Propagator - a home mini-greenhouse for seedlings and cuttings
The question of how to grow healthy seedlings is a concern for all summer residents in the early spring. It seems that there are no secrets here - the main thing for fast and strong shoots is to provide them with heat, moisture and light. But in practice, in a city apartment or a private house, this is not so simple. Of course, each experienced gardener has his own proven method of growing seedlings. But today we will talk about a relatively new assistant in this matter - the propagator. Perhaps it will become the key to your healthy and strong seedlings this season.
What is a propagator?
Propagator is a miniature greenhouse designed for germinating seeds and growing seedlings and cuttings in the room. Propagators have different modifications. The simplest option consists of an environmentally friendly plastic container with a completely transparent lid. The lid contains one or more adjustable ventilation openings to create optimum temperature and humidity.
The container and lid are tall enough for the plants to take root and strengthen in a comfortable environment. Under favorable weather conditions (no frost, the soil warmed up to + 10 ° C), such seedlings can be planted immediately in open ground.
The kit may include a crate for the separation of emerging shoots. It also allows you to grow seedlings of different cultures in one container, requiring the same microclimate.
More complex types of propagators may have devices for additional lighting, humidification of the internal space and artificial heating of air.
The cost of the propagator depends on the manufacturer and the functions built into it.
How does the propagator work?
What do we expect, once again, sowing seeds for seedlings?
- so that the grown seedlings give a healthy and strong plant;
- to be resistant to further transplanting into greenhouses or open ground;
- so that the process of growing seedlings does not take much time;
- so that the seedling containers look neat and aesthetically pleasing.
The propagator, in fact, was created in order to satisfy such desires of gardeners. This is a closed environment in which you can create the microclimate necessary for faster germination of seeds and the cultivation of more hardy seedlings.
When planting seeds for germination in the propagator, one should take into account the timing of seedling development and the possibility of further planting it in the ground. If you want to keep your seedlings in comfortable conditions for as long as possible, then use propagator models with high heights. It is convenient to use two models of propagators with different heights or propagators with adjustable heights.
At the initial stage (when sowing seeds), a propagator up to 29 cm high will be sufficient. Set the temperature + 24 ° C, 15 hours of illumination - and no longer need to worry about the first 3–4 weeks of growing seedlings.
At the second stage of growing seedlings, when the seedlings have grown a little, a propagator up to 59 cm high is used. The lighting duration remains the same - 15 hours a day, and the temperature is reduced to + 20 ° C. This temperature is suitable for young plants and slightly prepares them for open air.
At the next stage, in sunny weather, plants can be taken out without protection of the propagator for several hours into the greenhouse or, if the temperature allows, in the open air. At night, when the temperature drops to + 5 ° C, the plants are brought into the room.
And finally, stronger, hardened young plants are planted in open ground. The timing of planting depends on the weather conditions of the zone where you live and the type of plant.
Creating ideal conditions for plant development is the main advantage of the propagator. Ventilation, lighting, filtering, heating and cooling systems allow you to maintain the necessary microclimate for good plant growth. With such seed germination, the four most important growth factors of young plants are observed:
- Using the ventilation holes, you can adjust the humidity. Humidity should be high during seed germination. The seed coat must be saturated with moisture so that the sprout can emerge from the seed. Too dry seed gives weak plants.
- "Mother's milk" for young plants is the light for their growth. Many propagator models have lamps that give exactly the spectrum of light that young plants need.
- Air filtration is necessary so that moisture does not accumulate on young shoots, so that there is no rotting of plants and soil.
- Using special sensors, you can heat or cool the air in the propagator, automatically maintaining the optimum temperature around the plants.
In addition, according to manufacturers, the use of a propagator has the following advantages:
- The propagator allows you to start sowing seeds earlier for earlier harvesting.
- In the propagator, plants are protected from the harmful effects of the external environment. There are no natural insect enemies - aphids, for example. When plants are planted in the garden, they are already two months older, larger and stronger, and able to better withstand the hardships of life.
- Higher germination rate. Usually seed germination in the propagator is 100% (of course, if the seeds are live).
- Uniform distribution of heat without hot and cold "spots". The top of the propagator is as warm as the bottom. However, care should be taken to ensure that the propagator cover is correctly installed on the housing to prevent overheating of the base and drying of the roots.
- Many propagators are adjustable in height with the help of additional consoles. This allows you to grow seedlings in comfortable conditions for a longer time.
- Often growing plants turns into passion and a propagator can reduce the long winter time for planting waiting. You can do your favorite hobby even in December. In winter, the propagator can grow, for example, microgreens or arrange a comfortable wintering regime for indoor plants.
- Does not take up much space, looks neat. It can be installed in the country, and in the apartment, and even in the office.
