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Heated propagators - what to grow?

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General post from Sarah Ansell


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My husband has just brought me two heated propagators for the windowsill of our new conservatory. It's north facing and gets very little direct sun, although is glass and quite bright. I'm worried plants will get leggy.

I've only grown from plugs in cold frames before, so need to know more about what sort of seeds need to go in them? Complete beginner at this so any tips gratefully received.

I'd like suggestions for plants I can grow to put in containers. My garden ranges from very shady to hot and sunny at the front, but we can get frost until quite late. I'm interested in plants for insects, smell and also to brighten the darker part of the back terrace.

Many thanks, Sarah

  • Views: 1635
  • Replies: 3
  • Posted: Fri. 5th February 2010 16:36

Propagation tips


Hello Sarah

Heated propagators are fabulous for getting a head start! Plants do tend to go leggy if they don't get enough light though, is there another windowsill you can use? If not I would recommend that you wait until the light improves (late Feb) before sowing.

Most seeds are suitable for growing in a propagator. Grab some seed trays or pots and almost fill with compost. Make a shallow furrow in the compost for each row you are sowing. Water using a fine spray until the compost is moist but not saturated.

If the seeds are small you can mix with a little sand. This will help with handling and it will be easier to see where you have sown them.

Larger seeds are best sown individually. Put a few at a time in your hand and place them at intervals along the row.

The fewer seeds you sow the fewer you have to remove later, however you will need to sow more than is needed because some seeds may not germinate.

Once the seeds have been sown, cover them with finely sieved compost to the same depth as the length of your seeds e.g. if your seeds are 1mm diameter, cover with 1 - 1.5mm of sieved compost.

Set at an appropriate temperature. For most vegetable seeds, 15-22˚C is an acceptable temperature range. Depending on how warm your propagator is, you may need to water the compost before seed emergence begins, but over-do it. Start to remove the propagator lid when you start to see water on the inside of the lid, you want humidity but not too much.

Shady areas are restrictive but this website has some good tips http://www.pfaf.org/leaflets/ProbPlac.php

  • Posted: Fri. 5th February 2010 18:25

Heated propagator

Reply from Marissa Zoppellini

Hi Sarah

I have some suggestions based on what I have sucessfully germinated:
Arisaema consanguineum (perennial good for shade but will take more than a year before ready to flower)
Erigeron karvinskianus (evergreen perennial good for sun)
Foeniculum vulgare 'Purpureum' (fennel - perennial good for sun, insects,scented)
Lavandula stoechas (Lavender good for sun, scented, insects)
Nicotiana (Annual, good for moths, scented)
Calendula (Annual, good for sun, insects)

How about some edibles too? Cherry tomatoes, Thyme, Rosemary, Basil, Parsley and Oregano are all easy to propagate from seed.

As a general point, I have most sucess raising veg (probably 100% certain of something germinating) and annuals (nearly as good as veg) from seed, whilst shrubs and perennials are the group where some plants need more than one try, that is why I have restricted my recommendations to those that I know are not particularly tricky.

Don't forget you can use the propagator for cuttings too!

I would also suggest that North-facing is not ideal and you are probably going to get some leggy seedlings - sometimes you can get away with transplanting seedlings a little deeper to shorten them, so you could try that with a few if necessary. Happy Growing! All the best, Marissa

  • Posted: Sun. 7th February 2010 15:05

Thank you

Reply from Sarah Ansell

Thank you very much for your replies. I will follow the techniques and plants suggested. Feel quite excited about doing this, rather than always buying plugs!


  • Posted: Sun. 7th February 2010 17:25