidity and air temperature.
This is the best model available as it has an adjustable thermostat so you are able to set the temperature to any temperature between 12 and 28 degree Celsius using the hand-held dial. This is ideal for plants that require a specific temperature to germinate.
What we think – If you are a gardening enthusiast and experienced gardener then this model is highly recommended. Ideal for use anywhere, from in the home, conservatory to the greenhouse. If you sow a variety of plants then this does have the advantage of being able to set the temperature as desired which is essential for some seeds. The only downside is the price, at around £60.00 it is more expensive than the non-adjustable thermostat propagator and more than double the price of a standard heated propagator. That being said, it is a quality product and does have a lot more features and advantages.
2. Rinbo Seedling Heat Mat
This Rinbo Seedling Heat Mat is waterproof and can be used for more uses than propagating seedling growth. You can use it to keep your pet snake warm if you have one or even home brewing needs but for this review, we will keep to its uses for germinating seedling. The heated mat provides a consistent heat between 10-20 degrees Fahrenheit, ensuring that your seeds get the support that they need to encourage germination.
The 17.5W mat is waterproof but you should not fully immerse in water. The mat features heavy-duty construction that makes it very robust and durable and not easily damaged. Including silicone wiring, the mat’s electric system is insulated which is obviously important and they are used in damp conditions.
It is also easy to clean in case you make a mess. With a one year warranty offered as assurance, you can try to see whether this heated mat will meet your requirements.
What we think: This heat mat would be perfect for a range of uses when propagating plants from placing under seed trays to placing a non-heated propagator you may have on top of the heat mat to add a little heat to encourage germination. You can also place pots direly on top of the mat that might not fit into a propagator.
Best heated propagators (not thermostatic)
3. Garland Super7 Heated Propagator
Great for growing your own plants from seed and getting cuttings taken from your own plants to root. This Super7 heated propagator by Garland is designed to fit on most windowsills which is the position a lot of gardeners choose as the ideal location to propagate seeds. At 76cm long and 18.5cm wide this heated propagator has a 13-watt carbon fibre element which warms the compost evenly. It has 7 individual seed trays and clear lids making it ideal for sowing a selection of plants at the same time.
What we think – Firstly this propagator is designed for use indoors and is not suitable for use in a cold greenhouse, it does not have a thermostat to control a specific temperature and is designed to increase the ambient compost temperature by around 8°C which is ideal for propagating most seeds. It also has vents to help with air ventilation.
This has got to be one of the best simple seed propagator on Amazon.co.uk and it is easy to see why, ideal for most gardeners and well designed.
4. Stewart Essentials Electric Propagator
Another quality heated propagator, this model is from the Stewart Essentials range which is well known for quality and reliability. At 38cm long, it is ideal for growing seeds and young plants during the early stages of growth and is large enough for most gardeners wanting to grow their own seeds and cuttings. The 8-watt heating element ensures the propagator is kept warm whilst the ventilation panels control humidity and air temperature.
What we think – Designed for use indoors this propagator is heated but does not have a thermostat so the temperature cannot be set to a specific temperature so it is not regulated, it simply warms the soil to improve germination. At under £20.00, it is ideal for anyone just starting out who wants to grow their own plants from seeds or cuttings.
Best Non-heated propagators which have a self-watering feature
5. Super 7 Self-watering Propagator
Not to be mistaken for the super7 heated propagator we reviewed previously, this model uses a very similar design and fits onto the windowsill and although not heated, it has a built-in self-watering feature to keep the soil moist. It works by having an outer water reservoir tray that stores water, the 7 mini seed trays then sit on top of capillary matting which retains water and then the plants can take water using capillary action as and when needed.
Built from strong injection moulded plastic, the green base trays and clear covers are rigid and shatter-resistant.
What we think – If you are looking for a propagator but do not have the need for a heated model, then this could be what you need. The slim design means it fits onto a windowsill easily making it very appealing as well as the self-watering feature. The 7 mini trays are ideal if you grow a variety of plants as they can be sown separately which can make life a little easier.
6. Garland 24 Cell Self-watering Propagator
This 24 cell self-watering propagator offers the best value for money and at under £10.00, it is ideal for anyone just starting out who wants to try sowing a few seeds. How it works is simple, it has an internal water reservoir, on top of this there is a lining of capillary matting which holds water. The seed tray then sits on top of this and the plants can then draw water from the capillary matting when needed.
It is designed to be re-used and manufactured from recycled plastic which some gardeners will appreciate.
What we think – At under £10.00 is slightly more expensive than a standard cheap propagator but a lot cheaper than other models available. The plastic is not the strongest but however should offer years of use and for the price, you would expect this. A good choice for anyone just starting out or who does not need a heated propagator.
How to use a heated propagator?
- Ensure that you plant the seeds carefully using clean equipment to avoid contaminating the growth environment. The seeds have to be in touch with the compost to optimize maximum growth.
- Set the temperature that is required to promote plant growth if your heated propagator has a thermostat.
- Place the seed propagator somewhere with good natural light to promote the growth of cuttings.
- Avoid lifting the lid unnecessarily which will disturb the temperature and humidity levels inside the propagator.
- If there is too much condensation, make use of the vents to release excessive moisture.
- Ensure you water your seedlings but do not flood the seedlings as the water may affect the electric circuit of the propagator.
Do you water seeds in a propagator?
Yes, you can water seeds in a propagator but the aim is not to flood the seeds. It is advisable to soak the seed pots in a shallow tray to permit the compost to get wet. Once the compost is wet the seeds can get moisture from the compost without exposing the seeds to too much moisture or compromising the electrical components.
Do I need a heated propagator?
This depends on the plants you are trying to grow and the region that you are in. Some seeds require certain temperatures to germinate. Given the cold British weather, a heated propagator would be of service to you all year-round and can speed up the amount of time it takes for seeds to germination and also the success rate. For example, peppers often germinate much quicker in a heated propagator.
Having the ability to control and manage your plant’s growth environment is empowering. Whether you want to grow chillies, tomatoes or any herbs, you can rely on your propagator to provide a secure environment. Just ensure that you read the instructions on both your seed packet and propagator to ensure you have everything in order. After that, you can rest easy knowing that soon you will have healthy seedlings in your hand ready for a transplant.
Below is a quick reminder of our ‘Best Pick’
Last update on 2021-01-10 at 11:34 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API