Mini Greenhouses For Indoor Plants

A mini-greenhouse will provide an environment which enables you to care for the more demanding house plants or to propagate from seeds and cuttings.

Mini-greenhouses range from the smallest available glass lean-to fixed to an outside wall to a glazed attachment for a kitchen or living room windowsill. And if you have no suitable area outside, you can find a mini-greenhouse specially designed for indoor use. These are greenhouses on a really small scale, which can be used as propagators, and also to make an attractive display case for indoor plants.

Many people find themselves longing for a greenhouse as their interest in house plants grows. Lack of space need not make this impossible, as there are many types of mini-greenhouses available, for indoors as well as outdoors.

Miniature lean-to greenhousesmini-lean-to-greenhouse

These greenhouses are familiar to everyone. They can be bought from several manufacturers and are to be found advertised in all the gardening magazines. Sold mainly as aids to outdoor gardeners, they can also be very useful to the indoor gardener who has a little space outside with a sunny wall – on a patio or roof garden, or even a balcony.

Lean-to’s provide space for two or more shelves for seed trays and potting plants, but they can also be used without the shelves for taller plants, such as tomatoes or aubergines, growing in bags or large pots. They must be fixed to a south or south-west facing wall to catch the sun.

Being at the large end of the mini-greenhouse scale, lean-to’s can be artificially heated just like a real greenhouse, to keep up the temperature in winter.

Window greenhouseswindow-greenhouse

These greenhouses are well worth considering if you are interested in a greenhouse for display purposes. They have shelves set into a wooden or metal frame which also houses the glass for sides, front and top. They are fixed in place as a window extension, usually replacing the existing window, and so enlarging the room as well as creating a super-light area for more exotic flowering plants.

Since this type of greenhouse is really part of the room, it requires no extra heating, and makes it possible to have a stunning display all year round. They may be difficult to find, but it is possible to design and make your own version, or a good local builder could be called in to do the job. Don’t forget to allow for ventilation and blinds to protect plants from hot sun.

Window greenhouses get a lot of light, especially at first-floor levels, and can be just as successful on an east-facing wall where they will not get the full power of the mid-day sun. Although not cheap, they are ideal for flats, but must be used all the time or the room will have a sad, neglected look.

Table-top models

Table-top greenhouses are now becoming available. There are usually ‘house’ shaped, with sloping ‘roofs’ which open to allow ventilation and access to the inside. The frames are made of wood or metal, and usually these greenhouses have a raised ‘floor’, which is perforated to give good drainage, so that the pots or trays kept in them do not need to be stood in containers.

These model greenhouses are multipurpose, and can be used simply as attractive indoor propagators, holding seed trays or small pots of cuttings. But it would be a shame to restrict their use in this way as they make excellent display cases for pot plants when placed on a windowsill or table top.

As a short-term measure, a polythene bag can provide greenhouse conditions. Punch holes in the bag for ventilation.

Planning a mini-greenhouse

When designing your own mini greenhouse consider first the size you can cope with. If you intend to use it inside, give some thought to how the general appearance will blend in with the room and how much space it will take up. Decide on the number of shelves you will need and make sure they are watertight and extremely sturdy.


Small greenhouses can be used for all the same purposes as full-scale ones. They supply the controlled conditions necessary to raise plants from seeds and cuttings, and they also provide an ideal environment for bringing plants into early growth.

Protecting plants

Tender plants can be overwintered in a mini-greenhouse, and plants such as tomatoes and cucumbers can be brought into fruit in them.

As a show bench

Perhaps best of all, a mini-greenhouse can become a purely decorative feature, used as a display case for plants which will only flourish in a warm, draught-free environment. The effect will be a much scaled-down version of a show bench in the greenhouse of a stately home, with specimen plants arranged side by side.

Indoor display

The indoor greenhouse display is different from a display in a Wardian case or terrarium. While the latter consists of a permanent planting in an enclosed environment which is usually kept very humid, the mini-greenhouse is more airy, and the plants kept in it are displayed in their pots.

Plants to try

Raising house plants from seed is easier in a mini-greenhouse.

Try Begonia Rex, Polka Dot Plants, African Violets. Cuttings of all kinds will root quickly too.

For a colourful display, choose Fuchsias, Geraniums, Cinerarias, Calceolarias, or, for less bright light, try Streptocarpus and Gloxinias. Cacti will also flourish in a mini-greenhouse, with flowering bulbs.

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