Seedling Heat Mats – Are They Needed?
Seedling Heat Mats are used by quite a few people and many web sites suggest that they are required for germination. But other people never use them; so are they really necessary? What, if any advantage do they offer? Can you grow better plants if you use a seedling heating mat to germinate seeds?
What Are Seedling Heat Mats?
A seedling heating mat is a sheet of plastic that has heating elements embedded inside. When the mat is plugged in, it heats up, which in turn heats anything that is sitting above it.
Lower priced mats are designed so that they only heat up to a fixed temperature, while higher end products are equipped with a temperature regulator so that you can control the temperature.
The mats are normally used early in the year to provide extra heat, either in greenhouses or under light stands. Homeowners use then in cold basements to start seeds in late winter.
Seedling heat mats should really be called germination heat mats. Once the seed has germinated, they should be removed from the mat. Almost all seedlings grow better at temperatures below the optimum germination temperature.
What Should You Look for When Buying Heat Mats?
You should have the best possible mats for your garden. High-quality heating mats are not very expensive, so look for these features when making a new purchase.
- Heat mats should be waterproof.
- Heat mats come in different sizes, so choose the best size according to your gardening requirements. If you have a small indoor garden, then you will not need any bigger size than 10” by 10”. You can fit two starting trays on one mat. Buy multiple ones if needed.
- Heat mats should have power cords long enough to reach your outlet without using extension cords.
- Check for sufficient power wattage. Wattage indicates how much power it draws to itself and how high of a temperature it can produce. 15-watt mats will not heat as much as mats of 150 watts or more.
- If you only need to maintain 10-20 degrees higher than your existing temperature, you can use mats that have a wattage of 15 to 21. Big mats of 120 or more watts can heat up to 80 degrees, so choose according to your need.
When Should You Use a Seedling Heat Mat?
Vegetable seeds need a certain level of warmth to germinate. Some might need more than usual warmth, such as eggplants, and some require slightly less heat, such as tomatoes.
Cold nights interrupt the germinating process, so the most effective and least expensive way to solve that problem is by using heat mats.
Heat mats are mainly used to help encourage seeds and seedlings’ rapid growth, so if you want to start your plants growing sooner or you are late to start a vegetable seed indoors and need to catch up or make faster cloning with hydroponics , you can use seedling heat mats. They can make a significant difference for your vegetable garden.
Benefits of Using Heat Mats
You can use seedling mats for the following reasons.
- To keep the soil warm on a consistent basis
- To speed up the germination process
- To test new seeds
- To start early and to get a harvest at the expected time
- To maintain a warm temperature in your indoor garden or greenhouse