The Secret Life of the Seedling

 

If you are growing plants from seeds indoors you will probably not see the plant emerge from the seed.  This takes place “underground” (albeit perhaps only 1/16" underground)!  But you can get a hint of what is going on with your seed when you monitor condensation.

The Environment

To grow seedlings from seed you must establish the proper environment for germination to take place.  For many seeds, including the seeds of annual herbs, one condition of that environment, warmth, can be attained by using a germination heat mat.

A germination heat mat is an electric device which provides heat to germinate seeds.  The germination heat mat works in connection with a propagation tray and dome to provide the proper environment that seeds need in order to grow into seedlings.

To germinate, seeds need to be placed in moist, clean and loose soil, also called a medium.  The moisture is provided by water.  For many seeds to germinate, the seeds must then be put into an environment that is warm.   The warm temperature is provided by the germination heat mat. The environment is contained by means of the propagation dome.

Condensation

As the medium containing the water warms, some of the water that is not used by the seed will evaporate and rise to the cooler temperature on the top of the propagation dome.  This will cause condensation. Since you cannot see what is happening with your seeds, tucked into your medium “underground,” the condensation that you can see inside the top of the propagation dome will at least give you a hint of what is going on.  This will enable you to monitor and adjust moisture levels to optimize the conditions in the environment.

You should check your propagation tray every day to see if germination has taken place.  If it has, you would then provide your seedlings with light and possibly some nutrients to further growth.  But before you take off the propagation dome to check if there are any green shoots underneath, you should first observe the amount of the condensation collecting inside the dome.

To grow particular plant seedlings, the seeds require a specific amount of moisture.  The easiest way for a hobbyist to check the moisture level is to look at the condensation through the top of the propagation dome.  If the top of the dome appears misty, then your seeds have about the right amount of moisture.  If the dome is completely clear, there is not enough moisture.  If water is collecting in droplets on the top of the dome, there is too much moisture in the environment.

To show what a germination heat mat looks like, we have pictures of the mats on our website.  However, to illustrate how the germination heat mat works in the germination process, we have two photographs of a propagation tray with dome sitting on top of one of our germination heat mats.

The first picture shows the top of the propagation dome when the germination heat mat is not in use.  You can see through the top of the dome.  The second photograph shows the top of the propagation dome when the germination heat mat is in use.  The latter illustrates the condensation that you can observe though the top of the dome.

Propagation dome atop Germination Heat Mat nor in use

Propagation dome atop Germination Heat Mat not in use

Propagation dome when using a Germination Heat Mat showing Condensation

Propagation dome when using a Germination Heat Mat showing Condensation

 

North Country Herbs offers two sizes of germination heat mats.  One is 14 by 21 inches and the other is 18 by 36 inches.

Purchase a germination heat mat from North Country Herbs today.