How to Use a Seedling Heat Mat?
A seedling heat mat gently warms the soil when you are growing healthy plants and veggies. They are used for germination and in rooting cuttings. The reason planters use a heat mat when encouraging seedling growth is that nighttime temperatures can become too cold for seedlings.
Also, a seedling heat mat allows you to see growth patterns earlier if you began planting later than usual. They are a thickly gauged rubber or plastic mat that fits beneath your seedling flat or trays. Home gardeners and agriculturists agree that a heat mat helps to raise the soil level by 10 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit which is slightly warmer than growing seedlings at room temperature.
To start growing your seedlings indoors you will need the right materials. It begins with quality seeds, germination management, containers, lights, water is great fun. Successfully growing seedlings indoors requires high-quality seeds, a germination medium, containers, labeling system, lights, and other supplies:
You must always start with high-quality seeds. This is a process that I am most familiar with – take a dampened paper towel and sprinkle some seeds over it. Fold the towel and place it in a plastic sandwich baggie. Place it somewhere which is warm. Check within a week or 10 days to see if the seeds have begun to germinate.
• Germination Material
Your germination material should consist of a light, porous, soilless potting mix. This can be in the form of perlite, peat moss, vermiculite, or coir. These germination products provide disease-free protection and good drainage.
There are a variety of containers that are used for germination and transplants. This can be in the form of trays, flats, pots, peat pellets, cut-off containers, and more. There are a variety of seed-starting containers to choose from.
You can use whichever form works best for you or one that you are more used to using. But for this tutorial, we’ll talk about using seedling trays. Trays come equipped with aerated holes or a bottom tray in the bottom.
Here is a step you may not have ever considered if you are a neophyte gardener. Clean your containers. Whether you have purchased new containers, or you are using last year’s. Again, clean your containers. Why?
Okay, rather than say clean, you should disinfect your containers. If using reused containers or trays, remove all remaining soil. Disinfect or clean your containers with soapy water followed by a little hydrogen peroxide. I know that this is an extra step, but it is important to kill any fungal bacteria (which we can’t see) that may be lurking in your container.
Okay, no matter your age, who can remember every seedling in your germination tray? Therefore, let’s use a labeling system. The cute fun system is to buy a pack of popsicle sticks. We won’t tell you how to label them, but if you go to the Pinterest website you will see a myriad of fun decorating ideas to make your indoor seedling garden look amazing.
Et Cetera Materials
Naturally, other materials to have on hand include lights and water. No, you don’t need lights when they are seedlings. Lights become important when a plant or veggie truly starts to grow or flower. Remember that the best type of lighting is a fluorescent light or a “grow” light for plants.
Additional materials to have on hand include a watering method. I found that a mister is a great watering method that serves as an evenly distributed watering system. A misting or spray bottle is more affordable. Keep an eye on your soil by checking that it doesn’t dry out.
Next of course is the topic of this tutorial which is immensely helpful – a heating mat to ensure the warm temperature that a germination soil mix will require.
Seedling Heat Mat
Let’s answer seedling heat mat questions you may have:
A. How Long Should Your Heat Mat Stay On?
How many hours should a seedling heat mat stay on? Firstly, I have discovered by trial and error that seedling heat mats help plants receive gentle and consistent heat. Some models feature their own thermostat sensors that are adjustable in both Fahrenheit and Celsius. Now to answer your question about how many hours a seedling heat mat stay on.
When you sow your seeds, placing them into your plant onto the mat, they need to remain comfortably warm for 24 hours a day. Remember that your seedlings are safe with a seedling heat mat beneath them, therefore, don’t check on them like you are baking something in the oven. Your young seedlings must receive uninterrupted heat to keep the propagation process ongoing.
B. How To Even Out the Heat on the Seed Tray Seedling Heat Mat
If you are proficient at working with seedlings, then your experienced instinct on how to even out the heat in the seed tray should work well. However, if you are a novice like me, read what the temperature is suggested on the seedling heat mat. The best and more sure way to keep the right temperature is to use an adjustable temperature-controlled heat mat. It will make your green thumb a surer way to grow healthy and strong plants.
C. When To Stop Using the Seedling Heat Mat
Question: Do I keep the seedling heat mat on when the seeds begin to sprout?
