How to Use a Heat Mat for Germination

Overview

Most varieties of seeds require warm, moist soil in order to germinate. Even if you start your seeds indoors, the soil temperature may be cooler than the ideal germination temperature for your plants. Germinating seeds with the help of a heat mat gives you control over the soil temperature and gives your seeds the best change of successfully sprouting.

Step 1

Begin your seeds indoors based on their particular germination times. Seeds should be started anywhere from three to 15 weeks prior to the last frost of the season.

Step 2

Plant your seeds according to the package directions of each variety. A good rule of thumb is to plant four times as deep as the width of the seed. Sow in a planting tray and a soilless seed-starting mixture. This will help maintain adequate moisture during germination and prevent soil-borne diseases.

Step 3

Place your seed tray on your heat mat. Set the temperature to the ideal germination level for the variety of seeds you planted. Plant varieties with similar germination temperatures together in the same tray.

Step 4

Moisten the potting mix regularly with a spray bottle at the lightest setting. Fertilize your seedlings with an all-purpose liquid fertilizer diluted to one-quarter strength.

Step 5

Remove seedlings from the heat mat two weeks before you plant to transplant them to the garden. Gradually acclimate your plants to outside temperatures and conditions by placing them outside during the day for several days prior to planting.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not over water your seed bed. Excess moisture can cause your seedlings to rot and die.

Things You'll Need

  • Planting tray
  • Soilless potting mixture
  • Spray bottle
  • Heat mat
  • Liquid fertilizer

References

  • University of Minnesota: Starting Seeds Indoors
  • Backyard Gardener: Seed Germination Database
Keywords: germinating heat mat, growing heat mat, heat mat gardening

About this Author

Lydia Stephens began writing professionally in 2009. She has written online for Nile Guides, SheKnows.com and various other Web sites and has been published in "Stringing Magazine" and "Xiamen Wave." Stephens played competitive soccer for 19 years, has been weight lifting since 2007 and enjoys running, biking and sailing. She has a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from the University of Texas.