This propagator is sold by Ikea under the name Växer nursery and sprout box with lid. It is the first of the new Ikea hydroponics range I have tested.
The propagator has 50 sockets for stone wool plugs. Ikea sells this as Växer growing media, starter plugs per box of 50 pieces.
And yes, of course, mine is already full and I’m about to go buy me a second one 🙂
Ikea is aiming this range for hydroponics to people who wish to grow fresh sprouts, herbs, salads and leafy vegetables indoors at home.
But it also suitable for propagating larger vegetables and even ornamental plants for garden room and patio or terrace.
You can even use this to sow plants for cultivation in soil instead of hydroponics.
This is a sturdy container of 42×23 cm and 20 cm height.
It is supplied with 2 trays: one with 50 holes for cuttings and seeds and a flat tray with slots for growing sprouts (bean sprouts, watercress, radish…).
On top is a lid in transparent acrylic so that the seedlings get light but evaporation is limited.
And when the two trays are in place, it is impossible to see the markings as they are on the inside of the box and beneath the trays.
Once the tray is filled with seeds or cuttings, it is quite difficult to remove the trays in order to check the water level. You can see if the rock wool plugs are still wet but if they completely dry out, your seeds and cuttings may die.
A gauge would have been useful. Although seeds use almost no water, cuttings do use water which would cause the water level to drop and the rock wool plugs to dry out.
What you can do, however, is to remove one of the plugs and visually check that the water still reaches the bottom of the plugs.
Another problem is that, when the container is filled with water to the maximum level, it is difficult to move without splashing. So fill it half at the tap and fill up to maximum level when it is in place.
What do you do next with 50 cuttings or seedlings?
Now what do you do with those 50 seedlings or cuttings? Ikea has 2 Växer cultivation tray sets: one for 8 plants and the other for 15 plants.
You would need a minimum of 6 small or 3 large tray sets.
Actually, you do not need to grow your plants in hydroponics, they can also be grown in soil.
And if you choose to continue growing them in hydroponics, other configurations are possible: in an individual pot with clay pellets or a series of individual pots together in one large container.
The Växer propagator is priced correctly, at a price comparable or cheaper than that of other propagators.
The Växer rock wool plugs are inexpensive as well and made to measure for the propagator, which is extremely convenient.
But if you want the follow up series (cultivation set, cultivation light + cultivation unit…) it’s a lot more expensive. A complete kit costs between € 70 and € 280. For that price you can buy sprouts or herbes every week in your local grocery store or supermarket for about a year.
Errors in the manual:
I must admit I was quite surprised at some of the claims in the manual of the Växer propagator.
And I can not imagine that the scientists who helped design the hydroponic set for Ikea, know what is written in its manual.
Seeds recommended for hydroponic growing:
I’ve read the manual in other languages and they do mean seeds specially suitable for hydroponics.
To begin with, I have never heard of seeds developed specifically for hydroponics. And you can actually sow almost any plant in hydroponics.
Most plants can grow hydroponically, with a few exceptions. Even cacti do well in hydroponics.
So do not worry: you can use any seed bought in any store to grow hydroponically.
The seeds should have a minimum of 16 hours of light per day:
Nope, most seeds don’t need light at all. Very few species need light to germinate, most couldn’t care less.
And again, I’ve checked the manual in other languages and they DO mean the seeds, not the seedlings (which of course do need light).
The seedlings must not be allowed to dry out once they have been soaked:
This is a mistake and should be read as: the seeds should not be allowed to dry out once they have been soaked.
The absorption of water by the seed is one of the factors that triggers the germination process and as soon as this germination process has started, the seeds must not dry out because then the embryo dies.
Of course, the seedlings themselves also need water to grow but that was not what they meant.
As an amateur gardener, I love this propagator. And the price is good too.
The only thing missing is soil heating for tropical plants but that is not what the series is not designed for. And you can simply place the propagator above a soil heating device.
I find the rest of the hydroponics range quite pricey, but if you want to grow expensive greens, sure why not?
Are plants grown like this tastier or more nutritious than the ones you buy at the supermarket? No.
Do they contain fewer traces of herbicides or insecticides? If you haven’t used any, yes. But European legislation has become so severe that the residue of herbicides and insecticides which may still occur on sold fruit and vegetables, is minimal.
Is it ecological? No. The production costs for the manufacture of the material and growing the plants in small quantities is relatively higher per plant than in horticulture, where plants are cultivated by 100,000 lettuce heads or tomato plants.
But then why would you use this system to grow vegetables, lettuce, herbs… at home? For fun.