January isn’t a great time for planting – we’ve still got several months of poor light and low temperatures before the year’s growing season begins in earnest.

However, if you’re anything like the Keen Gardener team, you’ll be itching to get started with your propagation for the year ahead. With the right equipment, you can get a couple of months’ head start, and start propagating your seedlings in the greenhouse before the end of winter.

In this post, we look at heat mats, and how you can use them to transform a cold winter greenhouse into a nurturing space where young plants will thrive.

Setting the perfect temperature

The biggest challenge with propagating this early is setting a constant soil temperature – the single most important factor in successful germination.

The majority of seeds suitable for growing in the UK need temperatures somewhere between 60-80°F (15-25°C) to germinate effectively. Unfortunately, even the best insulated greenhouse will struggle to achieve these temperatures in winter without a little help!

For smaller scale propagation, an electric propagator is one way to go, but if you’re wanting to grow on a larger scale, heat mats often provide a better all-round solution, raising soil temperatures by up to 10°C or more.

Heating mats for every greenhouse

Heating mats range hugely in terms of size and features. These include small 25cm x 35cm warming pads ideal for narrower greenhouse shelves, right through to expansive 1m x 2m heat mats complete with integrated thermostats and soil sensors. Larger mats can be used to transform an entire potting bench into a dedicated propagation area.

In addition to heating mats, we also stock soil-heating cables. Soil cables provide a flexible solution – so you can create your own dedicated propagation space using a frame and some horticultural sand. These are available in a wide range of sizes, and tend to be more economical for larger areas. 

Thermostatic control

As we mentioned earlier in this post, maintaining a constant soil temperature is essential for effective propagation. To maintain control over the heat output, you’ll need to invest in a thermostat.

These can be purchased separately, or in some cases, are supplied with the heat mats themselves. More advanced units like the Bio Green Thermo 2 can be used to control your heat mats, greenhouse heater and ventilation system – all at the same time.

Let there be heat

A heat mat will enable you to start growing earlier – but on its own will not be enough to keep your greenhouse at the perfect temperature for propagation during mid-winter.

Investing in a greenhouse heater will help to protect your plants from frost over winter, and can be used to raise the temperature inside your greenhouse to create the right environment for early propagation.

Heat mats from Keen Gardener

You’ll find a wide range of heat mats in a variety of sizes, with something to suit every greenhouse. All the heat mats we stock are manufactured by Bio Green, one of Europe’s leading greenhouse heating, growing and propagation specialists.

As with all the products we sell, our heat mats come covered by our Lowest Price Promise – so you can buy from us in the confidence that you’re getting the best deal around.