Indoor greenhouses – beauty and functionality in your home
Indoor greenhouses are one of those items that look like they’d take a lot of time and effort yet it’s usually the opposite. Not only is it easy to prepare and set up your indoor greenhouse, it will save you a lot of time and energy while also supplying you with food & satisfaction, and your home – with beautiful greenery.
But what exactly Is an indoor greenhouse? Isn’t it enough to just grow your flowers, herbs, or even veggies by the window? The glass there still blocks the outside elements and there’s still plenty of sunshine – what makes an indoor greenhouse necessary or useful?
What is an indoor greenhouse?
Indoor greenhouses are exactly what they sound like – the indoor and usually smaller counterpart of standard outdoor greenhouses. An indoor greenhouse is supposed to cover your greeneries fully, usually with glass although other transparent materials can work too. That’s done for the same reason as with outdoor greenhouses – to control the environment of the greenery inside the greenhouse.
It’s easy to think that this isn’t necessary – isn’t the environment in our homes stable enough anyway? Well, no.
While our veggies, herbs, flowers, or other greeneries are definitely safer inside than they are outside, the environment in most homes still isn’t “stable enough” for steady and healthy growth.
Why should you bother with an indoor greenhouse?
There are many benefits an indoor greenhouse can provide, some crucial, others auxiliary.
- Many greeneries are very sensitive to temperature changes and these changes often happen in most homes. That’s especially true if we consider that most indoor greeneries are kept near windows where there are often lots of drafts. Even if we have a nice heating system and a good AC system, the temperatures in our homes can still fluctuate both during the day/night cycle and between the different seasons.
Most plants fare best at a temperature range of about 65-75°F (18-25°C) and it’s very easy for our standard room temperatures to often fluctuate outside of that range.
- Most plants are also very susceptible to the relative humidity in our homes and that can fluctuate even more. The air is much drier in the winter and often overly humid in the summer. Both can be bad for your household plants (and for your family too) which is why devices such as humidifiers and dehumidifiers are becoming more and more common. Unless you put the humidifier right under your greeneries in the winter, however, the air around them is still likely to be too dry. If you’ve placed the plants in an indoor greenhouse, however, you can more easily spray them or even have them sprayed automatically by a simple water pump.
- A greenhouse allows you to better monitor your plants. If you just put your pots across your home you’ll have a much harder time monitoring their condition and environment. A greenhouse gives you an enclosed microenvironment which you can easily keep an eye on.
- Greenhouses also protect your greens from pests. Yes, they are not – and shouldn’t be – completely sealed as your plants still need some ventilation, but it’s much easier to keep the plants safe in an almost full glass or plastic enclosure.
- An indoor greenhouse can also protect your plants from physical damage. Especially if you have kids or pets, it’s very easy for them to accidentally harm your greeneries. A nice, sturdy greenhouse prevents that almost completely.
- The multiple floors of an indoor greenhouse allow for a much more efficient spatial arrangement for your plants. On the one hand, a greenhouse allows you to have more plants because it typically has multiple floors. And in addition to that, even if you don’t want to grow more plants, a greenhouse can allow you to arrange your current plants in a much more spacially-efficient manner.
- Another benefit of having indoor plants, in general, is air purification. Most indoor pot plants breathe in carbon dioxide and produce oxygen which is fantastic for our air quality, especially in the winter. Indoor greenhouses make that even better as they usually allow you to take care of many more plants than you would have been able to otherwise.
- If the weather and the conditions permit it, you can use an indoor greenhouse outdoors as well. You can move it depending on the season or you can leave it outdoors and just give yourself the option of being able to move it in whenever necessary.
What can you grow in an indoor greenhouse?
Indoor greenhouses allow you to grow almost anything in your home – that’s their beauty. Even things that can’t grow well in standard room conditions can be grown in an indoor greenhouse.
Still, some plants will be easier to grow than others in a greenhouse, so here are a few suggestions:
- Leafy greens and other vegetables. Almost every vegetable plant that doesn’t grow too deeply into the soil or too high above it can easily be grown in an indoor greenhouse. That’s because their moisture, temperature, and sunlight requirements are easy to meet in a greenhouse. Plus, they often look cool – like a multi-floor green wall in your home. Additionally, with leafy greens you can just keep pulling their leaves for your salads and the plants themselves will keep growing and producing more leaves.
- Sure, most flowers can easily be grown in a pot even without a greenhouse but there are plenty of flowers that require very specific conditions. Orchids, marigolds, roses, chrysanthemums, and many others are nearly-impossible to grow without the help of a greenhouse.
- This is probably the best choice for most greenhouses. Most herbs require a lot of care and specific conditions which greenhouses can provide. They are also one of the most valuable plants per pound you can possibly grow. They taste much better when they are fresh than the dried or powder herbs you can get from the store. And, as a bonus – they often look and smell very nice.
What to consider before purchasing or building your own indoor greenhouse?
