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Today, I am hopping on the latest trend: the Ikea greenhouse cabinet hack! In this post, I’m going to explain exactly how I put together my Ikea greenhouse cabinet so that you can create your own cabinet.
I did not use any power tools or make any complicated modifications, yet I have found this greenhouse cabinet to be very effective for the growth and overall happiness of my plants.
Supplies I used to create my Ikea greenhouse cabinet
I’m going to go over each of these in-depth throughout this post but here is a quick list of the supplies I used for reference:
- Grow lights
- Wire racks
- Wire baskets
- Weather stripping
- Humidity and temperature meter (in Fahrenheit)
- Zip ties
- Twist ties
- Furniture-moving rollers
- Detolf cabinet from Ikea
Supplies not in my cabinet but used in other cabinets
Here are a few other items that I did not use in my cabinet but I have seen in others:
- Humidity and temperature meter
- This is simply a nicer meter than the one I used. If you want to ensure accurate temperature and humidity control, you should consider investing in a little bit nicer of a meter!
- Mini fans
- In a sealed environment, airflow is important. For now, I just open the cabinet for a little every day or two and so far it’s fine. If airflow becomes an issue I will definitely be adding fans.
- Mini humidifier
- For additional humidity in your cabinet, however, my humidity is high enough with the cabinet being weatherstripped.
- Smart plugs
- You can use smart plugs for your lights, fans, and humidifiers. Put your electronics on a timer, control them from your smart device, and even control them while you’re not at home.
- Cable management box
- Hides a mess of wires and also helps prevent people from tripping!
What is an Ikea greenhouse cabinet?
Before I start explaining how I put my greenhouse cabinet together, here’s a quick explanation for anyone who is unfamiliar with this. The Ikea greenhouse cabinet hack is a way of taking a cabinet and modifying it to create a mini greenhouse.
No, it does not actually have to be an Ikea cabinet, but Ikea has some great options at decent prices which is why a lot of people use their cabinets.
People are creating these cabinets for a few reasons:
- It provides a controlled environment. Controlled temperature and humidity is very beneficial for certain houseplants, and even essential for some rare plants.
- It creates vertical space—an excellent solution if you don’t have a lot of space for plants.
- It’s also a great solution if you don’t have a lot of natural light. Although, if you do have natural light you can still have a cabinet and skip adding grow lights.
- It’s a great solution for keeping curious pets away from plants!
- It looks really beautiful! I consider my cabinet part of the decor in the room.
With this hack, anyone can own their own mini greenhouse. It’s always been a dream of mine to have a greenhouse, and having this mini greenhouse just brings me pure joy any time I look at it. I know others probably feel the same way!
What kind of cabinet should you use?
You can use ANY cabinet! Even if the walls are not glass, it won’t matter if you add grow lights. Whichever one you choose it should have a door that closes shut if you want to take advantage of the humidity that a real greenhouse provides.
If you’ve decided to go with an Ikea cabinet, there are a few different models in their “Display Cabinet” section. The ones that are most often used for greenhouse cabinets are:
I’m using the Detolf. The price is the cheapest at the moment and perfect for anyone who wants a greenhouse cabinet without it being a big investment.
Personally, I also liked how the Detolf looked more than all the other options. It is glass all around and more clean and sleek rather than industrial looking.
It’s a great size and will fit in smaller rooms—all you really need is a spare corner! It fits more plants than I thought it would and I still have space to pack in some smaller plants and cuttings.
Here is the Detolf sizing from Ikea’s website:
- Width – 16 3/4 inches
- Depth – 14 3/8 inches
- Height – 64 1/8 inches
- Max load/shelf – 8 lbs
The shelves of this cabinet are removable—they just rest on the metal frame—so if you are concerned about taller plants, you can still use the Detolf. I believe the shelves are removable on Ikea’s other cabinets too, but I cannot say for sure.
Also, the cabinet is pretty sturdy and you can create even more space by utilizing the top of the cabinet, just as long as you don’t put anything too heavy up there.
How do you put the cabinet together?
I opted to get it delivered to my home instead of picking it up. I’m glad I did because I’m not sure I would have even been able to get it into my car by myself, although I’m sure Ikea would have helped! Bottom line: It is HEAVY.
There are four large panes of heavy glass. Putting it together is a two-person job. If you live on your own you’ll probably have to enlist a friend or family member to help you with this. And make sure you put it together close to its permanent spot because it’s not easy to move without furniture rollers!
Aside from it being heavy, assembling the cabinet is not difficult. Ikea provides easy instructions and all the pieces you’ll need. The only additional tool I needed was a Phillips-head screwdriver, which Ikea tells you in the instruction pamphlet.
How do you turn the cabinet into a greenhouse?
I went with these FIDAROOMY Grow Light for Indoor Plants. They are full-spectrum, LED grow lights.
The lights have a timer but I haven’t used it yet. All three are attached to one wire, which I was worried about, but after installing them there was a lot of extra wire so that wasn’t an issue. I used twist ties to secure the extra wire to the metal frame and keep it out of the way.
You can also adjust the dimness and cycle through having all three, two, or just one light one on. You cannot adjust the dimness on each individual light, though.
The lights come with sticky tape in order to attach them to a surface. For the most part, the sticky tape was pretty secure, except one side of one of the lights did come unstuck after just over a week. Although the rest of the stickiness was fine, I duct-taped all of the lights just to be safe.
Aside from that one incident, I am very happy with these lights and so are my plants. I’ve had the cabinet for about six weeks, for reference.
I recently moved my Hoya carnosa compacta inside the cabinet. It was suffering from being on a cold window sill.
