How to Make a Small Greenhouse From Recyclable Materials + Free Learning Materials

Gardening with Kids: In this post you'll learn how to make a simple greenhouse from household materials. The post also contains FREE hands-on learning materials to explore seeds and germination in more depth. [From An Everyday Story: Inquiry-based Learning]Well that was a long and rather unexpected break! We are having quite a few renovations done on our house (no more green rooms!!), and well, you know how renos go; everything takes a hundred times longer and is infinitely more disruptive to your day-to-day than you imagined. But the sheets have come off all our furniture and for now we are at a pause with the renovations.

So, I wanted to share a little of what’s been happening in the garden. The weather has warmed up and thanks to – seemingly unending – rain, our kitchen garden has exploded! Most of our spring crops have gone in; corn, zucchini, beans, peas, carrots, potatoes and of course tomatoes.

For some little friends for our tomatoes, we’ve been growing some tiny basil seedlings in recyclable containers. You can buy small plastic greenhouses for seedlings from a plant nursery, but if you’ve got some loo rolls and plastic fruit punnets at home, the kids and you can easily make your own.

Make a greenhouse from reused materials - An Everyday StorySometimes, when you’re growing from seed, or buying tiny seedlings from a nursery, planting them straight into a garden is a little too much of a shock. They are too exposed to wind, rain and heat and they fail to thrive or die. Some of the more robust seeds like corn, beans and peas can handle it but more delicate plants like basil need a little extra care.

How to Make Your Greenhouse

To make a greenhouse for seeds or tiny seedlings all you need is some toilet rolls, a large plastic container with a lid and air holes – I used a large strawberry punnet – and some seed raising mix. If, like us, you don’t have any fruit punnets, ask around, my friends were more than happy to put some aside for us. Then:

  • Cut your toilet rolls in half or thirds – you want it to be small enough so when you close the lid, the plant will still have room to grow
  • Fill your punnet with the loo rolls and then fill the container with seed raising mix
  • Carefully add your seedlings or seeds. Water in very gently and close the lid

The great thing about using the toilet rolls is that you can plant them straight into your garden when the plants are big enough without disturbing the roots and stressing the little plant. And they are easy for little hands to hold – just make sure to pick them up from the bottom because the toilet roll would have weakened from your watering.

Raising Seedlings in Toilet Rolls - An Everyday Story


While you are waiting for your seedlings to grow, here are a few resources I have gathered together to explore seeds, plants and germination a little more:

  • First up, I made this very simple Greenhouse Reflection Sheet. You can present the reflection sheet on a clipboard along with some drawing materials and photos of your child planting to inspire conversation
  • Playful Learning is offering, FREE this month, their Seeds – An Inside Edition e-lesson. It’s a great little lesson which looks at what is inside a seed
  • Montessori Print Shop has FREE seed plant matching cards. Scroll down about half way, you’ll see a picture of a sunflower in the middle column

Here’s two great YouTube videos too. Both are time lapse; the first one shows a sunflower from seed to flower and the second video shows a pea seed germinating. You can see the root growth in the second one too, which is kinda cool.

And if you want to know how to save these videos and create your own channel of fabulous videos for your kids, I have a YouTube tutorial which you can read here.

And lastly, I would love to see some pictures of your kids working on their greenhouse and their written reflections so pop over the my Facebook page and share a picture any time.

Happy gardening 🙂


7 Replies to “How to Make a Small Greenhouse From Recyclable Materials + Free Learning Materials”

  1. Thanks for sharing all those wonderful resources. They look great.

    And I am so glad you are back. I was hoping you hadn’t stopped blogging!

  2. This is such a great way to reuse materials too. I have been trying to reduce our waste and think of ways to reuse things before throwing them away and this is great. I am not much of a gardener, I’m just starting out with my kids but this is something that I think we can do. It’s small and manageable.

  3. Such a lovely idea! I always just throw the poor seedlings in, maybe I need to give them a little more care like this heehee

    1. Yeah, I’ve lost so many seedlings – the first poor little cucumbers didn’t know what hit them. They died within the first day 🙁

  4. Thank you so much for this post. We do the mini greenhouses with the fruit punnets already, such a great way to reuse ‘rubbish’ and they work so well. Loving all your links for info on learning about seeds. Can’t wait to check them all out! Cheers and happy gardening!

    1. Thanks Cheryl 🙂 I hope your kids like the e-lesson. Mine really did 🙂

  5. Lovely article! The idea of using toilet rolls for growing the little plants in is great. The paper will later break down and the plant will keep growing without living through the stress of taking it’s roots and planting it on another place! I love gardening and now I am a bit depressed that here, where I live, is too cold and I can’t have a winter garden. I dream of the first day of spring when I’ll be again preparing for planting the seeds! Thank you for the ideas! Greets!

Comments are closed.