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Propagator Construction


Active Member
Here is a guide to an ebb and flow propagator I made one day that has worked out pretty well for me. All that is needed is a 2 gallon bucket w/ lid, a sub pump with tubing, a CD spool lid and a 15 minute timer. The total cost is less than $20 to construct this. I got the pump and timer at Petsmart, everything else at Home Depot. Look in the Pond Care area at Petmart and not the Fish area when looking for the pump. You can get away with using the smallest pump you can find for this project.


First off, I trace the spool lid on the bucket lid then cut a hole so the spool lid will rest inside the bucket lid. This is the hardest part so I do it first. It's not really that hard which is the nice part.

Next, I drill the holes in the CD spool lid to control the water level. I drill enough holes along the sides so the water drains faster than the pump can fill it. This will prevent the propagator from overflowing. I also drill a couple smaller holes on the bottom of the spool lid so when the pump turns off, the water will drain. You also need to drill a hole in the center of the spool lid for the pump tubing to come through.

I always like to make room by drilling a hole for the power cable to hang off the side of the bucket without interfering with the bucket lid closing properly over the bucket.

Now lets set up the pump. One problem I always run into is the tubing always looks like this because of the way it is packaged.

To fix this, I hold the tubing over the stover burner of a lighter to soften it up so I can make it straight again. Once it is straight, I run the still warm tubing under cold water to make it stay. It should look like this:

Insert the tubing into the center hole of the spool lid and attach the pump.

Place the the bucket lid with the spool lid inserted and the pump and tubing connected into the bucket. Push or pull the tube through the spool lid so the pump is securely resting on the bottom of the bucket. Then trim off the excess tubing.

Hook up the timer and fill with water and your done.

I water 15 minutes on and 15 minutes off. Also, I use the bottom of a 2-liter bottle as a humidity dome. After I germinate the seeds, I place them into a root plug and put that into a a small net basket that is just big enough to hold the plug. I then poke a toothpick through the side of the basket and plug because the plug will float when the water rises.. Once I see roots coming out of the plug, thats when I transplant into my medium (Hygromite) and into my hydro bucket. I will be posting the plans for my hydro bucket shortly. I have not had any problems with algae and the white bucket because in this stage, I just use purified water. Roots are supposed to be kept in the dark too, thats why, at first sight of roots, I move the plug into the Hygromite and strat vegging. It may seem a bit over-elaborate, but it has worked great for me and is fun to make.

Question, comments, and suggestions? I would like to hear so give me a shout.


New Member
so wait, what exactly is this for?

could you instead of like .. that as a reservior and get a longer tube, and run that tube through like.. a bigger tub with rockwool in it?

i know you'd probably need a bigger res. and maybe a different way to drain..

but i'm just thinking..


Active Member
I use this device to get the germinated seed to sprout through the root plug before I move it into my bucket. I will then take the seed with the most promising growth and concentrate on that one. I plan on only growing one plant (taking Dank's advice) in my cabinet and this allows me to identify early on which seeds look promising and which ones don't, saving me time in the end. Since I don't plan on growing that many plants, I can get by with this compact design. However, for larger scale grows, you will need something bigger. So yes, you can grab a bigger tube and tubs and do rockwool I'm sure. I know rockwool holds moisture a little better than a root plug so watering times might need to be tweaked with. Hope that helps fallen.


New Member
all right thanks alot for the information, i think i'll use this haha.

is it just a normal air pump submerged in water? like.. an aquarium air pump?
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