germinating seeds in trays

Tools for Hydroponic Gardening, Heat Mats

What tools does a hydroponic gardener need? Hydroponics is growing plants using a water-based nutrient solution instead of soil. So, all I need is nutrient solution and some seeds, right? Hmmm…not quite…

First, you’ll need seedlings to transfer into your hydroponics system. To grow seeds into seedlings you’ll need a few tools. This blog is about one of my favorite tools called a plant heat mat.

What’s a plant heat mat?

A plant heat mat is a gardening tool used to provide a warm and consistent temperature for seedlings and young plants. It consists of a flat, electrically-heated pad that is placed underneath a grow tray or pots. The heat mat is designed to provide warmth to the roots of the plants, which helps to stimulate germination and growth.

The temperature of a plant heat mat can vary depending on the model and brand, but most heat mats are designed to maintain a temperature range of 10-20 degrees Fahrenheit (6-11 degrees Celsius) above the ambient temperature of the room. This means that if the room temperature is 70°F (21°C), the heat mat will maintain a temperature of around 80-90°F (27-32°C) in the area where the seedlings are growing.

At this point are you realizing that you will need to monitor the temperature of the heat mat? A temperature sensor, if you have one, will work for this purpose. However, if you’re anticipating growing a lot of plants, you may want to purchase a heat mat with an adjustable thermostat.

Why bother with a plant heat mat?

It’s all about germination! Germination rate is the percentage of seeds that sprout and begin to grow. The higher the germination rate, the more successful your planting efforts will be. Using a plant heat mat under a grow tray can significantly increase the germination rate of your seeds. This is because a heat mat provides a consistent, warm temperature that helps to stimulate seed germination.

Read about these loofah seeds that grew like CRAZY in just a few days.

When do you remove the heat mat?

As a general rule of thumb, you should remove the grow tray from on top of the heat mat once the majority of the seeds have germinated and the seedlings have begun to grow. This typically takes anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks, depending on the specific plant species.
To determine if it’s time to remove the grow tray from the heat mat, you can use a thermometer to monitor the temperature of the soil or growing medium in the tray. If the temperature is consistently above the recommended range, it’s time to remove the tray from the heat mat.

Last piece of advice about heat mats

On MIGardener’s YouTube Channel, he suggest that you cut a piece of corrugated card the size of the heat mat and place it between the grow tray and the mat. One of MI’s viewers has had much success putting a piece of Styrofoam between the plant heat mat and the surface on which it sits. I tried both of these suggestions and they WORK!

Overall, using a heat mat can be a great way to increase the germination rate and growth of seedlings. If you’re seeds don’t germinate, don’t give up! Gardening is a trial-and-error process, and it may take several attempts to get the results you want.

Happy Germinating!

Steps for Starting Seeds at Home in Grow Trays

Steps for Starting Seeds at Home

Disclaimer: After hours & hours studying all the plant experts and much personal experience, I have realized there are NO OFFICIAL STEPS for starting your seeds at home! I’m simply going to share the way to start seeds that has repeatedly worked best for me. I use grow trays with domes & a plant heat mat.

One of the best ways to ensure that your plants have a healthy beginning is by germinating seeds in grow trays with domes. This method is especially useful for my favorite kind of gardening– hydroponic gardening!  Hydroponics is a soil-less growing technique that relies on nutrient-rich water instead.

First, let’s talk about grow trays. These trays are often made of plastic and come in various sizes. They’re designed to hold soil or hydroponic growing media and are perfect for starting seedlings. One of the benefits of using grow trays is that they allow you to start multiple plants at once, making the most of the available space. I like the reusable, 12-space grow trays because they are easier to manipulate.

Now, let’s talk about domes. Domes are plastic covers that fit over the top of your grow trays. They’re designed to create a humid environment, which is perfect for seed germination. The humid environment helps to retain moisture and warmth, which encourages the seeds to sprout. Placing the grow tray with moist seeding media and seeds on a plant heat mat speeds up the germination process.

Subscribe to my Hydro4Food Newsletter & I’ll send you a link for a downloadable FREE guide, “Steps for Starting Seeds at Home.” Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or just starting out, give grow trays and domes a try. Your plants will thank you for it!

Get Growing with Grow Trays! This video shows you how!