Of course, like everything else, the propagator has its drawbacks. First, the price. Well-equipped modern propagators are expensive, and many simply cannot afford it. Although simpler models are quite affordable.
In addition, the disadvantages of this home mini-greenhouse include:
- Electricity consumption (if required for automatic systems).
- There are models of propagators with very low functionality (such mini-greenhouses are easy to do with do-it-yourself tools and are not spent on a purchase).
- Regardless of the chosen model of propagator, it is necessary to ensure that the plants do not overheat in the sun.
- Condensation on the walls of the lid can “cheat” due to soil moisture. Condensation does not guarantee sufficient humidity.
The most popular propaganda models
Currently, there is a wide variety of propagators of different sizes, with a different set of functions. Consider the most popular among them.
The simplest design of the propagator is a durable plastic container with a transparent lid, on which, depending on the size of the propagator, there is one or more ventilation holes with an adjustable valve.
It turns out an isolated space with a comfortable microclimate, where the future plant is protected from environmental influences.
In such a device, humidity is maintained, which protects the soil from drying out, seedlings are protected from sudden changes in temperature. Periodic ventilation with air vents helps to avoid high humidity and improves air exchange.
Such propagators do not have built-in lamps, so they should be placed in well-lit places and use artificial lighting on short winter days.
Here are some examples of such propagators:
- EarlyGrow MPL50031 / P — reliable and unbreakable medium propagator (size 38x24x18 cm) with two adjustable ventilation windows to control air flow and air humidity.
- Garland propaganda greenhouse (size 37.5x23x18 cm) - for growing seedlings and cuttings with one ventilation hole in the lid and drainage holes in the pan.
- RINBO 12-Cell Seal Propagator Tray Set — Complete propagator kit with seed tray, cavity and transparent lid. 12 individual cells with drainage holes. Strong durable cast pallets for repeated use. Provides ideal conditions for faster seed germination. The capillary system provides optimal watering up to 7 days.
In heated propagators, a heating element is built into the bottom of the tray, which can maintain a constant temperature or provide the ability to regulate it.
- An unregulated heating element maintains soil temperature up to 22 degrees. This creates a favorable atmosphere inside the propagator for the germination of many plant species. But during the operation of such a device, it is necessary to ensure that the lid fits snugly on the tray, and turn off the heating on hot days in order to avoid overheating of the seedlings.
- A heating element controlled by a thermostat greatly facilitates the care of plants, since the temperature set for this type of seedling will be maintained on both cold and warm days.
In both cases, the use of propagators implies airing the plants with adjustable ventilation openings.
EarlyGrow MPL50035 / P. — electric medium heated propagator.
The heated middle propagator has a heated tray with an approximate temperature of + 16 ... + 19 ° С.
- A sturdy die-cast plastic tray and a tear-resistant lid means it will last for many years.
- Adjustable ventilation controls for airflow and humidity, giving plants the best growth environment.
- Size 38x25x18 cm with a 9-watt heater.
More advanced models of propagators are equipped with additional elements that support climate control, providing the possibility of drip irrigation, automatic watering, fertilizer dispenser, additional lighting.
One of the best modern multifunctional propagators are considered propagators. Vitopod - large, with a power of 100 W with heating, with a thermostat, without lamps. They provide an ideal environment for seeds, seedlings, cuttings and wintering plants. Its dimensions: 111 cm x 58 cm; height can be selected.
There is also a propagator of this model with lighting lamps - Vitopod 100 Wheated by a thermostat with lamps. It allows you to control the temperature with an accuracy of 1 ° C. The temperature is set between + 5 ° C and + 30 ° C.
The height of this propagator model is adjustable. You can order it in one height (24 cm), as well as in double (24 and 39 cm) and triple heights (24, 39 and 55 cm). Each extension adds 15 cm in height.
An accurate temperature sensor monitors and maintains the desired temperature without energy loss. The Vitopod has large ventilation openings that can be adjusted.
Heated Propagator Geopod
The Geopod Professional Propagator comes with underfloor heating and built-in lighting. The temperature of the mini-greenhouse can also be set to any temperature from + 5 ° C to + 30 ° C using a precision control thermostat. These propagators are large, their power is 100 watts. External size: length 112 cm; width 63 cm; height 29 cm.
2 lamps are located in specially provided recesses in the lid, are held at the correct distance from plants and emit an ideal spectrum of light for healthy growth of seedlings and cuttings. The luminaires provide high power with low power consumption, thanks to their advanced reflector based on nanotechnology.
The high dome cover allows seedlings to grow up to 23 cm, and the large ventilation openings provide excellent moisture control so that plants do not get too wet.
Dear readers! In this article, we talked about such a relatively new device for growing seedlings, germinating seeds and rooting cuttings as a propagator. If you already use a similar device, tell us about your experience in the comments to the article. We will be very grateful.