While the cabinet is a much safer spot than the cold window sill, the grow light was still a little too bright for the Hoya, so recently I decided to tape a sheer piece of fabric I had lying around over the light. I mean, it’s not the cutest, but it works! You can see this in the above image.
I placed the lights on alternating sides of each shelf instead of diagonally across the entirety of each shelf because I wanted the option to put plants further away from the light.
Since there are three shelves plus the floor part, the floor part doesn’t have a light directly overhead. A few low-light plants live down there.
I did not have to drill any holes in the cabinet for the grow light wire. I was able to have the wire coming out of the door and still have the door stay closed because there is a magnet that helps it stay shut.
I wasn’t sure if I’d use these wire racks at first but they’re really coming in handy for making the most out of the space! They also come with close pins, clips, and hooks, which I’m sure I’ll find a use for at some point.
I have the racks zip tied at the top corners to the metal frame. They still aren’t totally secure, I just have the bottom of the racks resting on the shelf. But, if for some reason the rack did slip off the back of the shelf, the zip ties would prevent it from crashing to the floor.
I got these wire baskets to hang onto the wire racks.
The racks are four inches wide and can fit a few small pots.
I’ve also thought about adding some sphagnum moss directly into the wire baskets and using them as a little propagation setup. I think that would look pretty cool!
Weather stripping is what you really need to turn your cabinet into an actual greenhouse. It will seal the cabinet and help control humidity and temperature.
With the Detolf, there is a slight gap all around the entire front door, and the wire from the grow lights made the gap slightly larger. To help with this gap, I added weather stripping.
Now, I have never weatherstripped anything in my life and had no clue what to look for when making my purchase. After a few searches for what other people were using on their cabinets, I just picked one that looked good and clicked “buy.” Luckily, it worked out!
After installing it, there are still some gaps around the corners and for the wire, but overall, adding this has made a huge humidity difference. It was not hard to do, so I do recommend weatherstripping your cabinet.
The one thing I’ll mention with this is that it’s not permanent and can easily peel off. On one hand, that’s a good thing, BUT it was starting to peel off in a few places right after I applied it. I’m not sure if this was because it was watering day and I kept opening and closing the cabinet immediately after installing the strips, not allowing them to settle in, or if it would have done this anyway.
I simply placed a few small pieces of tape in the three spots where this was an issue and the problem was solved. You can see one piece of the tape in the earlier image that shows the wire coming out of the door, however, it’s not really noticeable when you look at the entire cabinet.
Humidity and temperature meter
This little humidity and temperature meter (Celcius version here) sits on the top shelf and lets me know the weather stripping is working! It is the dead of winter right now as I write this, and the rest of the house is at about 35% humidity (yeah, I feel it and my plants do, too).
As I write this, the meter in the cabinet reads 75% with a temperature of 69 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperature wasn’t a huge issue for my plants before except for those on the windowsill, so the cabinet temperature is generally in line with the rest of the house and I’m fine with that.
Now, quick disclaimer, the cheaper meter I’m using is probably off by a few points, but seeing that huge jump from the rest of the house to inside the cabinet—uh, yeah, the cabinet definitely works.
If you want to ensure that your humidity and temperature are accurately controlled, you’ll want to invest in a more accurate meter, like this one.
There is not much in terms of maintaining my Ikea greenhouse cabinet, just a few things:
- A wipe down of the cabinet when necessary, but I remove my plants to water them so the shelves don’t get that dirty. When I do have to clean shelves, it is easy because they are removable.
- I use the nozzle of the vacuum cleaner occasionally. For example, I recently dropped a container of cuttings I was propagating and the soil spilled a little on each level of the cabinet (oops lol). Cleanup was easy with the vacuum nozzle.
- Since I don’t have fans, I open the cabinet once every day or two to let in some fresh air. There is a bit of a scent, but it’s not a bad scent. Just an earthy scent.
- I check for pests regularly. Ideally, you should be doing this anyway, with or without a greenhouse cabinet!
What kind of plants should you put in the cabinet?
At the end of the day, you can really put any plant you want in the cabinet! If you’ve weatherstripped it, then your high-humidity plants will do very in there. I have one succulent in there at the moment and it doesn’t seem to mind the humidity.
If you’ve added grow lights, then your bright-light loving plants will also do well.
Many people with greenhouse cabinets use them for their rare plants since the environment inside can be controlled exactly to how the plants need it.
If you’re a rare plant collector, I highly recommend a greenhouse cabinet. Personally, I don’t keep rare plants. For me, the pressure takes the joy out of plant care!
How are my plants doing in the cabinet?
My plants really seem to love the environment! I’ve noticed that they are either doing better than they were before they were in the cabinet or the same as they were before, but none are doing worse.
I’ve moved some plants in and out throughout the six weeks that I’ve had the cabinet, just playing with my setup. Out of the plants that have been in there for a while, a few examples of progress I’ve seen include:
- My cape sundew has started eating. Admittedly, I’m new to carnivorous plants and don’t know much about them, but I DO know that I’ve had my sundew for about five months and did not start actually eating its food until I put it in the cabinet.
- Peperomia obtusifolia – Has new growth.
- Syngonium white butterfly – All-around happier, not losing leaves like it was on the windowsill and by a vent. I have it on the lower shelf without the grow light directly above it.
- Small Hoya (not the Compacta) – New leaf growth after it doing literally nothing for six months.
- Various cuttings I’ve propagated have done better in the humidity and brighter light.
- April update! My Hoya Compacta has flowered for the first time! See below: