Making a Simple Hothouse

Growing plants from seed can be a bit hit & miss as the weather and soil cools down and not everyone has the space for a hothouse. The solution, a mini hothouse. With no elaborate construction required, even the smallest garden can have a hothouse. Whether you want to grow from seed or from cuttings, this is a simple and effective way of controlling temperature, exposure and light thereby giving plants a good start in life.

Steps to Make your own simple hothouse

  • Start with a clear, rectangular heavy-duty plastic storage box e.g 50-litre
  • Drill 6mm holes into each corner of the lid (prevents moisture building up, which can lead to a fungal disease called 'damping off' and can kill seedlings)
  • Next turn the box over and drill a single hole between 3-5cm up the side of the box from the bottom to act as an overflow point
  • Now turn right-side up again and add a layer of 3-5cm of washed river sand that acts as a 'wicking' layer– ensure the level is below the overflow hole.
  • Next, make a water reservoir to keep the sand layer moist. Using a plastic drink bottle and a plastic pot ( with similar diameters to fit together snugly), cut the bottom out of the pot to use it as a stand, press into the sand. Fill the bottle with water and carefully upends it into the stand. The bottle opening should touch the sand.
  • The water may quickly drain this first time as it wets the sand but will subsequently slow so you will only have to replenish it every few days

Now it is just a case of starting your seeds or cuttings in small pots making sure they are pressed into the sand so contact between the sand and potting mix allows the wicking action to begin. An alternative to pots is egg cartons as they also effectively wick moisture. You may need to mist spray seeds initially until they have germinated but ensure not to over wet them.

Initially, put your new mini hothouse in a sunny position with the lid off for a few hours to allow any extra moisture to evaporate. Then replace the lid and it can be moved to a convenient position in your outdoor area.  If you notice any excess moisture running down the sides of the box, just slide the lid aside to allow this to evaporate.

Your new mini hothouse is perfect for small gardens or even on a balcony and it can be used over & over again or stored away when not in use without taking up lots of space. Enjoy :)

Resources & Links:

ABC Gardening Australia video - watch Sophie make a make a mini-hothouse for seedlings