Common Propagation Problems & Solutions

Even with the Best Electric Heated Propagators and the healthiest plants, sometimes things just don’t go your way! Here’s our top tips on overcoming common propagation problems.7 Common Propagation Problems & Solutions

1) Leaving Air Gaps in Compost

Vitopod Heated PropagatorSeedlings need good contact with the soil in order to absorb moisture. Air gaps can fill up with water, which can drown seedlings.

Top Tip
Use a Wooden Tamper to pat down the compost once you have sown your seeds to remove all air gaps.


2) Lack of Light

If plants don't have sufficient access to light, they may experience unhealthy or leggy growth. This is known as etiolation or ‘stretching’ and occurs when plants strive to reach sunlight and quickly grow very tall. This height comes at the cost of width, so leggy plants tend to lean or even fall over entirely. This is particularly common during the winter months when light levels are low.

Installing Propagation Lights above your heated propagator allow you to extend your daily growing time. These lights replicate natural daylight, allowing you to grow plants in rooms with limited access to sunlight.

3) Lumpy Compost

Garden SieveIf a large, hard chunk of compost falls on top of one of your seeds whilst sowing, the seed is not going to be able to sprout.

Top Tip
Sieve compost with a garden sieve before sowing seeds to ensure only fine compost will cover your seeds.


4) Overwatering

Plants do not need much water over winter. They don't use as much energy and they retain water for longer. Overwatering also leads to root rot, as excess water prevents plants from taking in the air they need.

Keep watering to a minimum until spring. During spring and summer, move plants to a Holiday Proof Vegetable Planter and take the guesswork out of watering. These self-watering planters take water as and when they need it from a central reservoir. The reservoir only needs to be topped up every week or so to ensure plants get just the right amount of water.

5) Humidity is too Low

If the humidity gets too low in your Heated Propagator, your plants will begin to use up water at a far quicker rate, leading them to wilt or even die.

By using a Hygrometer & Thermometer, you can monitor the humidity in your propagator, which will help you manage the ventilation appropriately.If you are using a Vitopod propagator make use of the large vents to release some of the water and lower humidity, you can even add an extra layer to disperse the humidity over a larger space. 

6) Overheating

Digital Thermometer & HygrometerA heated propagator provides an ideal environment for plants during the winter, however it is also possible to provide too much heat. If the sun shines on your propagator, or if it’s e a particularly warm day, the temperature inside the propagator can become too hot.

Top Tip
Place your propagator away from direct sunlight on particularly sunny days.


7) Too Much Fertiliser

If using multipurpose compost, the necessary nutrients for your plants will be contained within the compost itself. Plants will not be able to deal with any extra fertiliser, so adding this will cause plants to die.

Top Tip
Typically, nutrients in the compost will last for around a month, so do not consider adding any fertiliser until a month has passed.




Hopefully these tips will save your plants from any difficulty this season. If you have any more questions or tips you'd like to share, please feel free to contact our Gardening Angels on 0845 602 3774 or by email on We're always happy to hear from you!

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