Now that we know just how useful an indoor greenhouse can be, let’s think of all the details that go into getting one. If you want to make sure you’re happy with your indoor greenhouse, there are a few things you’ll need to consider before getting or building it:
- How big do you need it to be? This depends on several factors – a) how many plants do you want to grow in it; b) how tall and how deep (into the soil) are they going to grow; and c) how much space do you have available for your indoor greenhouse and some additional tools such as a ventilator, a heater, and a water pump?
- Location, location, location. As with most other things, the location and logistics of your indoor greenhouse are crucial. Not only do you need to know how big it’s going to be, but you also need to consider how much sunlight it’s going to get, how practical it’s going to be to maneuver around it, whether there’s enough space for additional items and tools near it, whether it’s going to be stable, and so on.
- What are you going to grow in your indoor greenhouse and what additional tools will it require? Depending on the conditions in your home and the requirements of what you’re going to grow, you may or may not need the following tools:
– Grow lights. If what you’re about to grow requires a lot of sunlight or if you’re just worried there won’t be enough sunlight anyway, consider getting grow lights. Even if you can place your greenhouse nicely by the window, grow lights are still a good investment. They can be useful in cloudy or winter days when there’s insufficient sunlight. Additionally, they are great in that they provide light from directly above the plants instead of from the side where most of the sunlight is going to be coming from.
– Temperature control. In most cases, you’re going to need a thermometer, a heater, and a ventilator. The first will allow you to always know what the temperature is, and the latter two will give you the freedom to control it. The ventilator is more useful for ventilating the stale air out of the greenhouse but it can have a cooling effect as well. The heater will be especially useful in the winter when the low temperatures can catch you off-guard.
– Humidity control. As with the temperature, you’ll need to be able to monitor and control the humidity in your greenhouse garden. A hygrometer is a great tool to monitor humidity levels and having a humidifier and/or a dehumidifier at home is also very helpful.
– A watering system/pump. You can always just water your plants on your own with a simple handheld water pump bottle but installing a simple automated watering system with a clock will make things much easier. It won’t just save you some time, it will also be helpful for when you want to leave the greenhouse unattended for several days.
– A soil probe. Keeping an eye on the soil’s quality is one of the things most people forget with both indoor and outdoor greenhouses. If you get a soil probe you’ll be able to easily know if and when you need to add some fertilizer, to change the soil, etc.
- How mobile and/or accessible do you want the greenhouse to be? A good idea in most cases is to get or build a mobile greenhouse by installing wheels under it. This will allow you to easily move it around even if it’s just to clean around and underneath it. It’s also smart to make the lowest level at least a bit elevated so that you can sweep or vacuum underneath the greenhouse even without moving it.
What indoor greenhouse can you buy?
There are lots of different types of indoor greenhouses available on the market and we wouldn’t go as far as to promote one brand over another.
Still, even just a quick look around Amazon, Target, or other stores can give you a lot of options such as a lightweight and portable plant shelf with a roll-up zipper plastic cover, a classic wooden glass indoor greenhouse, a “Pop-up” tent-like plant house, a PVC tiered lightweight greenhouse or any other of nearly countless models.
As long as you pick one that suits your needs and is made with sturdy enough materials and construction, you probably won’t be disappointed.
DIY indoor greenhouse
If you don’t want to buy an overpriced indoor greenhouse from a store, you can simply try to build one. This will not only save you a few bucks but it will also allow you to craft a greenhouse that fully meets your needs. Plus, it’s a fun DIY project anyway.
Even if you’ve never built anything similar and/or you don’t feel you’re up to the task – don’t worry. Greenhouses are actually quite simple and straightforward to build, plus there are lots of different ways you can go about it.
All you need to do is:
- Build a rectangular frame with as many, as high, and as wide horizontal panels, as you’ll need. You can use many different materials for the frame, all of them available in hardware shops. Steel, PVC pipes, and wood are the most common choices. Steel is the sturdiest option but it’s harder to cut so you might need a professional’s help with it.
Another walkaround is to just get a ready-made non-covered metal framework for flower pots (not a greenhouse but just an open frame), assemble it as per its instructions, and then cover it with a plastic film.
- Cover the frame and the panels with a transparent cover such as glass, fiberglass, or film plastic. Glass looks best but, like steel, it can be hard to work with so you might want to find a professional glass cutter for the job. Film plastic is the simplest option as you can simply lay it on top of the frame and secure it to it.
- Incorporate the watering system on and around the frame – all that entails is putting a couple of water containers next to the greenhouse, a pump on top of it to pump out the water, and a series of tubes and nozzles to spray the water over the pots on each level of the greenhouse. Such watering systems are available commercially so you can just buy one. Plus, even if this sounds too complicated, you can always leave the watering system for later and water your pots manually in the meantime.
And that’s it! With a bit of planning and preparation, you can have your own DIY indoor greenhouse in a matter of a day or two.