It is so tempting to buy one of IKEA's new Socker mini greenhouses. They're the right size for apartments, and very cute. However, they've been called flimsy, and sometimes a custom-built small greenhouse makes more sense for a space than a prefabricated one.

Seven very smart gardeners have built their own small greenhouses, and I'm sharing what they did as inspiration for your own small greenhouse project.

Small greenhouse made from old storm windowsDIY blogger Anne from Design Dreams by Anne built a very cool small greenhouse out of old storm windows. The greenhouse that she built is a box frame, which is basically a few old windows held together by cross pieces. Although the angled roof is attractive, Anne found it easier to construct her small greenhouse without it. The box frame would be a suitable project for a beginner carpenter.

Tiny greenhouse made from cupsThis project requires no building skills, and is an excellent way to start seeds. Punch holes in the bottoms of two disposable plastic drinking cups. Fill one cup with potting soil. Plant a seedling in the soil. Place the second cup upside down on top of the dirt-filled cup, to create a lid.

Cheap small indoor greenhouse Radio host and gardening expert Walter Reeves, the Georgia Gardener, built a very efficient and inexpensive indoor greenhouse for his unheated sun room. It is made of PVC pipes and clear plastic sheeting.

Small plastic hoop houseYou can extend your growing season by planting in a hoop house. Shelly, from the blog Sow and Dippity, built a cute half hoop house with a simple wood frame, PVC poles, and plastic sheeting. Think of it as a demi-hoop house.

$150 small frame greenhouseI saw this one, built by a Portland carpenter, on The small greenhouse is framed in inexpensive softwood, and covered in plastic sheeting. Shelves for holding pots and flats are built into the frame. 

Glass window shelving — an alternative to a small greenhouseThis is a perfect option for apartment dwellers who do not have outdoor space. Mount glass shelves in a window frameand place potted plants on the shelves. It's a way to use vertical space efficiently, and is removable for renters. 

The bin greenhouseThis idea is from the Children and Animals Foundation. You can create a mini-greenhouse by planting in an ordinary clear plastic storage bin with a lid. Fill the bin with soil, and plant greens like lettuce in it. Support the lid with dowel rods, so that there is a gap that air can get in between the lid and the bin. Place the bin in a sunny place.

Chaya Kurtz originally wrote this story for It is reprinted with permission here.

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7 DIY small greenhouse ideas
With some creativity (and possibly stuff you already have on hand) you can make your own mini greenhouse.