Answer: No. Remove the seedling heat mat. If your plants begin to sprout and you leave the heat mat on, your results will be weak sprouts with the possibility of fungal growth.
D. What Surface to Put Seedling Heat Mat On?
The answer is simple:
Question: What surface to put the seedling heat mat on?
Answer: Flat (plain and simple).
Step by Step Instructions
Maybe the weather is cold or chilly outside or perhaps COVID restrictions have you stuck at home. What is a better idea than to start your own indoor garden. Planting seeds and watching them grow is an interesting experience.
Horticulturists note that seeds need a near-perfect growing environment. Scientifically, this involves water that swells up the seed allowing the seed embryo to begin growing. There is oxygen that provides energy that is invisibly released for germination, growth, and warmth.
Now we can get down and dirty. Actually, let’s have fun and plant our seedlings in order to produce veggies, flowers, or healthy green plants.
Step by Step:
- Select your container. Your container only needs to be between 2 or 3 inches in depth with adequate draining ability.
- Place your soilless material inside the container. Take your paper towel seeds and place them into the warm moist soil mixture inside the container. Remember that standard garden soil is a no-no for seedling material. Standard garden soil invites weeds and disease.
- Read the instructions from the seed packaging if you don’t already know. The general rule is to cover the seeds with a soil mixture that equals three times their thickness. We haven’t talked about this, placing your seeds depends on what you are growing.
For example, if you are planting a vegetable like lettuce, its seeds require light to germinate. Therefore, lettuce seeds need to be planted close to the soil surface. But, if you are planting flower seeds like sunflowers, can be planted at the required depth.
- After you have placed your seeds within the soil mixture, use a spray bottle or a bulb product to wet the soil mixture again. Watering your seeds and seedlings are essential. Keep in mind, that you should use room-temperature water. Using distilled water is great. When using chlorinated water, let the water sit overnight to allow the chlorine to dissipate. Don’t overwater the seeds or seedlings. Let them dry out a little before the next watering schedule.
- The main character of this article (seedling heat mat) will help warm the soil for better germination growth. The right air temperature is also important. Example, air temperature that is lower than 70˚F is good, but if the air is as low as 50˚ this too is okay if the soil temperature from your heat mat remains a constant 65˚ to 70˚ F.
When your seeds become seedlings, provide fertilizer to them. Fertilizer contains nutrients that your seedling will need to grow into adulthood. Use fertilizer gently and sparingly. Maybe liquid fertilizer is the better route to take until you transplant seedlings to a pot. Use inorganic or organic fertilizer. Please follow instructions on your packaging that should note how much to add to the soil mixture and how often to use it.
Now let’s introduce more light into their growth schedule. You can use indoor lighting as we talked about above or place your seedling near a window that provides plenty of light. When the seedling looks strong enough, you may even introduce air from the window.
Don’t place the seedling right next to a window, keep the seedling a few inches from the window. By just spotting the seedling as it grows and you want to transfer it outdoors, your small plants should reveal sets of leaves which indicates a strong root system.
Planting time is here. Let’s start an indoor garden! There are health benefits in gardening. Physicians state that gardening improves your mental health, and it is good for the spirit. Whether you are planting vegetables or flowers, gardening during this pandemic helps to relieve stress.
Plants of all types help indoor air by producing clean oxygen inside a room. Even NASA has purported that having plants inside the capsule or space station removes toxins from the air. For this reason, we shouldn’t get rid of so many trees or stop clearing away the Amazon jungles. But, sorry I digress.
If there are people like me who don’t necessarily have a green thumb, there is nothing like following instructions carefully, then seeing the results of a flower or veggies. Mother Nature is awesome. Did you enjoy this 101 seed/seedling tutorial? I hope so because the results will be amazing!
As you read this tutorial, I am enjoying a cucumber that I grew indoors. Enjoy your flowers with the beauty you helped them provide. Eat healthier when your tomatoes, herbs, and greens are available to harvest.
Please contact us with any questions or comments you may have. Have you grown plants indoors before? If you have, what was easy or hardest about it? What plants, veggies, herbs, or even fruits would you like to grow? Feel free to share our tutorial and let’s help keep Earth a healthy blue planet.