The Veg Plot

Feel the heat: keeping plants warm indoors during winter

bubble wrap for plants

With winter on its way the house is beginning to clog up with plants seeking a warm spot to see them through until next spring. In years gone by my windowsills and shelves were like death rows for pot plants as they perished in turn due to lack of proper care and attention. This was partly due to watering neglect, but mainly due to lack of consistent light and, more importantly, consistent warmth. Although those windowsills ramped up the heat during the day, at night the cold drafts snuck in through the dodgy frames and the temperature plummeted.

Now my plants stand a better chance of survival. A few years ago I moved to a new home, which has a conservatory with two radiators separately plumbed to the heating unit, allowing me to give the room a warming boost without paying to heat the rest of the house. The plants love it so it’s just the ‘neglect’ part I now have to take care of.

I appreciate that me and my garden exiles are lucky, and not everyone
lives in a home with a curiously beneficial plumbing set-up. Thankfully there are numerous gardening tools and devices that do the job, along with a few DIY options, so here are five suggestions for ways to provide steady warmth for those in-bound plants…

1 Bubble wrap

One of the cheapest and easiest way to provide some snug warmth for overwintering plants is to dress them up in bubble wrap. The temperature will still vary according to the temperature of the room they’re in but that extra layer of bubbles will help insulate against colder snaps.
Try this: Roll of bubble wrap from Amazon

2 Electric white goods

If you’ve got a fridge or freezer in a place that gets natural light you could simply place your plants on top of it. It takes a fair bit of power to keep your ice-pops frozen and, in doing so, some gentle warmth will escape. Just be careful watering around electrical goods and try not to spill soil over your oven chips.

3 Programmable radiators

For the ultimate plant (and human) luxury, consider a programmable electric radiator that can heat a single room without wasting energy on the rest of the house. They offer maximum control and can automatically adjust to sudden changes in room temperature. And there’s no need to rip up the plumbing.
Try these: Electric radiators from VeriSmart Heating

4 Heat mats

I have been known to rest my shivering plants on the top of an old brewing heat mat, designed to keep booze fermenting at a constant temperature. Far more reliable than this approach is to use heat mats designed for the task.
Try these: Hobby Heatwave Propagation Mats from Gardens4Less

5 Heat lamps

Instead of heating from below, you could try heating from above with foliage friendly heat lamps. Not only will they given your plants a suitably warm glow, LED bulbs also provide some beneficial light.
Try these: Tesler lights from Lamps Plus

6 Electric Propagator

Since first writing this piece I have invested in an electric propagator and it’s plugged in every February, bringing me great success. Ideal for windowsills it’s essentially a tray, lined with a heat mat and covered with a clear lid. You can also use individual lidded trays and sit them on the mat to soak up the heat. Perfect.
Try this: Electric propagator from Amazon

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