You have seen that little glass shack at the far end of someone's garden, or the fancy glass conservatory built on to one end of a home. It's a neon sign that says, "Passionate gardener lives here!" Perhaps you have one of these folks for a friend. If so, you can't go wrong indulging that passion with gadgets and toys designed to drive their hobby onward. They'll be thrilled by your thoughtfulness!
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Easy to find and even easier to afford, propagation mats are essentially heating pads for plants. Usually powered by electricity, they provide a low-level, even heat on which to set pots of newly planted seeds. The gentle heat encourages germination as it mimics the sun's warming rays on the earth. Propagation mats come in varying sizes.
Greenhouses are nothing more than plant incubators. The idea is to create maximum light and heat from the sun to encourage the plants to think it's springtime, and time for them to get a move on and grow. But on those cloudy winter days when the snow's falling and the ground's freezing, your gardener needs to protect his precious seedlings. A greenhouse heater is designed to take the chill out of the air and maintain a steady temperature, free of the fluctuations that can confuse and even kill a delicate baby plant.
Heaters run on electricity, gas or propane, but there are two important considerations: First, don't bother buying a heater if the greenhouse isn't insulated. Second, determine whether you need a heater that requires venting. Most plants can tolerate unvented heaters, and they are usually less expensive, but if your gardener is passionate about his sensitive orchids, he's going to want one that's vented.
Thermostats and Temperature Gauges
Most people think of greenhouses as places to overwinter plants, requiring only heat and light. But more plants die of excessive heat in greenhouses versus excessive cold. Also, temperature fluctuation can be very damaging to fragile plants, so it's important to have a temperature gauge that not only tells the current temperature but records the daily high and low temperatures to help the gardener remedy extreme fluctuation. In a greenhouse with a heater, a thermostat can automatically control and regulate the temperature in a particular section of the greenhouse.
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