Looking to liven up your small, poorly lit apartment? An indoor greenhouse is the perfect solution to bring some life and light into your home.
Greenhouses are ideal places for starting seeds and growing plants that thrive in warmer, more humid climates. They work by trapping warmth and moisture inside clear walls so your plants aren’t exposed to harsher temperatures.
How to Build an Indoor Greenhouse: Where to Begin
The key elements to an indoor greenhouse are a solid structure, and a clear covering to hold in moisture without blocking light. You can either purchase supplies to build your indoor greenhouse, or you can try and find items at home to repurpose.
– Wood trim
– Plastic sheeting
– Glass panes
– Picture frames with glass inside
– CD cases
Your structure should resemble a miniature home, with a rectangular base and a triangular top as shown below. To build this frame you can nail together wood trim, or use PVC with curved joints. Glass panes can be used with a wooden frame, however, plastic sheeting works better with a PVC frame.
If you want to use repurposed materials, you can nail together wooden photo or window frames in this same shape, or use a hot glue gun to glue together CD frames.
By adding hinges along seams and leaving the opposite side of the frame unattached, you can create a door through which you can care for the plants inside your greenhouse.
If you’re not up for building a frame, find a clear, glass jar you can place upside down in a pot over your plant, or which your planter can comfortably fit inside with a lid on. This jar will simulate the same conditions as a greenhouse, and the lid provides easy access to care for your plant.
How to Use Your Indoor Greenhouse:
If properly set up, your greenhouse should be able to regulate itself with little intervention. Just place potted plants inside, water them and place your greenhouse in an area with access to the right amount of light.
If your apartment has natural lighting, place your greenhouse near a window so it can capture heat from the sunlight. For apartments without access to natural light, you can mount growing-lamps with full-spectrum LED bulbs above your greenhouse to provide the necessary light and heat for your plants or seedlings to thrive.
Depending what plants you grow in your greenhouse, some may require more light than others, so be careful not to group together plants with vastly different light requirements.
Due to the fact that they trap warmth, greenhouses typically allow for the evaporation and condensation of water, which will provide your plants with constant nourishment. However, if the area is too moist you could encounter root rot or other forms of decay. If you notice excess condensation, leave the door or roof to your greenhouse cracked to allow some of the moisture to escape. Conversely, if your greenhouse isn’t sealed tightly, you may need to water your plants more often.
The Best Plants to Grow in an Indoor Greenhouse:
– Herbs – The heat in your greenhouse will promote quicker growth, which makes it an ideal place to grow herbs that you use often and which need to grow new leaves quickly.
– Leafy greens or microgreens – Your salad greens require around 12 hours of light and controlled temperatures to thrive, which makes them an ideal option for growing under LED lights in your greenhouse.
– Mushrooms – To grow mushrooms, you don’t need nearly as much light as other greens require, however, the moist environment inside your greenhouse is perfect for these fungi. If you’re new to growing mushrooms, try buying a kit that’s pre-inoculated with mushroom spawn.
– Vegetable seedlings – Get a head start on growing season by starting your seedlings in your greenhouse, which provides an ideal environment for seed germination. Some excellent vegetables to start with include: tomatoes, beets, squash and peppers.
– Fruit seedlings – Start delicate fruit plants like raspberries and strawberries indoors, as they grow in small patches.
– Fruit trees – Thinking of growing an orange, lemon or peach tree? It’s a good idea to start your tree indoors and wait until it’s larger and more stable to move it outside.
– Garlic – This cooking staple is one that often gets targeted by outdoor critters, so growing it inside is a good way to keep it undisturbed.
– Tropical houseplants – As tropical plants are used to a warm, moist environment, they tend to thrive in greenhouses.
Whether you’re in a small apartment or in a cold-climate area, an indoor greenhouse is a great option for bringing some color and life inside your home. When caring for your plants, ensure they’re getting the proper nutrition by mixing TrashCan™ food-waste fertilizer into their soil and watering well.